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Should I Tip My Wedding Vendors?
Like we always say, you’ve likely never planned a wedding before. And because of that, many couples are surprised to learn that tipping vendors is a fairly common practice in the wedding industry. We talk with all our couples about gratuity in their initial planning meeting, and the reactions typically fall somewhere between “I didn’t even know tipping vendors was a thing!” to “I know I want to tip my vendors, but don’t know who or how much.” Factoring gratuity into your budget early on in planning can help you to stay within your financial boundaries and not be surprised with a few thousand more dollars being spent the week of the wedding. Consider if you would like to tip your wedding vendors, who you would like to tip, and estimate how much. While you certainly don’t need to know down to the dollar what you’ll be tipping each vendor, it’s helpful to set aside 5-10% of your budget for gratuity if you would like. Read on to learn more about which vendors are more standard to tip versus who is optional, how much is common to tip, and how to go about tipping. Which vendors should I tip? A reliable rule of thumb for determining which vendors to tip is to consider who you would tip in the “real world.” In the U.S., it’s standard to tip servers at a restaurant, bartenders, hair stylists, makeup artists, personal drivers, and delivery people. The same goes for weddings. For any vendor outside of this list, it’s optional to tip them but always greatly appreciated. If you prefer not to give a monetary tip but would like to thank the vendor for their service, a gift, handwritten note, bottle of wine, gift card, etc. is a nice gesture. Remember that many wedding vendors are small businesses, so posting a review on sites like The Knot, Wedding Wire, Google, and Facebook is so beneficial! And don’t feel like you have to reinvent the wheel each time if you want to post your review on multiple sites – just copy and paste. You’ll help to boost the business’s web presence and give future couples peace of mind when booking. How much should I tip? Before we dive in, remember that there really is no “should” when it comes to tipping. Below are just our suggestions based on what we normally see vendors getting tipped in the Midwest. Please feel free to tip as you see fit. It’s not always the dollar amount that matters, it is often just the thought that makes your vendors feel appreciated. An easy calculation for tipping vendors that offer packages or have a set pricing structure (like your photographer, videographer, DJ, planner or coordinator, hair and makeup artists, and so on) is to tip 10-20% of your package total. For hair and makeup artists, the typical range for tipping tends to fall closer to 18-20% of the service cost; for those other vendors, it’s closer to 10%. If you had a stellar experience with a certain vendor, you may opt to tip them more; or, on the flip side, if you had a not-so-great experience, you may choose to tip less or not at all. For catering, a common practice is to tip 18-20% of the food and beverage total. Note that this is not the same as the total amount you’re paying for catering. Your catering proposal may include other line items for staffing, equipment, taxes, administrative fees, and more, and it’s not necessary to tip on top of these charges. You’ll need to take a look at your catering proposal subtotal lines and add up the food and beverage costs to come up with the tip amount (or it may already be done for you on the proposal). Some caterers include gratuity as part of the proposal. This amount can typically be adjusted or removed depending on if and how much you would like to tip. Particularly if you’re getting married at a venue with in-house catering, you may see a service fee added to your catering proposal. Most often, this service fee is not inclusive of gratuity; however, there are certain venues that include gratuity in this fee, so it’s best practice to always double-check with your venue manager to confirm. If your bartenders are included with your catering, the catering gratuity will cover them as well. However, if you’re using an outside staffing company or if your bartenders are provided by your venue for an in-house bar, a standard tip is $50 to $100 per bartender. Some transportation companies will include gratuity in your overall quote for ease. Similar to catering, this amount can be adjusted however you see fit or removed. If gratuity is not included, it’s common to tip the wedding day driver $50 to $100. For other drivers, such as for cake or rental deliveries, $25 to $50 is standard. For music groups made up of multiple people, such as a band or ceremony musicians, the gratuity amount commonly falls between $25 and $50 per member. For your florist, the tip may be dependent on the level of installation they are performing, but gratuity is typically between $100 and $300. How and when should I distribute gratuities? Cash is the preferred method for monetary tipping. The easiest way to go about distributing gratuities is to place each vendor’s tip in a separate, sealed envelope. On the outside of the envelope, write the vendors’ company or name so envelopes don’t get mixed up. Give these to your planner or coordinator to distribute to each vendor on wedding day; if you’re having a ceremony rehearsal that your planner will attend, it’s easiest to give the envelopes to them at this time so you don’t have to worry about it on wedding day. If you won’t have a planner on-site on the wedding day, you can assign this task to a VIP (a family member, wedding party member, etc.). For your hair stylists and makeup artists, it’s typically easiest to hold onto these tip envelopes since you’ll be with them in the morning. If wedding party members, family members, and/or other friends are getting hair or makeup services done, make sure to let them know how tipping will be handled and if they need to come prepared with cash or can transfer money through Venmo, Zelle, etc. For your catering tip in particular, don’t separate this amount out into individual envelopes for each server, as this can cause confusion when staff are arriving and departing at various times throughout the afternoon and evening. Instead, simply lump the gratuity into one envelope and have whoever is distributing your gratuities give it to the wedding day catering captain, who will then pass it out among the staff members. For other vendors, it’s okay to separate tips out based on certain staff members; for instance, if you have a second photographer or videographer, or if your planner has wedding day assistants, you can give these individuals their own gratuity envelopes if you prefer. