Chicago Rat Hole Wedding, Like Spot Itself, Takes On Life Of Its Own
Chicago Rat Hole Wedding, Like Spot Itself, Takes On Life Of Its Own

Chicago Rat Hole Wedding, Like Spot Itself, Takes On Life Of Its Own

CHICAGO — Raj Sarathy always wanted a very Chicago wedding, using the backdrop of one of the nation’s most picturesque and photographed cities to serve as the setting for his special day.

But nine days before the 31-year-old Sarathy and his partner of two years, Tyler, were to wed, the viral nature of one of Chicago’s newest landmarks suddenly changed everything. Surrounded by friends, family —and 50 random strangers who just happened to be there on Saturday — Sarathy and Tyler became the first couple to get married at the Chicago Rat Hole.

The Rat Hole, located in Chicago’s Roscoe Village neighborhood, has quickly taken a stranglehold on the city in a way that only a sidewalk indentation in the shape of the city’s most-revered rodent could. Despite being part of the neighborhood for decades, the Chicago Rat Hole has taken on a life of its own since a Chicago artist and comedian posted about the spot on social media and created a firestorm of attention and visitors.

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So, in the company of wedding attendees and crashers alike — not to mention a rat that has, until now, been known only as Lil’ Stucky — the Roscoe Village couple tied the knot on Saturday The 20-minute ceremony, like the Rat Hole itself, has immediately gone viral, casting the couple into an unexpected spotlight.

For Sarathy, whose sudden change of venue made for some fast thinking for his wedding coordinator, the day, despite unseasonably cold temperatures and wind, went off without a hitch.

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“It was absolutely everything I expected and more,” Sarathy told Patch on Tuesday.

“I know (the location) is kind of wild and unique, but nobody in my life — my friends, family, my wedding coordinator — was surprised at all. My husband was not surprised, either. I’m always pretty much always up for a new adventure. I’m always doing the craziest things in my life. I’m always traveling all over the place and am always getting myself into trouble, so I don’t think anyone was too surprised by me picking a very unique destination.”

For wedding coordinator Lica Sato-Keane, the challenge of pulling off such a unique ceremony in such a short time became part of the day’s success. She had already booked a more traditional West Loop reception venue, Pottery, for the celebration. But unaware of the Rat Hole itself until Sarathy put in his request, Sato-Keane reached out to neighbors living near the Roscoe Village landmark with hopes of not creating too big of a distraction.

According to Block Club Chicago, neighbors living near the Rat Hole have already started to complain about the additional traffic near the spot. Last week, a vandal tried unsuccessfully to cover the Rat Hole in cement before fans of the landmark quickly brought the rodent-shaped monument back to life.

With the West Loop reception taking place before the ceremony, Sato-Keane arranged for a balloon arch and other decorations to be delivered to the spot. Not wanting to create even more of a commotion that had already taken place, the wedding coordinator planned for a simple ceremony in which the couple would come in and then depart, leaving no evidence behind that anything out of the ordinary had taken place.

“We didn’t go into it trying to go viral or anything like that,” Sato-Keane told Patch on Tuesday. “We tried to be as respectful as possible, but we didn’t expect it to blow up as it did.”

She added: “I wasn’t as familiar with how big this whole Rat Hole thing is … but moving the ceremony to the Rat Hole was definitely, Number One, 100 percent, the most unique ceremony I’ve ever done.”

Although the Rat Hole has, according to urban legend, been around for at least 20 years, Sarathy said that he hadn’t visited the spot before. Even after deciding to move the ceremony to the Roscoe Street location, he and his partner never visited the sidewalk spot until they were married.

After seeing news coverage of the vandal’s attempt to cover the Rat Hole in cement, Sarathy became worried that his plans would be put into jeopardy. Instead, thanks to the quick actions of local neighbors determined to preserve the spot, the ceremony went off as planned, providing a memory that was everything and more of what the groom was expecting.

Video of the ceremony has gone viral, including on TikTok, where one commenter congratulated the couple on being joined in “Holy Rat-rimony”.

The couple arrived to find a shrine to the Rat Hole in place with items such as candles, a plaque, and beers sitting in the snow, paying homage to the rat that Sarathy said “gave his life for Chicago.”

Once the ceremony was over, wedding goers and visitors celebrated the occasion with Malort, another Chicago staple. Since the wedding, Sarathy estimates that he and his wedding coordinator have done about 20 media interviews — evidence that the sudden Chicago destination and the attention surrounding it aren’t going anywhere any time soon.

Sato-Keane expects more Rat Hole wedding business to come her way. But because she wants to remain respectful of the people who live near the destination full-time, she is offering a special discount for Roscoe Village residents as well as add-ons such as face-painting and other wedding entertainment to lessen the burden on local residents who are now inundated by more visitors.

She is also willing to offer some free services to organizations that support the unhoused population, believing that if so much love can be devoted to a rat, positive attention should be given to the city it calls home and the people who live here.

After last week’s vandalism, neighbors of the Rat Hole suspect that more attempts to cover the Rat Hole could be coming to discourage the area from being so heavily trafficked. But for now, Sarathy hopes that the Chicago Rat Hole can be respected as much as it is celebrated.

Continuing with the wedding theme, Sarathy says that he and his husband are planning a honeymoon to the U.S.’s other “Rattiest Cities” — a list Chicago has topped for the past nine years running.

“I think the Chicago Rat Hole should become an iconic staple, which I think it is becoming,” Sarathy said. “I think it should become a monument of Chicago.

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