Grab your favorite cup of tea, a giant bowl of popcorn, & settle in.
If you want to inquire about wedding photography, email me!
Welcome to the blog, home to Chicago's queer intimate wedding photographer for couples in love + their four-legged family.
(I'm here and queer!)
1. My first name is Mei Lin (she/her)
2. I'm part of the LGBTQ+ & BIPOC communities
3. I really love pugs!
4. I’m a huge musical theatre fan
5. I care deeply about animal welfare as well as social justice issues.
6. I incorporate sustainable practices throughout your wedding photography experience
Photo By Lena Mirisola Photography
So you’re thinking about getting married at Chicago City Hall? First things first, congratulations! Planning a wedding is such an exciting but often stressful time so I invite you to take a breath and remind yourself that you’ve got this.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through every step of planning your perfect Chicago City Hall wedding, from navigating the bureaucracy to capturing timeless moments and planning a wedding as unique as you.
Planning a wedding at a government building means triple-checking that you’re following all the rules so that there are no hiccups on your special day. The bare minimum you’ll need for your day is your marriage license (more details below), a $10 administrative fee, and you + your beloved.
Ceremonies are performed Tuesday – Friday from 9:00 am – Noon and 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm, with no appointment necessary. Saturday ceremonies are by appointment only from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm. You want to ensure that you arrive at least 30 minutes before closing!
Make sure you have the most up-to-date information by double-checking directly on the Cook County Court website here.
Your ceremony can be as small as just you, your loved one, and your photographer (more details on this below!) – the county doesn’t even require that you have a witness present. If you want to share your ceremony with your loved ones, you can invite up to 15 guests to observe your ceremony. It is recommended that wedding invitations be sent six to eight weeks before your wedding even when planning a city hall wedding.
As a photographer, I may be biased but it is GREAT that Chicago City Hall permits cameras for ceremonies! You’ll want to decide if you want pictures before your ceremony or after. Thankfully there are lots of gorgeous photo spots downtown near City Hall!
You’ll need to obtain your marriage license from the Cook County Clerk’s office before heading to City Hall.
You can start the process of applying for your license online or choose to complete the application in person. Either way, you and your partner will both need to appear in person, with valid identification, and pay a $60 marriage license fee to sign your marriage license.
Once signed, your marriage license will be effective 1 day after issuance (so don’t wait until the last second!) and is valid for 60 days from the date of issuance. I recommend getting your license 1-2 weeks before your wedding date so that you know everything is settled well in advance.
After your ceremony occurs, you will complete the bottom portion of your marriage license and mail or deliver it to the Clerk’s office. I recommend double-checking to confirm all details on the Cook County clerk’s website here.
Who says a City Hall wedding means you don’t have to get ready? One of my favorite parts of planning a “non-traditional” wedding is that you’ve already broken the big rules so you might as well break more! Wear whatever makes your heart feel the most YOU.
Be sure to plan how you’re getting to and from City Hall on your wedding day. You will want to coordinate with your guests where you’ll be meeting in advance of your date to ensure there are missing guests once you’re ready to head inside.
A simple ceremony means there’s even more room for creativity for your after-party!
Want to spend the day basking in love with your new spouse? Plan a couples spa day after the wedding and end the day with a reservation at a downtown hotel with a city view.
If you want to invite more people to the after-party than you could invite to the ceremony, go for it! You could host a celebratory bar crawl and visit all your favorite haunts with your favorite people.
Take inspiration from Rya + Britt’s (pictured) reception where they hosted a bowling reception and have some fun with your loved ones doing one of your favorite activities.
And now you know the key steps to planning your wedding at Chicago City Hall! I wish you the very best in planning your special day. If you’re looking for someone to document your wedding at Chicago City Hall, please inquire here!
Mei Lin (first name, pronounced "may-LYNN", she/her) is a queer pug-loving musical theatre enthusiast who's passionate about commemorating diverse couples in love and their four-legged family. Animal welfare, social justice, and sustainability are three things that are really important to her. Trans rights are human rights. Love is love. Stop AAPI Hate. Black Lives Matter.
about the author
Chicago intimate Wedding Photographer | LGBTQ+, BIPOC, & Woman-operated | for couples in love & their four-legged family