Wedding Anniversary — Chicago

The Bean Chicago

Ten years ago my wonderful husband and I were married in the Manti temple, in Manti, Utah. This year our celebration included an anniversary portrait shoot with just the two of us (blog post coming soon) and a trip to Chicago! We spent two full days in downtown Chicago and had a wonderful getaway. Dan and I chose Chicago because we wanted to see Hamilton: An American Musical. When we started to plan the trip I did not realize Chicago is an art and theater lovers paradise. So I was in heaven.

A couple months before our trip my husband suggested we see Hamilton: An American Musical. I have been a big fan of the show for the past year so it was very sweet of him to suggest it. Rather than trying our luck at getting tickets in Salt Lake City next year we decided to go now and do something big for our anniversary. My parents happily watched our girls and we had an amazing trip. We had never really left the girls overnight before so having a kid free trip was a treat. I knew my parents were taking good care of them and it was great to spend some time together with just the two of us.

When buying our seats we actually looked for tickets in all three cities Hamilton was playing in at the time. For the same night and same section tickets in Chicago were $800 cheaper than tickets in New York City and $300 cheaper than tickets in San Francisco. (On the day we bought our tickets, which was six months in advance.) Luckily we were able to get tickets in Chicago before that particular night was sold out. Also I have been to New York City and San Francisco before so we decided to visit someplace new. If you are looking to go to see Hamilton — Chicago is a great option.

First stop: “The Bean” which is actually called Cloud Gate

The Bean Chicago

The Bean Chicago

The Bean Chicago

Hamilton did not disappoint. Not having been to Chicago before we decided to get a hotel close to the theater. We could not have stayed closer than the hotel that was in the same building as the show. The theater took up the first four levels and the hotel was on top. It looked like most of the people staying the hotel were there for Hamilton. The theater and hotel were in the Majestic Building. The Majestic Building was the tallest building in Chicago when it was built in 1905. There has always been a theater in the building. I loved how historic it was.

Chicago is actually a pretty big theater town. There is always more than one Broadway show playing in town at any given time and there are lots of different theaters and opera companies that always have stuff running. Not to mention Second City which we didn’t make it to this time.

Hamilton Chicago

Hamilton Chicago

Hamilton Chicago

We thought the Buckingham Fountain was pretty cool. It was built in 1927.

Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain

We spent most of our first day at The Art Institute of Chicago and then we saw the show that evening. Aside from seeing Hamilton the Art Institute was my favorite thing we did on our trip. You could have spent days in the this museum. The Art Institute of Chicago is the second largest art museum in the United States. They are mostly known for having the largest collection of Impressionist paintings outside of France. There was a whole room full of paintings by Claude Monet. I remember being super excited to go to a museum that only had one Monet once. They also had paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, Matisse, Sargent, Picasso and too many masters to be named here. I took several art history classes in school so I was in art heaven.

We were both super impressed with this museum. We didn’t spend much time in their new modern wing but we did go up there to see the Picasso and we also saw some Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock pieces. Dan especially loved the medieval art section because they had lots of swords and armor.

One of their most famous paintings is American Gothic but unfortunately it was being loaned to a museum in London at the time. Lucky for us they had Whistler’s Mother on loan from a museum in Paris. That was fun to see.

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institue Chicago

Whistler’s Mother. These old people were so cute. They really wanted to have a picture of them looking at the painting.

Whistler's Mother

One of the Chagall windows. I think there is a scene in the movie, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off where they visit these windows.

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Monet Waterlilies


On our second day we explored the city a little more. Our first stop was to see this sculpture created by Picasso. There was a farmers market going on around it but it was still pretty cool. All of the places we went to both days were within walking distance of our hotel. We also went on an architecture themed river cruise. It was so fun and we learned so much about the architecture of the city which was actually pretty impressive. There is a scene in the movie My Best Friends Wedding where they go on one of these sightseeing cruises.

Picasso sculpture Chicago

Abraham Lincoln Chicago

downtown buildings Chicago

The building with the clock is the Wrigley Building, as in Wrigley Chewing Gum. Next to it is the Chicago Tribune Tower which personally was my favorite building we saw in Chicago. There were so many things I loved about this building! It was built in 1925 after an architecture contest in which the winners got $50,000 and their design built. I love the gothic architecture. We actually thought it was a church at first.

Most of you know that I was a journalism major and worked for two years at a daily newspaper before becoming a wedding photographer. Journalism is near and dear to my heart. In the lobby of the building there were all these beautiful journalism quotes engraved in the walls. We had dinner in the restaurant on the bottom floor and there were similar quotes in the restaurant but about food. There is a reception center on the 25th floor of the building. If anyone is getting married there I would love to come document your day.

The coolest thing about this building is outside they have rocks from famous buildings around the world plastered into the facade. At one time the boss at the Chicago Tribune encouraged his correspondents to bring back these rocks when they went on various assignments. The rocks then got placed on the sides of the building. The only two exceptions are the stone from the Cave of the Nativity in Bethlehem which is inside the lobby. They also have a moon rock inside. Apparently NASA owns all the moon rocks in the world so they are only “loaning” the moon rock to the Chicago Tribune. Also of note they do have a stone from the Salt Lake Temple.

Both of these building are by to the Chicago river next to the stretch of Michigan Avenue they call the Magnificent Mile. This street reminded me so much of Fifth Avenue in New York City — it was a very fancy shopping district.

Chicago Tribune Tower

stones in Chicago Tribune Tower

The building with the two prongs on the top is the Willis Tower, formerly the Sear Tower. It is the tallest building in Chicago. For a long time it was the tallest building in the world and after that the tallest building in the United States. It was recently beat out by the new World Trade Center in New York City. Although our tour guide said the observation deck in the Willis Tower is on a higher floor than the observation deck at the new World Trade Center. You can kind of see it in the picture but in the observation deck at the Willis Tower they have these glass ledges you can go stand on. Scary.

Willis Tower

Willis Tower

Chicago skyscrapers from river

After our river cruise we went up the Magnificent Mile to the John Hancock Building and visited the observation deck on the 94th floor. There was such a lovely view from up there.

John Hancock Center

Chicago skyscrapers

Do you see the tall black building closest to the ferris wheel at the Navy Pier? This is the Lake Point building. In the movie While You Were Sleeping this is the building where Peter Callahan has his apartment. I watched that movie again after we got home. It is one of my favorites.

360 Chicago view

This is the Chicago Water Tower and an old fire station. There were were only a handful of buildings that survived the Chicago fire of 1871 and these are two of them. It is still a working fire station.

Water Tower Chicago

Chicago was so beautiful and there was so much to do. It reminded me a lot of New York City except it was less crowded and attractions were closer together. I definitely hope to make it back there someday. Anyone planning a wedding here? We definitely recommend it to any of you art or theatre lovers out there.

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