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Hey there, urban adventurers! Planning to elope in Chicago? You’ve come to the right place. This article is your full Chicago elopement guide written by a destination elopement photographer, from choosing the best season to finding the best Chicago elopement locations. So grab a cup of coffee (or a Chicago-style pizza from Lou’s) and let’s dive into making your Chicago elopement unforgettable!

When to Elope in Chicago

Chicago offers a unique charm in every season, but choosing the best time to elope in Chicago depends on your weather preference and the kind of backdrop you envision for your special day.

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Don’t worry about awkward poses or feeling weird in front of a camera.
No pressure in the moment photography for laid back couples.

Winter: December through February

Heat level: Think of that scene from The Shining where Jack Nicholson froze to death.

Winter in Chicago can be cold, but it also brings a serene beauty to the city. Imagine eloping in Chicago with the city’s iconic architecture dusted in snow, creating a stunning and romantic setting. The holiday season also lights up downtown with festive decorations, making it a magical time for photos.

Spring: March through May

Heat level: Mild and comfortable – but occasionally still snowing.

Spring in Chicago is all about new beginnings, with flowers blooming and the city coming back to life. This season offers mild temperatures, making it ideal to elope in Chicago. Early planning is key as spring can be popular for weddings. The beautiful spring blossoms and the refreshing atmosphere make for fantastic photo opportunities, especially around sunrise or sunset when the light is just perfect.

Summer: June through August

Heat level: Warm, sometimes hot, but lively.

Summer in Chicago is vibrant and full of energy. The warm weather means you can take advantage of the city’s beautiful parks, lakeside views, and outdoor venues. The late sunsets around 8 PM give you plenty of time to capture the golden hour in your photos. Despite the heat, the long days and bustling city life make summer a delightful season to elope in Chicago.

Fall: September through November

Heat level: Crisp and refreshing – the colors are amazing, but they last like two weeks.

Fall is arguably the best time to elope in Chicago, with its gorgeous foliage and comfortable temperatures. The changing leaves create epic color for your elopement photos. Early fall still offers plenty of warmth, while late fall brings a crispness to the air that’s perfect for cozying up. Fewer tourists and the serene beauty of autumn make fall an ideal time to enjoy the city’s charm.

Rivernorth engagement locations

Time of the Day to Elope in Chicago

When planning to elope in Chicago, the time of day can significantly impact your experience and your photos. Here’s how to make the most of it:

Outdoor Elopements

Sunrise: For the best photos and a magical experience, elope in Chicago at sunrise. The lighting is breathtaking, the streets are quiet, and you’ll have the city to yourselves. Early mornings often mean cooler temperatures and fewer weather surprises, making it the perfect time to say “I do.”

Sunset: If you’re not a morning person (and neither am I), aim for about 1-2 hours before sunset for your photos or ceremony. The golden hour light is incredibly flattering, and the city looks stunning as the day transitions to night.

Indoor Elopements

For indoor elopements, the time of day doesn’t need to revolve around the sun since most of the day will be spent indoors. This flexibility allows you to plan your ceremony and photos without worrying about lighting or weather. Whether you choose a morning, afternoon, or evening slot, indoor venues in Chicago provide a beautiful and controlled environment to elope in Chicago.

Marriage License for Eloping in Chicago

Alright, let’s kick things off with the most exciting part of getting married: Illinois marriage laws!

Where to Go: Head to the Cook County Clerk’s Office to get your marriage license. They have several locations, with the main office at:

  • Address: 50 W Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602
  • Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM – 5 PM

Timing: You can apply for your marriage license up to 60 days before your big day. This gives you plenty of time to get this checked off your list without any stress.

