The Windy City, as it’s lovingly called, has a lot more to offer than a bold breeze. Not only do Chicagoans have a strong sense of communal pride thanks to their pretty awesome sports teams (3-time Stanley Cup champs Chicago Blackhawks recently made the streets overflow with red jerseys and tee shirts), but the neighborhoods they inhabit are an exciting mix of old and new — a perfect place for guests to play tourist for a weekend. For couples there are a ton of cool, romantic venues, such as the Cafe Brauer in Lincoln Park, with beautiful views of the lake, or the classic Palmer House downtown, with romantic mosaics that make you feel like you’re in Europe. Wherever you decide to go in Chicago, you definitely can’t leave until you’ve hit a comedy show at the famed Second City and buried yourself into a piece of deep dish pizza (like Lou Malnati’s). Of course, that is, after you change out of your wedding clothes.
When to Go
Best Weather Months: Summer and fall. Spring can be pleasant, but because of those harsh Chicago winters, the city doesn’t really thaw out for good until early-mid June. Both summer and fall can be equally beautiful, guaranteed to deliver the most vibrant of colors and scents. I would, however, definitely veer on the side of early fall from September-late October, because “Chiberia” can creep up fast!
Worst Weather Months: Winter, winter ,winter! Chicago is known to have some of the most horrid of winters, with ice cold winds blowing off the lakes and sometimes snow up to your hips. Steer clear if you want the big day to be a success — and to avoid your guests needing to dig themselves out of snow piles to make it to the reception.
How to Get There
Major Airport: Midway International Airport, O’Hare International Airport
Transportation: Uber, Lyft, and taxi service is regularly available as well as bus, train, and the Metro via the Chicago Transit Authority.
Best Neighborhoods for Out-of-Town Guests
River North: This posh neighborhood just north of the downtown loop features such an abundance of hot restaurants and bars, it’s bound to impress guests looking for special nights (and days) in the city. Get an amazing view of the Chicago’s downtown skyline and walk the shops as well as the magnificent mile, the stylish epicenter du mode of Chicago. Hotels include the Palomar and The Peninsula.
Wicker Park: Once a vibrant hub for mostly German and Ukrainian immigrants in the early 1900s, Wicker Park slowly declined into a barren string of streets–with your occasional Foot Locker–around mid-century until the 1990’s. Over the past 10 years, however, the neighborhood has become Chicago’s Brooklyn, with a multitude of hot shops like Marc by Marc Jacobs and (wouldn’t you know it) Brooklyn Industries, and some of the hippest restaurants in town. Its central location–where North, Milwaukee, and Damen Avenues meet–is known to be constantly bustling with some of the most stylish and eclectic Chicagoans. Moreover, guests won’t only appreciate the incredibly animated nightlife, but also the beautiful Victorian architectural remnants of those early settlers that can be seen during a neighborhood stroll.
West Town: West Town makes me think of New York’s meatpacking district — a once industrial landscape full of warehouses that is now one of the chicest and most VIP-centric places in Chicago. With fashionable spots like the members-only Soho House and The Girl and the Goat–a gastro staple from Top Chef Stephanie Izard–West Town feels like you’ve got the coolest seat in town.
Logan Square: The “next Williamsburg” of Chicago is Logan Square, an up-and-coming locale that has really started to eclipse that moniker altogether. Artisan shops, an abundance of quality restaurants with some of Chicago’s greatest craft beers on tap (Revolution Brewing, Half Acre), and a burgeoning nightlife make Logan Square a fun, hip must-see destination. In addition, the completion of the elevated park “The 606”, repurposed from an old railway, makes an awesome excursion for guests looking to get some exercise and sight-see at the same time.
Lincoln Park: The elegant Victorian architecture and sophisticated charm is what makes Lincoln Park an ideal visit for wedding guests. This neighborhood has such an interesting history that can be instantly seen as soon as you step foot off the Brown Line into its energetic scene. A string of charming and chic shops line Armitage Avenue along with several places for fine wine and dining.
Best Spot for Wedding Photos
Cloud Gate a.k.a ‘the bean’ is located in Millennium Park and is British artist Anish Kapoor’s first public outdoor work installed in the United States. The 110-ton sculpture is made of stainless steel, and it’s bean-like shape reflects the Chicago skyline and the clouds above. A 12-foot high arch allows visitors to walk under it and touch it, and it also provides a cool chance to see your image from various perspectives.
201 E Randolph St
Chicago, IL 60601
It’s always open, though it gets busy on weekends and holidays so go early if you can or on a weekday.
Where to Get Your Marriage License
Downtown Chicago – Daley Center Location
50 W. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602
East Concourse (Lower) Level – 25
Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for all services /Wednesday 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for Marriage and Civil Union Licenses ONLY
- Fill out and sign a marriage license application.
- Present valid identification with proof of age.
- Pay a $60 marriage license fee
Marriage licenses are:
- Issued while you wait
- Effective the following calendar day after they are issued
- Valid for 60 days
- Effective only in Chicago and suburban Cook County
Read more about marriage license requirements.
Local Wedding Vendors
You’ll definitely want to check out these wedding photographers, planners, florists, and more below. While we haven’t worked with all of them, we are definitely fans. (NOTE: These are NOT paid listings!)
Looking for a wedding venue? Check out our a few of our favorite Illinois wedding venues.
Chicago Wedding Photographers
Read more about these awesome Chicago Wedding Photographers here.
Chicago Wedding Videographers
Read more about these awesome Chicago Wedding Videographers here.
Chicago Wedding Florists
Read more about these awesome Chicago Wedding Florists here.
Chicago Wedding DJs and Bands
Read more about these awesome Chicago Wedding DJs and Bands here.
Chicago Wedding Caterers
Read more about these awesome Chicago Wedding Caterers here.
Chicago Wedding Hair and Makeup
Read more about these awesome Chicago Wedding Hair and Makeup Artists here.
Chicago Wedding Rental Companies
Read more about these awesome Chicago Wedding Rental Companies here.
Chicago Wedding Planners
Read more about these awesome Chicago Wedding Planners here.