Café Brauer

Chicago, IL 60614
View their website

Average Base Cost: $39,000

Average base cost for a Cafe Brauer wedding is calculated by figuring a 125-person guest list for an in-season Saturday evening ceremony and reception using a cost of $120/pp for food/catering rentals and their Saturday evening beverage minimum of $9,500. Entertainment, flowers, additional decorations and rentals, transportation, and photography are not included. Price is rounded up to the nearest thousand. Gratuity and tax is included.

*Prices subject to change

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How it breaks down:

Facility Rental Fee:

Daytime (9 a.m.–1 p.m.)

  • Daily $3,000

Evening (5 p.m.–midnight)

  • Monday–Thursday $3,000
  • Friday $6,000
  • Saturday and Holidays $8,500
  • Sunday $3,500

Off- Season Evening Rates


  • Friday $2,000
  • Saturday & Holidays $3,500
  • Sunday $2,000


  • Friday $3,500
  • Saturday $5,500
  • Sunday $2,000

You Should Know: Forty (40%) percent of the room rental fee is tax deductible and qualifies as a donation to the Lincoln Park Zoological Society.

What’s Included: Tents (when applicable) and chairs. More details are below:

Tents: Included in the rental fee from November 1–April 30 are heated tents that enclose the North and South Loggias. The tents are not available May 1–October 31.

Tables and Chairs: Included in the rental fee are the following tables and chairs. A $550 labor fee will apply.

  • (30) 60-inch round tables
  • (275) Mahogany folding chairs
  •  (12) Highboys
  • (12) Black, wrought-iron tables with 48 matching chairs
  • (6) 6-foot rectangular tables
  • (6) 8-foot rectangular tables

Important Note: Due to the volume of events hosted at Café Brauer, rehearsals are unavailable.

Vendors: You must use one of their approved vendors for catering, florists and decorators, rentals, music, tents, and lighting.

Food: Caterers include Blue Plate and Jewell Events Catering among others. A sample menu from Jewell Events in 2014 quoted $120/pp for hors d’oeuvres, a plated dinner, equipment, linens, and staff.

Beverage: Alcohol is provided by Café Brauer. No outside wine/beer or liquor is allowed to be brought in Café Brauer. Bars are only open on an hourly basis. There is a two (2) drink maximum per person per order at the bar. Bar packages range from $8/per person/per hour (for beer/wine) to $15/per person/per hour (for full bar). Open bar hours are closed during dinner, and wine served during dinner is not based on a cost per person basis, dinner wines are purchased by the case (12 bottles per case).

Below is a general beverage estimate provided by the venue:


There are also beverage minimums in some circumstances that must be met, below:


  • No minimum

Monday–Thursday, Evenings

  • No minimum

Friday Evenings

  • $6,000

Saturday Evenings and Holidays

  • $9,500

Sunday Evenings

  • $3,000

*NOTE: A $5,000 beverage minimum applies to Saturday & Holiday Rental in the off-season

Optional Extras:

  • Hosted Valet Parking Service is available for additional fee.
  • Coat Check: $150 per coatroom attendant. One attendant for every 100 guests.
  • Additional Security: (Rental fee includes one (1) security guard). Additional security for $250 per guard is required for every 100 guests and by request.
  • Restroom Attendants: $100 per attendant.
  • Lower Level Café/Beer Garden: Available October 01-May 01, in conjunction with Great Hall rental for additional fee
  • Heaters: Propane Heaters are available at $100 each.

More Stats:

Space Type: Inside/Outside

Size: The various venue spaces can accommodate the following number of guests:

  • Great Hall seated dinner w/dance floor: 250
  • Great Hall seated dinner, w/out dance floor: 300
  • Great Hall reception: 400
  • North Loggia reception: 200
  • South Loggia reception: 200
  • North Loggia ceremony: 160
  • South Loggia ceremony: 160
  • Great Hall ceremony: 250

Note: A sample arrangement could be a Ceremony in the South Logia, Cocktail hour on the North Logia, and reception in the Great Hall.

Bridal Suite: No

Parking: Yes

How Will Grandma Get There? Located in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago, there are a ton of hotel options nearby such as The Drake and Hotel Lincoln.

Party On! Café Brauer closes at midnight. However, if you make specific arrangements thirty (30) days in advance of the event date with the Lincoln Park Zoo Sales Manager, Cafe Brauer may be made available until 2 a.m. for an additional fee of $1,000 per hour.

The Report: 

Designed by Dwight H. Perkins and completed in 1908, Cafe Brauer (also known as the South Pond Refectory) was one of the most popular restaurants in Chicago until it closed in 1947. After several mixed uses throughout the years, the Prairie School- style building located in Lincoln Park underwent an extensive renovation and the second floor ballroom became an event venue in 1987. Surrounded by the Chicago skyline, Lincoln Park Zoo wildlife, the South Pond and Nature Boardwalk, Cafe Brauer became a Chicago Landmark in 2003.

Woman Getting Married Says:

There are so many amazing Chicago wedding venues, and this is definitely one of them. There are, however, a few negatives that some brides find hard to overlook. The first is the extremely high beverage cost. While the venue provides estimates, above, you can general expect your per-person bar cost for a top-shelf open bar to hover around $75/pp plus. And even though they offer quite a few vendor options, having to go with one of their approved vendors can be a turn-off for some. While their venue rental fee is a tax write-off, it’s still fairly expensive, which means if you’re on a budget I would definitely consider an off-season wedding, which I think can be just as charming.

All-in-all, the venue is gorgeous and the location can’t be beat, so it’s a matter of what you’re willing to pay for. I would also keep in mind that these prices are not out of whack for the surrounding areas. The average cost of weddings at venues such as the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art are in the same price range.

Click here to learn more about my wedding venue review process.

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Listen to the Woman Getting Married Podcast

Amenities/What’s Included 8
Convenient for Grandma 9
Layout 10
Location 10
Overall Charm 10
Venue Value 7

WGM Rating

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