What to Bring:

  • ID: Each of you needs one of the following:
    • A U.S. driver’s license
    • Federal or State ID card
    • Passport with your name and date of birth
    • Military ID
    • For Non-Citizens: An alien registration number, foreign passport, or U.S. driver’s license works.
  • Social Security Number: You need to provide it, but no need to bring the actual card.
  • No Blood Tests Needed: Excellent, one less thing to worry about.
  • Family Law Handbook: Both of you need to affirm that you’ve read it before getting your license. It’s important stuff, promise.
  • Previous Marriages: If either of you has been married before, you’ll need to state how the last marriage ended and the exact date. No need to bring the death certificate or divorce decree—just the details.

Waiting Periods:

  • Non-Residents: If one or both of you aren’t Illinois residents, you can get your license immediately without a waiting period.
  • Illinois Residents: If you’re both Illinois residents, there’s no waiting period either. You can roll into Chicago, get your license, and tie the knot all in one day!

Fees: The cost for a marriage license in Cook County is $60.

Ceremony Timing: Once you have your license, the ceremony must happen within 60 days. This gives you flexibility but also keeps you on track to finalize your plans.

Permit: Don’t forget that some locations will require permits. Make sure to check with your chosen venue ahead of time to avoid any surprises.

Unique & Fun Chicago Elopement Ideas

Here are some unique ideas to make your elopement in Chicago unforgettable, complete with recommended locations and vendors:

Private Yacht Cruise

Charter a yacht and exchange vows on Lake Michigan with the city skyline as your backdrop. Follow it up with a romantic dinner on board as the sun sets over the water.

Helicopter Tour

Take a helicopter ride over Chicago’s iconic landmarks, offering a thrilling and unforgettable start to your married life. The aerial views of the city will leave you breathless.

  • Vendor: Fly Heli
  • Location: 2420 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL

Visit Millennium Park

Say your vows by the famous Cloud Gate (The Bean), followed by a whimsical photo session around the beautiful park gardens and fountains.

  • Location: Millennium Park, 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL

Lincoln Park Zoo

Get up close and personal with exotic animals at Lincoln Park Zoo, creating a unique and memorable backdrop for your wedding photos.

  • Location: Lincoln Park Zoo, 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL

Vintage Car Rental

Rent a classic car for the day and cruise around the historic streets and neighborhoods of Chicago in style. It adds a touch of elegance and nostalgia to your special day.

  • Vendor: Classic Wedding Car
  • Location: Chicago, IL

Beachfront Elopement

Consider a lakeside elopement on one of Chicago’s beautiful beaches, followed by a luxury picnic. The lakefront provides a serene and scenic setting for your ceremony.

  • Location: North Avenue Beach, 1600 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL
  • Vendor: Perfect Picnic Chicago

Visit Local Breweries

Chicago is known for its craft beer scene. Sample some local brews and enjoy a relaxed celebration at one of the city’s many breweries.

Architecture Tours

Explore Chicago’s rich architectural heritage with a guided tour. It’s a fun and educational way to celebrate your elopement while seeing the city’s iconic buildings.

Rooftop Tour

Enjoy the city from above by visiting some of Chicago’s best rooftop venues. Exchange vows with a breathtaking view of the skyline and celebrate with a rooftop reception.

Visit Every Landmark

Plan a day of visiting Chicago’s most famous landmarks, from The Bean to Navy Pier. Each spot offers a unique backdrop for photos, making your elopement a citywide adventure.

  • Location: Various landmarks including The Bean, Navy Pier, Willis (Sears) Tower, and more.

Tour a Local Distillery

Take a tour of a local distillery, then grab some handmade donuts afterward. It’s a sweet and unique way to cap off your special day.

  • Vendor: KOVAL Distillery
  • Location: 4241 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL
  • Donuts: Do-Rite Donuts
Board of Trade Building

Best Places to Elope in Chicago

For your elopement in Chicago, there’s no shortage of small wedding venues or locations that would be epic. As an elopement photographer who spent two years exploring the city every day, I’ve handpicked a diverse range of venues—some of which have fees, some that don’t.

