Chicago city hall weddings: everything you need to know


Couples have been getting married at Chicago City Hall for over 100 years! As Conde Nast's "Best Big City," soon-to-be-weds come from all over the world to elope in the beautiful city of Chicago. However, it's definitely an incredible (and popular) option for local couples, too! If you're looking for a wedding that's intimate, cost efficient, and simple, consider getting married at Chicago City Hall.


How to get married at Chicago City Hall

Your marriage license must be obtained in Cook County at least one day before your wedding day. Once you obtain your marriage license, it is valid for 60 days. It costs $60 to obtain this license. To obtain your license, bring a form of ID such as a driver’s license, state ID, or passport. You can begin the process online. You can obtain your marriage license from a few different locations in Chicagoland (more information here), but here is the information for the downtown Chicago location:

Downtown Chicago:
50 W. Washington St.,
East Concourse Lower Level - Room 25
Chicago, IL 60602

As of March of 2024, appointments are only needed for Saturdays. To get married on Saturday at Chicago City Hall, you must make an appointment. To make an appointment, you will need to call 312-603-5660. Typically, appointments can be made up to two months in advance. Appointments can only be made at 9:00 am or 9:30 am. However, this does not mean your wedding will be held at that time. They allow several couples to make appointments at the same time. Typical wait times on a Saturday vary, but, be prepared to wait up to 1 1/2 hours for your ceremony.

If you decide to have your Chicago City Hall wedding during the week, City Hall is open for weddings Tuesday - Friday from 9:30 am-11:30 am and 2:00 pm-3:15 pm. City Hall is closed on legal court holidays. You can walk in and get married as long as you have a valid marriage license. 

One benefit of having a Chicago City Hall wedding is that the ceremony is short and sweet (usually between 3-5 minutes). However, the judge will typically ask if you have rings to exchange or if you have any vows you'd like to say to one another. You are not required to do either, but you are welcome to if you'd like to plan to say a few words to one another.

You may also want to plan if you'll be having an guests join you. Witnesses are not required, but you are welcome to have up to 15 people in the room with you (but note it will be tight with that many people present). Cameras are allowed.

Be sure to pack your marriage license and $10 cash the night before, both of which are required to get married at Chicago City Hall.

If your wedding is on a Tues-Fri, you can head directly to the lower level of City Hall. The City Hall building is quite large and takes up an entire city block and has several entrances. The easiest door to enter for this is at 119 W. Randolph St. When you enter the first set of doors, you'll look to your left and there will be a set of escalators with a sign that says marriage court. You will head down these escalators, turn to the left once at the bottom, and go through a set of glass doors. Once you go through the set of glass doors, turn right, and then right again in the door to the lobby. There, you will check in, presenting your marriage license and pay the $10.

Sometimes, you will be able to walk right in once you check in, but sometimes there is a wait behind either couples who have already arrived. There is a waiting room with chairs. They will call your name when it's your turn. Then, it's time to get married!

If your wedding is on a Saturday, you will typically need to enter Chicago City Hall on Clark Street. You will check in and wait in one line by the gold elevators, then eventually wait in another line on the lower level. Then, you will check in and wait for your name to be called. Once it's your turn, you'll have your ceremony with the judge and be married!

Tips for getting married at Chicago City Hall:

Tip 1


Tip 3

If you or your loved ones are looking for Chicago City Hall, Apple and Google Maps refer to it as "Cook County Marriage Court." I highly recommend downloading your map before you leave for City Hall. Unfortunately, the maps on cell phones often get confused when in the Loop.

If it's raining on the day of your Chicago City Hall wedding, the halls and archways make a beautiful backdrop for photos. The Cultural Center, located at 78 E Washington St, is also typically available and is a gorgeous spot for photos as well. It's about a 10 minute walk (or 5 minute drive) from Chicago City Hall.

While most judges will address couples who "appear queer" by society's standards how they'd like to be addressed, you may need to be a little more forward about how you'd each like to be addressed at your ceremony. Definitely let the judge know your pronouns and if you'd like to be addressed as spouses, husband/wife,, wife/wife, wife/spouse, etc.