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? 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8 Unique Wedding Entertainment Ideas
When you think of a wedding reception, you probably think of lots and lots of dancing! While some guests will dance the night away, others may not like dancing or want to dance. Offering unique entertainment ideas during your cocktail hour and/or reception is a great way to shake things up and keep guests engaged. Below we’ve compiled some unique, interactive, and entertaining ideas to wow guests at your wedding! Keep in mind that many of these options will affect your venue, catering or bar, A/V set-up, and more, so always confirm that your venue can accommodate these activities and that all your vendors are looped into the exciting experiences you have planned. 1) 360 Photo Booth Take the classic wedding photo booth to the next level by offering a 360 photo booth! Rather than just capturing a still shot of your guests, this type of photo booth revolves 360 degrees around them to produce a slow-motion video. While the video is being taken, guests can dance, pose, use props, and more to create a special short film that captures the joy of the night. 2) Tastings If you love trying and pairing wines, whiskies, or other types of alcohol, consider integrating this into your cocktail hour! Hire a sommelier to set up a table with a variety of options and have them guide guests through the tasting process of your selected liquor. Guests will have the chance to try new spirits, ask questions, and learn more about the process of making alcohol. Bonus points if you pair the liquor options with the hors d’oeuvres at your cocktail hour! 3) Live Painting Chances are you’ve likely booked a photographer and/or videographer to capture your day, but why not also have a painting of your wedding day to treasure for years to come? Hire an artist to paint your reception while it’s happening! Guests will be able to watch as the artist works their magic to bring your reception to life on a blank canvas. It’s such an interesting process that most guests don’t often get to see, and you’ll have a new piece of art to hang on your wall. 4) Trivia Test your guests’ knowledge by hosting some trivia during your cocktail hour! The topic of the trivia could be about you and your new spouse, topics that you two are interested in, or just general trivia questions. You’ll see your guests’ competitive spirits come to life, and they just might learn something new! 5) Champagne Hoop Skirts Catch your guests’ eyes with a champagne hoop skirt! These huge skirts are worn by a model and are made to hold several glasses of champagne on each tier of the skirt. As your guests enter your cocktail hour or reception, they can grab a glass of bubbly right off the dramatic skirt! This is such a distinctive element to incorporate into your wedding day and will add to the glamour of your celebration. 6) Aerialists Yes, you read that right! Nothing is quite as show-stopping as an aerial silks show, and guests will be mesmerized as they watch the aerialists effortlessly soar through your venue. As you can imagine, your venue will need to have a certain structure in order for aerialists to have the space requirements they need to perform and have something to affix their silks to. More industrial venues with supporting ceiling beams are capable of holding a high weight and are therefore the perfect settings for aerialists; so, if you’re still searching for a venue and know you want to hire some aerialists, remember to look up during your tours! 7) Light Up Robots Get the party started by hiring light-up robot dancers! These dancers hit the dance floor in a full LED suit to wow guests with both a lighting display and a dance performance. Your guests will be excited to hit the dance floor and bust a move right alongside the “robots.” 8) Cold Sparklers Most venues don’t allow for open flames inside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t incorporate a remarkable “fire” display into your reception! Cold sparkers are meant to simulate the look of real fire but don’t use traditional pyrotechnic techniques found in fireworks. Instead, the spark comes out of the machine cold, meaning that it’s safe to the touch, won’t emit heat, and can’t catch on fire. They’re an awesome addition to take your wedding design to the next level! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
Top Tips for Your Wedding Hotel Room Block
