Adler Planetarium / Shedd Aquarium: Adler is one of the most popular locations for doing scenic backgrounds for Chicago wedding Photography. It is located along Solidarity Drive (westbound) on Northerly Island adjacent to the Shedd aquarium on the lakefront. This location has in incredible scenic overlook of the Chicago skyline on the lakefront from the grassy northern facing shores. Because this island has water between the island and the skyline, it appears as if you are on a boat on the lake. There are trees on the northern shore of this island, to give shade for the Chicago Bridal Party, Bride and Groom for photos. Unfortunately the Chicago police don’t allow you to park for more than 5 minutes there, and they regularly tow vehicles that are left unattended for over 5-10 minutes. This are is very congested during a Chicago bears or sox games. Pros: Great skyline shots, some shade if you find a tree to shoot under. Cons: Parking headaches. Click Hereand Here to see more photos of this https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Pazzos/ https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Hyatt_of_Naperville/
The Bean is one of Chicago’s newest attractions and is one if it’s most popular for wedding photos. Located on Michigan & Randolph Downtown, It is a shiny aluminum modern sculpture that is basically a distorted curved mirror that can reflect the Chicago skyline (distorted) behind a Bridal couple or bridal party. One problem here is there is no shade, so the bridal party might squint if it is a sunny day. Because of this, “The bean” is better on cloudy days. You would double park on Randolph just east of Michigan avenue for a short time without being towed. (you can only double park for 5-10 minutes) There are other places for photos in Millennium Park such as the gardens behind the bean. Aside from the parking limitations and lack of shade, large crowds are a problem, because you can’t control who will be in the photos. Pros: cool reflected skyline shots, great gardens for photos. Cons: Difficult to park, crowd problems, little shade. Please click here to see more photos. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Hyatt_of_Naperville/
The Wrigley building is located on Michigan Avenue just north of the Chicago River drawbridge at 410 North Michigan Ave. Just south of the “Magnificent mile” It is one of Chicago’s most beautiful buildings and is lit incredibly well so day or night it is a real Chicago landmark. At this location you can take photos in from of the beautiful marble building, do shots by the Chicago River, which runs past this great landmark. Also there is a huge median that can be great for a bridal party shot amongst all the beautiful buildings on the “mag mile”. Sometimes on Saturdays there are fireworks are shot off the Michigan avenue drawbridge. This location has a large curved driveway that is easy to double park on. You can leave your car there about 10 minutes without problems. This is one of the best places for parking of the downtown locations. Pros: different shots by river, Michigan ave; building lit at night, shade, cool architecture. Cons: Parking limited to 10 minutes. Dave & Bob’s Favorite.Click here to see more photos. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/g60/
Buckingham Fountain: Buckingham fountain is a very popular attraction for wedding photos and is probably the most popular over the years. It is located where congress avenue (RT 290) ends at Columbus drive Park at Grant Park. It is the world’s largest fountain of its type. Buckingham is HUGE so a small bridal party will be dwarfed by it’s huge size. One way to cut the size difference is the have the bridal party be about 50-75 feet in front of the fountain and have the fountain in the background so it is smaller in the frame than it would usually be. There are beautiful rose gardens that flank the fountain and are even prettier than the fountain itself, for a very pretty background. One problem with this location is there is no shade around the fountain so the bridal party will probably squint a lot if it is a sunny day. It is preferable to put the bridal party on the east side of the fountain so the skyline (and the sun) will be behind the bridal party. This location is very congested, like the bean you can’t control how many strangers can get into your wedding photos. Pros: A classic Chicago landmark, great rose gardens, Cons: Crowds, no shade, no direct parking, use Grant Park garage, wind shifts can spray bridal party with water, fountain is not always running.
