Second City Ceremonies

Jon PaulSince I started writing this column just six months ago, much has changed in the world of same sex ceremonies. Already, we’ve got many more destinations to add to our tasteful consideration list. I’m thrilled that Illinois has joined the leagues of those legalizing civil unions, especially since the Windy City is one of my favorites. Not only is the architecture stunning, but also Chicago has truly become a center of innovative food culture in

America. So here are a few suggestions for those of you thinking about tying the knot in Chicago. The new law takes effect June 1, just in time for the Second City’s summer weather.

Catalyst Ranch

Catalyst Ranch

Couples don’t need to do much decorating in this funky and cool space. Set in a vintage loft in a building that once housed a meat packing facility, the rooms feature wood beams and colorfully painted walls. There are comfy couches, a slew of vintage tables for dining, and ethnic art around the space. Years ago, I attended a corporate brainstorming retreat here and so never thought about it as a wedding venue. But in fact, Catalyst Ranch has hosted many commitment ceremonies and is looking forward to hosting more now that the law has changed.

catalyst ranch

One of the things I love about this spot is how easy it is to host the ceremony and party in one place. For those of you looking for a quirky, fun venue, put Catalyst Ranch on the top of your list.

Hotel Palomar

Hotel Palomar

Chicago has no shortage of top-notch hotels, but one of my newest favorites is Hotel Palomar, part of the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants group. Kimpton has long been known for their support of the LGBT community, and I got to experience this swanky property up-close-and-personal last year as part of my book tour. Not only does it have one of the most happening bar scenes in town, but the event spaces are unique and comfortable—just like Kimpton. The function rooms don’t feel sterile at all. In fact, many of them have dramatic views of State Street with balconies where guests can mingle—a feature I particularly love at weddings.

If you’re still hungry after the ceremony and party—after all, I’m always hearing couples complain they never had a chance to eat because they were so busy mingling—then my tip is to head over to The Purple Pig. Named one of Bon Appétit magazines top new 2010 restaurants, The Purple Pig features all types of pork, from charcuterie to entrees, paired with a large selection of wines. The perfect tastey after-party for your Second City ceremony.


Jon Paul Buchmeyer is the author of the award-winning humorous memoir Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life and writes frequently for Condé Nast Traveler and Bon Appétit magazines. In addition, he is the author of his own popular blogs: ABCityblog.com and Poptimistic.com.