Documenting all love stories near or far

Shelby Jane

October 28, 2022

How to Elope in Chicago

FILED IN: Elopement

Thinking about heading to the Windy City to elope with your best friend? Well, you’re in the right place! When you think of adventure elopements (my specialty) you might not initially think of Chicago as being a place to plan an adventurous elopement day. In my past couple of years though, as I get to know some of the bigger cities throughout the US more, I have found that the cities provide SO many unique and amazing experiences PERFECT for my couples that live for adventure. In this blog we are doing a DEEP dive into everything you will need to think through when planning your Chicago elopement.

An LGBTQ couple crosses the street in Chicago in front of the Chicago Board of Trade Building after they eloped at the City Hall.


Obtaining Your Marriage License

When planning your Chicago elopement you will want to make sure you look into all of the details that go into legally getting married in Chicago.  Since 2020 these rules have changed a couple of times, so be sure to check the Cook County website to make sure you know the up to date rules!  As of right now, the cook county courthouse does not require an appointment to obtain your marriage licesnse.  If you plan to go somewhere else other than the courthouse be sure to call ahead and ask any questions you may have so that when you arrive on your wedding day you have everything you need.

When applying for your license be sure to apply in the county you plan to have your ceremony in.  There are SO many Chicago suburbs, and even some suburbs that tend to really blend with chicago, so be sure to do your research when planning your day and ask your venue or research what county the location you plan to elope in is in.  

As of 2022, there is a $60 fee to apply for your marriage licesnse.  You will also need to have with you a proof of age and proof of identity when applying.  Once your application is complete, your license is valid for up to 60 days from it’s approval, so be sure to plan your ceremony within that 60 day window.

Two wives stand in front of a judge during their wedding ceremony at Chicago City Hall

Getting Married

If you’re planning to get married at the Cook County Courthouse, you do not currently need an appointment.  Always check the website ahead of time to be sure as rules have changed quite a few times since 2020.  If you’re planning to get married outside of the courthouse, you will want to make sure you either hire an officiant within the Chicagoland area, hire a priest, or have someone that is close to you become ordained so that they can marry you.  Your officiant can become ordained online via the Universal Life Church!

When to Elope in Chicago

When deciding on when to elope in Chicago, being a midwest city, if you aren’t familiar with the weather, there are a lot of extremes to be aware of when planning.  With July’s hitting 100+ degrees, and winters hitting negative 20 with an even colder wind chill, you will want to plan ahead and think about the experience you hope to have on your wedding day!  When planning out your experience, you will want to think of a handful of things when deciding when to elope.

What Season Do You Want to Elope In?  

In terms of weather, spring and fall both have the most mild temperatures.  Spring does get fairly rainy, but, there is still some great weather.  As for the summer, summers in Chicago are some of the warmest and most fun times of year for an elopement!  With the nice weather though, the city becomes much more bustling and popular with tourists and people coming in to visit and spend time in the city from the suburbs.  As for the winter, the temperatures are on the chillier side, but the magic of Chicago in the winter is NEXT LEVEL.  Early December elopements or holiday season elopements are so much fun.  The city erupts with holiday lights and happy Chicagoans, so if you’re a fan of the cooler seasons, don’t let the lower temperatures shy you away from planning a winter elopement in Chicago.

What Time Should You Plan Your Elopement For?

When planning your elopement, you will want to think through the experience you hope to have.  Eloping somewhere on Michigan Avenue on a summer Saturday at sunset is going to be an extremely different experience than eloping at the same location on a Tuesday morning in November.  When talking things over with your partner, think through the experience you hope to have when eloping and how you want your day to play out.  If you’re hoping to have a more intimate experience, opt for a more removed location of the city on a week day morning or sometime in the winter.  If you’re thinking you want to embrace the hustle and bustle that Chicago offers for your elopement, a Saturday at sunset could be the perfect time for you! 

Be Mindful of Chicago’s Events Calendar

If you’re planning an elopement in Chicago, it’s important to be mindful of all of the amazing events that are hosted throughout the city all throughout the year.  Events like the Chicago Marathon or LollaPalooza bring in THOUSANDS of extra people into the city, blocking off streets, closing parks and making travel throughout the city extremely difficult.  After you have decided on a season to plan your elopement check out websites like Timeout Chicago, to see what’s happening each weekend and how these events might affect the city.  

There are positives and negatives to every season in the midwest, so there really is no right or wrong answer.  When planning out your Chicago Elopement though, think through ALL of the logistics, including weather, location, and other elements that are out of your control!

A couple walks down the steps of the Palmer House in Chicago prior to their elopement
A couple sits at a bar at the Palmer House in Chicago after eloping.

Planning Your Elopement

When it comes to planning your elopement, there really is no wrong way to plan.  You are creating this day for you, so when planning your Chicago elopement, lean into the things you love the most.  There are some general topics you will want to think about though as you’re planning your Chicago Elopement.

