Have the destination wedding of your dreams without boarding a plane or breaking your bank account.
If you’re like most brides-to-be, the idea of having a destination wedding has crossed your mind at least once during the planning process, and it’s easy to understand why. Nothing says romance quite like getting hitched on a beach while palm fronds flutter overhead and your worries are thousands of miles away. Though the idea of turning your wedding into a vacation is undeniably alluring, the unfortunate reality of cost and logistics often thwarts destination wedding plans. In addition to being extremely expensive, destination weddings typically put an extra dose of pressure on your guests. On top of having to do quite a bit of extra traveling to even attend your wedding, your friends and family will have to take time off of work and shell out cash for a flight. These hurdles will prevent your loved ones from being able to show up for your special day, and this is what makes many brides abandon the idea of a destination wedding.
Believe it or not, though, it’s entirely possible to have the destination wedding of your dreams without ever leaving the Midwest. You won’t have wild macaws flying overheard during your ceremony and steel drum music might feel a tad out of place, but the heartland of America still offers wedding venues that deliver all the excitement and thrill of getting married away from home. Places like Galena, Lake Geneva, and Traverse City can easily go toe-to-toe with almost any other popular destination wedding spot, and planning a celebration in these towns has never been easier.
While Chicago is undeniably the crown jewel of Illinois, our state is home to countless other amazing places to tie the knot. Escape the city in any direction and you’ll discover an almost endless collection of towns and villages that are ready and waiting to bring your carefully laid wedding plans to life. Among the most beautiful of these options is Galena: a charismatic, historical town in the far northwestern corner of Illinois that’s simply overflowing with wedding venue options. Like the rest of the Midwest, Galena is stunning year round and offers unique and incredible opportunities that vary by season. Whether you’re looking for a golf course, high-end resort, or manor-style luxury, this hidden gem of a town is guaranteed to deliver.
For brides interested in all the amenities of a hotel and spa, look no further than AuClair at Ramada Galena. When the weather is balmy in the spring and summer months, this venue’s stunning wraparound terrace and perennial gardens are ideal for outdoor ceremonies and receptions. Come fall and winter, when snow and ice make outdoor weddings impossible, the AuClair’s Meadowview Ballroom becomes the ideal setting for as many as three hundred guests.
If you’re interested in tying the knot on a fairway, set your sights on Woodbine Bend. This golf course and restaurant is a few miles southeast of Galena and is the perfect place to host an outdoor wedding. Woodbine Bend’s sprawling grounds consist of acres of natural Midwestern prairie that offer an ever-changing yet always beautiful backdrop for your vows, and their country-elegant banquet room can comfortably host your post- “I do” celebration. The venue also boasts a gorgeous patio for cocktail hours.
Want the best of both worlds? Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa offers a dreamy combination of golf course and resort, expertly blending country luxury with recreation. Surrounded by rolling hills and picturesque Lake Galena, Eagle Ridge offers a variety of ballrooms and wedding site options plus plenty of guest accommodations and amenities. Before or after swapping rings, you, your spouse, and your guests can enjoy the woodland retreat’s hiking and biking trails then return to the resort and take advantage of the world-class spa, crackling fireplaces, and more.
Michigan is known for its gorgeous wilderness and its collection of charming towns, and few places encapsulate both of those characteristics more than Traverse City. Despite being only five hours north of Chicago, the city affectionately known as “T.C.” feels a world away from Illinois. While it’s most famous for the colorful show its trees put on during the fall, Traverse City is the perfect mixture of nature and class year round.
Of all the amazing venues that Traverse City has to offer, none encapsulate Michigan’s personality quite like Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. Have the beach wedding you’ve always imagined on the shores of Lake Michigan’s Traverse Bay, or say “I do” with a forest of fall trees as your backdrop. Grand Traverse’s extensive list of accommodation options ensures that no matter where on the resort your guests choose to stay, they’ll be able to shop, enjoy spa treatments, golf, and relax at a private beach club or indoor pools without ever leaving the resort itself.
Rustic, chic, and romantic, Hawk’s View Golf Club is one of the most beautiful courses in the area and an amazing place to say “I do.” If you’re angling for a late spring, summer, or early fall wedding, hold your ceremony at the Overlook Terrace and take in panoramic views of the venue’s stunning grounds as you walk down the aisle. If a winter wedding is more your style, tie the knot in the Hawk’s View clubhouse and enjoy its unique and intimate interior. No matter when you decide to get married, follow your ceremony with swoon-worthy photos in front of the vintage barn, covered bridges, and the venue’s natural landscape.
Looking to get married in style? Look no further than The Ridge Hotel. With an outdoor wedding pergola that overlooks the wooded Lake Como shoreline and a recently refreshed ballroom with raised ceilings and state of the art finishes, The Ridge Hotel offers a celebration setting beyond compare. In addition to its romantic ceremony and reception sites, the hotel also offers a backyard veranda with a twelve-foot fire feature, a lounge, and a poolside sports bar.
Saying “I do” to a Geneva National Resort wedding is saying “yes” to the destination wedding of your dreams. Whether you opt to have an enchanting outdoor ceremony followed by cocktails on the venue’s lush lawns or a cozy, tented ceremony and a reception in one of Geneva National’s various ballrooms, your wedding is guaranteed to be the picture-perfect affair you always knew it would be.
Want your wedding to make a splash? A sunset ceremony on the waters of Lake Geneva is just the beginning of an idyllic evening when you host your wedding with Lake Geneva Cruise Line. Following your ceremony, enjoy champagne toasts and elegant meals, all while gliding across the waves. After dinner, put the dance floor to good use and allow the music to whisk you and your new spouse away for the first of many dances together. Lake Geneva Cruise Line weddings come with magical extras that no other venue can offer, like moonlight glimmering on the surface of the lake during your cocktail hour and a fresh breeze coming over the bow while you dance the night away.
Just ninety minutes north of Chicago, Lake Lawn Resort is the perfect place to host your beachside wedding. The resort was built along two miles of Delavan Lake shoreline and has hosted weddings for almost one hundred and forty years. Charming courtyards, rolling lawns, and sweeping views of the lake all make for a magical wedding experience, and with additional amenities like a championship golf course, water sport rentals, Calladora Spa, and a variety of on-site restaurants, Lake Lawn is sure to be a hole in one for both newlyweds and their guests.
Breathtaking surroundings and outstanding cuisine make Grand Geneva Resort & Spa yet another amazing destination wedding venue. From custom event lighting designs to a variety of ceremony and reception sites, Grand Geneva is the answer for couples seeking to make their wedding day truly their own. Grand Geneva’s ballrooms are a traditional reception dream come true, while the Pavilion and the Chalet offer unique and beautiful alternatives. Regardless of which site you choose, your Grand Geneva wedding will have your guests talking for years to come.
Planning a destination wedding certainly isn’t easy, but hosting your celebration in the Midwest will dramatically cut down on your costs and stress. Galena, Lake Geneva, Traverse City, and countless other gems within driving distance of Chicago are more than equipped to host the ceremony and reception of your dreams, so make sure to explore those options before deciding that a destination wedding isn’t in the cards for you.