Getting married at St. James Chapel and then having the reception at the Palmer House Hilton was a dream come true. We had our reception in the famous Empire Room, which has a very elegant and epic stairway of its own off of the main lobby.
Our wedding involved an interim of about 3.5 hours from the ceremony to the cocktail hour; therefore, we accommodated guests with a hospitality room during that time. Some used this option and others just enjoyed mingling in the lobby (there was a massive medical conference on our wedding weekend and despite that fact, many guests opted to spend time in the lobby, which never seemed overly crowded due to its grand nature).
The cocktail hour took place on the mezzanine, which overlooks the lobby. There is a grand entrance for all of the guests to enter the Empire Room when the time comes for dinner, which makes things feel even more special. The food was great; in fact, we still have people raving about the wedding cake (a cake from 'Cake Chicago' was included in our package). The room looked amazing. The flowers from Pollys Petals & Particulars (PPPflorals.com) were the only extra touch needed to make it absolutely perfect! (In other words, do not waste your time or money on any extra lighting or extravagant decorations, the room has timeless beauty and is gorgeous on its own).
We opted for a live band, which was perfect for the Empire Room. The stage in the room fit the 10 piece band that played for the large majority of the night (drsmusic.com). Not only was the music incredible, which kept the dance floor packed the entire time, but the option of having a band play in the room in which many famous artists have played just seemed right.
Last but not least, the catering manager, Jane Himmel, was truly a godsend. She knows all there is about weddings in general as well as Chicago weddings, in particular. She was always available and helped with much, much, more than what is in her job description, both before and during the wedding. Planning such an amazing wedding would have been impossible without her.
I think it's quite obvious that we highly recommend the Palmer House Hilton to any couple that is able to find an open weekend. Our chapel, St. James Chapel, fills up very quickly; therefore, we only had two weekends from which to choose for the summer. The weekend that worked out of those two weekends happened to be one in which a medical conference with over 30,000 participants was occurring in the city. Needless to say, logistics were not the easiest for that weekend; however, the Palmer House was extremely accommodating and made everything work for us.
Some of the standard rooms are very small. The suites are very nice and for the group package room rate of $250 you can't beat it in downtown Chicago.
We choose the hotel based on location. Our guests could walk to and from the wedding site at ease. This hotel had also just been redone and is absolutely stunning! The people we worked with to coordinate a room block were great and also very helpful getting the OOT gift bags to everyone's rooms. This hotel is beautiful and even though it is renovated, it still has that old charm about Chicago that truly does stand out.
Palmer House is a Chicago icon. Our stay was exceptional and the staff extremely accommodating especially for the wedding party and early check-ins.
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