Northern and Western Chicago Locations
North Avenue Beach
North Avenue Beach is located where north ave. (RT 64) (also known as La Salle) ends at the lakefront. It features a similar beautiful skyline shot similar to Adler, but there is no lake in the foreground of the skyline. Also there are some trees amongst the sand so you can shade the bridal party pretty easily. It also had great views of lake Michigan. Because it is not in the loop, parking is a lot easier than other downtown locations. However you should avoid this location during a Cubs games. Pros: great skyline shots, easier to park than other locations, versatile shooting areas. Cons: you need to walk a ways to get to the areas for photos, sand and cameras don’t mix. Dave’s Favorite. Click here to see more photos https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/g60/
Lincoln Park Conservatory: Is located at 2391 North Stockton Drive Chicago IL. This conservatory can be used rain or shine because it is both indoor and outdoor. It has most every kind of pretty flower or plant. There are some beautiful rose gardens just north of the building. There is a bridge south of the gardens that goes into the Lincoln Park zoo. This bridge yields an incredible view of the Chicago skyline. Just below the bridge there is a scenic spot where there is a scenic lagoon where there are paddleboats and swans.Parking is tough to find on Cannon drive. If you pay you can find a spot in the lot dedicated to the conservatory. Pros: Rain or shine use, great skyline shots, and beautiful flowers (best in Chicago). Cons: Little shade, parking headaches, Possible fees for indoor use.
Garfield Park Conservatory: Is located at 300 North Central Park Ave. Chicago IL. Similar to the Lincoln Park Conservatory, the Conservatory is a great place to take indoor photos rain or shine because most of the plant life is indoors in the huge greenhouse. Some of the tropical plants there can not normally grow in Illinois. There is much less outdoor plants life, unlike the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Pros: Rain or shine use, Beautiful flowers and plants. Cons: Not much outdoor plants, High humidity may cause camera lenses to fog up.
Suburban Chicago Locations
North Shore / Northen Cook County
Monument Park Waterfalls Rosemont
Monument Park waterfalls Rosemont Park District:Monument Park is on the NE corner of river road and Higgins road (Route 72) are the most popular suburban location. This artificial waterfall is made for the specific purpose of supplying a beautiful waterfall backdrop for the many wedding reception halls that surround O’Hare airport such a café ‘La Cave, Fountain Blue, and Rosewood banquets. These waterfalls even have the water colored blue the give a great looking photo that looks great in pictures. There are several areas behind the waterfalls that feature some beautiful evergreen trees. This location requires a permit from the village of Rosemont it is $50 per half hour. There is a police officer there to make sure that you have a permit, they hopefully make sure there are not bystanders or crowds in your way when taking pictures. Pros: Great looking waterfall photographs well, easy to get to. Located near O’Hare airport. Police make sure crowds don’t get in picture. Cons: Permit required and payment required, not as versatile as Community Park.
Community Park waterfall
Community Park Is on Glen Lake & willow creek roads in Rosemont IL. (Behind the westin hotel) which is about 1/3 of a mile south west of the previously mentioned waterfalls on river road. This great location is more versatile than the other Rosemont location because it has a waterfall, a gazebo, pond with spray fountain and swans, a bridge, and it has beautiful flowers on a shady hill. It has plenty of shade, flowers, and a public washroom. Because of all these great things, it is one of my FAVORITE locations for wedding photos. The cost to shoot here is $50 per half hour. This location is not as often patrolled for people paying deposits as the one on Higgins. Pros: Versatile spot has trees, flowers, pond, swans, gazebo, waterfall and lots of shade. Cons: Permit required $50 fee. Click here to see more photos. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/g66/
Schaumburg city hall
