Top 10 Outdoor Wedding Photo Locations in Chicago
When getting married in Chicagoland area, one of the top choices for any bride are the bridal wedding photos locations. As you know, Chicago has lots of choices, anything from the wonderful and famous skyline to gardens that make you forget you’re even in the city. Many locations are under strict rules that require you to get a permit days in advance, although there are a couple locations where, you and your entire wedding party, can go and just spend time with your photographer without worrying about a permit. I have photographed in many of these locations and I have chosen the top 10 best places that everybody loves.
1. Adler Planetarium
This location is one of the most popular for doing scenic backgrounds, for it has the incredible Chicago skyline and also the lake behind the planetarium as well as the beach, that makes for great alternative to the city. Also there are lots of trees and flowers, in the season, that make for great shade for the entire wedding party. Northerly Island Park is one of my ultimate places around the planetarium is to the south of it (about a 5 minute walk), past the 12 Street beach and the touristic area.
In my opinion this is the best view of the city. The great thing about the Planetarium is that it does not require a permit, so you’re free to stay and photograph as long as you want; however, parking is close to impossible, the parking lot is practically always full and even with a limo, you can’t be parked for more than 5 min. I highly suggest this place if you have a driver that can just drop you off, so that you can enjoy your photo session.
Address: 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr.
Chicago IL 60605 Phone: 312.922.STAR (312.922.7827)
2. The Bean / Cloud Gate
The Bean is one of the newest attractions in Chicago, and by far one of the most visited. Known by its official name as “Cloud Gate”, it is situated right in the heart of Chicago, on Michigan Avenue’s Millennium Park. The sculpture offers some great shots of city reflections as well as great views of the downtown area. In a sunny day it offers no shade; however, right to the north of it you can find nice small parks with plenty of shade, but it takes away from the view of the bean.
Although the Bean is amazing and beautiful, being able to photograph without visitors in the background is impossible, for it’s always visited, day or night and parking is possible mainly in the city parking garage without being towed; however, so far they don’t require a permit for Photography. I love this place, but just like the Planetarium, parking is an issue so try to be dropped off.
Address: 201 E. Randolph St., between Michigan Ave and Columbus Ave
Chicago IL 60602 Phone: 312.742.1168
3. Buckingham Fountain
For the summer season, this fountain is absolutely stunning, especially as a backdrop for a large bridal party, it has lots of space so that even if there are lots of visitors, you can still find a space to make it your own. It is one of the largest fountains in the world, so the bigger the bridal party, the better, it has a nice, elegant and regal feeling to it. Also, around it you have the North and South Rose Gardens and the city view in the background which adds splendor to the photographs.
If it gets too hot, you can get the shade in one of the gardens and still have the fountain in the background, you won’t be very close to it, but you won’t look sweaty in the photos. This location and gardens around it requires a permit and parking is not very direct. If you’re lucky to find parking on Columbus Drive, you still have to walk a bit to the fountain, but in my opinion, it’s well worth the walk.
Address: Columbus Dr. (301 E.) & Congress Pkwy. (500 S.)
Chicago IL 60605 Phone: 312.742.PLAY (7529)
4. Lincoln Park – Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
For the nature lovers, this small lily pond is a great place with a small waterfall and great background. I wouldn’t suggest it for a very large wedding party, but smaller ones would have great photographs here.
Parking is also pretty decent because you can park on the street behind the pond or in the Lincoln Zoo parking lot, which is on the east side of the pond. Either way, you have to walk a few minutes to enter. This pond is great mainly in the summer and fall, it closes towards the winter time.
Address: Fullerton Pkwy. & Cannon Dr.
Chicago IL 60614 Phone: 312.742.PLAY (7529)
5. Lincoln Park – North Pond
In this very large park, just about any place looks great, so you can either have a very nature-like feel to the photographs or even the skyline from different areas. It is hard to pinpoint an exact location, but I always seem to be drawn to the North Pond, where I find more room to stretch out if I go with a large wedding party, and it also is just as great if I’m with just the bride and groom.
From the north pond facing south, the city looks incredible and you can get some great shots. You have plenty of shade if need be and you also have many sculptures you could use as props or backgrounds. As far as permits are concerned, some areas in the park require a permit while some don’t, so you have to check with the Chicago Park District to see which is which.
Address: 2045 W. Lincoln Park West
Chicago IL 60614 Phone: 312.742.PLAY (7529)
6. Navy Pier – PFC Milton Olive Park
This is an alternative to the Chicago downtown skyline. You do not get the entire skyline, mainly the north side of town, but you get enough for everyone to recognize it as Chicago and you also have Oak beach in the background. This is a favorite of mine because to the south it offers a splendid view of one of the largest Ferris Wheels in the world, to the west the lake, and to the north the city.
You have many photographic choices here and they are all great. Also, you can always just pop into Navy Pier for a few photographs, though you’ll never be able to not have someone in your photographs because of the amount of people that are always there. Parking is fairly easy if you park in the Navy Pier parking lot and walk to the park, it’s about 5-10 minutes. I greatly recommend it.
Address: 600 E. Grand Ave
Chicago IL 60611 Phone: 312.595.PIER Toll Free: 1.800.595.PIER
7. Jackson Park
Located right behind the Museum of Science and Industry, this has become one of my top choices mainly because of Osaka Garden, which is situated right in the middle of the park between the east and west lagoon. Of course, the park offers many other locations, but the Japanese Garden has a very exotic feel to it, not to mention the amount of plants and flowers that’s overwhelming.
Parking is very easy for they have a pretty large parking lot. They require permits for most of this park, but I suggest calling ahead just to make sure that the area you choose needs one. Although permits costs are high, it’s most definitely worth it.
Address: 1735 E. Columbia Dr.
Chicago IL 60637 Phone: 312.742.PLAY (7529)
8. Michigan Avenue Bridge – Chicago Riverwalk
For all those architectural lovers out there, this is the best location for you to be. You get to have in the background some of the most famous buildings ever made. There are several little areas to take photos, but one of the most used is in the median of the street to get the image of North Michigan Avenue.
One of my favorites, especially for large parties, is the spiral staircase that leads down to the Chicago River, as well as the new courtyard at the Trump Tower and the Wrigley Building. Parking is as hard as any other downtown Chicago location, but if you’re dropped off, you have nothing to worry about.
Address: 100 E. Wacker Dr., 500 E. Wacker Dr. – 300 W. Wacker Dr.
Chicago, IL 60601
9. Chicago Botanical Garden
A must for the nature lovers. This very large garden has it all, trees, flowers, scenic bridges, oriental and English gardens, as well as ponds. Whatever your heart desires, you find it there, including plenty of shade and open areas.
The Chicago Botanical Garden is equally perfect for large or small wedding parties. Parking is available for only $20.00 and there is no entry fee, but it requires a permit that you can get upon arrival.
Address: 1000 Lake Cook Road,
Glencoe, IL 60022 Phone: (847) 835-5440
10. Baha’i’ Temple
Located in Wilmette, it’s somewhat of a drive from Chicago, but if your wedding is in the north suburbs, it’s perfect. This temple is a beautiful building with great architectural detail. It is surrounded by gardens and pools that make for a great backdrop.
Whether it’s a large or a small party, you will have great natural background. It doesn’t require a permit and you can photograph anywhere the gardens are. They have free parking, which is a plus.
Address: 100 Linden Ave.
Wilmette, IL 60091 Phone: (847) 853-2300
For more information on park permits please click here.
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