Totally Unique Wedding Destinations Outside of Chicago
Are you ready for a destination wedding? OK, maybe not Turks and Caicos, but perhaps an 80s-themed arcade or, if you’re really in for a road trip, a place dubbed the “most haunted” town in America? Destination weddings are all the rage, with one in four couples choosing to tie the knot someplace more memorable than the city they live in. But the truth is that you don’t have to travel very far to add a little exotic flair to your big day.
While perhaps not the most exotic of locales, there are many interesting places outside of the Windy City that may satisfy your lust for travel as you start the biggest adventure of your life – your marriage.
Here are a few places you can get to in just a few hours outside Chicago that you may want to give a whirl for a totally unique wedding venue:
If you and your fiancé like quirky adventures, why not travel to the most haunted town in America: Alton, Illinois. About a five-hour car ride from downtown Chicago, Alton boasts a few haunted tours to introduce you and your guests to some of the more spine-tingling treasures of this tiny town. And don’t forget they have a museum entirely dedicated to torture devices, too.
While Alton has imaginative offerings for your wedding weekend, it can offer a more traditional route for your actual ceremony. It’s situated right on the Mississippi River and you can find traditional event centers and bed and breakfasts to provide a breathtaking backdrop for your big day. It’s sure to be a road trip few of your guests will soon forget.
There and Back Again
Tucked away in Makanda, Illinois, which is about five hours outside Chicago, you’ll find the Blue Sky Vineyard on the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail. Within walking distance, you’ll find something surprising – a hobbit house.
Rocky Comfort Cabins has a house right out of a Tolkien adventure, complete with a hot tub, a fireplace, and a fire pit. This unique destination can serve as a great retreat after a wedding at the vineyard, the Bell Hill Wedding venue, or the Touch of Nature Environment Center close by. And your guests will enjoy the beauty and bevy of wineries to explore all weekend long.
Pac-Man It In
If you’re looking for something unusual but a little closer to home, why not try a little 8-bit 80s pop culture?
In Schaumburg, you’ll find a place where you and your wedding guests can enjoy sushi, tapas, games, and play together at Pac-Man Entertainment. They book weddings and receptions there, so don’t miss out on this time-bending experience for your big day.
There are so many amazing places within a day’s drive of Chicago, from Naperville to Evanston. You and your finance can make a list then take time to visit all the quirky, out-of-the-way places that may turn out to be the perfect venue for your wedding, then start all your wedding planning in earnest.
No matter how awesome and whimsical the destination, attending a destination wedding is a big commitment for your guests and for you. It’ll go off without a hitch if you can do just a little planning on behalf of your guests. Where should they board their dog? How can they get there? What’s a great road trip playlist? You can’t answer all these questions, but you can use some of these road trip travel tips as a great place to start:
- Map it out: You know where you’re going, but not everyone will. It’s important to take the time to plan a route and map it, not just give everyone the address with a “peace out, see you there!” You can use tools such as FuelMyRoute to find the cheapest fuel stops along the way for guests and even find interesting things to see along the way with websites such as RoadTrippers. Remember, the journey is almost as important as the destination, so put some thought into this for your guests.
- Don’t forget the food: This isn’t something you necessarily have to plan for everyone in advance, but giving them an idea of where to find good food at some out-of-the-way dives will be fun. Try TVFoodMaps or RoadFood for ideas.
- Safety first: Safety is a priority on the wedding destination road trip. Try suggesting some apps people can download to help them stay safe while driving.
This is an adventure for your guests too, so plan out their trip to make getting there just as fun as the event.
You put so much planning into a creating a special day to remember that it needs to be recorded for posterity by a photographer! Finding a wedding photographer doesn’t need to be complicated, even if you’re having a wedding someplace unique. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Check with the venue: You’ve found the perfect place, so now find the perfect photographer. Where you’ve chosen to have your wedding and/or reception may have a photographer to recommend. Just ask!
- Plan ahead: Once you have found a photographer, work with them on a shot list. This way you can plan out ahead of time what posed shots you want and where so everyone can be prepared.
- Enjoy yourself: A wedding photographer can only capture great moments if you let loose and live them. So, don’t forget to enjoy yourself with your new spouse so magic can be captured forever.
Chicago is a great place to live and work (they throw an awesome St. Paddy’s Day party, after all), but you don’t have to be just another wedding in Chicago that showcases the Cloud Gate or Lake Michigan — those have been done. Illinois has a lot to offer if you’re willing to travel a little outside the city to find the place to start your beautiful beginning.
Your wedding is unique because it involves you, so why not make it a special event that will create memories for you and your guests? Venture outside the ordinary and you’ll find an extraordinary start to your life together.