Top Ten Places to take wedding photos in Des Moines

DSCN1237Des Moines has plenty of beautiful places to have as a background for your wedding pictures. The following offer a variety of locations to get just the right type of look you’re seeking for your photos.

1.The Iowa State Fairgrounds– The inspiration for the original “State Fair”which later become a popular movie,the state fair offers well maintained grounds that are free to use and offer different backgrounds for whatever type of look you’re going for. You may want to shy away from trying to get your pictures taken during the actual fair since attendance can be in the thousands while it’s going on but for the rest of the year, the grounds itself can vary from iconic midway street to the Ye Ole Mill to the various wooded areas that can offer a rustic look without leaving town.  This would be a great location for those wanting to celebrate being Iowan or their love of the fair. Click here for more information.


2.The Des Moines Botanical Center– The Des Moines Botanical center has been in Des Moines since 1979 and offers a vast array of tropical plants and flowers to serve as the background of your pictures inside the iconic dome and the grounds outside offer just as many opportunities for nature inspired photos. They do ask that groups of 15+ should privately rent spaces within the garden to accommodate their shoot. Private photo sessions are not allowed during public hours. The pictures you’ll walk away with though will be well worth the reservations you may have to make.  Click here for more information about their photography rules and the variety of wildlife growing in the dome.

Wedding photography guide

3. Living History Farms– If you’re wanting the quintessential “Iowa” pictures with some historical aspect to them to boot, this is the best place to go.  The farm is separated  into 4 sections based on the era they are re-creating. The 1875 town of Walnut Hill represents a post Civil-War community and has the most modern looking area of the farms while still maintain an authentic representation of the era. If you’re going for authentic historical pictures, you can go to the 1700 Ioway Indian Farms and have pictures near Bark houses called náhachi. The 1850 and 1900 farms have real working farms and the buildings on both spots would make great farm themed pictures.  The farms do charge $150 an hour with a 3 hour minimum but they give 4 locations in one spot for your pictures giving more options to the backgrounds while providing an historical feel. Click here for their website.


4. The Pappajohn Sculpture Gardens-The 4.4 acre park with 28 works of art is a popular place for pictures for good reason. The sculptures in the gardens make a vibrant background and you can easily fit the Des Moines cityscape in with them.  This is a free picture location but you will probably have to deal with both every day traffic of sightseers as well as other wedding groups.  The website by the Des Moines Art Center provides park hours as well as other information you may need.  Click here for their website.


5.The Iowa State Capital– Another free location, the grounds of the Iowa State Capital are well groomed and perfect for springtime wedding pictures. A perfect spot for those wanting to show their Iowa pride or to have an iconic image in their pictures.


6.The Clare and Miles Mills Rose Garden– located in Greenwood park in the heart of Des Moines, the Rose Garden is stunning when the roses are in bloom and would make a romantic location for your pictures. This is a free location but does require reservations through the City of Des Moines parks department click here to contact them.

7.The Des Moines Art Center– Like the Pappajohn Sculpture Gardens only on a much smaller scale, the Des Moines Art center has outdoor works that would make lovely backgrounds to your pictures as well the sprawling grounds. To rent the courtyard and the lobby by call (515) 271-0301.


8.Simon Estes Riverfront Amphitheater– This depends on how high the river is if you can use it or not but it would make a wonderful spot to get pictures taken with the city of Des Moines as your background as well as the Des Moines river. Just be sure to have a backup spot in case the river is too high on your picture day.


9.The Asian Gardens– Within walking distance of the Botanical center, a great location for those wanting an Asian theme to their pictures. Featuring a Chinese pagoda, a large pond and landscaped gardens. Visit their website for more information.


10.Last but not least, the Des Moines Pedestrian Bridge– A recent addition to the city of Des Moines, the striking pedestrian bridge covers  400 feet across the Des Moines river.  It’s a popular place for bicyclists, locals, and tourists so you may have to work around the crowds, but if you go at dawn or dusk the crowds should be a little smaller.


The Wedding Planner & Organizer

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