Lovely outdoor venues: memorable weddings, receptions or rehearsal dinners
BY WENDY ALTSCHULER For Sun-Times Media
Fabulous events call for fabulous venues. Whether your celebratory occasion is a wedding, reception, rehearsal dinner or a sophisticated festive jubilee, these four outdoor spaces have you covered.
Chicago Botanic Garden
When Steve and Amy Tucker got married, they, along with their children, needed an indelible backdrop to capture the experience for their family photographs. With the help of photographer, Jennifer Girard, the Tuckers visited the Chicago Botanic Garden while dressed to the nines.
“Our family has always loved the Botanic Garden,” said Northbrook resident, Amy. “We were so lucky to have a sunny fall day for our pictures. The autumn colors were brilliant. We walked all over the gardens to capture the different flowers and plants.”
The Chicago Botanic Garden hosts only one wedding or social event per evening. This makes the 385-acre garden a special location for any private affair. If guests book an outdoor event and the weather doesn’t cooperate, festivities can be held in the lovely Nichols Hall, which features wooden ceilings and eight live trees. McGinley Pavilion is tented and heated, which prevents inclement weather from spoiling the outdoor event.
“From our McGinley Pavilion, you overlook Evening Island as you hear the Carillon Towers chime beautiful music,” said Connie Bolle, director of sales and special events at Chicago Botanic Garden. “From our English Walled Garden’s blue gates and charming European setting to our contemporary Rose Terrace with a tree lined aisle: no outdoor vista is more stunning for your wedding day.”
You will work with a personal event manager who handles everything: initial venue tour, menu planning, private tasting and event-day tasks.
Loyola’s Cuneo Mansion and Gardens
“The Cuneo Mansion and Gardens stands as a monument to old-world elegance amid genteel country life,” said Maeve Kiley, director of communications at Loyola University. “As a living museum, the building and gardens preserve in vivid detail the grace of an era and a way of life.”
Loyola’s Cuneo Mansion and Gardens provides the most magical setting for a wedding reception or special event. Guests will enjoy 97 acres of elegant formal gardens, the terrace overlooking the mansion grounds and the historic Italianate-style mansion with a pavilion for up to 300 guests. Four event spaces are available: the Pavilion Ballroom, Great Hall, Dining Room and Music Room.
“Cuneo’s spectacular outdoor grounds provide the perfect backdrop for your cocktail hour and wedding reception,” Kiley said. “Encompassed in lush gardens and neoclassic statuary, guests can enjoy cocktails poolside or on the garden terrace. Tented events can also be hosted on the Great Lawn.”
Many people have seen a live music show at Ravinia in Highland Park. Guests can also host their private special event at Ravinia anytime from October to May.
“At Ravinia, we work hard to ensure every single moment is memorable,” said Mindy Moore, director of group events and dining services. “For weddings, making the couple’s every dream come true is our favorite part. This is not just our job; it’s our passion. The newlywed’s can dine on scrumptious fare provided by Levy Restaurants, dance and share their joy with family and friends, while feeling confident that everything is under control.”
The Morton Arboretum
Located on 1,700 acres, The Morton Arboretum provides guests at an outdoor wedding or special event an incredible view of flowering trees, brilliantly colored gardens, lakes and other attractive natural landscapes. Couples will delight in the Hedge Garden, Meadow Lake Point, Thornhill Lawn and Fragrance Garden.
“The Morton Arboretum is excited to announce the Conifer View Tent, which is available for weddings and other special occasions June through October,” said Margaret Martin, Morton Arboretum wedding expert and facility rental manager. “The 4,000-squre-foot white tent overlooks the evergreen Conifer Collection, and it is just steps away from the historic Hedge Collection.”
Weddings at The Morton Arboretum include the Wedding Photo Tram Tour, which takes guests on an open-air narrated hour-long tour of the grounds and allows for a scenic stop along the way.
“The grounds are an ideal setting for wedding photography, which is complimentary when hosting a wedding,” Martin said. “Prospective couples can expect a breathtaking backdrop for their special day.”