engagement sessions

101 Places to take your Engagement Photos in Chicago

August 9, 2022

a couple taking their engagement photos at marios italian lemonade stand in chicago

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a couple kissing for their engagement photos at garfield park conservatory in chicago illinois

BUCKLE UP BABES, here is *the* most extensive list of engagement photo session locations in Chicago that I have ever publicly offered to the interwebs. It is a compilation of some of my favorite locations, including some lesser known locations, Chicago classics, studio spaces, a restaurant or two, and my favorite weekend treat, Jeni’s. If the location is listed, there is a good chance I have either shot an engagement session, family session, wedding party, or architectural banger there. I am not going to go into extensive detail on each location, but will be creating another blog that goes in-depth with a handful of these spots and why I love shooting at them. I will sprinkle a few photos in with this list so those who aren’t from Chicago can say “oh that’s what that spot is called!!” while scrolling.

This list is in no particular order and I apologize for that. I tried to start with the most central to downtown locations, then work my way south to west to north, but as I went I realized it was all over the place. 🤪 Also included some popular suburb spots at the end of the list because popular to contrary belief, there are some beautiful locations outside of Chicago.

An *asterisk indicates that the location requires a permit. For those associated with the Chicago Park District, you can click here to apply for one. For those that aren’t associated, I suggest going to their website and looking for permit information. For any restaurant or bar listed, call ahead! Sometimes they will open their doors to you before they open if you ask nicely.

1. The Icon – North Avenue Beach

2. Arielle’s Personal Favorite – The South Gardens at the Art Institute of Chicago

3. Milton Lee Olive Park

4. The Adler Planetarium

5. The Chicago Riverwalk

6. The Wrigley Building

7. The Chicago Board of Trade

8. The Lurie Gardens at Millennium Park*

9. The Chicago Cultural Center* (indoor)

10. The Cupola at London House Chicago *

11. The LaSalle Street Bridge (or any bridge over the river)

12. The Chicago Theatre

13. Palmer House* (hotel, indoor)

14. The Rookery Building*

15. Harold Washington Library*

16. Northerly Island Park/12th Street Beach

17. Promontory Point

18. South Shore Cultural Center*

19. Jackson Park

20. Stony Island Arts Bank*

21. Ping Tom Memorial Park (and the blue floral mural at 1700 S Wentworth Ave)

22. Mario’s Italian Lemonade Stand

a couple taking their engagement photos at marios italian lemonade stand in chicago

23. Chicago’s Union Station

24. The Old Post Office*

25. Charter a boat on either the River or Lake Michigan

26. Green Street Smoked Meats (if you ask nicely and/or order food, they’ll let you take photos in that alleyway — or go during non-summer months)

27. Sawada Coffee (get the coffee because 1. its amazing and 2. if you want to take photos inside a coffee shop regardless of where, you’ll likely be getting coffee while you ask if it’s okay to take photos.)

28. Jeni’s West Loop location

29. Any cocktail bar in the West Loop

30. Solomon Souza Mural

31. Felipe Pantone Mural

felipe pantone mural engagement photos

32. Hubbard Street Murals

33. Humboldt Park Boathouse

34. The Art Institute of Chicago (everyone just needs to buy a ticket inside, no flash photography)

35. Garfield Park Conservatory*

36. Beatnik West Town* (call ahead, sometimes they’ll let you come before they open, otherwise at the bar)

37. The Rooftop at The Robey* (typically a permit is required, but if you go on a whim sometimes they’re nice and will let you up there without charging you $500)

