If Chicago is your wedding destination, you’re in for a treat! This city has a reputation of the best architecture, food, and venues—three key components to a phenomenal wedding! Whether you decide on an intimate micro-wedding or a large, extravagant one, having a wedding in this big city requires meticulous planning. Using tips from Zola’s guide to getting married in Chicago, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know and more! Let’s begin!
Chicago Wedding License Tips and Tricks
- Prepare your paperwork: Both parties will need to present one or more forms of valid identification with proof of age, such as a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate.
- Appear together at a county clerk’s office: When applying for a marriage license, Cook County requires that both parties appear together at one of the six County Clerk’s vital records offices with their valid forms of ID.
- Fill out a license application: You can start the application process online, but you must finish it in-person at one of the County Clerk’s offices. If you’ve had a divorce, you need to provide the date the divorce was finalized.
- Pay the marriage license fee: It costs $60 to get a marriage license in Chicago.
- Get married within the designated time frame: In Chicago, a marriage license takes effect the day after it was issued. Therefore, you’re required to wait 24 hours from when you obtain your wedding license to when you wed. The license is then valid for 60 days, so plan to get married within that time frame.
- Return the signed license to the clerk’s office: After the ceremony, your officiant has 10 days to sign and complete the bottom portion of the marriage license and mail or deliver it back to a clerk’s office. Once this step is complete, you’re all done—it’s official! If you want, you can then request your own copy of the marriage certificate.
Do I Need a Chicago Wedding License?
To get married in Illinois, your marriage license must be issued in the same county where you plan to get married. For Chicago and the closest surrounding suburbs, that’s Cook County. This applies even if you’re an international traveler or out of state.
Where to Get Your Marriage License & How Long does it Take?
There are six County Clerk’s records offices in Cook County, so you can get your marriage license issued at any one of them. It’s recommended to start the application process online, but to complete the process and receive your license, you and your partner must appear at one of the clerk’s offices together. After applying at the county clerk’s office, the marriage license will be issued to you immediately.
Can I Get Married the Same Day in Chicago?
Even though you receive your license right after applying, it’s not valid until 1 day later. So, plan to save your “I Do’s” for at least 24 hours after you get your license. Once you receive it, the license is valid for up to 60 days.
Chicago City Hall Details
If you’re ready to tie the knot right away, there’s always a City Hall Chicago marriage to consider. For only $10, couples can enjoy a quick and intimate ceremony in the Marriage and Civil Union Court located in City Hall. When planning your City Hall wedding, it’s a good idea to call or check online to confirm the court’s hours.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, getting married at City Hall currently has a few additional regulations. Phone appointments are now required, so make sure to call ahead. Currently, only two additional guests are allowed to attend the ceremony, and all attendees must wear masks or face coverings while inside the building.
LGBTQ+ Wedding Support
Engaged couples will have no problem finding venues and Chicago wedding officiants that support same-sex marriage. Chicago is extremely inclusive and welcoming of the LGBTQ+ community. Marriage equality has been the law here since 2014, and the support definitely shows. Chicago is home to the country’s oldest official LGBTQ+ neighborhood, Boystown, as well as one of the largest annual Pride Festivals in the country.
Average Cost of a Wedding in Chicago
Of course, wedding costs will vary widely depending on factors like venue, the size of the guest list, wedding date, and location. However, as the third-largest city in the U.S, Chicago can undoubtedly be an expensive place to get married.
Usually, the venue is by far the most costly aspect of a Chicago wedding. However, if you’re looking to save money, consider holding your wedding in one of the Chicago suburbs instead of the heart of the city. In the suburbs, venues are likely to be less pricey.
COVID-19 Chicago Wedding Guidelines
As of 2021, regulations for COVID-19 in Chicago require gatherings of no more than 50% of the building’s capacity and to maintain six-foot social distancing measures. Since the pandemic is an ever-evolving situation, it is best to periodically check the Chicago city official website for updates as well as local news.
Wedding Venues in Chicago
The next essential step in planning your wedding is to secure a location. As one of the largest cities in the nation, Chicago has plenty of gorgeous wedding venues from which you can choose. When deciding on a venue, be sure to consider the capacity, availability, and price in advance. Below is a list of the most popular wedding spots throughout the city.
Mansions & Historic Estates- Pristine architecture with a chic atmosphere:
- Stan Mansion
- Pine Manor Estate
- Colvin House
Beaches and Waterfronts- Romantic, nautical style for an outdoor experience:
- Odyssey Cruises
- Navy Pier
Museums & Art Galleries- Sophistication with a minimalist, modern touch:
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- Floating World Gallery
Best Times of Year for Weddings in Chicago
Your wedding day experience will differ greatly depending on the month and weather in Chicago, so it’s worth putting some thought into the best time to go. Here are a couple of factors to consider for each season.
Fall: September, October, November
One of the most popular times to visit, fall in Chicago certainly has its upsides. More manageable crowds, golden-yellow leaves, and cool (but not freezing) weather will make outdoor events somewhat chilly but still enjoyable. In fall, the temperature can range from a chilly mid-40s to a comfortable 70°F.
Spring: March, April, May
The warming weather of a Chicago spring will bring blooming flowers and outdoor activities in the city’s parks and beaches. While there are slightly fewer crowds than in summer, you’ll see lots of hype from sports fans when baseball season begins. Temperatures range from the 50s in early spring up to 70°F in May. If you’re here for St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll get to catch the annual parade and see the river turn bright emerald green.
Summer: June, July, August
Summer is a popular time to visit, with warm weather between the high 70s to low 90s. Even in the heat, areas near Lake Michigan will get cool breezes. A Chicago summer is full of lively crowds and overflowing restaurant patios. You might lounge on a lakefront beach or catch a music festival. Hotel rates can get quite expensive in the summer, so make sure to book several months in advance.
Winter: December, January, February
Chicago might be known for its freezing winters, with average highs in the 30s and windy days that can dip below the 20s but don’t discredit a winter wedding just yet. Even though this is the least popular time of year to get married, it’s also the least expensive. Plus, if you’re a fan of snow, you’ll get to see the city blanketed in white and decorated with beautiful holiday lights.
If you don’t mind the freezing temperatures, you can marvel at the ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo or enjoy a holiday parade. January and February are the coldest months and tend to get the most snow, so make sure to plan your wardrobe accordingly.
Busiest Weeks in Chicago
Even though you’ll find Chicago lively at all times of year, there are some key city-specific dates to keep in mind if you don’t want to run into enormous crowds and astronomical hotel prices. When choosing your wedding date, here are some annual events to keep in mind:
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade (March)
- Pride Parade and Celebrations (June)
- Chicago Blues Festival (June)
- Taste of Chicago Food Festival (July)
- Chicago Air and Water Show (August)
- Lollapalooza Music Festival (August)
- Jazz Festival (Labor Day, September)
- Chicago Marathon (October)
- ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo (November-December)