Ah, wedding bells. What a sweet sound. Unless you’re afraid you won’t hear them in 2022.
After months of pandemic restrictions, weddings are back in full force, which means venues are in short supply. So it’s no surprise that newly engaged couples may feel a crush of anxiety when it comes to finding a spot to tie the knot.
Fear not, lovebirds.
From museums to libraries, boats to former warehouses, we’ve rounded up 10 fantastic locations that still have 2022 availability. (As always these days, COVID-related restrictions may change things.)
Many venues may already be fully booked for Saturday weddings, but you could have luck landing a Sunday or Friday spot — or even a Thursday. “Hey, why not party during the week, right?” says Cera Stan, owner of Stan Mansion in Logan Square. After all, as she points out, it’s less expensive. And when it comes to weddings, shaving even a little bit off your tab is a nice cherry on top.
1. Chicago’s First Lady Cruises
The cruise boat company offers wedding receptions aboard private yachts, the largest of which can accommodate up to 200 guests. Newly betrothed couples can cruise the Chicago River or Lake Michigan, gazing at each other — and the city’s twinkling lights. cruisechicago.com
The festive West Loop restaurant is a symphony of color, drawing from the cultures of South and Central America and offering Latin fusion cuisine, craft cocktails, and seating for up to 300 guests. To promote sustainability, the restaurant supports local farmers and uses produce grown in its rooftop garden. carnivalechicago.com
3. Sculpture Garden & Gallery at Bridgeport Art Center
Want to say your vows outdoors but eat and mingle inside? This is your spot. The garden has a covered courtyard with brick archways, gas heaters, striking chandeliers, and lots of greenery. Inside the main event space — the building formerly served as the Spiegel company’s administration building — there’s an industrial but elegant aesthetic, with wood beams, exposed brick, and high ceilings. The massive venue can hold up to 550 guests for a seated dinner. bridgeportart.com
4. The Penthouse Hyde Park
The Roaring Twenties are long gone, but their essence lives on in this sumptuous art deco ballroom perched atop the storied 1926 Piccadilly Building (formerly the Piccadilly Hotel and Theater). The space has massive arched windows and can accommodate up to 250 guests. penthousehydepark.com
5. Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
If art sets your heart aflutter, getting married at the MCA is a glorious proposition. The museum’s many event spaces include an atrium, a terrace, and a sculpture garden with views of Lake Michigan. Couples can welcome up to 230 guests for ceremonies and seated receptions. Bonus: The exhibition galleries are open for exploration during events if you rent the main floor. mcachicago.org
6. Newberry Library
Bookworms, rejoice: The library is open for wedding business. Options include the lobby, with a grand marble staircase and Corinthian columns, and Ruggles Hall, which has herringbone floors, vintage chandeliers, and views of Washington Square Park. The lobby can seat up to 80 for dinner, while Ruggles Hall can accommodate roughly 200 people. newberry.org
7. Stan Mansion
Cera Stan restored this mansion — once a Masonic lodge built for a chapter of the Knights Templar — into an event space that now includes a grand ballroom, lower-level ballroom, and lounge. Couples looking to throw a large, lavish bash will love the marble-lined lobby and the fact that the larger ballroom can seat up to 300 for dinner. stanmansion.com
8. Salvage One
You never know what you’ll stumble upon at this vast 60,000-square-foot vintage warehouse. You may see wooden church pews, old tubs, pinball tables, or iron cauldrons inside. The warehouse’s mixed indoor and outdoor event spaces can accommodate up to 250 seated guests for events with eclectic, unforgettable charm. salvageone.com
9. Chicago Cultural Center
The Tiffany dome here wows you no matter how many times you’ve been inside the iconic Loop structure. The city’s first central public library, the Cultural Center sits right across the street from Millennium Park and includes several dreamy wedding spaces, including Preston Bradley Hall (home of the big dome), which can seat 320, and the Sidney R. Yates Gallery, which spans half a city block and can accommodate up to 420 people. chicago.gov
10. International Museum of Surgical Science
Despite the name, there’s nothing horror-movie-esque about this stunning lakefront mansion’s Italian marble floors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and walnut walls. Designed in the style of a French chateau beloved by Marie Antoinette, the building received historic status in the late 1980s. The space can hold up to 100 guests for a seated reception. imss.org