iowa wedding
Anna Brace Photography

Whether you’re planning a wedding in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, the Quad Cities, or elsewhere in the Hawkeye State, you’re in luck. Getting married in Iowa is bound to be an amazing experience. There are lots of amazing wedding venues in Iowa to choose from, including barns, ballrooms, outdoor spaces, and much more. And there are so many talented wedding vendors to help ensure your big day is everything you dreamed of—and more.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting married in Iowa, from choosing a venue to marriage laws and much more.

The Basics

If you’re getting married in Iowa, you’ll be glad to know that it’s one of the more affordable locations in the country to wed. The average cost to rent a wedding venue in Iowa is $5,000, which comes in well under the national average of $9,000. Iowa couples seem to gravitate toward late spring and fall weddings, with June and October being the most popular months to wed. Iowa weddings also tend to be quite large—the average guest count for a Hawkeye State wedding is 141, above the national average of 126.

When setting a date for your Iowa wedding, you’ll want to consider major events occurring in your event’s location. Hosting a wedding during these times of year means larger crowds, more expensive travel and accommodations, and potential traffic issues. Here are some of the major events and festivals in Iowa to be aware of.

Spring

  • Pella Tulip Time—Pella (early May)
  • Orange City Tulip Festival—Orange City (mid May)

Summer

  • Burlington Steamboat Days—Burlington (mid-June)
  • Des Moines Arts Festival—Des Moines (late June)
  • Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival—Cedar Rapids (late June or early July)
  • Iowa State Fair—Des Moines (August)

Fall

  • Southwest Iowa Hot Air Balloon Days—Creston (September)
  • Madison County Covered Bridge Festival—Winterset (October)
  • Iowa Hawkeyes Football Games—Iowa City  

iowa weddings
Two Hoyles Photography

Getting There and Getting Around

Couples who are getting married in Iowa and hosting out-of-town guests will want to relay important travel information well in advance of the big day. Guests who are flying in have several airports to choose from, the largest of which is Des Moines International Airport. Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids is another, albeit smaller, option.

Once your guests have arrived, they will likely want to rent a car or use taxis to get around. Public transportation (mostly buses) is available in the major cities of Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and others. If you’re getting married in a more secluded or rural location, you may want to research renting shuttle transportation for your guests’ convenience and safety.

Weather

Hot. humid summers and cold winters—that’s pretty much what to expect when it comes to Midwestern weather. If you’re planning a spring or summer wedding, be aware that these seasons tend to be rainy with the chance of thunderstorms and even tornadoes. The best season to get married in Iowa, weather-wise, may be the fall, when temperatures are fairly mild and precipitation is relatively light.

Wedding Venues

No matter what your style or taste may be, there are lots of wedding venues in Iowa to check out. We’ve picked out a few of the most popular types of venues to share with you as you start your hunt for the perfect wedding location.

  • Barns
    There’s nothing quite like a Midwestern barn wedding, and Iowa has lots of rustic venues to make your rustic wedding dreams come true. Whether you’re hosting a large wedding or a more intimate event, you’ll love these barn wedding venues.
    Check out barn wedding venues in Iowa »
  • Outdoor
    Many couples want to get married surrounded by nature, and one of the numerous outdoor wedding venues in Iowa is sure to fit the bill. From gardens to historic estates, vineyards, resorts, and more, you’ll definitely want to check out these outdoor wedding venues in the Hawkeye State.
    Check out outdoor wedding venues in Iowa »

iowa wedding
Makayla Beth Photography

Marriage Requirements

One of the most important parts of getting married in Iowa is, well, actually getting married in Iowa. It’s essential to learn the marriage laws and requirements in the Hawkeye State as you’re nearing your big day. To apply for a marriage license in Iowa, you and your future spouse, along with a witness (who is over 18 years old) will need to go to any County Recorder or Registrar’s office in Iowa. All three of you will need to bring photo ID, and there’s also a fee of $35. There is a three- day waiting period to receive your copy of the marriage license, so be sure to allot enough time between visiting the County Registrar and your actual ceremony. The good news is, an Iowa marriage license doesn’t expire (though it will be canceled if you don’t pick it up from the Registrar within six months), so you can apply for a license as far in advance of your wedding as you’d like. No blood test is required, and you don’t have to be a resident of Iowa to get legally married in the state.

Changing Your Name in Iowa

Whether or not you decide to change your name after marriage is completely up to you. If you do decide to change your name after marriage in Iowa, it’s actually pretty straightforward. You can change your name when applying for your marriage license so that your license actually serves as proof of your name change. From there, you’ll go to your local Social Security office to change your name on your Social Security card, and then it’s off to the Iowa MVD to change your name on your driver’s license. Already feeling overwhelmed? Sites like HitchSwitch can handle much of the paperwork for you to make changing your name an absolute breeze.

Wedding Accommodations

If you’re getting married in Iowa and hosting out-of-town guests, we highly recommend booking room blocks at one or more hotels in your wedding city or town. Try to find hotels as close to your wedding venue as possible. You may even want to book room blocks at several hotels at a variety of price points to ensure there’s something for everyone.  

Things to Do in Iowa

Guests who have never traveled to Iowa before will likely want to see some sights while in town for your wedding. It’s a nice idea to provide them with some recommendations of your favorite attractions, eateries, and more. Check out a few of our favorite things to do in Iowa to share with your loved ones:

  • Outdoor fun
    For nature buffs, Iowa has lots of outdoor and nature-focused activities to enjoy. In particular, your guests will love the numerous parks in the state, including Ledges State Park in Madrid, the Hitchcock Nature Center near Council Bluffs, Gray’s Lake in Des Moines, and Lacey- Keosauqua State Park in Keosauqua. The National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque is definitely worth a visit—especially if there are little ones in your crew. And for art lovers, the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park in Des Moines is a great way to view beautiful works of art while enjoying the great outdoors.
  • Movie sites
    You may be surprised to learn that many famous movies were filmed in Iowa. Two of the most famous are The Bridges of Madison County and Field of Dreams. If you’re getting married nearby, your guests will certainly love to tour the famed covered bridges in Winterset. For baseball fans, the Field of Dreams baseball field is located a few miles outside of Dyersville.

Iowa Wedding Inspiration

Ready to start planning your Iowa wedding? Check out real weddings that occurred in the state to inspire everything from your venue to your décor.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, some of which may be sponsored by paying vendors.