I just updated this post about Chicago Wedding Venues to now include some of your favorites. I hope it’s helpful for all you brides to be!
If you follow my Instagram, you know we started looking at Chicago wedding venues a few weeks ago. I shared two on my stories (saved in highlights!), and then trailed off… yes, that was for a reason 😉
What We Were Looking For
To back up, we had a few priorities going into this search. First, we both really wanted a downtown wedding for the big day. As you guys know, I’m just a tad bit obsessed with the beautiful city of Chicago, and I’ve always dreamed of getting married with the skyline and Lake Michigan close by. Plus, the majority of my family is based on the East Coast. We’re the only ones who have lived in the midwest. In fact, some of them have never even been to Chicago! They clearly don’t know what they’re missing!
Second, I was really adamant about having natural light. Obviously I take a lot of photos and I’m in a lot of photos for work all the time, so I see firsthand how important natural light is. If your vibe is moody or dramatic, this might not bother you at all – but I’m all about the light and airy photos! The best way to get that is outdoors, or with plenty of windows/skylights.
And lastly, we needed a place big enough for our wedding that didn’t feel too big. Our list right now is right around 245, which eliminated a few of the more intimate Chicago wedding venues. But it’s also a little small for a room that can fit up to 400! There was definitely a balance we needed to strike.
Knowing all of that, I arranged viewings at 4 of our top venues in Chicago all on the same day. To be honest, the day didn’t go how I expected it to at ALL. I was kind of a pill all morning, to the point where Adam kept asking what was up with me! You’ll read about my reaction to each one as you scroll through, but my advice for brides would be to see the venues you like in person. The experience of walking into each space made our decision so much easier than I ever anticipated.
Need help on your search?
I also recommend getting my Wedding Planning Bundle! Along with a bunch of other wedding planning tools (!!), it has a Venue Comparison Sheet to help you keep track of key considerations like capacity and price, but also your reactions to the space. There are SO many things to consider, so it’s helpful to have it all in one spot!
First up, the Adler Planetarium! I’ve been lusting after the Adler as a wedding venue for years. Those windows! That view of the skyline! An outdoor wedding next to the lake! Fireworks from Navy Pier in the summer! It was the dream.
Don’t get me wrong, it is an incredibly gorgeous place to get married. But for some reason, I just didn’t get the feels. And because I didn’t get the feels, I felt bride guilt for the first time. Is that a thing? Even though I know that covering different aspects of wedding planning for all of you here on Lake Shore Lady will help significantly with our overall budget, booking a venue is still a LOT of money. Especially in downtown Chicago. So if I wasn’t having ALL the feels, how could I justify the cost?! See? Bride guilt!
But after touring the other venues that day, I realized that I felt so unsettled because I didn’t actually want to get married there. It really came down to the fact that it was missing the neighborhood warmth we love so much about Chicago. In the end, it just wasn’t for us. Moving on…
Next, we ventured back up north to see a space called Artifact Events. How cool that we could get married right in our own neighborhood?! It’s literally a block away from our favorite date night restaurant, Spacca Napoli! The Adler felt far away from our normal life, but this one couldn’t be closer to it.
Since event planning was a big part of my old job, I knew this was logically a great choice. It was less expensive than a lot of other city options, there was a ton of natural light, and it’s a really unique space. I could picture a gorgeous wedding for sure, I just wasn’t sure it was mine that I was seeing.
The string lights still get me though… SO PRETTY! One of you should definitely get married here, and also maybe invite me to pop in? Ok great, see ya there 😉
Galleria Marchetti was the last venue we saw that day, scheduled right after our favorite. Needless to say, I walked in knowing it wasn’t where we were going to get married. I didn’t even keep any of the few photos I took on my phone!
That being said, it’s a great option for so many different couples. They have a two main spaces for weddings, the pavilion and the pergola. To be honest, the reason I wanted to see this venue was because of the pergola (pictured below – SWOON!), but our wedding would have been too big for that.
We would have done ours in the tented pavilion, which I didn’t love. The pavilion is connected to a courtyard, which is gorgeous when in bloom – but the tented area wasn’t what we had in mind. I think if that was the vibe we were going for, we probably would have shifted our search to include event venues in the suburbs, too. I mean, if you’re going to get married in a tented area, you might as well have a golf course nearby for photos!
And the one we chose…
As soon as we walked up the stairs into the Great Hall at Cafe Brauer, I gasped and grabbed Adam’s arm. Then we walked into the area where cocktail hour will be, filled with pillars strung with lights and the most gorgeous view of the Chicago skyline. By the time we walked back into the Great Hall, I had chills. This was it.
It has the natural light and skyline views that I wanted from the Adler. It’s in a warm neighborhood setting, not far from my old single gal apartment, which is why Artifact Events was so appealing. And it just felt so us. The glitziness of downtown is fun, but we never spend any time down there. This had all of the iconic features we love about downtown, while also having that old school Chicago charm we love so much.
We walked out of the building and Adam said, “Babe, we should get married there.” Then I cried, of course, called my parents, and put everything in motion.
So folks, I know it’s far away, but we are getting married in May 2020 at Cafe Brauer! YAY!