Schaumburg city hall is located at 101 Schaumburg Il. It is near the corner of summit and east Schaumburg road in Schaumburg. This is one of chicagoland’s best and most versatile locations. This free location features 2 bridges, Spray pond with swans, gazebo, sculptures and plenty of shade from beautiful weeping willow trees. This area west of woodfield mall is awesome to visit. Pros: Shade, many locations with 2 great bridges, Free, weeping willows are great for poses. Cons: None except, since it is also a police station location, I would assume no alcohol would be advised for this great location. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/g95/
The Botanical Gardens are located at 1000 Lake Cook road in Glencoe IL. These gardens have it all, flowers, trees, scenic bridges, oriental gardens (a favorite), stairs for group shots, ponds and the beautiful Chicago river. Because there are both indoor and outdoor areas this place can be used rain or shine. One high note there is a beautiful evergreen hedge with marble sculptures that shows great depth. I have seen hundreds of wedding photos that use these beautiful 30 foot tall hedges. You need a permit to shoot here, it cost $125 for unlimited time and you can come on the day of the event. Pros: extremely versatile oriental gardens, shade, hedges, flowers and bridges make for a great variety of shots. Cons: permit required, EXPENSIVE! Click here and here to see more photos https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/g67/ and https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Botanical_Gardens_Romanian_Cultural_Center/
Wheeling fountain on Dundee
The Wheeling fountain/Gazebo is located on the NE corner of Dundee (RTE 68) and Milwaukee (RTE 45) in wheeling IL. It has a cool looking limestone fountain, gazebo and flowers in a small area. This location has some shade under the gazebo, and it is easy to get to and it requires no permit. Pros: Great looking fountain requires no permit, easy to get to. Cons: no shade, buildings in background require careful composition to avoid getting in photos. Click here to see more photos https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/g63/
Bahi’ Temple is located at 100 Linden ave. Wilmette IL. The Bahi’ temple is a beautiful building that has many pretty architecture innovations. It is the world’s largest poured concrete building. It makes for breathtaking backgrounds behind a bridal party. There are also a lot of flowers decorating the outside of the building. It is average for shade and a permit is not required. Pros: Beautiful backdrop, no permit required, pretty area near lake Michigan. Cons: not very versatile only a few shots you can do there, not much shade. Click here to see more photos. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Phoenix_Resturaunt/
North School Park fountain
North School Park is located on Eastman and Arlington Heights roads, in downtown Arlington Heights. It Features a 30-foot diameter fountain, fancy brickwork with flowers and gardens and a Veterans memorial. I don’t think you need a permit to shoot at this awesome park that is handicap accessible. Pros: Pretty fountain has a brick step for layering bridal party, Decent shade, handicap accessible, Pretty flowers. Cons: Fountain is quite small. Sometimes the fountain is turned off for no reason. Click here to see more photos https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Rosewood/
Friendship Park Conservatory Des Plaines park district: Is Located at 395 Algonquin Road Des Plains IL. It features indoor and outdoor botanical gardens. It is like a tiny version of the Chicago botanical gardens. It is great because it can be used rain or shine because there are beautiful plants both inside and outside. There is even a little gazebo inside just for wedding photos this is great when it is raining, but you still want photos with plant life. Pros: Rain or shine use, beautiful flowers and plants, gazebo for wedding use. Cons: I think permit is required.
Veterans Memorial Fountain Niles,is located on Milwaukee and Touhy on the NE corner in Niles. It is kitty corner from the Niles police station. This fountain features a beautiful white water fountain that is about 30 feet wide and there is a sidewalk in front that has plenty of room to pose people. The fountain is made out of limestone and is a great place for photos. Pros: Fountain is pretty and wide for great shots for big groups. Cons: Little or no shade.
