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. 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 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 options in the city. 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 venue choices 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. I just knew ❤️
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 to 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 our jam. I think if that was the vibe we were going for, we probably would have shifted our search to include properties in the suburbs, too.
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, that’s our spot.” 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!
What are your favorite Chicago wedding venues?
If we were having a smaller wedding, I also would have loved to look at The Ivy Room or The Rookery. And if we didn’t love any of these four, we were also going to look at Ravenswood Event Center and Chicago Illuminating Company. Did I miss any of your faves?