38. Damen Blue Line Stop

39. Stan’s Donuts in Wicker Park

40. Dove’s Luncheonette in Wicker Park

41. Small Cheval (Wicker or Old Town, both equally perfect for photos)

42. Whiskey Business

43. Greetings from Chicago Mural (2226 North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago)

44. Vivian Maier Mural (obvi for photographers, 1651 West North Avenue, Chicago)

45. Portillo’s (because duh)

46. Lou Malnati’s (also duh)

47. Goose Island Brewhouse

48. Seward Park (for a Love & Basketball themed session? Let’s go.)

49. Lincoln Park Nature Walk

50. Lincoln Park Conservatory*

51. Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool*

52. North Pond Nature Sanctuary

53. Outside of Wrigley Field (I’ve shot groomsmen photos on the field before, but that requires a BIG hook-up)

54. Metropolitan Brewing

55. Sweet Mandy B’s (if/when they open their indoor seating area again in Lincoln Park 🥺)

56. DePaul’s Campus

57. Loyola Beach

58. Montrose Beach

59. Ambassador Hotel Rooftop

60. Magnificent Mile

61. Fulton Market District Gateway

62. Calder’s Flamingo

63. Hero Coffee Bar

64. Adams/Wabash CTA stop

65. Record Breakers Record Shop (called ahead, owner let us in before they opened!)

66. Lickity Split (Edgewater old fashioned ice cream shoppe, owners also let us in before open)

67. The Original Rainbow Cone (on Western Ave)

68. Margies Candies (the best sundaes!!!)

69. The 606

70. The 606 Access Point at Milwaukee and Leavitt (Ipsento 606)

71. Logan Square Park (and/or any restaurant/bar near it)

72. University of Chicago Campus (!!!!! Shouldn’t be this far down on the list but it escaped me. If you want your session to look like it was shot at Hogwarts, shoot here in the fall.)

73. Northwestern Campus

74. Loyola Campus

75. Navy Pier

76. Salvage One*

77. Tova Studios (Wicker Park)

78. South Facing Windows (Bridgeport)

79. Sunlit Studios (Ravenswood)

80. A Darling Studio (Wicker Park)

These next few are strictly suburbs and beyond! Can confirm that a lot of these spots are beautiful year round, especially in the fall if you’re wanting a nature background.

81. Naperville Riverwalk (Naperville, obviously)

82. Fabyan Forest Preserve and Japanese Gardens (Batavia, IL)

83. Lilacia Park (Lombard, IL)

84. Vehe Barn (Deer Park, IL)

85. LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve (St. Charles, IL)

86. Busse Woods (Schaumburg, IL)

87. Carl R Hansen Woods (Elgin, IL — if you live in the Northwest Suburbs I ALWAYS recommend this spot. I have been shooting here for over a decade, all seasons)

88. Oney’s Tree Farm (Woodstock, IL – for Christmas themed photos as it is seasonal)

89. All Seasons Orchard (Woodstock, IL – go during the fall for Apple Picking season)

90. Bluff Spring Fen (Elgin, IL)

91. Downtown Geneva (Geneva, IL)

92. Batavia Park District Pavilion on the Fox River

93. Downtown Elgin, IL

94. Rocky Glen Waterfall (Lemont, IL)

95. Von Bergen’s Country Market (Hebron, IL)

96. Starved Rock State Park (Ogelsby, IL)

97. Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie (Wilmington, IL)

98. Chicago Botanic Gardens* (Glencoe)

99. Bahai House of Worship (Wilmette)

100. Gilson Beach (Glencoe)

101. Morton Arboretum* (Lisle — saved one of my favorite suburb locations for last)

Ready to plan your engagement session? Inquire today.

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BEHIND THE LENS

hi, i'm ARIELLE.

You can usually find me home with my golden retriever or day dreaming of my next trip to Italy.

I am a firm believer in living life with purpose and never missing the opportunity to experience something new. The Meyers-Briggs test says I am an ESFJ, and my friends say I am the person they come to when they need comfort, advice, or fresh baked goods. I consider myself an empath, so special moments you share with your loved ones will likely get me all teary eyed and sentimental. I am not here to pretend life is picture perfect, but to capture genuine emotion and create timeless pieces of art to decorate your home. I’m constantly striving for perfection, but have a calming personality and am relatively easy going. 

When the camera is not around my neck, I am a big home body. I love hanging on the couch with my dog, making pasta, breads and desserts from scratch, squatting 400+ pounds in the gym, or plotting my next trip outside of the US. As a direct descendant of Italian immigrants, I feel most at home in Italy (and speak a bit of Italian, too.)

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Arielle has photographed over 150 weddings across 12 states, 5 countries, and 3 continents. While her heart beats for coastal and countryside Italian weddings, she is willing to travel anywhere and everywhere to document your day.

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