The end of May means warmer weather and weddings aplenty. It’s the time of year that was perfectly captured by Vince Vaughn when he rhetorically and enthusiastically asked, “What do you like better- Christmas or wedding season?” in 2005’s Wedding Crashers. It’s hard not to get excited about getting together with friends and family to celebrate love through the four D’s: dressing up, dinner, drinks and dancing. Therefore, the obvious choice is wedding season unless you are a child or Buddy the Elf, two types of people Around Oak Park does not target in its articles.
With any luck, you’ve been invited to one or two this year. Perhaps you are the one getting married and it is far too late to take suggestions from this article, but here you are reading these words in the hopes that the venue you chose is ranked number one on the list.
I’ve got one to go to in August but it’s up in Minneapolis. Since I would have to take a page out of Hollywood’s book and crash a wedding to experiencce one in Oak Park this year, I thought it better to write about the three best places to attend a wedding in the village.
Before we get to the list, I realize there are more than three places to have a wedding in Oak Park. So, if you have any suggestions about a venue not included, share your thoughts in the comments! We want to read about your wedding experiences whether they have already happened or if it’s something you have in mind for the future.
3 – Cheney Mansion
The Cheney Mansion sits on top of two and a half acres of beautiful land in Oak Park’s Historic District. This venue works well in the colder months of the year due to its elegant dining room decorated with chandeliers and large windows, making the space seem very open. Nonetheless, it is summer and that’s where they Cheney Mansion truly shines as a popular wedding venue. The outdoor landscape is beautifully decorated with flowers, waterfall, garden, ponds, and trees, serving as an ideal backdrop for wedding photos.
Overseen by the Park District of Oak Park, the Cheney Mansion is a certified historic landmark of the village, and receives a lot of attention when it comes to maintaining the property. “I can’t imagine having my wedding reception anywhere else,” said Alyssa from Chicago, who got married in March 2016. “The interiors here are so beautiful we didn’t do any extra decoration.”
One downfall of the Cheney Mansion, which is why it landed third on our list, is the customer service. While the mansion is stunningly beautiful, some couples have documented that they did not receive adequate support from the staff. However, if you have a wedding planner, you won’t have to deal with them directly which is an added bonus.
The Cheney Mansion is located at 220 North Euclid Avenue. For more information, visit www.cheneymansion.org.
2 – Nineteenth Century Club
Built eight years before Ernest Hemingway was born, the Nineteenth Century Club is one of Oak Park’s oldest buildings, making it a great venue for a classic wedding. The club has multiple spaces to help shape the right atmosphere based on the size of the party. On the first floor, there are two dining rooms and an upscale lounge with a small stage. If it’s a bigger crowd, the second floor can host roughly 400 guests in the Margaret Houck Ballroom.
The nonprofit hosts several weddings every year so the staff is well-versed in setting up and taking down for ceremonies and receptions alike. “We had our wedding (both ceremony and reception) at this beautiful venue in July , and we were overall very pleased with our experience,” said Alyssa W., originally from Manhattan, NY. “It’s a gorgeous space; the ballroom is lovely all on its own, so we didn’t have to do too much to decorate.”
1 – Carleton of Oak Park Hotel
The Carleton is on the top of this list for several reasons but the two that really stand out are location and convenience. Located in the heart of Downtown Oak Park, the Carleton is easy to get to by public transportation, and walking distance (more specifically, next door) to great bars like Barclays and Poor Phil’s. When it comes to convenience, imagine how happy the out-of-towners will be to learn that they have a room in the same venue as the ceremony and reception, and when the wedding party calls it a night, they can hit up Downtown Oak Park without worrying about driving.
Weddings are not just about location and convenience, however. The Carleton has made a reputation for itself over the years because of its ambiance. “The ballroom is beautiful and not-at-all like a cookie cutter hotel– it was actually built in the early 1900s for the World Fair, and it has so much charm for our vintage-themed wedding!” said Mar from Chicago, who got married in the summer of 2015. Newly wed couples will also be happy to learn that there is a complimentary guest room with a hot tub if they so choose to use it on their wedding night.
The Carleton of Oak Park is located at 1110 Pleasant Street. For more information, visit www.careltonhotel.com.