10 Chicago Ballrooms That Aren't Boring

These big-city reception spaces are anything but ordinary.
waldorf astoria chicago wedding
Nakai Photography

Waldorf Astoria Chicago

11 E. Walton St., Chicago;

(312) 646-1324; WaldorfAstoriaChicagoHotel.com

Step into 1920s Paris as you glide across the glamorous Sinclair Ballroom, which features a coffered ceiling and chandeliers inspired by vintage jewelry. An intimate terrace just off the ballroom is a great spot for photos, and the luxe space can host up to 220 guests.

Chicago Cultural Center

78 E. Washington St., Chicago;

(312) 744-2080; CityOfChicago.org

This iconic Chicago landmark was built in 1897 as the city's first public library. Just part of its appeal, the venue is located across from Millennium Park and its famous "Cloud Gate" sculpture (perfect for photo ops!). Enjoy the ornate Preston Bradley Hall, home to the largest stained-glass Tiffany dome in the world, under which you'll be dancing the night away with up to 330 guests. Plus, a wedding coordinator and security guards are part of the package here.

The Crystal Gardens

700 E. Grand Ave., Chicago;

(312) 595-5436; CrystalGardensCatering.com

You've probably walked through this botanical garden courtyard at Navy Pier without realizing just how remarkable it is. At night, the palm-tree-filled space transforms into an enchanted garden with lights and fountains, but perhaps the biggest perk of the space is the feeling of being outdoors, only with the security and comfort of being enclosed in a glass atrium. The building has a 50-foot glass ceiling (that's five stories tall!), and it can accommodate up to 500 seated guests.

Adler Planetarium

1300 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago;

(312) 922-7827; AdlerPlanetarium.org

Celebrate under the stars by exchanging vows on the open-air terrace that overlooks the water and skyline. Then, to get everyone in the party mood, serve cocktails in the futuristic Clark Family Welcome Gallery before hosting your reception in the Skyline Solarium, with its breathtaking angled wall of windowpanes. When the sun is out, you'll get a front-row view of Lake Michigan and the skyscrapers beyond it, and once night falls, reflecting city lights and stars serve as a spectacular backdrop for your festivities.

The Drake

140 East Walton Place, Chicago;

(312) 787-2200; TheDrakeHotel.com

The Drake hotel rose to fame in 1924 as the Chicago host for the British royal family. Today, throw a wedding fit for a queen in the hotel's Gold Coast Ballroom. Intricate columns, crystal chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling views of Lake Michigan and Oak Street Beach will help you channel your inner Kate Middleton, while the attentive staff treats you and up to 500 guests like royalty.

Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel

636 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago;

(312) 447-0955; BlackstoneRenaissance.com

A longtime favorite of movie stars, sports legends and presidents, Renaissance Blackstone makes our list because of its time-honored reputation. After all, a hotel that's been open since 1910 has to know a thing or two about wedding planning, right? Take your pick of one of many event spaces, which include the more than 3,000-square-foot Crystal Ballroom and the 1,117-square-foot Barbershop—a spot Al Capone used to frequent.

The Ivy Room

12 E. Ohio St., Chicago;

(312) 645-7760; IvyRoomChicago.com

After an enchanting ceremony in the ivy-drenched, European-inspired hidden courtyard, invite your guests (up to 180) to a night of dinner and dancing in The Ivy Room's timeless ballroom. The venue offers clean lines, neutral décor, original 1930s maple floors, French doors and Juliet balconies that give plenty of character to the fresh space.

The Rookery

209 S. LaSalle St., Chicago;

(312) 553-6100; TheRookeryBuilding.com

With its Moorish-inspired facade, lacy ironwork and stunning skylighted marble lobby designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, The Rookery is one of Chicago's most recognized buildings. Celebrate in the Light Court, which, as the name suggests, offers plenty of natural light, thanks to the spectacular glass ceiling. The venue accommodates around 200 guests.

Chicago History Museum

1601 N. Clark St., Chicago;

(312) 642-4600; ChicagoHistory.org

If there were one venue we could pick as quintessential Chicago, the History Museum would be it. Overlooking city landmarks like Lincoln Park and the Gold Coast skyline, the museum's Chicago Room seats about 300 for dinner and is highlighted by stained-glass windows crafted by Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Comfort Tiffany. We love the black-and-white-checkered dance floor; it tops off the room's classic design in the perfect way.

Columbus Park Refectory

5701 W. Jackson Blvd, Chicago;

(773) 287-0856; ChicagoParkDistrict.com

With its Spanish-influenced architecture and dramatic arched entryways, this light-filled Chicago landmark is the ideal space to spend both your ceremony and reception. Say "I do" and host a chic cocktail hour in the venue's covered outdoor pavilion before moving inside to celebrate in the Dance Hall—an airy space with picturesque windows that overlooks a lagoon and can accommodate up to 200 guests.

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