10 Photo Locations in and around Philadelphia that Require Permits – And How to Get Them

With all the incredible photo locations for your engagement and wedding portraits in and around the Philadelphia area, you need to know that certain places require permits. And we hate to have to say it… but you really should get the permit. Nothing is more of a bummer than when during your wedding you get asked to leave. 😮

So to make sure that doesn’t happen, here’s our list of locations that require a permit and instructions on how to get one.

**Last Updated 5/5/2023 – Email us if there needs to be an update.

1.) Independence Mall Parks

18th century garden, independence mall park engagement photos
18th Century Garden – Photo by Sarah Canning Photography

All locations in the Independence Mall Park area require a permit. These include:

  • The Magnolia Garden
  • Rose Garden
  • 18th Century Garden
  • Benjamin Rush Garden
  • The Second Bank of the United States (South steps and lawn area)
  • The First Bank of the United States (Front steps)
  • Carpenters’ Hall
  • Washington Square (*Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is off-limits*)
  • The Merchants’ Exchange (Steps and gate)

How To get a Permit:

Cost: $25 Application Fee, Plus $50-$250 depending on the size of your group.

Application Form: Independence Mall Park Wedding Photography Permit Application

For More Info: https://www.nps.gov/inde/planyourvisit/permitsandreservations-weddingpermits.htm

Second Bank of the United States wedding photo, tami ryan photography
Second Bank of the United States – photo by Tami & Ryan Photography

2.) Race Street Pier

Race Street Pier engagement photo, nicole cordisco photography
Race Street Pier – Photo by Nicole Cordisco Photography

As of April 2023, Race Street Pier no longer requires a permit for engagement or wedding photography. While you won’t need to go through the time and expense of obtaining a permit, you won’t be able to reserve a time or location for your engagement or wedding photography. So be aware that you might have people interrupt your session. Just be polite and ask them to give you a few moments, kindness always wins.

How To Get A Permit:

Cost: FREE!

For More Info: https://www.delawareriverwaterfront.com/footer/permits

Race street pier engagement photo, iris and echo photography
Race Street Pier – Photo by Iris and Echo

3.) City Parks (Fairmount Water Works – FDR Park Boat House – Rodin Musuem – Azalea Garden)

Photo By: Bartlett Pair Photography

Some of the most popular city parks in Philadelphia require permit for photography and ceremonies. These locations are also open to the public so make sure you have a permit to ask people to respect your time. Turn around time can take over 2 weeks, so apply early!

How To Get A Permit:

Cost: $50 – $150 depending on location

For Application & More Info: City of Philadelphia Wedding Photo and Wedding Ceremony Permits

Photo By: Bartlett Pair Photography

4.) City Hall (Dilworth Park)

Photo by Laura Caporizzo Photography

Our iconic city hall is a perfect Philly-focused spot for engagement and wedding photos. However, the permit process is a little complicated so read carefully:

How To Get A Permit:

A.) All areas of City Hall (**excluding Dilworth Park**) do not require a permit for engagement and wedding photos.

B.) Dilworth Park does not require a permit for wedding day photos. Engagement Photos do require a permit.

Dilworth Park – $150 for 1 hour
All other areas of City Hall – FREE

For Permits, Contact:
Laurie Heinrichs

Photo by J&J Studios Photography

5.) John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove

Photo by Laura Caporizzo Photography

How To Get A Permit:

Cost: $100 Annual or $25 per session

For More Info: https://johnjames.audubon.org/rental/professional-photography-permit-required

6.) Valley Forge National Park

Photo by Aaron Lee Photography

A very large and expansive location outside of Philadelphia, weddings and engagement photography require a “Short” permit at Valley Forge Park.

How To Get A Permit:

Cost: $75

Permit Form: Photography Short Form
More Information: https://www.nps.gov/vafo/planyourvisit/filmingandphotography.htm

Photo by Alison Conklin Photography

7.) Tyler Gardens

Photo by Rachel Betson Photography

An extremely popular location for engagement and wedding photos. You need to book your time at least 60 days before the shoot, so do not wait!

How To Get A Permit:

Cost: $100 for 1 hour – Photographer’s Annual Permit $350

Website: Tyler Gardens Photo Permit Info and Application

8.) Ridley Creek State Park

Photo by Laura Caporizzo Photography

Ridley Creek State Park has recently begun to require permits for all wedding related shoots. Unfortunately, the form and signup information is not available online. Best bet is to give the park office a call for the most current information.

How To Get A Permit:

Call the Park Office: 610-892-3900

9.) Philadelphia Magic Gardens

Photo by All Heart Photo and Video

Another extremely popular location on South Street. This one-of-a-kind art installation by Isaiah Zagar will give your photos that authentic Philly art-scene feel.

How To Get A Permit:

Request a permit online at the PMG website. This location fills up quickly so get your permit in advance!

Cost: $25 deposit + $75/half hour

More Info: https://www.phillymagicgardens.org/visitor-information/pmg-photography-policy/

10.) Longwood Gardens

Photo by Clicke Photography

One of the most beautiful locations on our list (maybe the best for last). Longwood Gardens has recently announced a MAJOR change in their photography policies. To get the full scoop, check out their website here:

Longwood Gardens Photography Guidelines: https://longwoodgardens.org/new-photography-policy