How to Plan a Wedding Ceremony in a Chicago Public Park

So you’re engaged and you want to have your wedding ceremony at one of the many beautiful public parks that Chicago has to offer. First off congratulations! This is a huge moment in your lives and such an exciting and special new chapter to be starting together. As you start to plan out your ceremony though, things can feel pretty daunting, especially when you start to think about all the rules and regulations that come with a wedding in the Windy City’s public parks. That’s why I put this guide together to help you in your planning process and get your Chicago public park wedding on the right track!

How to Plan a Wedding Ceremony in a Chicago Public Park

The Legalities

Finding an Officiant

When finding an officiant for your wedding ceremony in a public park in Chicago you will want to think through what kind of experience you hope to have.  Are you and your partner more on the religious side and want to have a religious figure in your community conduct the ceremony? If so there is typically a fee that will need to pay to hire them for your ceremony.  This often will limit the hours in which you can have your ceremony as well which is something to be aware of if this is the route you plan on taking.

Have a Friend or Family Member Conduct the Ceremony

The most affordable, and oftentimes the most fun option, is to have a close friend or family member conduct your Chicago public park wedding ceremony. They will have to be ordained through the Universal Life Church which is a pretty straightforward and simple process. This also leads to you having an officiant that truly knows you and your love story which makes for an incredibly special experience for your wedding day.

Get Married Legally at the Courthouse and Plan Your Ceremony w/o the Legalities

More and more often couples are taking the legalities out of the picture completely by taking care of the legalities of their marriage at their local courthouse prior to their wedding day or after their wedding day.  This added flexibility is making it easier to create the wedding day experience you want without having any formal paperwork or legalities take up time during your special day. It’s a great way to keep things focused on you and the experience you want to have for your wedding day, and also lets you relax and enjoy the day more as there’s one less thing to worry about!

Choosing Your Chicago Public Park

When choosing which public park in Chicago to host your ceremony, start with the basic question of what kind of feel do you want on your wedding day?  Then think through your ceremony, who you want to be there, what you want it to look like, and how you hope your ceremony to go? As we get further into the article the answers to these questions will guide you to finding the public park that best fits your vision. One important thing to note up front is that at some public parks, though you can host a ceremony there, there cannot be any sort of setup such as seating or wedding arches.

Applying For Permits

Whether you’re eloping or planning a larger wedding you will want to be sure to contact the Chicago public park you’re interested in well in advance to reserve your date. While the park district owns the majority of Chicago’s parks, there are some that are privately owned such as the Lincoln Park Boardwalk, the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool and a handful of others.  You can find out exactly how to apply for an event permit, what qualifies as an event, and what rules each park location has by visiting the parks website, or the Chicago Park District website

Eloping at a Chicago Public Park

Know that if you’re eloping, there will be more flexibility in applying for permits and where you are able to actually have your ceremony in most parks.  With your elopement, the entity at which you plan to apply will need to know how many people you plan to have present at your ceremony, as well as the rough time of day you hope to have your ceremony, and the location.  When planning your elopement, it’s important to go in with a rough plan so you can be prepared and know exactly where and when you’re permitted to host your ceremony.  When applying, be sure to apply for your permit at the very least a month in advance.  If you do have a plan earlier than a month out, the sooner you apply for your permit to reserve your date and space the better.

Hosting a Wedding Ceremony at a Chicago Public Park

If you plan on hosting a larger wedding ceremony at a Chicago public park, the majority of the parks have designated event spaces for your ceremony to take place in.  When you apply, the park district or the park offices will need to know the rough guest count for your event, and if you plan to use the space before or after your ceremony.  When applying for your wedding ceremony space at a Chicago public park, you will want to be sure that you have a rough plan for what you envision your day to look like.  Many parks do not allow for arbors, set ups or chairs.  The parks that do allow more of an ornate set up often have a more strict plan on how things can be set up on your wedding day.  

It is important for larger ceremonies that you apply for your permit on the same timeline that you would book a venue which is around a year in advance.  That way you have time to plan out all the details of your wedding day and you can be sure that the park you choose is able to host your wedding as you envision.

