Where to Take Wedding Portraits in Chicago

If you’re looking for an iconic backdrop for your wedding portraits, look no further than the city of Chicago! No matter what kind of feel you’re going for, Chicago offers a range of beautiful locations for you and your partner to choose from for your wedding portraits. The proximity of Chicago’s many iconic locations also offers convenience for couples who want to visit more than one on their wedding day. Whether it be the beautiful parks, iconic architecture, or the breathtaking lakeshore and skyline, there are plenty of options for your wedding portraits in Chicago.

Things to Think About When Choosing Your Portrait Location(s)

One of the best parts about Chicago is whether you’re taking photos on North Avenue Beach or the alley behind your wedding venue, you still get the Chicago feel.  Location-wise, there really is no wrong answer when it comes to choosing a location for your wedding portraits in Chicago.  As you explore the many options for your wedding portraits in Chicago though, you’ll want to consider a handful of things while you’re planning. 

Travel Time

When laying out your wedding day timeline, you’re going to want to think through how much time you want to spend traveling from location to location, and the traffic you might encounter when moving throughout the city.  If you have a tightly scheduled timeline, you’re going to want to choose a place in Chicago for your wedding portraits that are relatively close to your wedding venue. 


If you’re traveling throughout the city and hope to have your wedding party traveling with you, you’re going to want to think through transportation.  Though yes you can wait for an uber or pack into your friends’ car, this can be risky in terms of parking and finding a ride.  If you have a schedule that needs you and your wedding party to be on time, I recommend having group transportation or going somewhere within walking distance from your wedding venue!


There are some locations that require a permit for taking wedding portraits throughout the city of Chicago. Lucky for you, with all of my experience working throughout Chicago with my wedding couples, I have a lot of experience in planning wedding days and helping my couples apply for permits for their dream locations throughout the city.

Holidays and Large Events

When making your wedding plans, you will want to take note of anything going on in the city that day.  On days when there are road closures for things like Lolla Palooza or the Chicago Marathon, you’re going to want to avoid the loop.  If you’re planning your wedding in Chicago the same weekend as the Air and Water Show, you’re going to want to avoid North Avenue Beach at all costs. 

A few other events you will want to look out for are Mexican Independence Day, Lollapalooza, and the Taste of Chicago. You might also want to look into the dates and times of Chicago sporting events depending on where you want to take your wedding portraits.  It is not the end of the world planning your wedding day on the same day as one of these events, but you will want to add in extra time for travel if you do happen to book your wedding on one of these holidays or events.

Where to Take Wedding Portraits in Chicago

The Magnificent Mile

If you’re looking for an awe-inspiring backdrop for your wedding portraits, you’ll want to consider Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. The Magnificent Mile is Chicago’s most well-known shopping district featuring many breathtaking historical landmarks. Some of the locations throughout this upscale neighborhood in the Near North Side of Chicago include the Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, the Art Institute, the Riverwalk, and the Cultural Center. The Magnificent Mile is in the heart of downtown Chicago, so you should expect it to be crowded if you choose this area for your wedding portraits. Here are some common wedding portrait sites located on the Magnificent Mile.

Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower

The Wrigley Building is a beautifully designed skyscraper and clock tower that stands alongside the Chicago River. Right across Michigan Ave from the Wrigley Building is the iconic Tribune Tower. These buildings offer an awesome outdoor site for you and your partner to explore as your wedding portraits are taken. The view of Chicago’s iconic architecture which lines the river as well as the river itself will look amazing as a backdrop for you and your love.

The Art Institute

The Art Institute is a location that is guaranteed to have some eye-catching scenery for your Chicago wedding portraits. Between the exhibits and the gardens of the Art Institute, this location is very vibrant. A perk of taking photos at this site is that you do not need a permit although you will have to pay the price of general admission. Flash photography is not allowed but there are plenty of great windows throughout the indoor facility for natural light. You also cannot bring your bouquet into the museum.

The Riverwalk

The Chicago Riverwalk offers over a mile of urban scenery for you and your love to explore. Along the Riverwalk, you’ll find landmarks such as the River Theater and the La Salle Street Bridge that give you that perfect Chicago feels making it such a great location for your wedding portraits in Chicago.

The Cultural Center

The Chicago Cultural Center is a great indoor location for your wedding portraits for many reasons. The interior design is stunning. Every inch of the facility’s interior, from the walls, the windows, and the light fixtures, will make for an enchanting backdrop for your wedding portraits. Also, admission into the building and the exhibits is free.

The Loop

If you’re looking to share your love for the city of Chicago through your wedding portraits, you’ll want to get them done in Chicago’s official downtown, the Loop. Some cool locations in the Loop that I’d recommend for your wedding portraits are Union Station, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the Chicago Theater.

