How to Plan a Courthouse Wedding in Chicago

If you and your partner are looking to have your wedding in Chicago but don’t want to have an extravagant ceremony, or deal with all the planning that would go into it, having a courthouse wedding may be a good option for the two of you. A courthouse wedding can save you a lot of money and the Cook County Marriage Court of Chicago is an amazing spot for several reasons I’ll get into. There are many ways to have a courthouse wedding. Here are some things you should consider as you plan your courthouse wedding in Chicago!

Find Your Chicago Elopement Photographer

Photographers have so much insight on courthouse weddings and elopements in Chicago and can be super helpful in guiding you through the process. To find out my availability and start the booking process, set up a call with me! As photographers we’ve seen it all, from extravagant and massive weddings, to intimate courthouse weddings with just the two of you and your photographer present.

This means that once you do find the photographer you want to photograph your wedding day, walk through your plans for your day with them. They’ll be able to tell you what works and what needs adjustment in your timeline. They’ll also be able to answer any questions you have, or help you research them, like what should we do before and after our courthouse elopement, who’s allowed to be present for it, and what are the requirements for a wedding at the Cook County Marriage Court (which we’ll cover next) among other things.

Planning Your Wedding at the Cook County Marriage Court

Next up we’ll go over some of Illinois’ marriage laws to consider when planning your courthouse wedding in Chicago. Having a witness is not required by law in the state of Illinois. Also, there is a one day waiting period in the city of Chicago which means that your marriage license will not go into effect until 24 hours after you obtain it through Illinois’ application process. Appointments are not required at the Cook County Marriage Court, and their hours can be found here. You and your partner will have to arrive at least a half hour before they close. The Cook County Court also does weddings at the Chicago Cultural Center which will make for an astonishingly beautiful backdrop for your wedding portraits. In order to have your wedding ceremony at the Cultural Center, you will have to make an appointment with the Cook County Marriage Court.

Wedding Portraits

The Cook County Marriage Court of Chicago, located in Chicago’s City Hall, is such a great place to have a courthouse wedding because it is a beautiful site surrounded by plenty of other great places to take wedding portraits. Not only is the building itself gorgeous, but it is also has some of the most iconic architecture in the city around it. It’s just a couple blocks south of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile where you will find beautiful sites to explore for your wedding portraits like the Tribune Tower, Wrigley Building, Riverwalk, Art Institute, and Cultural Center. Also, it is in the Chicago Loop, home to awesome wedding portrait spots such as the Chicago Board of Trade, Chicago Theater, and Union Station. There are SO many options near Chicago City Hall so we’ll have no shortage of incredible locations for your newlywed portraits!


City Hall is a great starting point for your wedding day celebrations! You can plan a little get together afterward, explore the beauty of the downtown, meet up with family and friends for dinner, or really anything at all! You could have a picnic on the lakefront, walk around your favorite parts of the city…your options in the area that surround City Hall are pretty much endless. Whatever you plan to do, it is important that you plan some sort of celebration after your Chicago courthouse wedding. This is such a huge moment, both in your lives and your relationship. Plan in some time to take it all in, the emotions you’re feeling, the moment itself, and all the dreams you have for your future together and celebrate!

There you have it, the basics on how to plan your own courthouse wedding in Chicago. There’s a lot that goes into a wedding day, so if you still have questions 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 to do is find an officiant or an ordained friend and a location to host it and you’ll be good to go! 

February 23, 2023

Sreeja Ankam

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