What Public Park Should I Have My Wedding

When choosing your public park, you’ll want to think about a number of things including aesthetics, weather, who you plan to have as a guest, and much much more!  


Though some parks do allow it, many parks do not allow any sort of set up when it comes to your ceremony.  If you have a vision in mind, make sure to consult with the Chicago park district to see what the rules and regulations are for the park you hope to have your wedding in. Each public park in Chicago is beautiful in its own right and they all have their own distinct look, so be sure to do some research on the look of the park as well as the logistics. The beauty of public parks is that they are public which makes touring and viewing them first hand incredibly easy if you are in the Chicagoland area!


When planning your ceremony in a Chicago public park, it is important to note that Chicago is a part of the Midwest, and one thing that the Midwest is famous for is unpredictable weather.  When planning your wedding day, you will want to check with the park district to see what options there are for your ceremony in case of rain, or you might want to look into alternative options on your own.  For more intimate ceremonies, as long as there is not a torrential downpour, umbrellas are always an option.  For larger ceremonies, choosing a location with a covered space or a building option is usually the better call.

Outdoor Public Parks in Chicago that Allow Wedding Ceremonies

The North Rose Garden, Grant Park

Planning a wedding ceremony in Chicago public park, the North Rose Garden is a breathtaking space.  With the backdrop of the Mag Mile buildings framing your wedding ceremony paired with the beauty of the rose garden.  

Milton Lee Olive Park

Milton Lee Olive Park is located just off of Ohio Street Beach has a beautiful amphitheater style structure, along with an overlook jutting out over lake Michigan.  This location is independently managed, so be sure to contact the location management directly as you start planning.

North Avenue Beach

Arguably one of the most popular beaches/parks in Chicago, North Avenue Beach is a beautiful space to host your sunrise elopement ceremony, or to read your vows on your wedding day.  North Avenue beach has a gorgeous view of the city, which makes sense why it’s such a hot spot for wedding photos and intimate ceremonies.

Chicago Public Parks with Indoor or Covered Wedding Ceremony Spaces

Ping Tom Memorial Park

Ping Tom Memorial Park is on the Chicago River looking over the beautiful south side of the Chicago Skyline.  The Park has a number of super unique features including the boat house and a variety of other covered spaces for hosting your wedding day.

The Lincoln Park Boardwalks

The Lincoln Park Boardwalks are one of the most popular public parks in the city of Chicago to host a wedding ceremony.  The “Beehive” or the education pavilion hosts ceremonies, engagement sessions, wedding portraits and really all things weddings all throughout the year in Chicago.  Its gorgeous location surrounded by the nature path paired with the Chicago Skyline makes it the perfect location for your ceremony whether it be large or small.

Promontory Point

Located just North of 57th Street Beach in Chicago, this public park is a great ceremony location for Chicagoans that love the city.  Located at Promontory Point is a unique event space/building with a string lit patio and gorgeous interior perfect for hosting your wedding day.

Columbus Park Refectory

Located in the suburb of Oak Park, the Columbus Park Refectory is a beautiful golf course, garden and park.  The building itself is a landmark showing off Spanish architecture, ornate terracotta details and SO much to love for your Chicago park wedding day. 

As you can see there are a TON of beautiful public parks in Chicago perfect for your wedding ceremony. Not only that but there’s actually quite a bit of planning that goes into making everything work for a public park wedding. With this guide you’ll be much more prepared once you start your planning process, and if you’re still a little overwhelmed that’s where your photographer comes in. We’ve been in this industry for a while and we know what does and doesn’t work for a wedding. So if you need help planning and are still in need of a wedding photographer head to my contact page to send over an inquiry and we can plan your day together!

November 4, 2022

Sreeja Ankam

Written By:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. […] don’t worry! I have another blog that goes more in depth on eloping in Chicago which you can read here! And if you want to elope in Chicago but the marriage court isn’t calling your name, all you have […]