Do You Need a Photography Permit?

Detroit photography locations

Popular Areas a Photography Permit is Required

*Updated for 2022-2023 weddings

When it comes to getting married, it’s all about planning ahead. Before you get your heart set on your dream venue or a specific place for pictures — it pays to check if a photography permit is required before your big day. Our team did extensive research at venues and locations across the state of Michigan and metro Detroit to provide you with a cheat sheet to help ease any permit pain while you plan.

Wedding Photography Permit Tips

  • Always start the permit process at least 90 days in advance (Sooner is always better to avoid issues.)
  • National and State Parks along with historic locations will always have additional rules and requirements involved when booking.
  • Even if you’re not getting married at a specific location, fees and applications may still be required to simply have pictures taken for engagement sessions or ‘Romantic Sessions’ prior to your reception.
  • To avoid getting the boot — call ahead!

Metro Detroit

Belle Isle State Park

There are many historic locations on Belle Isle to choose from when looking to plan your wedding or schedule a photo session. Several of those locations do require fees and permits. With the Department of Natural Resources in charge of the historic park in Detroit, the best way to get specifics is to call the venue direct. In the meantime here are some quick facts. 

  • Permit applications must be sent over at least 14 days before the requested date.
  • Permits are non-refundable and not transferable.
  • May – September: the DNR will not be issuing any permits for photography after 2:00pm on the weekend. Photography is not allowed on the grounds after 2:00pm on the weekends. The rangers are aware of this and will act accordingly.
  • Download the permit application here.
  • Type of photoshoot & fee:
    • Wedding photos $75
    • Engagement photos $50

belle isle detroit photography permit

The Rochester Hills Museum

Looking to take pictures at the The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm? Here are the guidelines. All photographers must contact the Museum to confirm that our site is available and make a reservation before finalizing any dates with customers. Photo sessions may not be allowed when special events are scheduled. 

Fee Structure

  • $50 per day
  • $250 annual permit available per calendar year
  • $75 per hour for wedding photography
  • All annual photographers must wear our distinctive identification badges while on our site.
  • Fees are required regardless of whether the Museum is staffed or open to the public.
  • The interior of any building is not available for photography, even in inclement weather.

The Rochester Hills Museum reserves the right to monitor appropriate use of the property and props for photographs on our grounds.

Photo Policy for Weddings at The Henry Ford

No professional photography allowed on campus without a contracted event.

Wedding Ceremonies and Receptions held at The Henry Ford will have photo access/privileges in their contracted venue, during contracted time. Evening Greenfield Village access is available only with reserved historic transportation, based on availability.

All photography must adhere to standard rules including no access inside artifact barriers, or other access barriers, including architecture.  You many take photos on the grounds or inside the Museum if the reception or ceremony is at the Museum. They are currently not allowing couples to use the property for photography unless the couple is having part of their wedding at the Museum. Photography cannot block or disrupt other guests or operations. No professional lighting or umbrellas are allowed.

henry ford museum

Heritage Park, Farmington Hills

New this year! It won’t be “a walk in the park” if you want your pictures taken at Heritage Park in Farmington Hills and don’t have a permit. As of May 1, 2017 all photographers or videographers for hire (commercial) who wish to take photos or videos in on their grounds must register for a permit through the City of Farmington Hills Department of Special Services. Photographers and their clients who are doing photo sessions will be asked to leave the park if they do not have a permit.

The Northville Historical Society: Mill Race Village

Photography at Mill Race Village in Northville has a policy that prohibits professional photographers from taking pictures on the grounds without paying a fee. This policy does not apply to weddings held at Mill Race Village.

Meadow Brook Hall

Want to take a selfie at Meadow Brook Hall? Sure! Visitors are welcome to take souvenir photos, but professional photographers are asked not to use Meadow Brook Hall for backdrops or commercial work without a permit. Check out the guidelines before setting up a photo shoot.

Meadow Brook Hall guests are welcome to take photographs for personal and informal use

  • Photographs may not be published, sold, reproduced, distributed or otherwise commercially exploited in any manner.  
  • Non-flash interior photography for personal use is allowed during tours, community programs and special events at Meadow Brook Hall.
  • For the safety and comfort of our visitors and the protection of this National Historic Landmark, we ask that you be aware of your surroundings and stay in permitted areas only.  
  • No flash photography is permitted inside The Hall.
    • No photos of the paintings and prints at The Hall because of copyright issues.
    • Video recording and selfie-sticks are not allowed at any time.
    • Posed or group photographs are not allowed during guided tours.
    • Guests on guided tours must stay with the tour group at all times.
  • Outdoor photography for personal use is permitted during regular museum and grounds operating hours.
  • Costumes, props, and photo equipment such as tripods and large camera bags are prohibited, both inside and on the grounds, without a signed contract and appointment date from The Hall.  
  • Any activity that interferes with the use, operation, or enjoyment of the site can be limited or prohibited by Meadow Brook Hall staff.

If you have questions about professional photography, contact the Meadow Brook Hall Sales Department at (248) 364-6220.

bride and groom kissing meadow brook hall

Grand Rapids

The city of Grand Rapids requires and provides permits for photography on public property through the Office of Special Events. If you are interested in getting married at a City park or on an iconic bridge downtown? You will need to complete a Wedding Permit Application.

Make sure you’re eligible

Make sure you submit your wedding permit application to the Office of Special Events at least 70 days before your wedding date. The $100 non-refundable permit fee is due with the application. Late fees are as follows:

  • Less than 70 days before wedding: $100 late fee
  • Less than 55 days before wedding: $200 late fee
  • Less than 30 days before wedding: May not be accepted

Determine your venue and date

Determine which park you want to use, your wedding date, and set-up and tear-down times. See a listing of the most common venues in our Special Event Permit Guide. Note, pedestrian bridges such as the Blue Bridge and Gillett Bridge require a 6-foot egress from one end of the bridge to the other (east to west) at all times.

Insure your wedding

Provide us with a Certificate of Insurance for $1,000,000 at least 30 days before your wedding. This is required for weddings at all City venues. The Office of Special Events in Grand Rapids recommends you use the GatherGuard Program for insurance.

Create a site map

The city of Grand Rapids provides a Site Map Resource Guide to reference where utility hookups (such as water and electric) are located. You’ll attach your hand-drawn or digital site map to your application. Make sure to include the following on your map:

  • Refuse and recycling receptacles
  • Portable restroom placement
  • Rental equipment placement
  • Food service area
  • Alcohol service area
  • Fences/enclosures
  • Security
  • Generator, fan, or heater placement

The city asks for your site map to be included with your application submission. Check out their timeline checklist here to stay on top of other items due later. Keep in mind that your wedding may not need planning for some of these details.

National State Parks

If you’re eager to have an outdoor ceremony in one of Michigan’s gorgeous National Parks you’ll need permits and you’ll have to follow specific rules and guidelines.

Keep in mind that many wedding venues in West Michigan are located along the beaches of Lake Michigan and often require permits, especially if they are located in a city or Waterfront Park.

Other Locations that Require Photography Permit 

  • Wayne County Parks
  • Comerica Park, On Field Photography
  • Heritage Gardens, Shelby Twp.
  • George George Memorial Park, Clinton Township
  • Ford Field
  • Kellogg & Starkweather Parks, Plymouth
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