The Best Chicago wedding venues (according to you!):
Since originally publishing this post, I realized a few things. #1) A lot of you are getting married! CONGRATS FRIENDS!!!! And #2) This post doesn’t even scratch the surface of the best Chicago wedding venues. There are SO many incredible options, and part of me wishes it took us longer to settle on Cafe Brauer so that I could show you more. But the other part of me is pretty glad I didn’t confuse myself 😂 Luckily, I have a whole crew of ladies who know all about what Chicago offers in this arena – these recommendations are from comments on this gram, comments on this thread in my Lake Shore Lady Community Group on Facebook, and DMs! These venues offer a huge variety of styles, capacities, and budgets, so I hope you find what you’re looking for!
This was a contender for us because of their atrium space, with extra high ceilings and huge windows spanning a whole wall. It’s so stunning – the only thing that held us back is that our wedding couldn’t fit in the atrium/loft space. We would have plenty of room in their showroom (14,500 square feet!), but it’s filled with vintage neon signs and sports cars which didn’t really fit our vision. If that’s your vibe, or you have a smaller wedding, definitely check this one out though!
Since I knew our guest list would be over 200, I didn’t even add this to my personal list… but man, oh man. It is DREAMY. You’d definitely have a special day at this venue!
“I got married at Salvage One and absolutely LOVED it and the super capable team working there. While the fee wasn’t insignificant, we were able to save by doing next-to-no flowers and decor (the space is decor enough!) and BYOB alcohol from Binnys (they were one of the few spaces to allow).” -Hannah
While I haven’t been to a wedding here myself, so many people have told me they’ve been to beautiful weddings there. The loft space has exposed brick, natural wood, skylights… and getting married at an art gallery is pretty cool!
Back when I lived in Old Town, I would see weddings happening inside this cute little flower shop all the time. It doesn’t look like much from the street, but then you google image search it… SO PRETTY! If you’re planning an intimate wedding, definitely add this to your list.
If you’re into architecture, this is one of the coolest Chicago wedding venues you can choose. The photos of the spiral staircase and intricate ceiling there are unbelievable. So stunning.
This one was on my list of Round 2 Favorites, mostly because of the indoor/outdoor capability!
We didn’t consider this one only because I really wanted natural light… but that Tiffany dome simply can’t be beat. One of the most classic Chicago wedding venues!
“We got married at Brique in the West Loop and absolutely loved it. It’s run by an incredible female chef (seriously, the food was comparable to an amazing restaurant – not “wedding food.”). It’s not a super well-known venue, which made getting a date easier. Also, the inside was stunning with brick walls and beautiful white built-in shelves. It felt like getting married in a beautiful Food Network set!” -Carolyn
This wedding venue is for the glamorous couple. Think Downton Abbey meets Chicago, with dark walls and elegant chandeliers and traditional fireplaces. Everything about this place is grand – which makes it perfect for a formal wedding!
If you’re looking at the Union League, you might also want to look at the Chicago Athletic Club. It has a similar historic and grand vibe for formal downtown weddings!
If you’re looking for a “blank canvas” type of venue, look no further. This glasshouse has 16′ ceilings with floor to ceiling windows to ensure TONS of natural light.
Beer lovers? This venue is for YOU! It’s such proof that you don’t need to pick one of the typical Chicago wedding venues to have your own unique wedding that reflects your life in this city.
“It was amazing! Beautiful rooftop skyline views from the outdoor ceremony space and the building is massive and full of unique art.” -Gavyn
One of my best friends got married here and it was such a great venue choice! It has a West Loop warehouse feel, but it’s also a total blank canvas. They set up a chuppah for the ceremony and then cleared that area for the dance floor after dinner. I also LOVED the long tables they got for dinner – it looked so pretty in the candlelight!
This is a funny one for me because on one hand, it’s STUNNING. I went to a wedding here years ago that was breathtaking. The flowers surrounding the ceremony, the reception area by the water – it’s incredible. But on the other hand, it’s not in the city! If you don’t mind the drive, then ignore me… but it’s definitely a hike to get up there!
Living in Old Town, I used to walk past the grand staircase in the back all the time. And honestly, if I could ensure beautiful weather on my wedding day, this would have been higher on my list because of that outdoor space! The inside is still beautiful, but a little more formal than I had in mind. Stunning nonetheless, though!
I hear this rustic warehouse-y venue has great city views at a lower cost than a lot of other options on this list!
“I’m getting married at the Glessner House Museum in June 2020! It’s such a pretty and unique venue if you’re looking for something outdoors. I felt the same way as you when I started looking and the venue rental fee here was much lower than other places we looked!” -Sarah
We just went to a wedding here in July and I can’t believe I’d never heard of it. It’s nestled right into the heart of Lincoln Park, with tons of old Chicago charm, delicious Italian food, and a cute little courtyard. The wedding we went to had about 100 people there, and that felt like the perfect size for the space – so just keep that in mind!
Umm I had no idea this place was so gorgeous, but HOLY MOLY! The glass roof is absolutely stunning and floods the room with natural light. So cool!
This Logan Square mansion was built in 1921 and is such a cool historic venue choice! I’d love to take a peek inside one day!!
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