Dupage County, Western suburbs
Grau Mill is located in fullersberg woods forest preserve at 3800 York road in Oak Brook IL at the intersection of York and Spring roads. Grau Mill is on the Salt creek and is a working 150-year-old grist mill and museum. It features an easy to photograph bridge, beautiful working waterwheel, old time wheelhouse, and beautifully shaded views of wooded salt creek nature area. This location is popular because of its easy to get to location and it does not require a permit. It is one of the very few surviving buildings that was used by the “underground railroad” for abolitionists to hide runaway slaves. This gives this great location increased interest for couples of African American decent. This beautiful location has a lot of shade making it great for a sunny day; it is a favorite of mine.Pros: versatile place with millhouse, waterwheel, greenery, bridge, river views; lots of shade; easy to find and get to. Cons: Popular place, you might have to wait to take your turn in front of the waterwheel. Dave & Bob’s Favorite. Please click here and here to see more photos of this great location. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Renaissance_Oak_Brook/ and https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/g59/
Cantigny of Wheaton: is located at 1 South 151 Winfield Road Wheaton IL.Cantigny is a memorial army museum and botanical garden located in Winfield IL road just south of Roosevelt road (RT38). It has 2 areas that are very different making this one of the most versatile places to shoot wedding photos. To the south we have the “masculine” area that features about 20 army tanks that are restored in a shady, wooded setting complete with bridges and benches. The groomsmen love to pose on the tanks and the bridesmaids pose in front of the tanks, this makes for some great images. On the Northern “feminine” side of Cantigny there are many flowers, ponds, a gazebo, stairs for group shots and a 30-foot diameter spray fountain that is shaded and is great for shots of the bridal party. I love this place because of its versatility and it has a lot of shade making it a great place for shooting on a sunny day. You do not have to have a Permit to shoot photos here. However they charge $5 per car and $40 per Limo (or bus) if the limo holds over 18 people. If a bus holds 35 or more people it will cost $70 instead Pros: Versatile place with many different areas for different shots, Great spray fountain, lots of shade, army tanks for cool groomsman photos. Cons: Small entrance fee required. Dave & Bob’s Favorite. Click here to see more photos. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Prairie-Landing/
Morton Arboretum Lisle: Is Located at 4100 Illinois Route 53 Lisle IL.Morton Arboretum is huge, taking up hundreds of acres in Lisle IL. It is similar to Cantigny in that is features every type of tree in North America. It has open prairies, thick woods, bridges and river views of the DuPage River. There are some very hilly spots there. It is also pretty shady so it is good on a sunny day. There are also 2 reception halls on site that regularly feature weddings. It is very close to the huge Abbington reception hall of Glen Ellen. They do require a Permit of $125 to shoot there for photos. Pros: Versatile place with many areas for good and different shots, not crowed, lots of shade. Cons: Permit and pay required. Please click here to see more photos. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Morton_Arboretum/
Itasca Gazebo in Usher Park: The Itasca Gazebo is located on Irving park and Walnut roads in Itasca IL. This Gazebo is one of Chicagoland’s Prettiest Gazebos being white and is much larger than most Gazebos. There is not much shade there from trees, but the gazebo is great for shooting a bridal party. There is also a small bridge there for great bridal party shots. I don’t think you need a permit to shoot there. Pros: great gazebo looks great in photos, bridge makes this location more versatile. Cons: not much shade aside from the gazebo. Please click here to see more photos https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Holiday_Inn_Itasca/
Bartlett Gazebo: The Bartlett Gazebo is located on 101 North Avenue in Bartlett IL. This Gazebo is very large 32’ by 32’ and the park has a lot of trees so it is above average for shade. A permit costs $30 for 3 hours (suggested but not required) but is not required to shoot photos there. There is also a real log cabin there if you are doing a rustic wedding. Pros: Great looking gazebo is one of the largest, above average shade, easy parking. Cons: Place is not very versatile the gazebo is the only thing there (besides the log cabin) for photos. Pease click here to see more photos. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Stonegate/
Wilder Park Elmhurst IL is located on Prospect and church streets in elmhurst IL. Wilder park has a very pertty garden of flowers and bushes and a beautiful place for ceremonies (near Wilder Mansion, which was the original Elmhurst library years ago). It also has a small green house conservatory that can be used for wedding photos during inclement weather, (as long as you are only photographing 2 people at a time.) There is not much shade there so this is a great place for a cloudy day wedding. Pros: Great plants and plant archways for photos. Inside conservatory for indoor nature shots. Cons: Not much shade, conservatory is small inside and only be used for photos of 2-4 people at a time.
Riverwalk Naperville: Located near Jackson and Webster streets in downtown Naperville IL. The river walk features an old time wooden covered bridge, beautiful trees, a fountain and it is on the banks of the beautiful DuPage River. The riverwalk also features some flowers and benches. Pros: great shade from the bridge, a place to shoot in a small drizzle because of the covered bridge. Cons: This is a popular place to shoot, be prepared to wait your turn.
