One of the main reasons that couples gravitate towards getting married in Chicago is its rich history. From its rough and tumble days as a 19th-century transportation hub to its current status as one of the most beautiful and visited cities in the world, Chicago has a knack for winning the hearts of everyone who passes through its streets and engaged couples are a healthy portion of that population. Many of the Windy City’s premier wedding locations offer a unique and fascinating slice of history in addition to typical venue amenities. Read on to discover these quintessential Chicago venues and get inspired to throw a celebration that the Second City will never forget.
Art Institute of Chicago
The original Art Institute was built in 1870, but like many great buildings it was destroyed by the Chicago Fire. It moved around a few times before being built in its permanent home on Michigan Avenue in 1893 and was built for the distinguished World’s Fair. The museum and its vast collection of artwork have grown and changed considerably over the years, but its stateliness and attention to detail have remained the same. The Art Institute offers a variety of both indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception spaces, allowing each couple to find a spot within the museum’s campus that truly speaks to them in an inventive way. Being able to add artists like Monet and Dali to your guest list is an opportunity beyond compare, and it is one that only the Art Institute can truly deliver.
Chicago Athletic Association
The Chicago Athletic Association has spent 125 years influencing Chicago’s social landscape and leaving a distinct mark on the Windy City. The Venetian Gothic building was also completed just in time for the 1893’s World’s Fair and the grand façade of the private men’s club was on full display as an innumerable amount of guests flooded Chicago to attend the celebrated event. The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel has long since opened its doors to all Chicago residents, but the building’s visual impact and alluring mixture of competitive spirit and class have stood the test of time and continue to attract engaged couples who seek a venue with character and flair.
Chicago History Museum
Chicago’s original history museum was one of the many causalities of The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 but once the collection found a permanent home in 1932, the Chicago Historical Society – which would one day become the Chicago History Museum that we know and love – began to flourish and continues to do so to this day. While its library of historical items continues to wow and amaze, it’s the museum’s firm determination to tell the stories of the city and its people that makes it such a powerful landmark. Hosting a wedding at the Chicago History Museum gives couples a unique way to become a part of that narrative and is truly a venue that your guests will never forget.
Chicago Public Library / Harold Washington Library
The Chicago Public Library is another Windy City landmark that overcame the horror and destruction of the Great Chicago Fire and became an irreplaceable part of the city. The library began in the aftermath of the inferno as a British donation of 8,000 books to the city of Chicago in order to start a free public library. It eventually blossomed into an inter nationally renowned library that attracts the attention of everyone from elementary school children and Bill Gates, to engaged couples who simply cannot get enough of this gorgeous venue.
First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple
In addition to being the oldest church in Chicago, the First United Methodist Church predates the city itself by a full six years. The church was originally just a quaint log cabin that sat north of the Chicago River, but it was eventually floated across the river and rolled to its current location on the corner of Washington and Clark using logs. The church put down roots there and while its exterior has undergone a series of upgrades and renovations over the past two centuries (some planned, and some induced by the Great Chicago Fire), the persistent spirit of the Chicago Temple is what has allowed it to become one of the most famous urban churches in the United States and a frequented ceremony destination for couples from all over the world.
This iconic remnant of the Golden Era has appeared in different forms and operated under different names over the years but its rich and storied past is what keeps guests coming back time and time again. In the 1930s when Hotel Allegro was known as the New Bismarck Hotel, it was the site of the very first legal draft pour in the city. Three decades later, the building was purchased by the Kimpton Hotel & Restaurant Group and underwent a series of extensive renovations that transformed the building into an art deco homage. Today’s Hotel Allegro features all the glitz and glamour of the Roaring Twenties along with the building’s original handrails and chandeliers. To host a wedding at Hotel Allegro is the equivalent of taking your guests on a time-traveling adventure with a modern flair.
The Landing 1841
Indians. An Underground Railroad conductor. A humble dairy farmer. A hall of fame aviator. A world-renowned artist. At first glance, you would never assume that the aforementioned people had anything significant in common but in reality, they are all united by one common thread: at one point or another, each one of them was the proud owner of the property at The Landing 1841. Today, the venue shines with a vintage-rustic charm that has enticed hundreds of couples to select it as their wedding venue. And if its deep history and natural charisma were not enough, the barn also offers breathtaking panoramic views of the White River and its beautifully forested property.
Prior to being transformed into a hotel, the LondonHouse operated as a famous club that served as the musical homeaway-from-home for several of jazz’s most brilliant luminaries. Stars like Herby Hancock, Oscar Peterson, Ramsey Lewis, and more recorded sets there and treated Chicago music enthusiasts to incomparable performances before the club closed its doors in the 1970s. The property reopened in 2016 as LondonHouse Chicago, a luxury lifestyle hotel that’s the perfect place for trendy couples to tie the knot.
