Before You Say “I Do”, Check for a Permit!

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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 permit is required.

  • Dress: Check!
  • Flowers: Check!
  • Cake: Check!
  • Engagement Photo Session: Huh? I can’t take pictures here?!
  • Venue: … Wait, what? I need a permit?!

Here at Mike Staff Productions, 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 Photo Permit Facts: 

  • Always start the permit process at least 90 days in advance,
  • but 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

The Rochester Hills Museum

Looking to take pictures at the The Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm?

Here are the guidelines:

  • $50 per day/$250 annual permit available.
  • $75 per hour for wedding photography – reservation required.
  • Permit valid for the calendar year.
  • All 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.
  • Photo sessions will not be allowed when special events are in progress. Please call the Museum to coordinate your photography shoot.
  • The Rochester Hills Museum reserves the right to monitor appropriate use of the property and props for photographs on our grounds. Please do not sit or climb on any of the historic walls. No smoking is allowed.

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.

Belle Isle State Park

There are so many historic locations within Belle Isle to choose from when looking to plan or wedding or schedule a photo session, several of which require fees and permits. Now that the DNR is in charge, the best way to get specifics is to call the venue direct. In the meantime here are some quick facts:

Photography and Filming Fees: Belle Isle

  • Wedding photos  $75/hour
  • Engagement photos  $50/hour
  • Commercial photo shoot $750 (1-6 hours)
  • Additional hours (>6)  $100/hour
  • Scott Fountain  $150.00  
  • Conservatory
    • (11am – 1pm & 2pm – 4pm) $200.00
    • (5pm – 7pm)          $300.00  
  • Lighthouse (ceremony only) $250.00  
  • Lighthouse (ceremony & reception)  $450.00  
  • Rehearsals (only one, weekdays 11am-4pm) No charge

engagement photography permit

Meadow Brook Hall:

Go ahead and take your selfies in front of the historic Meadow Brook Hall in Rochester but when it comes to photography – don’t expect to do much more at that location. Visitors are welcome to take souvenir photos, but professional photographers are asked not to use Meadow Brook Hall for backdrops or commercial work.

Check out the guidelines before setting up a photo shoot:

Photography is permitted for private, noncommercial use only.

  • 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.

Grand Rapids

Submit this application along with a $25 non-refundable, non-transferable application fee no later than 90 days prior to your intended wedding date. Keep in mind, submission of the application does *not* guarantee your wedding date or location. If your application is approved an additional $100 wedding permit will be required to be married at these locations:

  • Ah-Nab-Awen, Calder Plaza or Rosa Parks Circle
  • Canal Street Park, Sixth Street Park or Heartside Park          
  • Gillett Bridge or Indiana Railroad Bridge (Blue Bridge)
  • Riverside Park, Richmond Park or Wilcox Park
  • All Other Parks and Areas

Those venues come with their own fees along with equipment rental fees. For more information you can contact the City of Grand Rapids Office of Special Events at 616.456.3378 | GRcity.us | [email protected]

National 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 Venues with Permit Requirements


Mike Staff Productions is here to help with any of your wedding planning questions so feel free to give us a call (877.689.0777) or drop us a line at [email protected]

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