Lincoln Park Honeycomb

A stunning pavilion with a unique honeycomb structure offering skyline views and nature vibes. Perfect for modern and stylish elopements.

  • Permit Required: Yes
  • Address: 2001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

J. Parker

A chic rooftop bar with panoramic views of the city and Lincoln Park. Ideal for a sophisticated, urban elopement.

  • Permit Required: No (but reservations needed)
  • Address: 1816 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60614

North Avenue Beach

A beautiful beach with stunning views of Lake Michigan and the city skyline. Great for a relaxed, waterfront ceremony.

  • Permit Required: Yes
  • Address: 1600 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60613

City Hall

An elegant, historic venue offering beautiful architecture and a grand staircase, perfect for a classic city elopement.

  • Permit Required: Yes
  • Address: 121 N LaSalle St, Chicago, IL 60602

DL Loft

A charming, intimate loft with vintage decor and a cozy atmosphere, perfect for a small, private ceremony.

  • Permit Required: No
  • Address: 3050 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657

Garfield Park Conservatory

A lush indoor garden with exotic plants and beautiful landscapes, ideal for nature-loving couples.

  • Permit Required: Yes
  • Address: 300 N Central Park Ave, Chicago, IL 60624

Millennium Park

Iconic urban park featuring Cloud Gate (The Bean) and beautiful gardens. Offers a stunning city backdrop.

  • Permit Required: Yes
  • Address: 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60602

Ambassador Chicago Hotel

A historic, luxurious hotel with elegant interiors and city views, perfect for a classy elopement.

  • Permit Required: No (but reservations needed)
  • Address: 1301 N State Pkwy, Chicago, IL 60610

LondonHouse – LH Rooftop

An upscale rooftop with breathtaking views of the Chicago River and skyline. Ideal for a glamorous city elopement.

  • Permit Required: No (but reservations needed)
  • Address: 85 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601
The best engagement location in Chicago: Londonhouse Rooftop
Wrigley Building

Wrigley Building

A historic skyscraper with beautiful architecture and views of the Chicago River. Great for a landmark ceremony.

  • Permit Required: Yes
  • Address: 400-410 N Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Blue Line

Unique elopement option using the iconic Chicago L train for an urban adventure with cityscape views.

  • Permit Required: Yes
Chicago Theatre

Chicago Theatre Sign

Iconic marquee sign perfect for a quintessential Chicago photo backdrop and ceremony spot.

  • Permit Required: Yes
  • Address: 175 N State St, Chicago, IL 60601

Lincoln Park Conservatory

Beautiful glasshouse with lush plant displays offering a serene and picturesque setting for an elopement.

  • Permit Required: Yes
  • Address: 2391 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614
Where to propose in Chicago near navy pier

Milton Lee Olive Park

A peaceful park with stunning lakefront views and the city skyline, perfect for an intimate outdoor ceremony.

  • Permit Required: Yes
  • Address: E Ohio St, Chicago, IL 60611

Chicago Cultural Center

A historic landmark with magnificent architecture and Tiffany glass dome, offering an elegant setting for your elopement.

  • Permit Required: Yes
  • Address: 78 E Washington St, Chicago, IL 60602

Best Places to Stay in Chicago

Some of these are recommendations on where to stay for your Chicago elopement from Airbnb, but some are amazing hotels. All of these locations would add to the reasons you want to elope in Chicago.

Hotels with Great Views

LondonHouse Chicago Located on the Chicago River, this luxurious hotel offers stunning views of the skyline and the river, especially from the LH Rooftop bar.

  • Address: 85 E Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60601

The Langham, Chicago This elegant hotel features floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of the Chicago River and the city. The sophisticated rooms and amenities provide a luxurious stay.

  • Address: 330 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago Situated along the Chicago River, this hotel offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, the river, and the city’s skyline from its luxurious rooms and suites.

  • Address: 401 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

The Peninsula Chicago Located in the heart of the Magnificent Mile, this hotel provides spectacular views of the city’s architecture and Lake Michigan from its sophisticated rooms and rooftop terrace.

