Happily ever after starts in Chicago! It’s an amazing city for amazing milestones. With a depth of venues in all styles and for all budgets — as well as a picture frame worthy skyline and lakefront — Chicago is a spectacular destination for weddings. The same-sex marriage law is now in effect in Illinois, so start planning your special day and use our guide below to find memorable venues in the city.
A COLLECTION OF MAGNIFICENT MUSEUMS
As the city’s oldest cultural institution, the Chicago History Museum continues to offer a quintessential Chicago wedding experience, indoors and out. Beautiful Georgian-style architecture sets the stage for cocktails, formal dinners and dancing in the Chicago Room, where stained glass by Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Tiffany are displayed. Windows overlook the gardens in Lincoln Park and the steps of the museum open right onto scenic Uihlein Plaza.
T-rex Sue as your officiant? Wine and dine among the dinosaurs at The Field Museum, an impressive event space that includes the two-level Stanley Field Hall and sky-lit East Atrium Pavilion. Also on Museum Campus, where the expansive skyline views compete for the city's best, Adler Planetarium boasts "a universe of possibilities" with venue options that allow your guests to stretch out on the spacious waterfront terrace and look up at the stars in Grainger Sky Theater.
Stunning art galleries, a dramatic atrium hall, a monumental grand staircase, a terrace with lake views, and an outdoor sculpture garden: The Museum of Contemporary Art will turn your wedding into a masterpiece in its own right.
And for yet another stunning museum option, how about the only remaining structure from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition? Now home to incredible sights such as a real World War II German submarine and a 40-foot indoor tornado, the Museum of Science and Industry houses a dazzling Art Deco central rotunda, pavilions, porticos, and even a beautiful lagoon perfect for a tented festivity.
UNIQUE, AND UNEXPECTED, CHICAGO VENUES
Center on Halsted, the Midwest's largest support center for the LGBTQ community, features a wonderful roof garden perfect for small to mid-size wedding ceremonies (50 max capacity). Located in the heart of Boystown, the sleek terrace overlooks vibrant Halsted Street and connects to an indoor reception hall (300 max capacity).
Experience timeless glitz and glamour — not to mention incredible skyline views — aboard a private cruise ship great for groups from 10 to 200. Take your ceremony to Chicago’s majestic waters with Chicago’s First Lady and their fleet of five vessels, all of which boast an open-air upper deck and a fully enclosed temperature-controlled main salon with large, panoramic windows.
Enjoy the luxury of having a professional in-house team flawlessly executive your event at Venue One. A hip address on Randolph Street in the West Loop — Chicago’s bustling “Restaurant Row” — opens up into a flexible event space with an industrial, yet modern, feel that can handles groups of different sizes.
Designed by two photographers, Greenhouse Loft is Chicago’s most unique sustainable wedding spot — and a very camera-friendly one at that! Housed in the Green Exchange (the country’s largest sustainable business community), the building is Platinum LEED-certified and offers many green services and amenities including: Locally-sourced catering options, sustainable florists, reclaimed wood floors that reflect natural light, an organic sky garden and green roof, and comprehensive recycling and composting on-site.
For the art-centric, take your group into a fully-functioning, state-of-the-art glass blowing studio. At Ignite Glass Studios, the Main Room is a customizable 3,300 square foot area of raw space. Adjoining is the Urban Garden and above the space, the Roof Deck offers views of the surrounding West Loop neighborhood and downtown skyscrapers.
DELICIOUS & DIVERSE CHICAGO RESTAURANTS
What better way to join in union than over great food? Host your party at Sepia, the award-winning West Loop darling. Though the couple takes the spotlight on this big day, this Michelin-starred restaurant nearly steals the show. First the setting: a former print shop circa 1890, turned fine dining destination with a welcoming vintage vibe. Then the food: Chef creations that show an inventive spin on American cuisine, and a dedication to both the craft and the farmer's bounties.
Let the luxurious indoor/outdoor space of City Winery bring wine country to you! Have your cocktail hour in Chicago's only fully-functioning winery, complete with stainless steel tanks framed by a warm, exposed wood interior. Then transition seamlessly to a full reception in the rustic main space, one of the private dining rooms, the upper level mezzanine, or the romantic outside courtyard.
Prefer to go bold and kick it up a notch? Nacional 27 takes the 27 nations of Central and South America and sweeps their bold flavors, exotic cocktails, sensuous atmosphere, and vivacious energy into one modern Latin restaurant. Be inspired by their motto “Eat. Drink. Dance.” as you plan your event here.
With its rich hardwood floors, classic décor, and picturesque views of the Chicago River, the fine dining steakhouse Smith & Wollensky makes for a handsome venue. Several private dining rooms lend themselves to intimate gatherings as well as celebrations for over 200 guests.
Much like a celebration in the French countryside, ceremonies at Bistro Campagne are charming and intimate affairs. The warm, inviting dining room and beautiful outdoor gardens at this Lincoln Square restaurant are perfect for groups up to 50 people.
Looking for a wedding venue full of Latin flair and flavor? Ditch the destination wedding because Carnivale Chicago has it covered. The restaurant's colorful private party rooms can accommodate 300 seated guest for ceremonies, receptions, showers and more. The vibrant decor and cuisine promise your wedding will be a festive affair.
COUNTLESS HOTEL AND BED & BREAKFAST OPTIONS
A variety of hotels in Chicago proudly hold the TAG® certification, indicating they meet the standards for being gay-friendly and represent the very best in the world of hospitality. There are currently over 40 TAG-APPROVED® Chicago hotels, including the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants collection, the two W Hotels, and many of the Marriott and Hilton hotel properties — all of which offer distinct wedding spaces to take into consideration.
The stylish Hotel Lincoln takes support of marriage equality to the next level with their Love is Love, Same Sex Marriage Packages. The neighborhood boutique is a refreshing take on the Chicago experience, with its vintage flair and quiet lakefront location, and this specialized package makes planning the ceremony a breeze with: an on-site legal officiant; partner photographers and florists; discounted hotel rates for guests; plus champagne and chocolates for the couple. Options include the dining rooms of the acclaimed restaurant Perennial Virant and the indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge J. Parker.
Sleek and sophisticated, the newly opened Thompson Chicago boasts six bi-level luxury penthouses, where you can take your reception out onto a terrace overlooking the skyline and lakefront. The hotel’s flexible ballroom spaces and private dining rooms also showcase the culinary delights of the on-site restaurant, Nico Osteria, from James Beard award winner Chef Paul Kahan.
Graciously catering to weddings for nearly 100 years, The Drake Hotel is a Gold Coast landmark. From a ballroom overlooking Lake Michigan (which is nearly the same size as the one in Buckingham Palace) to a team of catering professionals that has served foreign dignitaries, this Chicago icon exudes Old World elegance and unmatched service.
For a combination of historic charm and small scale, Lang House Bed & Breakfast is an elegant four-square, Prairie-style mansion built in 1919. Located one block from Lake Michigan in East Rogers Park, this B&B accommodates groups for private receptions on-siteand catered events for up to 25 people. Its innkeepers, a gay couple together for nearly 30 years, have thoughtfully restored the property, from the stained glass windows to the brick details.
The Keith House is among Chicago's oldest grand mansions and is situated in the Prairie Avenue Historic District, what was the city’s original “Gold Coast.” Designed in Victorian Châteauesque style, combining classical and French motifs, the 1870 home overlooks the beautiful Chicago Women's Park and Gardens — a beautiful backdrop for event photos.