Chicago-Themed Rehearsal Dinner

Fortunately soon after I got engaged, I lived at home in Chicago and was able to use that time scouring the city for the perfect venue, which I soon found.

I thought the rehearsal dinner search was going to be even easier, despite living a thousand miles away. My fiancé and I decided early on that we wanted it to be VERY Chicago and on the beach – b/c as many of you may not know, Chicago is truly a beach town in the summer. We immediately agreed on hosting it at Castaways, a chill rooftop bar on what looks like a shipwreck literally on the beach, with a SICK view of the city.



The future in-laws agreed but once it came down to paying the deposit, we were informed of the rain policy – use it or lose it. If it rains, you can use the deposit towards another party that summer, but obviously, that doesn’t work for a rehearsal dinner.

It truly IS our perfect venue, but the weather in Chicago in June is always unpredictable, so we just can’t take that chance…I think.

My fiance’s mother almost saved the day by offering to host it at a more formal club also on the lake and in the city, but soon learned that they were already booked five months in advance for our Thursday, June 10!

Since then, Dave and I have been trying to think of venues that personify Chicago whilst being more low-key and informal than the wedding.

We’ve narrowed it down to the following three and I’d love your input on these or any additional ideas you may have.

Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder

This is a well-known Chicago pizza restaurant to locals. It’s small, steps from the lake and beach, serving REAL Chicago deep dish pizza, and the wooden décor adds charm and character. However, they do not have a separate dining room, and the restaurant would remain open. We’d have like 3/4 of the space but it wouldn’t be private. Also, do people want to eat deep-dish pizza before a wedding in the summer? I didn’t think so, but my out-of-town friends are insisting they would.


Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder

Green Dolphin Street & Kingston Mines

The two venues below are similar in that they both are music venues/restaurants/bars.  However unlike Kingston Mines, Green Dolphin is a classy Jazz Club with a gorgeous riverside room and patio area that turns into a party after 10pm:

Green Dolphin Street

Green Dolphin


Although Kingston Mines is MUCH less formal, perhaps too much, it is a CLASSIC Chicago Blues bar serving BBQ food with a private room  that is open very late and most certainly a cultural Chicago experience.

Kingston Mines

Kingston Mines


I love both venues and they are all surprisingly similar in price. I’ve gone to Green Dolphin many times to enjoy incredible jazz, while sipping great drinks and admiring the Chicago skyline just down the river. I’ve also stumbled into Kingston Mines on occasion (around 1am)  singing the Blues on stage with class acts.

In addition, the Chicago Blues Festival in Grant Park is being held the same weekend as our wedding.  It’s the largest Blues festival in the world and Grant Park’s biggest festival of the year, and both venues told us that those big shot musicians will be playing at their clubs that same Thursday later in the night after our dinner.

What do you think? Has your rehearsal dinner search been easy or surprisingly difficult? What kind of tone do you want to set with it?