  • Address: 108 E Superior St, Chicago, IL 60611

The Gwen, a Luxury Collection Hotel This art deco-inspired hotel offers rooms with impressive views of the city’s skyline and the Chicago River. The rooftop terrace is a perfect spot for taking in the scenery.

  • Address: 521 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611

Recommended Airbnbs in Chicago

Here are four highly recommended Airbnbs in Chicago, perfect for a comfortable and memorable stay:

Modern Luxury Apartment in River North A stylish apartment in the heart of River North, featuring modern amenities and stunning city views. Perfect for couples looking for a trendy and vibrant neighborhood.

Elegant Loft with Skyline Views This elegant loft offers breathtaking skyline views, chic decor, and all the comforts of home. Ideal for those wanting to immerse themselves in the urban landscape.

Cozy Apartment Near Millennium Park A cozy and stylish apartment just steps away from Millennium Park. This location offers convenience and comfort, with easy access to top attractions and beautiful park views.

Spacious Loft in West Loop This spacious loft in the trendy West Loop area boasts modern design and fantastic city views. Perfect for those looking to explore Chicago’s vibrant food scene and nightlife.

Best Restaurants to Dine in Chicago

Here are some top dining spots in Chicago, perfect for a memorable elopement meal:

Alinea Cuisine: Progressive American Alinea offers an unforgettable dining experience with its innovative and artful dishes. Known for its avant-garde cuisine, each course is a work of art designed to surprise and delight your senses.

Girl & The Goat Cuisine: New American This popular restaurant in the West Loop features a diverse menu with bold flavors and inventive dishes. From wood-fired oysters to goat empanadas, the eclectic menu is perfect for adventurous eaters.

RPM Italian Cuisine: Italian RPM Italian offers a modern take on classic Italian cuisine, with dishes crafted from the finest ingredients. Enjoy homemade pastas, fresh seafood, and prime cuts of meat in a chic, elegant setting.

Le Colonial Cuisine: French-Vietnamese Le Colonial transports you to 1920s French Vietnam with its elegant decor and refined cuisine. The menu features a blend of French and Vietnamese flavors, with dishes like lemongrass chicken and beef tenderloin in a tamarind sauce.

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria Cuisine: Chicago Deep-Dish Pizza For a quintessential Chicago experience, Lou Malnati’s offers the city’s famous deep-dish pizza in a cozy, laid-back atmosphere. Enjoy a slice of heaven with their buttery crust, rich tomato sauce, and generous toppings.

Chicago Elopement Vendors

Planning to elope in Chicago? You need a team you can count on. Here are my favorite elopement vendors in Chicago.

Recommended Videographers in Chicago

Luke Kran Films Luke Kran Films captures the essence of your wedding day with cinematic quality and a keen eye for detail. Known for their storytelling prowess, they create stunning wedding films that you’ll treasure forever.

Karen Louise Documentaries Karen Louise Documentaries offers heartfelt and artistic wedding films, focusing on capturing genuine emotions and moments. Their approach ensures your wedding video is both beautiful and deeply personal.

Recommended Florists in Chicago

M. Kuzma Designs M. Kuzma Designs provides exquisite floral arrangements tailored to your wedding theme and style. Their creativity and attention to detail ensure that your wedding flowers are nothing short of spectacular.

Secret Garden Chicago Secret Garden Chicago offers unique and lush floral designs that bring your wedding vision to life. Their bespoke arrangements add a touch of natural beauty and elegance to your special day.


Love Story Weddings Love Story Weddings specializes in personalized ceremonies that reflect your unique relationship. Their experienced officiants take the time to craft a memorable and heartfelt ceremony, ensuring your special day is truly one-of-a-kind.

I Do Weddings I Do Weddings offers professional officiant services with a focus on making your ceremony meaningful and stress-free. They work closely with couples to create customized vows and a ceremony that perfectly fits your style and personality.

