Newly engaged? Starting to plan your Chicago wedding? Whether you’re planning a big event or an intimate one, I’ve got a load of resources for you here to introduce you to some incredible vendors and make your search easier!
Why should you hire a planner?
Ohhh I could have a whole post on this alone. Bottom line, planners help you find trustworthy, reliable professionals, stay in budget, stay on schedule, and achieve a cohesive beautiful design for your day. They are your point person and will tackle the problems that inevitably arise so that you can keep enjoying your day without added stress. And if that’s not enough, they set up and tear down. I’m going to say that again – they SET UP AND TEAR DOWN. That means you and your family don’t have to stress about which family member is going to sacrifice their morning to decorate your reception space or who is going to stay til 2 in the morning clearing everything out of the space so you don’t get fined. UM YES PLEASE.
And PSA, the venue coordinator is not a wedding planner. They work for the venue and not for you. You need someone who is on your team and has full knowledge and power to execute your vision. Your cousin and your mom should not be worried about centerpieces. Your bridesmaids should not be worried about the escort cards, just about when to hand you another mimosa. The minimum you should invest in is day of coordinator (which actually is usually is a month-of coordinator) but I always encourage partial or full planning in order to get a cohesive design while someone else does the heavy lifting. Win win!
Lingo to know:
Full Service Planning: They are with you from “where do I start?” to “I do”, guiding you through budget breakdowns, vendors, styling, rentals, etc.
Partial Service Planning: For when you’ve got some of the big elements figured out but need help with others or want help keeping on track and in budget.
Day-of/Month-of Coordination: For when you’ve got everything picked and booked and just need someone to step in and take the reins so that you can have a stress-free day. And, fun fact, day-of coordination is almost ALWAYS month-of coordination. In other words, there will never be a situation where you hire someone to just show up on the day of your wedding. It just doesn’t work that way.
BEFORE you start venue shopping:
Know your style & your guest count. Both of these things will influence the types of venues you search for and tour. Do not start your search without knowing these. Your style should influence the type of venues you search for (do you want a rustic woodsy setting? a ritzy hotel ballroom? an eclectic industrial space? do you want a space full of natural light or somewhere more dark and moody?). And your guest count will influence the type of venue not only due to size, but also due to budget. Some venues will have a higher per head cost, so some venues will become out of budget the higher your guest list goes.
There are obviously TONS of venues in the city, too many to name here. But because you’re here on my page, I’m guessing there’s a decent chance you are into the light and airy style of photography. So all of these venues I’ve listed are particularly great matches for photographers who lean more to that style of shooting and editing. If you are looking for spots that are more suited for a dark and moody style, there’s countless options out there – feel free to reach out and I can give you a starting point OR, better yet, start chatting with one of those planners up there 😉
Ambassador Hotel: Good for intimate weddings & elopements
Galleria Marchetti: Good for European sophistication, natural light
Columbus Park Refectory: Good for natural light, European architecture, outdoor ceremony/cocktail hour options
Promontory Point: Good for natural light, outdoor ceremony/cocktail hour options, skyline views
Chicago History Museum: Good for classic elegance, white walls, checkered floors, outdoor ceremony options
Chicago Botanic Garden: Good for outdoor options, romantic garden vibes
DL Loft: Good for natural light, outdoor options, intimate weddings & elopements, European sophistication
Room 1520: Good for simple/crisp white space, industrial/modern vibes, outdoor portrait options
A few things to know…
- The florals you see on Instagram/Pinterest are usually VERY high end blooms and come with a hefty price tag. So don’t get your heart set on a specific design you see. Be flexible and open to the artistic vision of your florist.
- Greenery is not necessarily cheaper than florals.
- Remember that flowers are seasonal. In other words, certain flowers bloom at certain times and not all flowers are available year-round. So be open to recommendations from your florist on what is in season and trust that they will find the best blooms for you. If you do have a specific flower you want that’s non-negotiable, find out when it’s in season and plan your wedding date based on that.
From custom apparel designers to beauticians, from sweet treats to letterpress artists, these talented folks will give your wedding that added ‘oomf’!
Dress Salon: Mignonette Bridal
Bridal Designer: Alyssa Kristin
Bridal Designer: Veronica Sheaffer
Custom Menswear: Surmesur
Wedding Stationery: Design by Angelika
Wedding Stationery: Little Fox Paperie
Stationery: Four Hats Press
Calligrapher/Stationer: Paper Love Club
Calligrapher: Maison Blanche
Sweets: ECBG Cake Studio
Sweets: Toni Patisserie
Unique Favors: Flour & Fig
Beauty: Milian Bonillo Beauty
Beauty: Bianca Sansosti Artistry
Vintage Rentals: Elements Preserved
Other posts in this planning series: