Where should we go for Chicago wedding photos?

The Windy City offers a myriad of great photoshoot locations to consider for your wedding or engagement session. With over 600 weddings experience, we can help answer this perennial question!


I’ve visited all the most popular spots along with some lesser known ones.

I’ll share my top 11 spots with key features and drawbacks.

I’ve even thrown in one bonus idea to try plus a tempting-but-no spot that winds up on too many A.I. generated lists for my liking.

I’ll say this up front. The “best” location for you may just hinge on the location’s proximity to you.  It doesn’t do you any good to get to a stellar spot only to have 5 minutes of photography there.

Store that away and let’s get into it!


      1. 1. Chicago Riverwalk & Bridges

    1. Stroll along the scenic Riverwalk, with the cityscape ascending above you as a backdrop. The architecture, repeating bridges, and riverside views offer a unique setting downtown that isn’t simply in the street.   Color Palate: Tan, Blue, Maroon
    2. The Riverwalk pairs nicely with the following nearby destination.



2. Wrigley Building

  1. Situated where Michigan Ave meets the river, witness the charm of the Wrigley Building for a perfect blend of architectural detail and river views in your wedding photos. You’ll have the Chicago River’s cool blue green waters echoed by blue green glass skyline across the river. Warm tan colored stone reliefs and gilded filigree framing on the Wrigley building are upscale and iconic touches. It’s a cool-warm 2 tone color palate that accommodates whatever you’re wearing. 
  2. The WRIGLEY BUILDING can even work at night. Look at those city lights! Your photographer will need to be adept with lighting for night photos to work.





  1. 3. Art Institute of Chicago Gardens

  1. The gardens surrounding the Art Institute provide an oasis of beauty in the heart of the city.  Capture intimate moments amid lush greenery and classically inspired sculptures. For fans of Ivy, classical architecture, fountains, and whimsical dwarf trees.  I especially love this locale in fall when the ivy starts to turn maroon and the trees go gold with red berries. 
  2. Let us take you there. 
  3. In summer you can expect a rich green canopy and ivy.
  4. Aside from the green spaces, I love the architecture at the Art Institute, especially these windows with their fun mirror distortions.
  5. The North Garden is most popular but don’t sleep on the the South Garden’s promenade.



  1. 4. Milton Lee Olive Park

  2. Located near Navy Pier, “Olive Park” offers a serene escape with sweeping views of Lake Michigan and a near proximity skyline stands across the water. The walk out to the views are shaded on both sides by an alley of Honey Locust trees, especially beautiful in Fall as each breeze causes petit golden teardrop leaves to flutter down around you.
  3. The main view is had from an overlook jutting out over the lake. The sun sets behind the skyline so this spot can look radically different depending on the time of day and time of year.
  4. Below: Evening sun in the lens causes a faded city and long shadows.
  5. Below: Early in the day you’ll have the sunlight in your face and shining onto the city.
  6. Below: Late evening (golden hour) puts the sun low on the skyline.
  7. Above: Overcast afternoon.  Below: With long telephoto lenses you can bring the abstract geometry of the city into play with your close up photos.
  8. The only knock on Milton Olive is that you’ll need to allow an extra 30 minutes for travel.
  9. The walk out to the vantage from the drop off point takes 10-15 each way and you may have to wait your turn for the iconic spots. 
  10. Pro tip: I like to photograph my couple beneath the Honey Locusts or elsewhere along the lakefront while we wait for the prime view location.




  1. 5. Lincoln Park Nature Boardwalk

  2. Surrounded by nature, the Nature Boardwalk in Lincoln Park Zoo provides a tranquil setting for wedding photos with lush greenery, water features, and the city skyline in the distance. The juxtaposition of nature with the city in the background is unique to Chicago.  I’ll help guide your limo, bus, or trolley driver to the best drop off spots for quickest access to this sprawling park’s best features. 




  1. 6. Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

  2. Are you nature lovers in an urban jungle?  This hidden gem near the Lincoln Park Boardwalk boasts a serene lily pool, Japanese garden inspired structures, and beautiful flora, offering a quiet and intimate location for capturing romantic moments.  You’ll forget you’re in Chicago aside from the distant sound of traffic. 
  3. Pro Tip: I often bring my couples or wedding parties here just prior to heading to the Lincoln Park Nature Boardwalk since they’re so close and share a parking area.



  1. 7. Garfield Park Conservatory

  2. If you’re looking for green space while the weather outside is frightful then I’ve got a spot for you.  Just west of the west loop you’ll find the covered jungle habitat Garfield Park Conservatory. It’s a welcome getaway on a rainy day or when a chill is in the air.
  3. In the main hall dense green tropical trees and flowers surround a sizable reflecting pond. Moss covered stone walls, palm leaves, tropical flowers and succulents are galore. The geometry of the green house structured above provides a counterpoint to the organic elements in your photographs.
  4. Drawback: The heat and humidity in here make it a less than ideal choice in summer and that’s putting it nicely. I had a groom almost pass out from the heat once but he’d also skipped breakfast…
  5. There is a photography permit required of roughly $75 for an hour. Check with the GPC for the latest rates and to fill out the application. 



  1. 8. North Ave Beach

  2. North Ave Beach is a great skyline view but a busy location.  It’s really best as a sunrise session. You’ll have it all to yourself as the sun comes up over the water. If sunrise isn’t going to work for you then the next best time is going to be in that final hour leading to sunset – golden hour and into twilight. In Fall sunset is conveniently closer to or prior to most receptions.
  3. After sunrise and golden hour the next best thing would be after your ceremony, in late afternoon. Ideally your wedding is falling in a season that’s off peak for beach volleyball life.
  4. I do not recommend this location at 2 or 3pm on a summer weekend. It’s hot. It’s crowded. The sun is directly overhead and there’s no shade aside from the restrooms. It’s doable if this place really speaks to you.
  5. I’ve made the trek many times in less than ideal conditions. For 2-3pm on a Saturday I recommend the less crowed Fullerton Beach featured next. 
  6. Golden hour, late in the evening is a wonderful time to visit North Ave’s lakefront. When beach volleyball is underway you can often avoid those crowds by staying north of the games near a structure called the Chess Pavillion.

  7. The following handful of photos feature a sunrise session and for that time of day you can get out onto the pier itself for epic views.
  8. Early evening can work too as shown in the next couple of images. We were in shade while the city was in daylight so these images required extensive post processing to balance everything. Your photographer may not spend as much time as we do on their edits. We’re extra that way.
  9. Pro tip: For group or couple’s shots with the city behind you allow at least 20 extra minutes for walking out onto the pier and back.



  1. 9. Fullerton Beach

  2. This isn’t as close to the city as North Ave Beach but if you’re coming from the Nature Boardwalk or Alfred Caldwell Lily Pond on Fullerton Ave then this is a convenient and faster lakefront stop. The skyline is still impressive from here and it’s way less crowded than North Ave.
  3. Notice how hazy the city can be mid afternoon. Atmospheric conditions can exacerbate the effect.
  4. Drawback: The sun will be directly on your backs, in your eyes, and there is no shade here. Windy days pose a problem as well.
  5. Tip: Allow 10 extra minutes for walking to and from the city views from the drop off area. Your transport may need to circle around if parking is closed or full.



  1. 10. Financial District – Board of Trade & Rookery Building

An iconic view up South LaSalle Street dead ends into the Board of Trade building on Jackson Ave. Greco Roman columns on either side of the street complete this classic scene. If you’ve obtained a permit you can work inside the Rookery Building and utilize the grand staircase (only available when a wedding isn’t already occurring in this venue).



  1. 11. West Loop Restaurant District & Murals

  2. For more grungy or cute neighborhood feels you can hit the areas around Green Street and Randolph in Chicago’s West Loop. This is one of my favorite spots to bring couples on their engagement sessions so I’m sharing some engagement photos here. This just scratches the surface of the possibilities as I’m only showing one alleyway’s offerings here. Hit me up to see more or to have me guide you through the area on your session!




  1. 12. USE Your OWN Venue, Neighborhood, or a Personal PLACE

  2. I know I said 11 top spots but here’s one more idea.
  3. As you survey your timeline you may find that you only have 1 hour to spare between the ceremony and reception. Why not stay close to where you already are, maximize your time, and trust your photographer to make some magic?
  4. Kaelyn & Mike originally wanted to go to the Art Institute Gardens. A major event in the loop was blocking all access to that location. We made a game day decision to hit Wicker Park instead. This gave us close to an hour to roam around.
  5. We all had a blast and made some unique portraits. It even turned out that Stan’s Donuts was a significant spot for them. They both felt relief to have more time for pictures somewhere rather than losing it all trying to force their far off first choice.

  1. Honorable Mention with a caveat: No Chicago list is complete without addressing this last spot…

THE Adler Planetarium at Museum Campus

  1. The Adler Planetarium offers panoramic views of the skyline, the lake, and the architecture of the Planetarium itself. The scene is especially dramatic after sundown with the city lights reflected on the water. For these reasons it often makes lists for top Chicago skyline views.
  2. Great skylines are one thing but if we’re talking about wedding portraits it’s a different story. 
  3. Due to the traffic getting out onto the peninsula, a total lack of shade, and high winds I have to recommend skipping this spot unless your wedding reception is at the Planetarium or Aquarium.  
  4. There are easier skyline destinations to get to on a wedding day that I’ve covered earlier. Don’t be fooled by other top lists written by A.I.

At golden hour on an overcast day we got these beauties but their reception was at the Adler so it made sense. In most cases with the crowds and the sun overhead, this is not a great place to bring the wedding party.



Chicago’s diverse and vibrant cityscape provides a multitude of wedding photo locations, each spot telling a unique story of its own. Whether you prop up against the glittering skyline, in the midst of a hidden garden, or within the walls of one of Chicago’s historic buildings, these top wedding photo spots in Chicago promise to showcase you and your love story at its very best.

I invite you to have me, Wes Craft, and my team serve you through this season of your lives! Get in touch HERE to inquire for your wedding date.

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