Lilacia Park Lombard. Is located at 150 South Park ave. in Lombard IL. Lilacia Park is world famousfor its lilac festival in mid may. The flowers in spring are second to none in Chicago. It features a wood deck overlooking a reflecting pond, rows of beautiful trees, flowers of many types, shady areas, statues & benches. Lilacia Has 1,200 lilac bushes and 25,000 tulips. This is very popular place for photos. There is a fee of $75 for 1 hour for photos or wedding ceremony. Pros: Great flowers, reflecting pond, lawns, benches and great shade. Cons: Fee of $75 required (only on Saturday) Milestone Digital uses this great location for engagement photos during the week. Please click here and here to see more photos. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/g62/ and https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Arrowhead_Country_Club/
Lake Ellen, Glen Ellen IL. Is located at 645 Lenox road Glen Ellen IL. Lake Ellen has beautiful huge Maple trees, Lake views, boathouse & a wood deck that overlooks the water & a veteran’s memorial. This park is small, but has great shade trees, and great lake views. Pros: Lake views, great trees, not popular for shooting. Cons: little shade near the lake. Please click here to see more photos. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Indian_Lakes/
Churchill Woods Forest Preserve Glen Ellen. Is located along the south side of Saint Charles road in Glen Ellen between I355 and Riford Road. You can also enter from the other side of the river on Crescent road just west of I 355 bridge in Glen Ellen. Churchill woods has incredible woodsy views, Dupage river views, beautiful lawns, Limestone banks, walk a 100-foot long bridge to an island that is surrounded 360 degrees by water. This preserve is just plain beautiful, it features a huge accesable island in the middle of the Du page river system of Lagoons. Pros: great woodsy and river views, lots of shade, washrooms, picnic shelter, lots of parking, easy to find, Cons: Long walk from car if you enter on Saint Charles road, Lots of mosquitoes in the woods. Milestone Digital uses this location for engagement photos.
McDonald’s corporate campus Oak Brook. Is located at 2111 McDonald’s dive Oak Brook IL. McDonald’s corporate headquarters is a beautiful place that has a banquet hall and they cater their own weddings there. If you don’t have a wedding there you can still take pictures at this Great site. One place to shoot is by the salt creek river view. The best other place is overlooking the lagoon from the west side of the lagoon by the north-south drive.Pros: Shade, flowers Riverview, Cons: Interference from other wedding occurring there, hard to find. Please click here to see more photos. https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Empress/
Adams Park Wheaton IL. Adams park is located on the corner of seminary and Main street in downtown Wheaton IL. Adams park has a fountain, gazebo, flowers and benches in a beautiful shady setting right by the Wheaton Library. This park has a lot of trees so it is great to use on a sunny day. Pros: Shady area works great in pictures, has gazebo, flowers and fountain. Cons: Parking is harder in downtown Wheaton.
Ross Ferraro Park Carol Stream IL. Is located on Lies and Gary roads in Carol Stream IL.This Park has the 3 best things that a park needs for great photos (bridge, Fountain, Gazebo) but they did a bad job on the design so this park is not the picture place it that the designers had planned. First of all the fountain is internal, so you have to get in the center of the concrete fountain to actually see the pretty water spraying. You have to take pictures inside of a 15 or so foot circle to take photos with the water in the background. This means unless you are taking pictures of a few people at a time, you can’t zoom out enough to get a great shot of a full bridal party, unless you are using a fisheye lens (and fisheye lenses are not used all the time). Although the fountain is great for individual shots of the bride and groom. This park also has a bridge (to nowhere), which usually would be great for an awesome bridal party shot. However the bridge has a metal support bar on the sides that is exactly the height of bridal party member’s faces. Unless every member of the bridal party is a 7’ 6” NBA player, this bridge is completely useless for photos. There is a Gazebo that looks Pretty good and some flowers in several areas so this place is not bad especially if you are shooting a few people at a time in front of the pretty, internally curverd fountain. There is a fee to shoot there and if you are caught shooting without a permit, the fine is over $150. Pros: versatile place with both a Gazebo and Fountain, easy to find, easy to park. Public washroom Cons: Bridge is useless for photos; Fountain is hard to get wide enough for a shot of full bridal party, almost no shade at all. You must pay a fee (I think it is $75) or you can be fined for taking pictures without a permit.
