Though I might be a bit biased living in Chicago, I have to say, Chicago is one of the best places to take wedding portraits in the country. Between the architecture, the gardens, the lakeshore, and the iconic skyline there is just so much to love about the city of Chicago. One of my favorite parts of being a wedding photographer in Chicago now is all of the epic location options for couples to take their wedding portraits throughout their day!
Short answer, it depends. I prefer to at least have 30 minutes alone with my couples. Not only does this give you some time to be alone on your wedding day, but it also gives us plenty of time to get creative and make some epic portraits to remember your day with. Along with the at LEAST 30 minutes you need for your wedding day I like to have 20 minutes or so for your wedding party portraits as well. So if you are planning to take the majority of your photos at one of these epic Chicago locations, I would plan to spend at least an hour total for your portraits and wedding party photos.
One of the biggest factors in planning out your wedding portraits in Chicago is taking into account how much time it will take you to get to different locations including traffic. If you do plan to visit a few locations throughout the city for your wedding portraits in Chicago, I highly recommend booking a trolley or party bus so you can keep your wedding party together, and everyone will be able to relax and spend time together as you’re traveling around.
If you can do a little research on events going on in the city before you book/finalize your wedding date, I highly recommend it. Regardless of whether you’re able to or not, take a look as you’re planning your day to see what is happening in and around the city. If possible you will want to avoid having your Chicago wedding day on these weekends, because of the traffic and influx of people that can come with it.
-Mexican Independence Day
These weekends make it very challenging to get around in popular photo locations like the loop and can make things challenging for guests getting home following your wedding day. If your venue and dream photo locations are mostly focused within walking distance of one another, or for the most part west of the Loop, then you won’t have to worry as much about these dates. Just try to leave in a little extra cushion if you have to take the highway on your wedding day.
When choosing a location to take your wedding portraits in Chicago there are a handful of things you will want to think about, how your wedding portraits fit into your wedding timeline. If you need help planning out your wedding day timeline you can reference this blog here.
You will also want to think about what you would like your wedding photos to look like, what kind of background you want in your photos etc, and last but not least, what kind of experience you hope to have. Do you want a little corner of Chicago all to yourself surrounded by your closest friends? Do you want to be out in the hustle and bustle that you fell in love with when you decided to plan your wedding here? Think through these things with your partner and then use these preferences to narrow down a list of ideas for where to take your wedding portraits in Chicago.
Lincoln Park Zoo and the honeycomb is arguably one of the most sought locations in the city for wedding portraits. If you do want to take your wedding portraits in this popular location in Chicago, you will need to make sure you obtain a permit a couple of months prior to your wedding day. Lincoln Park Zoo requires permits for a handful of reasons. One of the biggest reasons is crowd control. With this spot being so popular, the Lincoln Park Zoo can limit the number of weddings taking photos here day to day so that you have a great experience on your wedding day, and zoo visitors can also still enjoy it. You can use the information linked here to apply for your permit.
Next up in terms of popularity for wedding portraits in Chicago is North Avenue Beach. North Avenue beach and the surrounding area is a super fun and iconic location that is known for its breathtaking skyline view. The ribbon that goes out into Lake Michigan is the perfect location for some epic sunrise or sunset images of you and your new spouse. If you plan to have your photos taken here there is a parking lot just off of the beach but you will still have to do a bit of walking to get from the parking lot to the ribbon!
This beautiful relatively calm street in Chicago is such a cool space for wedding party photos. Known for its beautiful architecture/skyscraping buildings, the Chicago Board of Trade is probably one of the coolest locations for wedding party photos in the city of Chicago. With this being a fairly popular spot, you do sometimes have to wait your turn to use the space because of other wedding parties and traffic.
One of my personal favorite spots is the space between LaSalle street bridge and Clark street bridge across the river from the River Roast. This architectural structure called the River Theater, designed by architectural firm Sasaki creates a clean and dynamic space that makes for a beautiful backdrop for wedding portraits and wedding party photos in Chicago. This space is not only cool because of the architecture, but also because it really carries a Chicago feel to it. With runners along the riverwalk, co-workers grabbing lunch together sitting on the structure, and touches of greenery found tucked into the levels that make up the River Theater.
If you’re looking for a location to take wedding portraits in Chicago that has a true Chicago feel, the Lasalle Street Bridge is the perfect urban city spot for your wedding portraits. Going over the Chicago River, the La Salle Street Bridge has the perfect combination of an urban feel with the magic that comes with the architecture hugging the Riverwalk.
The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is a part of the Lincoln Park Conservancy and is located just north of North Avenue Beach. The Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is a beautiful covered space overlooking a lily pool designed originally in 1889, and then redesigned by Alfred Caldwell in 1936. If you want to use the Lily Pool for your wedding portraits, you have to apply for a permit similar to the Lincoln Park Zoo Honeycomb. You can find more information here.
If you’re looking for the most epic vibes and a beautiful indoor location, for your wedding portraits in Chicago, the Art Institute is the perfect spot. There is no permit needed to take wedding portraits in this Chicago location. Between the gardens and the beautiful interiors, there is so much to take in and explore for your wedding day portraits.
Milton Lee Olive Park is a great location if you want to avoid the crowds of North Avenue Beach, but still want a little bit of skyline. This Chicago park has a beautiful beach, a concrete overhang that juts out over Lake Michigan, and a lot of other unique structures and nature that make up the park.
Michigan Avenue is made up of some of the coolest architecture in the city of Chicago. Between the Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, and all of the buildings that line the river walk there is so much to explore and so many cool backgrounds for your wedding portraits. This is another very popular spot for wedding party photos. If you have your wedding day on a Friday or a Saturday, there is a chance you might have to wait in line for some of the most iconic spots.
The Museum campus is such a fun location for wedding portraits because there is so much to do in that area. Between the skyline next to the planetarium, the gardens by the aquarium and so much more, there are so many unique places that make for perfect locations to take wedding portraits in Chicago.
Though yes, all of these locations are great for wedding portraits, there is something about the brownstones and side streets of Chicago that just make the best backdrops for wedding portraits. If you’re wanting a low key day with minimum travel I highly recommend asking your photographer to stake out the area to find some of the best spots to take your wedding portraits around your Chicago venue.
When it comes to picking out locations for your wedding portraits in Chicago, you are never short on options. Sit down with your partner and look through all of these epic locations, scope them out on google maps or in person, or if you’re not really sure, lean into your photographer to help you brainstorm the perfect spot! If you’re still looking for a wedding photographer to help you pick out the perfect location for your wedding portraits, head to my contact page and fill out the form so we can get things started!