Getting married at Chicago City Hall doesn't mean your day isn't just as special as couples who choose to have a big wedding. Without adding your own special touches, the process itself can often feel bureaucratic, but it doesn't have to! Here are a few tips to making your Chicago City Hall wedding feel special.

1. Get (or make) a bouquet and/or boutonniere
Adding flowers to your day will make it feel so much more personal. You can hire a local florist to create your wedding day flowers, or if you're trying to stay on a budget, you could create your own. Lots of YouTube tutorials will help you make simple arrangements.

2. Choose outfits that feel like you
While there's something so chic and beautiful about a white dress and/or suit/tux, there's nothing that says you have to wear either of these things. Do whatever feels true to you! This is your day, do what makes you happy.

3. Hire a photographer
Maybe I'm bias, but a photographer is a non-negotiable. You will definitely want someone to document this special day for you. Many couples opt for ceremony coverage and then an hour or two of portraits. Some great places for photos near City Hall are the Chicago Theater, The Riverwalk, the Wrigley Building, and of course right outside City Hall with the iconic City Hall sign. You can scroll down to see what Chicago City Hall wedding photography packages I offer.

Making Your Chicago City hall Wedding Special

4. Share a first look
Sharing a first look before your elopement is sure to make it special! Getting a first glance of one another all dressed up might bring a few tears, and you will never forget that moment. You could even opt to say vows to each other privately before heading to City Hall. One great place to do this is across the street from City Hall at Daley Plaza.

5. Join family and friends for a celebration after your Chicago City Hall wedding
Whether or not you choose to have anyone join you for the actual ceremony, you should still celebrate with your loved ones if you want to! Many couples opt to meet up at restaurant or bar to share some celebratory lunch, dinner, or drinks! This allows you to celebrate with as many (or few) people as you want, while keeping your actual ceremony intimate.


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Hi! I'm the founder, owner, and lead photographer of Tawny Ballard Photography. What started as a hobby turned to a career and passion. As a wedding, elopement, & couple photographer for all iconic lovers, I create one-of-a-kind experience by going beyond the expected. My clients are taken care of from inquiry to delivery of their final gallery and beyond. My job is to freeze your most important moments - the ones you'll want to remember 50 years from now. I love to serve passionately engaged couples looking for a perfect mix of posed, editorial-inspired portraits and sweet candids from their wedding and elopement days. As an avid city lover, chic couples who want to elope in this iconic city and have gorgeous photos to show for it are my people! I love Chicago City Hall weddings.

As a part of the LGBTQ+ community, I know the importance of celebrating couples of all races, religions, genders, sexual orientations, and backgrounds. I am an inclusive wedding photographer who believes LOVE IS LOVE. My work has been featured in Vogue, Brides, Equally Wed, and more.

Hi, I'm Tawny (She/her)

Chicago City Hall wedding Photography Packages


  • 6 hours of coverage (typically includes getting ready and first look, ceremony, 2-4 locations for photos, and celebration coverage)
  • All high-resolution edited wedding photos on an online gallery within 4 weeks of your wedding day
  • Highlights within one week
  • Full printing rights with free downloads for you, friends, and family
  • Professional print store access
  • The Tawny Ballard Photography Wedding Planning Guide
  • Professional timeline creation
  • 3 hours of coverage (typically includes first look, ceremony, and 2-3 locations for photos)
  • All high-resolution edited wedding photos on an online gallery within 6 weeks of your wedding day
  • Highlights within one week
  • Full printing rights with free downloads for you, friends, and family
  • Professional print store access
  • The Tawny Ballard Photography Wedding Planning Guide
  • Professional timeline creation
  • 2 hours of coverage (typically includes first look, ceremony, 1-2 locations for photos)
  • All high-resolution edited wedding photos on an online gallery within 8 weeks of your wedding day
  • Full printing rights with free downloads for you, friends, and family
  • Professional print store access
  • The Tawny Ballard Photography Wedding Planning Guide
  • Professional timeline creation



  • Engagement session
  • Highlights within one week
  • Boudoir session
  • Bridal session
  • Expedited delivery of photos
  • Prints and albums





*6 hours of coverage IS REQUIRED ON Fridays April-December and on all Saturdays.
*Should City Hall run behind, I GUARANTEE all clients 30 minutes of portraits.