Finding the perfect location for your engagement session can be just as thrilling as planning your wedding day. With Chicago’s picturesque skyline, vibrant neighborhoods, and iconic landmarks, there are endless options for capturing your love story. I always work with each of my couples to choose the perfect location for their session and create a plan. I want every session to be special to each client and look like their friends’ photos, so even if we decide on an iconic spot, we always make the session unique and personalize it to reflect your personalities and love story. Here are 12 of the best Chicago engagement session locations, many of which are fan favorites for couples visiting or from the area.
1. North Ave Beach
Offering a classic, panoramic view of the grand skyline and the tranquil waters of Lake Michigan, this spot is a popular choice for its breathtaking beauty. The beach is also perfect for strolling and capturing your timeless engagement photos!
2. Wrigley Building
The Wrigley Building is one of my favorite locations and is Ideal for couples seeking elegance and stunning architectural backdrops. The Wrigley Building offers a perfect blend of city charm and the serenity of the riverfront. It is the best of both worlds! This iconic Chicago landmark is a short distance from the Riverwalk and LaSalle bridge. Due to the building’s location within the city, we can also utilize Michigan Ave., also known as the Magnificent Mile, or check out some of the city’s iconic bridges and historic buildings.
3. Olive Park
With its mesmerizing skyline views, greenery, and the iconic overhang, Olive Park provides a unique blend of urban and natural elements for a picturesque engagement session. Olive Park also provides views of Navy Pier and waterfront views of the city skyline and is in close proximity to the beach. If you’re looking for a spot with gorgeous natural landscapes and variety, Olive Park is a perfect option.
4. Nature Boardwalk + South Pond at Lincoln Park Zoo
The Nature Boardwalk and South Pond offers the perfect combination of cityscape and nature. This location provides a serene escape within the city, complete with breathtaking skyline views and a touch of wildlife. The Nature Boardwalk is managed by the Lincoln Park Zoo and was once a manmade pond. Today, however, it is a lush and thriving garden area that is home to a variety of wildlife. While this spot is beautiful in any season, it is gorgeous in the fall! If you want to add in a few backdrops with architecture, you can take a short walk from the Nature Boardwalk over to the Chicago History Museum.
5. The Art Institute of Chicago (Inside or Outside!)
Whether you opt for the picturesque gardens or the artistic ambiance inside, The Art Institute of Chicago offers an enchanting backdrop for capturing your love amidst art and nature. Beautiful cherry blossoms surround the building in the spring. While in the early fall, many of the trees get berries and the leaves change to a lovely shade of green. The gardens provide a peaceful enclave from the surrounding urban area, with its stunning architecture, stairs, and serene fountain. However, it is important to note that the park closes at 4 pm.
While the outside of The Art Institute is amazing, you can pay to be a patron and photograph your engagement inside, which is equally as impressive! This is also a wonderful option for a rainy day or winter engagement session. Inside the museum provides a fun and unique backdrop!
6. Chicago Museum Campus
Chicago Museum Campus is a versatile location offering a mix of stunning European-inspired architecture, lush greenery and gardens, and awe-inspiring views of Lake Michigan, perfect for couples seeking a diverse backdrop for their session. You’ll also find views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. The Chicago Museum Campus is the”best of everything” type of location!
7. Union Station
Chicago’s Union Station is a wonderful choice for rainy or chilly days. The Union Station’s architecture is beautiful, making for a charming and sophisticated engagement shoot. This location is best known for its Great Hall, which is often bathed in soft sunlight. An important detail for those considering Union Station, it does require a permit for the inside, however, the columns outside the building are fair game! Enjoy an outdoor session that offers a DC or European-inspired vibe!
8. Explore Your Favorite Neighborhood
One of the best Chicago engagement session locations might just be in your own backyard! Walking through your favorite neighborhood, whether it’s the lively West Loop, vibrant Wicker Park, or the classic charm of Lincoln Park will not only provide stunning images, but also add meaning to your engagement photos. You can also include other favorite local spots, such as a nearby park or your favorite bar or restaurant.
9. Lake Michigan and the Beaches
Why not go ON Lake Michigan for your engagement session? Embrace the beauty of Lake Michigan by taking your engagement session onto the water itself! There are several options at the many surrounding beaches to rent a boat or sailboat and enjoy the water, sand, and views of the city skyline.
10. Board of Trade
With its iconic city street appeal and stunning Art Deco architecture, the Board of Trade offers a classic Chicago backdrop for your engagement photos, encapsulating the essence of the city’s charm. The Chicago Board of Trade Building is located in Chicago’s financial district with many other beautiful buildings nearby that can also be utilized during your engagement session.
11. Millennium Park, Lurie Garden, or Grant Park
If you want a more natural landscape or garden inspired engagement, then this trio of beautiful gardens might be the perfect option! These three locations, Millennium Park, Lurie Garden, and Grant Park provide pockets of natural beauty and enchanting, lush settings within the city. You can also access Michigan Avenue here as well, making it a versatile spot. Millennium Park is home to the iconic “bean”, as well as fountains, tranquil gardens, and ample green space. However, permits are needed for photoshoots at Millennium Park, as well as Lurie Garden, which is located at the southeast corner of Millennium Park.
Grant Park is a 319-acre public park located in Chicago’s Loop and includes Millennium Park, as well as other locations on this list, such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum Campus.
12. University Campuses: Loyola University, Northwestern University, or University of Chicago
Chicago is also home to Loyola University, Northwestern University, and University of Chicago Campuses, all of which provide beautiful backdrops for engagement photos. Whether you have a sentimental connection to your alma mater or simply appreciate the historic charm of college campuses, each one of these campuses offers its own unique backdrop for an engagement session with a touch of academia and nostalgia. Loyola University is right on the lake and provides an epic waterfront setting.
In contrast, Northwestern University features historic buildings and acres of natural beauty. It is also close to other Chicago attractions such as the Magnificent Mile, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and John Hancock Center.
Then, there is the University of Chicago, near Hyde Park, which is great for living your best Gilmore Girl-esque life! This iconic neighborhood is always buzzing with activity, and features beautiful parks and lakefront beaches. In the fall, the campus is transformed with autumn colors, making it a wonderful fall engagement session option.
Bonus Location: Chicago Riverwalk + Bridges
I can’t forget about the Chicago River with the beautiful river walk and bridges! Located near the iconic Wrigley Building and Michigan Avenue, the Chicago Riverwalk is a charming setting along the river amidst the bustling cityscape. Along the Chicago Riverwalk, you’ll also find bridges over the water, as well as permanent and rotating public art, from sculptures to colorful murals by many different artists. This popular area is home to several coves, cafes, restaurants, bars, and museums that you could utilize in your session, or go to celebrate your engagement session afterwards!
Whether you’re seeking a romantic spot tucked away in nature’s beauty, or a more sophisticated, urban backdrop with stunning architecture or city skylines, your sure to find something that fits your unique vision from one of these 12 best Chicago engagement session locations.
Let’s create an engagement session that reflects your story and celebrates the timeless beauty of your love amidst the gorgeous and diverse backdrop of the Windy City.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ALEX FERRERI AND WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY SERVICES, INQUIRE HERE.
View more resources, timeless wedding day moments, and romantic engagements on the blog: