Getting Married In Iowa? Here’s EVERYTHING You Need To Know

Beauty is often found in places you may not have initially expected and when it comes to a beautiful place to get married, I have to let you in on one of my favorite little secrets: getting married in Iowa! 

Iowa Weddings: Sunsets, Endless Sky & Natural Wonders 

What is there to love about Iowa? Plenty!

It’s such a beautiful state, with an amazing amount of natural wonders that you can factor into your big day that will allow you to set a unique tone for your wedding, your wedding photography, and for the stories you tell about your big day for years to come.

Iowa is home to rolling hills, amazing sunsets, and blue skies that extend as far as the eye can see. As an Iowa wedding photographer, I’m definitely biased towards the endless sky! It lends to the state having this sort of middle of nowhere feel, while simultaneously housing cities that provide fun and big city nightlife without losing the feeling of a small community. 

Gorgeous Spots For Iowa Wedding Photography

Cedar Rapids offers a walk back into history, as it allows you to visit places that pay homage to the descendents of some of the original settlers in Iowa, who had strong ties to the Czech Republic. From New Bohemia to the National Czech and Slovak Museum in Cedar Rapids, there is so much to experience! 

While Cedar Rapids offers a piece of history, Des Moines offers a piece of art and culture. Des Moines delivers a little of everything — from farmers markets to art centers and the sculpture park, there are tons of places to discover —  which means plenty of beautiful locations for photo shoots! 

There’s a lot to consider! That’s why I’ve written this comprehensive guide to weddings in Iowa to answer all questions you may have including: 

  • How to get married in Iowa
  • The best time to get married in Iowa
  • Some of the best wedding venues in Iowa
  • Who can legally marry you in Iowa
  • The requirements to get legally married in Iowa

Let’s get into it!

How To Get Married In Iowa: The Legalities

So, what are the requirements to get married in Iowa? Let’s get the paperwork and filing stuff out of the way first because, let’s be honest, it’s the least fun part. 

Getting a marriage license in Iowa is fairly standard, but it’s always best to take a look at the fine print, which you can do by reading through the state’s website

In essence, what you’ll need is about $35 for the license itself, a witness, and you and your future life partner. The good thing about Iowa licenses is that they don’t expire, so you can think ahead and get this out of the way early. You do not have to be a legal resident of the state to get married in Iowa. 

Who can legally marry you in Iowa? Anyone who is an ordained minister, a judge, or a religious leader (clergy) can perform a marriage ceremony! You can also check out a list of Iowa wedding officiants here.

When Is The Best Time To Get Married In Iowa?

When it comes to the Midwest, there’s really only one thing you need to know: the weather can be all over the place. However, the weather shouldn’t deter you from having your wedding whenever you want!  

Fall weddings in Iowa give you the beauty of the leaves changing and the weather feels just right. An Iowa spring wedding is gorgeous with flowers blooming. A glittering landscape of ice and snow covered trees makes an Iowa winter wedding really romantic!

The other part of the seasons that play into wedding planning is the kind of natural lighting that is created. The sunset and amount of daylight hours both play a role in your wedding timeline (but I help my clients with this!).

Spring and summer have the longest days and nights, with sunsets at 7:30pm in April and 9:00pm in July. Fall and winter have shorter days and longer nights — with the sun starting to set around 6:30pm in October — which means we have less time in the day before it gets dark. No matter what time of year, there will be a great backdrop! 

The Best Wedding Venues In Iowa

From sprawling estates to modern industrial spaces to romantic conservatories, here are a few of my favorite Iowa wedding venues that should be on your list!

Emerald Hill Events

Effortlessly combining warm, rustic vibes with a sleek, modern aesthetic, Emerald Hill Events offers literally every option you can think of for intimate small weddings to full blown bashes! 

From an intimate ceremony space on their covered veranda (perfect for watching the sunset), to the indoor Loft with a stone fireplace and 180-degree window views over the meadow, to the modern, open-air Grand Room with white-washed walls and massive ceilings – each space is stunning in its simplicity and natural beauty. With a bridal suite and groom’s lounge to relax and pamper yourselves before the festivities begin, Emerald Hills is a truly full-service and flexible venue for whatever you’re envisioning.

The Magnolia

The Magnolia Wedding Venue is a labor of love that was created by Bobby and Taylor Koneru to add something special to the historic Millwork district in downtown Dubuque, as well as to commemorate its previous owner Jim Avery. 

Bright and airy with an all-white interior, high ceilings and expansive windows, The Magnolia gives an abundance of ambient lighting! They also have their B-Spoke Bar with exposed brick and dark iron fittings, creating a more dimly lit and warm ambience to enjoy a few spirits and take photographs. 

Hidden Acre

Owned by four long-time best friends, Hidden Acre is an airy, modern 12,000 square-foot venue located in Northeast Iowa near Cedar Falls. Surrounded by trees and open fields, this venue offers chic indoor and outdoor spaces which are perfect for all seasons – spacious, with high ceilings, tons of windows flooding with natural light, and relaxing scenery to soak in.

Weddings here include an on-site manager to cater to your needs, a full bar and catering kitchen, a bridal suite and groom’s room with beautiful furnishings, a private family room, a courtyard patio with string lightning, and tons more!

Willow On Grand

One of the best high-end Des Moines wedding venues, Willow On Grand has such an elegant interior with high beams, chandeliers and an all-white palette creating a dreamy and airy feel! 

The grand room, cottage and courtyard are all available to throw intimate as well as sizable weddings hosting up to 300 guests. Tailor-made packages can be created for you with the personal touch of one-on-one assistance when you email the venue.

Ashton Hill Farm – Galena Venue

A personal fav, this one is actually in Illinois but I like it so much that it snuck onto this list. This venue’s design combined with the sweeping beauty of the countryside creates a really breathtaking experience. 

The Grand Barn, adorned with contemporary chandeliers and elegant fittings for indoor ceremonies and receptions, is definitely not your typical barn! There are also gorgeous outdoor ceremonial locations, preparation rooms, and a magical festoon-lit patio perfect for cocktail hour with a view. It’s an extraordinary place! Head to their website gallery for a bit of a teaser here.

Iris Aisles

Iris Aisles is something to behold. Tucked away in the heart of a Winterset cedar forest you’ll find an enchanting Victorian conservatory surrounded by wildflowers and herbal gardens – perfect for more intimate weddings! 

This venue was created by two married wedding photographers who wanted to create a space unlike any other, to hold special moments. The amenities include a whimsical couples cabin, conservatory and lotus bell tent – the novelty of these carefully curated spaces is an experience in itself! 

The Toast

Situated in Ankeny, this venue is the baby of two sisters, Tiffany and Tara, who wanted to create a space that’s inviting to all guests to create cherished memories. It was cleverly designed to be the perfect canvas to adapt to your aesthetic desires for your wedding day! 

The Toast has a luxurious interior main event space (covered in a ceiling of plants and lights), a bridal suite and a rooftop patio. It’s lavish and large enough to host both intimate weddings and gatherings of up to 425 people!

Iowa Wedding Vendors

The list can feel seemingly endless! To save you some time, I’ve compiled the best Iowa wedding vendors to help you find the perfect fit for all your wedding needs. 

Everything from cake makers to wedding planners and florists can be found in this list — complete with links to their personal websites to help you get a better look at their work.

There it is! Your guide to getting married in Iowa. Whether you’re planning a Des Moines wedding with all the works, an intimate Cedar Rapids wedding with just your closest family and friends, or somewhere in between — there’s so much more to talk about! Reach out today so we can get started.