Where to Party
The Boarding House
720 N. Wells St., boardinghousechicago.com
Cost From $100 a person
Host an urbane candlelit dinner in this restaurant’s rustic wine cellar. “They have the best food, the best wine, the best cocktails, the best desserts,” enthuses Carlene Smith, owner of Naturally Yours Events.
12 E. Ohio St., ivyroomchicago.com
Cost From $200 per person
Bliss Weddings & Events owner Renny Pedersen calls this venue’s charming ivy-wrapped courtyard “the city’s best-kept secret.” Lettuce Entertain You (Beatrix, RPM Steak) crafts the seasonally rotating menu.
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Dr., naturemuseum.org
Cost $7,000 rental fee; catering additional
The terrace overlooking North Pond is one of the few spaces in Chicago that allows seated outdoor receptions. Plus, your guests can stroll through a roomful of butterflies. How’s that for a symbol of rebirth?
Sweet Mandy B’s
1208 W. Webster Ave., sweetmandybs.com
Cost From $2.75 per person
Let’s face it: Cupcakes are just more fun. (No huge knife necessary.) The most popular flavors at this old-school bakery? Lemon, red velvet, and carrot.
Boka Catering Group
820 W. Lake St., bokacatering.com
Cost From $125 per person
Dinner from the brains behind Girl & the Goat, Balena, and Momotaro will impress foodie friends accustomed to top-notch bites.
Swanky department stores and boutiques typically supply a pro, gratis, to help you find a nontraditional look that flatters. Givenchy silk blouse, $1,440, Blake. Givenchy cotton jacquard trousers, $975, Neiman Marcus, 737 N. Michigan Ave.
1827 S. Halsted St., blumgarten.com
Cost About $3,000
Whether you want a throwback bouquet or something wildly creative, the owners of this Pilsen florist have you covered, says Gerber + Scarpelli photographer Belen Aquino.
Cost From $8,800
This 11-piece band keeps the party lively with funk, rock, and R&B. “They’re able to get absolutely everyone on the dance floor,” says event coordinator Stacy Saltzman-Swislow of So Stacy. (She chose them for her own wedding.)
Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Hike past a volcano and relax in your villa’s personal plunge pool at the hotel Travel & Leisure named second best in the world in 2014. Rooms at Nayara Springs (nayarasprings.com) start at $650 a night.