Kane County, Far west suburbs
Fabyan Forest Preserve Geneva:1925 S. Batavia Ave. (RTE 25) Geneva IL. Fabian Forrest preserve is on the eastern banks of the scenic Fox River in Geneva. This pretty yet Unknown park features Scenic views of the Fox River and mini lighthouse, trees, shade, huge lawns, a bridge over the river and a beautiful restored Windmill built in 1875 and (featured on a famous stamp) that really works and you can even explore its workings. Pros: Shade, River views, Beautiful Lawns, Windmill is one of the nicest in Chicagoland, Undiscovered site has very few others taking pictures (no waiting) Cons: Long walk to picture area.
Philips Park is located at 901 ray moses drive Aurora IL. Philips park is a multi use park that has a zoo, golf course and sunken gardens.Thease sunken gardens are beautiful and are quite famous. However there is no shade there, so shooting on a sunny day can be tough to put people in the shade. This park can be better on a cloudy day. Pros: Cool location for photos with great flowers. Cons: no shade, possible fee for shooting.
Boy Scout Island, Saint Charles IL. It is located on the east side of route 31, about a half-mile north of North Avenue in Saint Charles IL. Boy scout Island is a peninsula that is used to launch boats on the Fox River in Saint Charles IL. This peninsula juts into the water to enable some great River views with the pretty and scenic views of the town of Saint Charles in the background of the river. This spot is beautiful at dusk as the lights of downtown Saint Charles glimmer and dance in the reflection on the water. Hotel Baker a beautiful hotel just south of the peninsula, it has similar views with a tiny Gazebo right on the edge of the water. Pros: Great river and city views, no fees, Cons: Small parking lot, not a lot of versatility with just the river view.
Island Park, Geneva Park District. Is located at Routes 25 & 38 in Geneva IL. Island Park is a peninsula that extends south of Roosevelt road and is between two tributaries of the Fox River. This park has many trees, flowers, ducks and beautiful river views. And there is a view of the Roosevelt avenue waterfall north of the bridge. Pros: Versatile place with many views of river, flowers, trees,; Lots of shade. Cons: park on Roosevelt and walk quite a ways to the pretty places for photos.
Worth Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Worth IL. It is located at 115th & Harlem just of the bridge on the east side. This place is awesome, it is free to use, you just need to call 312-751-5600 and get permission to shoot there. There are several bridges, several layers of water falls, and many weeping willow trees. There is also a building that has posts and a cool vanishing point in the shade. PROS: Free use, waterfalls, not used as much as other places, it ahs many places to shoot with waterfalls, lakes, trees and bridges as scenery. Cons: none Check out: https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Georgios_Orthodox/ and https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/Garden_Chalet/
Oak Lawn City Hall (Gazebo), Oak Lawn IL. Oak lawn city hall is located just north of 95th street at 9446 South Raymond avenue, Oak Lawn IL. The actual Gazebo is right behind the City Hall. Please call 708-636-4400 for info on permission to shoot here. I love this place, though it is not very popular so you won’t have to fight the crowds to shoot here. I took this picture around Christmas and it looked awesome. There is a large field lined with bushes and at one end, a huge gazebo, decorated with Christmas lights! PROS: Gazebo is great for shade, Located right by 95th street, Christmas lights lend a mood for night shots. I do not think there is a fee to shoot there. CONS: Not alot of shade aside from the gazebo: check out the photos at https://milestonedigital.com/photogalleries/g99/
Lake Katherine Palos Heights IL, It is located off Route 83 at:7402 Lake Katherine Drive Palos Heights, IL For permission to shoot there call (708) 361-1873 there is a $75 fee to shoot there. Lake Katherine is a great place to shoot. It features Gardens, a great waterfall and some nice shady areas. PROS: Shady, waterfall, beautiful flowers, grassy areas. CONS: It costs $75 to shoot there.
Copyright 2011 Robert M. Busch and Milestone Photo and Video. No part of this article may be used without written permission from Robert M. Busch.