Booking Your Vendors

When it comes to eloping, if you have a MUST HAVE vendor, like a photographer, videographer, or venue, you will want to make sure you plan at least a couple of months in advance.  The great thing about elopements is that you and your partner more than likely have a little wiggle room in your schedule when choosing a date for your wedding.  Reach out to your dream vendors as soon as you decide it’s time to tie the knot so that you can ensure you’ll be able to book them when planning your elopement. 

Who Do You Want to Be There?

After you reach out to your vendors and choose a couple of date options, reach out to your must have guests.  Some couples like to elope alone, but other do like to have a handful of people with them on the big day.  If that is the case for you, present the date options to those loved ones ASAP.  Remember that vendors cannot reserve your elopement date without a signed contract and deposit, so you will want to move quickly when confirming your date with any loved ones you want to include.  


Chicago elopements are SO much fun.  There is so much to do and see, and so many options for couples when it comes to planning out their elopement day.  Typically when planning out an elopement with my couples, they typically book me for 4-6 hours depending on the layout of their days.  When you inquire with me we will go over your elopement day priorities, the events you’re planning into your day, and who you want to have present.  That way I guide you through creating a rough timeline for your day that is specific to you and the experience you hope to have with one another.

An lgbtq couple smiles while standing in the road in Chicago taking their wedding portraits.

Where to Elope in Chicago

Planning for the Seasons

As I mentioned earlier in this post, when planning out your Chicago elopement, you will want to think through all of the details of your day.  If you’re planning to elope in the winter, or late fall, you will not want to spend the entire day outside, you will want to make sure you mix in some indoor locations.  If you’re planning to elope in the spring in Chicago, you will want to make sure you put together a plan for rainy weather and weather where the sun is shining bright.  There are SO many beautiful indoor and outdoor locations throughout the city, so do your research!  

Ceremony Permits in Chicago

If you plan to elope in a public location in the city of Chicago, the probability of you needing to have a permit is extremely high.  Almost all city parks and lakefront views require you to have a permit to elope there, even if you don’t have any sort of setup.  Permits can take a couple of weeks to process so when planning your elopement, be sure to start the permit process for your ideal location sooner rather than later.  If you hope to elope in a city park you can find permit information on the Chicago Park District Website, and if you plan to elope in a private park throughout the city such as the Lincoln Park Board Walk, you can find the same information on their websites.

Where to Elope

I know I sound like a broken record, but, when planning your elopement, really think through the type of experience you hope to have!  For more intimate experiences, plan your elopement in a private space or at an off hour.  If you’re hoping to immerse yourselves fully into the city feels for your Chicago elopement, know there are SO many options that will work beautifully for your elopement.  Here are some of my personal favorite elopement locations and venues all throughout the City of Chicago.

Rooftop Views

Elope with one of the most notable and iconic views as the backdrop to your wedding day!  The Chicago skyline from a rooftop view is such a special and breathtaking location to get married in front of.  Some locations that you can elope in with a rooftop view include, Jparker Rooftop, Offshore Chicago, or one of the many Airbnb’s in the city of Chicago that have beautiful skyline views from their decks and roofs.


If you’re looking for something outdoors with a skyline view or just great city feels, opting to elope in one of Chicago’s many beautiful parks will be a great option for you.  North Avenue Beach, the Lincoln Park Boardwalk, Museum Campus, and Promotory Point are just a handful of the many spaces perfect for your elopement.


In addition to all of the great outdoor locations throughout Chicago, there are also many indoor locations as well.  Some of my personal favorites are Salvage One, Salvatores, and of course, the Cook Courthouse.  It is important to note too, that many Chicago wedding venues also offer weekday elopement packages to use their beautiful spaces for more intimate days.  So if you are planning a more intimate day, and have your eyes set on a gorgeous venue, be sure to inquire with them to see if they offer availability for weekday elopements.

Champagne with custom champagne flutes on a glass table in a Chicago skyscraper.
A view of the Hancock building in Chicago on a wedding day.

Unique Experiences

Last but not least, if you are planning a Chicago elopement, know that there are SO many unique experiences that are so much fun to include into your day.  If you’re planning an elopement for just the two of you, or you and your closest family and friends, think about adding one of these amazing Chicago experiences to your wedding day.

Rent a Boat out on Lake Michigan

Exchange vows at Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Plan a Picnic on the beach

Plan a Dinner for two at one of Chicagos unique restaurants like Blackbird, Girl and the Goat, Volare, Alinea, or any of the MANY other amazing restaurants in Chicago

Gather close friends and family, everyone stay at the Wicker Park Inn, or book out an airbnb for you and your loved ones to stay at for the weekend
One of my favorite parts of my client experience is helping them putting together ALL of the details of their wedding day.  With my background in event planning, this is the stuff I live for.  If you’re in the early stages of elopement planning and you’re looking for more insight into what you could plan for your wedding day, I might just be the girl for you!  Send over an inquiry and we can get started in planning your Chicago elopement!

Brides stand in front of Chicago's city hall after eloping.