We are looking forward to Gina and Josh's wedding coming up this fall. They wanted to incorporate their classic Chicago neighborhood in their engagement portraits and save-the-date cards, and Wedding Creativo Photography owner Giorgio had a lot of fun going around with this lovely couple on this beautiful spring day. Afterwards, we custom designed a wine and cream color save-the-date postcard, with a back side clover motif that mirrored the clover design in the staircase in the photo.
Inspired by blush and pastel colors of spring, this two-sided Save-the-Date postcard with pink and cream iris flowers is a great way to set the tone for a romantic spring wedding. Wedding Creativo offers customized Save-the-Date cards with select engagement packages, or anyone may order custom designed cards from us by request. For more information please contact Sarah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Around the winter holidays is annually when engagement season is in full bloom, although any time of year is a good time to propose. As we look towards Valentines Day next month, one of the biggest engagement days each year, we're inspired to do a new round up of the latest engagement rings for 2013. A few unique trends we're seeing are rose gold bands, emerald green stones and yellow diamonds. Also, classic cuts and vintage style engagement rings are forever fashionable.
You just got engaged! Congratulations!
Well, depending on what kind of wedding or civil union you have in mind, this next phase in your life could involve anywhere from 2 years to 24 hours. This article will not focus that much on the planning aspect of what happens next (although we have a few basic getting started tips), but rather the actual requirements and steps to legally get married in Chicago and Cook County, Illinois.
1. Figuring out what kind of wedding you want (and can afford) involves a lot of factors that you and your sweetheart need to first discuss with each other. Your financial state and life priorities can vary greatly depending on what age you are when you decide to marry. A couple's shared goals at age 22 are usually very different than at age 28, 34, 40 or beyond. What ever your shared dreams are as a married couple, the wedding is only part of your future plans together, so your decision for those plans are a very personal choice.
Tip: for general cost estimates and sample wedding budgets we suggest http://www.costofwedding.com
2. Plan the wedding. There are tons of web sites, magazines, books and software to help with this. Or, you can hire an experienced and qualified event planner. In the Chicago area, we recommend starting by picking up a copy of Chicago Style Weddings magazine. It is organized like a planning guide and has a standard planning schedule of what tasks to check off your list each month. For this blog post, we're going to leave it at that.
3. Get married!
Now, to actually get married or have a civil union in Chicago, the city and Cook County web sites have several pages with information, however, it can be tricky to find all of the specific information that you need. So really, the purpose of this post is an effort to centralize all of the important information right here!
Step 1: Prepare to get your marriage license. To get married in Illinois, couples must get their marriage license issued in the county where they are planning the marriage ceremony to take place. In Chicago, and closest suburbs, that is Cook County. Generally Illinois, and specifically Cook County, are not very strict with legal requirements, but there are some eligibility laws, required legal identification, and the license fee is $60. For more general information:
Applying for a Marriage License: http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/vitalrecords/marriagelicenses/pages/default.aspx
Applying for a Civil Union License: http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/vitalrecords/civilunionlicenses/Pages/default.aspx
Step 2: Go to get your marriage license. You will need to apply for your civil union or marriage license together and in-person. You may do this at any of the six Cook County Clerk's vital records offices in the area. Five of the locations are in the suburbs: Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Maywood, Markham and Bridgeview. There is one location in the city of Chicago, at the Daley Center -- 50 W. Washington St., East Concourse, Lower Level 25.
Click here for more information on Cook County Vital Records locations: http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/aboutus/hours_locations/Pages/VitalRecords.aspx
IMPORTANT!!! The marriage license is issued while you wait and is good for 60 days. There is a 24-hour waiting period, so you have to wait at least one day before you can legally get married. This is especially important information for couples who live outside of the county or state and are planning a wedding or elopement in Chicago or suburban Cook County. So, plan your travel accordingly to obtain your marriage license at least 24 hours (but we suggest 48 hours, just in case) before your scheduled ceremony time.
Step 3: Check your issued marriage license has all the correct information. Before you leave the clerk's office, be sure your legal names are spelled correctly, and your age is correct. If this information does not match your drivers license or or other legal identification documents, it will be a big headache to fix later.
Step 4: On the wedding day, remember to bring your marriage license and mailing envelope provided by the county. If you are having a big wedding day, it helps to delegate the best man, maid of honor, sibling or a parent to be in charge of bringing the license and giving it to your officiant. If you are eloping or having a small wedding, of course you may do this yourself.
IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE FOR COURT HOUSE WEDDINGS OR ELOPEMENTS!!! Marriage court is NOT located in the same building downtown where you get the marriage license. Marriage Court in Chicago is located at 119 W. Randolph St., Lower Level (City Hall building). Although, these buildings are close to each other, so if you get the locations mixed up, you won't have to go far to find the correct location. No appointments accepted, first come first served. The fee is $10. Here is more information about hours and locations for marriage and civil union by a judge in Chicago or suburban Cook County: http://www.cookcountycourt.org/ABOUTTHECOURT/MunicipalDepartment/FirstMunicipalDistrictChicago/MarriageandCivilUnion.aspx
Also, in the City of Chicago, on select Saturdays throughout the year, Marriage Court judges hold brief ceremonies for a couple hours in the morning at the beautiful Chicago Cultural Center at 78 E. Washington St. You have to call to find out the available dates, and go in person to Randolp St. Marriage Court to make your appointment for a specific designated time for your ceremony. These special dates and times typically get booked in advance, especially during popular times of year. Call 312.603.5660 for information, or go here on the City of Chicago's website (scroll down to the bottom of the page): http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_culturalcenter-thingstodo.html
Step 5: After your ceremony, your officiant will fill out the marriage license. You can make this a ceremonial moment with your photographer capturing the signing, or the officiant can just fill it out while you're getting hugs and kisses. The officiant is then responsible for delivering your completed marriage license to the county office. When you are issued the license, you also receive an envelope with the county office address already printed on the envelope. It just needs a postage stamp, or the officiant can deliver it in person if they prefer.