Chicago Wedding Guy The Chicago Wedding Guy is known for his engaging and warm approach, ensuring a joyful and memorable ceremony. With a knack for storytelling, he creates a personalized experience that celebrates your love story.

Recommended Specialty Car Rental Companies for Weddings in Chicago

Instant Luxury Rentals offers an extensive selection of exotic and luxury cars, perfect for making a grand entrance on your wedding day. Choose from a range of high-end vehicles, including Ferraris and Lamborghinis, with exceptional customer service and convenient delivery options.

Elegant Motors provides a fleet of elegant, vintage cars, including long-wheelbase Rolls-Royce models. Their wedding packages include red carpet service, champagne, and a “Just Married” sign, ensuring a glamorous and unforgettable experience.

Chicago Vintage Car Service Chicago Vintage Car Service offers a variety of vintage and classic cars, perfect for adding a touch of nostalgia to your wedding. They provide immaculate vehicles and professional service, ensuring you travel in style on your special day.

These companies provide exceptional service and a range of beautiful cars to make your wedding transportation as memorable as the ceremony itself.

Sample Chicago Elopement Timelines

Sunrise + Downtown

  • 6:30am: Shoot begins on the river
  • 7:45am: Head towards LaSalle St
  • 8:45am: Head to Calder’s Flamingo
  • 9:15am: Head to Blue Line
  • 10:15am: 10-15 minute ceremony
  • Family photos at the park
  • 12:00pm: Head to lunch
  • 1:00pm: Head to London House for “drink” or the park next to Navy Pier
  • 2-3pm: Downtown photos

Ceremony + Nighttime

  • 1:30pm: Shoot begins near Ping Tom
  • 2:15pm: Head from Ping Tom to Yellow Staircase in mall OR Circle (Batman) Garage
  • 2:00pm: Ceremony
  • 2:30pm: Group photos at Lincoln Park
  • 3:00pm: Group heads to dinner site
  • 5:35pm: Leave for sunset at North Beach
  • 5:56pm: Sunset
  • 6:30pm: Drive to Riverwalk
  • 6-9:30pm: Downtown photos

Chicago Elopement Photographer

Hi there, my name is Roy Serafin, a Chicago elopement photographer, though I’m based in Florida now. Don’t worry – travel is included. My passion lies in candid storytelling, capturing the genuine moments and unique love stories of each couple. I customize every elopement to fit the distinct vibe of the couple, creating one-of-a-kind works of art for their micro weddings. I aim to deliver images that reflect the story of your micro wedding according to what is uniquely important to you.

Chicago Elopement Packages

Your elopement day is all about you, embracing those intimate moments and truly enjoying the essence of getting married. It’s important that your day reflects what you both value and love doing together. When planning your elopement, make sure to find a photographer who not only takes amazing photos but also brings your ideas to life. If you think we vibe, check out my Chicago elopement packages and let’s make your dream elopement a reality!

Every package includes travel – getting me to your wedding will not be an extra cost.

The Page | $2400

Duration: 2 hours – for couples who just want the ceremony and some downtown photos.

  • Includes:
    • Roy as your photographer
    • Fully edited & color-graded images
    • Tailored Planning Advice
    • Online gallery
    • Full printing rights

The Chapter | $3400

Duration: 4 hours – getting ready all the way to sunset.

  • Includes:
    • Roy as your photographer
    • Fully edited & color-graded images
    • Tailored Planning Advice
    • Online gallery
    • Full printing rights

The Story | $5600

Duration: 6 hours – the full story from getting ready to dinner time.

  • Includes:
    • Roy as your photographer
    • Base Engagement Session
    • Fully edited & color-graded images
    • Tailored Planning Advice
    • Print credit
    • Online gallery
    • Full printing rights

Chicago Elopement Photos

Reach out for Photography

(a.k.a. Ask my Rates & Availability).

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