I have had many couples ask me to marry them in a small, private ceremony. Sometimes it is just the couple “eloping”, while other times they have invited a few friends and relatives to join them. Either way, no witnesses are required for any wedding in the greater Chicago area.
Here are at least five ideas if you are considering an elopement, or just a small, informal wedding ceremony.
The simplest way is to have the ceremony in your hotel room, particularly if you have a nice view of the city from your window. In some cases I have even acted as a photographer as well, taking some photos afterwards.
A second option would be to have a restaurant give you a small party room for a short, private wedding ceremony. Chicago is famous for its many wonderful restaurants. Most will probably accommodate you for free if you eat there, but often they require a certain minimum number of people to dine, unless it’s a small restaurant. And if you schedule your ceremony other than during the busy lunch or dinner hours, you may have more restaurants to choose from.
A third option would be to have your ceremony on the observation area of the John Hancock building (94th floor of 875 N. Michigan Ave.), which has a great view of the city day or night. For a fee they will rope off a small corner area for you to have a quick ceremony. However, if you don’t ask for a private reserved area, actually anyone can go there and stand in a corner and do a ceremony – no one will stop you. There will be other people walking by, and possibly making some comments, so it would not be private. But the view is spectacular.
A fourth option would be to have your ceremony take place somewhere outside IF the weather is not too inclement. There are many areas where I’ve done weddings along the lakefront, and there is no fee. I’ve performed ceremonies along the Chicago River, in front of Buckingham Fountain, in the gardens, in Millennium Park or Olive Park, by statues in the park, on the lakeshore, on the peninsula facing the museums from a southern view, and many others. Some places can be quite private, while others can have many onlookers. It depends on several factors such as the location, time of day, and time of year.
A fifth option would be to have the wedding take place on board one of the very nice ships at Navy Pier. Several of them have dinner cruises. You can go up on the deck while out on the water and have the ceremony there if the weather is OK. Otherwise, there could be some other places on the ship that would be semi-private for a quick ceremony.
You can save a lot of money by having an elopement, or a smaller private ceremony. Just be sure you think things through, and work with an experienced, professional wedding officiant.