Union Station

Inside and out, the architectural beauty of Union Station gives it a fierce cinematic feel for your wedding portraits in Chicago. A permit is needed though to do a session inside the station, but the outside of Unions Station, particularly the pillars that line Canal Street make the perfect place for your Chicago wedding portraits.

Chicago Board of Trade

The Chicago Board of Trade Building is an iconic symbol of the Loop which offers a dramatic feel for your wedding portraits. The buildings that line Lasalle Street dead ending into the Chicago Board of Trade Building showcase some of the greek inspired architecture Chicago is known for and creates a really stunning backdrop for your wedding portraits in Chicago.  This is a common spot for wedding parties to take photos, so you may have to wait for an opportunity for your wedding party to use the space. 

State Street/Chicago Theater

The Chicago Theater on State Street is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Chicago. Whether you decide to take photos right outside of the theater in front of the iconic “Chicago” sign, or further down State Street on the State Street Bridge, going with this location for your wedding portraits will really show off your love for the city of Chicago.

Lincoln Park

When you think of the city of Chicago, you might not think of it as a nature lover’s paradise. That’s not the case in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. If you’re looking for a serene backdrop full of nature’s wonder, look no further than Lincoln Park. Some of the most beautiful and eye-catching sites that I would recommend for your wedding portraits in Chicago include the Lincoln Park Conservancy, Oz Park, and the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. All these locations besides Oz Park require a permit which I recommend you request months in advance.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

The Lincoln Park Conservatory is one of the lushest sites in Chicago to take wedding portraits. The Victorian Glass House which features exotic plants from throughout the world makes for a stunning wedding portrait site.  One of the best parts about taking your wedding portraits in the Lincoln Park Conservancy is that the space is temperature-controlled and covered, so no matter the weather you know you will have a great experience.

Oz Park

If you’re looking for a peaceful lighthearted location to bring out the inner child in you, Oz Park is the perfect place for you to take your wedding portraits in Chicago. This park pays tribute to the Wizard of Oz, featuring statues of the film’s four main characters.  Filled with tall trees and a large open field, Oz Park is a great spot for couples who want the feel of the city of Chicago but not the crowds that come with some of the more popular locations.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Another gorgeous Lincoln Park location that will surround you and your love with lush greenery is the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. It is a covered space that surrounds a lily pool located near North Avenue Beach.  This popular Chicago location is a part of the Lincoln Park Conservancy, so you will need to obtain a permit to take photos here.

The Lakefront

Another beautiful natural location that is a common destination for wedding portraits in Chicago is the Lake Michigan Lakefront. Not only does it have the feel of a tropical beach destination during the summer, but it also has one of the best views of Chicago’s skyline. Some of the locations that I would recommend on the Lakefront include North Avenue Beach, Promontory Point, Milton Lee Olive Park, and Diversey Harbor.

North Avenue Beach

Nothing can really beat the skyline at North Avenue Beach.  North Avenue Beach is a very busy destination during the summer months. The view of the skyline is incredible, and although it gets especially busy around sunset, the lighting and scenery during golden hour make braving the crowd so worth it.

Promontory Point

If you’re looking for a location on the lakefront that isn’t as busy as North Avenue beach, you might want to check out the unique rocky shores of Promontory Point. This man-made peninsula features a shore of large limestone rocks, beaches, and greenery.  Much like North Avenue Beach, this location is fairly popular, so be prepared for crowds!

Milton Lee Olive Park

Another beachy destination that’s far less busy than North Avenue Beach is Milton Lee Olive Park. It features a great view of the skyline as well as a concrete vantage point which juts out over Lake Michigan.  This park offers so many beautiful options for portraits.  Between the concrete vantage point, the beach, the rocky edge and the trees that hang over the park, there are so many beautiful spots for your Chicago wedding portraits.

Diversey Harbor

The boating docks of Diversey Harbor located in the Lincoln Park South Lagoon have a unique vantage point of the skyline making them a great location for your wedding portraits in Chicago.  This unique location surrounded by boats, docks and Chicagoans running and biking along the lakeshore makes for really beautiful and timeless portraits for your wedding day.

Wedding Venue Neighborhood

Nothing beats the brownstones, local bars, brick buildings, back alleys, murals, rooftops, and urban landscapes that will give your wedding portraits that Chicago feel.  If you’re looking for a more relaxed wedding day timeline, I highly recommend taking your Chicago wedding portraits in the neighborhood where your venue is located in.  

Helping my couples choose their portrait locations for their Chicago weddings is one of my favorite parts of the planning process. These locations not only provide backdrops for stunning photos, but they also make for great wedding day experiences. For more planning tips and information on how to plan a Chicago wedding, head to my blog to check out more of my recent posts!

February 9, 2023

Sreeja Ankam

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