Step 6: Order an official copy of your marriage certificate. Cook County does not automatically send you a copy of your offical marriage certificate. You will need to order this after the wedding. There are several ways you may order your certificate, including online. (You should order at least 2-3 certified copies....see step 7).
Here is more general information about Cook County Marriage Certificates: http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/vitalrecords/marriagecertificates/Pages/default.aspx
Direct link to ordering a standard marriage certificate online: http://cookcountyvitalrecord.com/
The county also offers special decorative commemorative certificates: https://commemorative.cookcountyclerk.com/
Step 7: Changing your name. Not everyone does this, but if either spouse is changing their name after getting married, you will need several certified copies of your marriage certificate. The bad news is...it can be a hassle to change your name, and then update that change on everything from your drivers license to your retirement account. The good news is, you do NOT have to go through the court process with a marriage name change (which is really good news, because to otherwise legally change your name in court costs nearly $400!).
You should first change your Social Security card, here is information on Social Security Administration web site: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/ssnumber/ss5.htm
Then, after you receive your new Social Security card, go to your local DMV to request a new driver's licence, update your vehicle registration and title. There are many other legal documents or financial institutions where you'll also need to update you name, such as your passport, with your employer, bank, insurance, post office, credit card companies, etc. Some of these you can do over the phone, but in some cases be prepared to provide additional certified copies of your marriage certificate. Sounds like a big hassle, yes? Well, there are online name changing services that can make things easier....for a fee....such as MissNowMrs.com.
Step 8: Enjoy your marriage!
We are looking forward to Jacqueline and Joe's big Italian wedding coming up this September, and seeing pictures on display from their recent Chicago lake shore engagement portrait session, including a lovely fine art canvas print that we made for this couple.
'Tis the season for engagements, so we thought we would help out by taking a look at some unique rings we've seen recently. Regarding the actual proposal, we really have only one note of advice: don't do it in a super public way (e.g. not center court of NBA basketball game, or any other way where 1000 people are looking at your potential spouse to say "yes.") If you're both ready, there is no bad way to propose, but it should really be a meaningful deeply personal experience, not a public fiasco, err....show. We realize there is this notion where some might think declaring your intentions to the world is a grand gesture, but if you really think about it, your sweetheart only cares that YOU want to get married, and what onlookers think is not important.
Kate's enthusiastic laugh and Brian's southern gentleman charm is what we will always remember most about this fun-loving couple. Kate runs the big city marathons...she's done Boston and Chicago multiple times. Brian is an equally enthusiastic athlete and his work involves extensive traveling, so he has also enjoyed running in cities around the world. We recently enjoyed photographing their destination wedding in Cooperstown, and we posted a sneak peak from their wedding day last week.
However, we never got around to posting their wonderful engagement session, so we want to feature that today, along with the Save The Date card we made featuring several favorites from their lifestyle engagement session. Kate and Brian's humorous personalities and shared interest in running is captured in this collection.
Vicky and David love books, and apparently so does the gray cat that hangs out at the vintage and used bookstore where we had their engagement session.
These are some framing ideas we had that were inspired by the rustic wood bookshelves and ladders that were in the shop.
Sometimes we take for granted how lucky we are to have a public lakeshore in Chicago. It is no wonder why it is such a popular location for portraits, but we were extra lucky to run into these guys "taking the plunge" into Lake Michigan, which was a nice visual metaphor for Wendy and Neil's engagement portrait session.
Philippe and Rebecca have a great location for their wedding this fall at a place that is in the heart of the city, yet surrounded by trees and nature. We enjoyed making their Save the Date card with lovely autumnal elements and a look that also coordinates well with their own wedding website.
Megan let us know in her initial inquiry to us that she could not wait to marry her best friend. We knew we were in for a treat when it was time to meet this very sweet couple, and we are thrilled about photographing their wedding next June. Giorgio had a lot of fun going around town with Megan and Luke for their engagement session during peak fall colors in October.
Tabitha and Matthew's spring engagement session reminded me of Albert Lamorisse's classic 1956 French film The Red Balloon. It is a simple but sweet movie about a boy and a balloon that seems to have a personality of its own. There is almost no dialogue, so you don't really need to understand French to appreciate the film.
I suppose a similar notion is true with couples in love. There is an unspoken language of understanding and appreciation.
Becky and Fuad are excellent at yoga, and it is a passion they share. For their engagement session we went to the beautiful Moksha Yoga Center in Chicago where they practice together and Becky also instructs classes. We are looking forward to their Midwestern destination wedding in Michigan later this summer.
© Wedding Creativo / Giorgio Ventola Inc.
We are really excited about participating in Love at Breathtaking Heights, an exclusive boutique wedding show hosted by the The Metroplitan Club. This event is coming up this Saturday, January 23, 2010 at Willis Tower (formally Sears Tower). There will be several door prizes, including our awesome giveaway for a premium Engagement Portrait package. Also, Chicago Style Unveiled is giving away tickets to this event. Be sure to leave a comment on thier site before noon tomorrow, January 20, for a chance to win!
During the door prize drawings at 5:30, we will be giving away a premium Engagement Package to one lucky couple, which will include:
- A Location Engagement Session (downtown Chicago area)
- Our custom-designed Wishes and Wisdom™ Guestbook
- Framed 8x10 Engagement Print
- a value of $700!
Here are some sneak peaks of our sample Wishes and Wisdom™ Guestbook that we'll have on display Saturday. We will also have some special goodies at our table, so please stop by and say hi.
All images © Giorgio Ventola Inc. / Wedding Creativo