Loyola Cuneo Mansion
This architectural gem was originally owned by General Electric founder Sam Insull but was purchased by the Cuneo family following the Great Depression. The mansion itself was designed in the Italianate style and the property’s lush gardens were created by a world-renowned landscape artist. The estate
and its accompanying art museum were gifted to Loyola University Chicago in the early 2000s. They have since become one of Chicagoland’s most sought-after wedding venues. One look at the mansion’s cheerful façade and statue laden front porch makes it easy to understand why engaged couples cannot stop falling in love with this venue.
The Knickerbocker Chicago
Built in 1927, The Knickerbocker Chicago boasts a colorful history. Highlights include Al Capone’s brother running a casino on the Penthouse Floor and a brief yet memorable stint in the 1970s when the hotel served as the Playboy Towers. John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and the members of the Rolling Stones have all enjoyed a stay at The Knickerbocker Chicago, and the hotel is often touted as one of Chicago’s most iconic buildings. Today, couples who host their reception in the hotel’s Crystal Ballroom are treated to ornate delights such as a gilded golden ceiling and an illuminated dance floor, just to name a few.
Palmer House originally served as an extravagant wedding gift from owner Potter Palmer to his new bride, a young French socialite named Bertha Honoré. Following decimation at the hands of the Great Chicago Fire, the Palmer House was rebuilt and became home to the largest collection of impressionist artwork outside of France. Garnet-draped chandeliers, regal frescos, and other masterpieces were soon added to the mix and before long, Palmer House had become Chicago’s liveliest social center. Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and a slew of U.S. Presidents spent time at the hotel, along with prominent literary figures like Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde. Palmer House still maintains every drop of its historic majesty and elegance and serves as one of the premier wedding venues in Chicago.
Armour House Mansion & Gardens
While his wife was away in Vienna, Jonathan Ogden Armour purchased a 1200-acre property known as Mellody Farm and made plans to build a mansion on the land to surprise her upon her return. Four years and ten million dollars later, Armour House Mansion & Gardens came to fruition. The mansion, known as Reid Hall, featured internationally imported mantle pieces from a variety of different countries as well as an impressive marble staircase that was built with the primary purpose of one day serving as a dramatic marital entrance for the couple’s daughter. The estate changed hands several times but eventually landed in the care of Lake Forest Academy. The school utilizes the gorgeous mansion and surrounding grounds (designed by the same landscape architect as Loyola Cuneo Mansion) as an event space beyond compare.
The Willis Tower
The star of the Chicago skyline didn’t open to tenants until 1973, but it quickly rose to fame and prominence as one of the most impressive architectural feats in the world. Today, the tower is home to multiple incredible wedding venues that each offer couples an entirely different experience. Weddings will find themselves perfectly at home at Skydeck Chicago, which is located on the Willis Tower’s 103rd floor. Here, couples can celebrate their marriage above the clouds and brave guests can venture out onto The Ledge (a glass box that extends almost five feet directly off the side of the tower while offering unobstructed views of the city). Several floors down, but still soaring at breathtaking heights, The Metropolitan is situated on the 66th and 67th floors. The Metropolitan offers incomparable panoramic views of the city and shoreline and is the perfect space for the modern Chicagoan.
Warwick Allerton Hotel Chicago
Opened in 1924 as one of the crown jewels of Chicago’s Roaring Twenties scene, the Warwick Allerton has its roots as an exclusive club hotel for men that catered to the young entrepreneurs flocking to the city for all the white-collar jobs. Members enjoyed private libraries and lounges in addition to a barbershop, miniature golf course, and a gymnasium. In the 1940s, the clubrooms on the 23rd floor were replaced by The Tip Top Tap, a cocktail lounge with striking views of the Chicago skyline that was heralded by a large sign atop the building’s roof. The Warwick Allerton Hotel Chicago of today has stayed true to its glamorous origins and maintained its reputation for flawlessly delivering luxury events.
Congress Plaza Hotel
Congress Plaza Hotel opened in 1893 for the famous Chicago World’s Fair, showing that Chicago had bounced back from the devastating Great Fire of 1871. The hotel featured cobbled streets, gaslights, and horse drawn carriages. The elaborately designed hotel soon became a favorite among Chicago’s high society and politicians. Many famous people have stayed at the hotel, including several U.S. Presidents. In fact, the Congress Plaza Hotel was known as the “Home of Presidents” among Chicago hotels. The Congress Plaza Hotel also served as home to Al Capone, who had a suite on the 8th floor of the north tower. Capone’s spirit is thought to haunt the hotel to this very day. Today, following nearly 125 years of refinements and refurbishments, the Congress Plaza Hotel stands as a living, breathing piece of Chicago history with a story as rich and fascinating as that of the Windy City itself.