How to get married in Chicago

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How to get married in Chicago

Getting married in Chicago is super popular and it's easy to see why. The city is FULL of gorgeous venues, lots of transportation options into the city and around it, exciting places to fill out a whole wedding weekend, and tons of amazing photo ops, dining, comedy, and cultural experiences for your guests. But it can also be super pricey, super crowded, and you'll need to know how to navigate all the legal requirements for making it official in Chicago.

We've got everything from the nitty-gritty of how to get legally married in Chicago, to a few of our favorite Chicago weddings, to special tips for how to save money in Chicago.

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Tips for planning a wedding in Chicago

Budgeting efficiently in Chicago is key as it is one of the most expensive cities in the United States to get married. But you can totally cut your costs by limiting your guest list, choosing off-season dates, and avoiding heavily trafficked weekends like the Chicago Marathon in October and Taste of Chicago in July. Check with your venue AND local hotels to see if there any big events that could cause you issues with pricing, parking, and hotel block rates.

Ways to save in your Chicago wedding budget:

  • Look into non-traditional venues like restaurants for hosting smaller gatherings.
  • Choose in-season flowers for your decor OR opt for no flowers and decorate with items that mean something to you instead (board games? Funko Pop?)
  • Prioritize what's important to you and minimize the rest: if great food and a good photographer are important, see if you can skip things like a limo, a huge cake, and expensive favors.

Chicago wedding weather is unpredictable. Rain and snow are challenging, especially for outdoor weddings. Check here for some of our favorite tips for making the most of a rainy wedding day. Summer months can also be sizzling. If you're worried about beating the heat, click here for some tips on staying cool.

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How to get legally married in Chicago

All couples who want to get married in Chicago and all of Illinois must obtain a marriage license. You'll want to see all of the documents and requirements you'll need to fulfill at the Cook County Clerk's Office. You can begin your application online and will need to complete it in person.

If you do not have your own officiant, you can be joined in marriage or a civil union by a Cook County judge at the Marriage and Civil Union Court. Marriages and civil unions are also performed at the suburban municipal district courthouses.

Changing your name in Chicago
If you're planning to change your name after the wedding, get a few copies of your license to have on hand when obtaining your new documents. Hit up your local Social Security office, update your Passport, head to the DMV, and update your voter registration.

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Chicago wedding officiant requirements

Chicago does not require minister registration before performing a marriage, though it varies by the town in the rest of the state. You should always check with the local city or town clerk to check that your officiant can perform the wedding in that jurisdiction. Call the city or town clerk’s office where you intend to get married.

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Offbeat Chicago wedding vendors

You may think finding skilled wedding vendors in Chicago is easy — it's a huge city after all! But you may be overwhelmed with options and might have to do some research to find vendors who work with all budgets and all styles. You can find offbeat-friendly Chicago and Illinois wedding vendors in our Vendor Guide
Don't miss our online vendors, too, for honeymoon registries, stationery, gifts, ketubahs, rings, guestbooks, wedding websites, and more.

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What did we miss about getting married in Chicago?

Email us your wedding planning tips and favorite Chicago vendors!

Ready to start planning a Chicago wedding? Head to our Tools page for wedding planning resources, our big planning checklist, editable planning spreadsheets, and TONS of wedding planning help and info.

Wedding Planning Tools

Photo credits: Emma Mullins Photography; Thistle and Twine Atelier; Ingrid Bonne Photography; Roni Rose Photography; Amanda Megan Miller

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