There’s no denying it – booking a hotel room block is certainly not the most thrilling part of wedding planning. It’s very technical, logistical, and the hotel-specific lingo used can intimidate couples. We often say that couples are overwhelmed by the wedding planning process because they usually have never planned a wedding before. And it’s no different for hotel room blocks! You’ve probably never had the need to block rooms at a hotel before, and the process can seem very unfamiliar and complicated. But, don’t fear! While the room block process can require a bit of legwork depending on where and when you’re getting married, we’ve gathered up our best tips to make the process as seamless as possible. Below we chat you through what you’ll need to pay attention to as you’re reserving your hotel block. Tip 1: Start by gathering some preliminary information Before even starting to reach out to hotels, pull out your guest list and count up how many people will be traveling from out of town. This will help you get an estimate on how many rooms you may want to block (remember that couples and families will share a room). Also think through if you want to block any rooms for any day(s) before and/or after your wedding. If you have a large group of guests coming in from out of town, you may want to consider booking rooms in a different hotel for getting ready. This can help to avoid unwanted guests intruding in on the getting ready area (i.e. Aunt Shelia won’t be bothering you while you’re getting your hair done) and will be an overall calmer experience. Either way, we recommend booking 2 blocks, if possible, at varying price points so guests can have a choice. Blocking at hotels that are closer together will make it easier for you to coordinate guest transportation, as well as other wedding weekend events such as welcome cocktails or farewell brunch. Tip 2: Opt for a courtesy block When it comes to hotel room blocks, you typically have two options – a courtesy block or a contracted block. A courtesy block means that you will not have any financial liability for the guest rooms. A contracted block will have attrition, meaning you will be financially liable if a certain percentage of rooms in the block are not booked by your guests. You may also see attrition written as a Guaranteed Sales Agreement or GSA. Attrition is most commonly 80% but can vary by hotel. So for example, if you block 20 rooms with 80% attrition, at least 16 of those rooms would need to be booked by guests. Otherwise, you would be financially responsible for covering the cost of the remaining rooms (i.e. if 13 rooms get booked, you would have to pay for those remaining 3). With a courtesy block, however, the remaining available rooms will go back into the sellable inventory of the hotel once you reach the cut-off date. While it varies by hotel, most hotels in the city will commonly include attrition when blocking 15 to 20 or more rooms. Because of the financial liability tied to it, Burst does not recommend signing an agreement with attrition. Marriott hotels are most likely to offer a courtesy block and Hilton hotels are least likely. For both courtesy and contracted blocks, you should sign an agreement with the hotel to secure the block. Tip 3: Consider concessions When comparing hotels, keep an eye out for any concessions the hotel is able to offer. Commonly, hotels will offer a discounted suite rate if a certain amount of rooms in the block are booked. Hotels in the suburbs may have more extensive concessions, such as complimentary shuttle service for guests to/from the reception. Tip 4: Pay attention to the cut-off date Once you’ve signed the agreement with the hotel, add the cut-off date to your wedding website along with the personalized booking link/code provided by the hotel. This will ensure guests book their room in time and within your block. Also make a note of the cut-off date in your calendar so you can add additional rooms to your block if needed prior to the date. Tip 5: You don’t HAVE to offer a room block Remember that although it's a really nice courtesy to offer your guests a block of rooms, it’s certainly not required! For instance, if there is a large conference in town the weekend of your wedding, hotels may not have availability or may not even be offering room blocks. In other instances, the hotel might not be able to offer a competitive rate compared to what guests can secure by just booking online. If it proves to be impossible because of external events, your guests are all grown-ups and are more than capable of finding decent rates on Hotels.com, AirBNB, and the like. So don't stress yourself out about this! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
Is It Cake?: How a Netflix Show Might Inspire Your Wedding Dessert
Every couple wants a way for their wedding to stand out and have that “wow” moment that will ensure the guest experience is unforgettable. But if you’re a couple on a budget, extravagant florals, lighting, draping, or entertainment experiences might be out of the question. You may be struggling to come up with ways for your wedding to feel like you without having a bottomless budget. But creative and fun surprises for your guests don’t have to create financial strain! You can create memorable moments with the smaller details and not break the bank. Plus, focusing on making these smaller details for guests unique makes the impact more subtle and memorable. One of those details could be your cake! Lots of couples want to incorporate a cake into their wedding day for the ceremonial cutting but also want to offer other desserts that are more appealing to their guests. But this can cause the couple to spend more than planned on desserts or be leftover with an excess of desserts. So what about cakes that can give us both? Below are 6 unique and alternative “cakes” that will leave guests asking, “is it cake?” 1. Rice Krispie Treats Who can resist a chewy, sweet rice krispie treat that reminds everyone of childhood? These easy-to-mold treats mean that you can create cake-like tiers! Create a bold tower with the rice krispie treats, then use marshmallow fluff on the outside of your “cake” to create a smooth, clean outside layer. Let your creativity out as you decide on the shape of your “cake” and the outer design! 2. Zebra Cake Love cake, but forgot to hire a baker in time? Inspired by the viral Tik Tok video, try creating your own cake tower by frosting Zebra Cakes on top of one another. This will create a cake that you can use for cutting, and your guests will be impressed by the clean tiers as you cut into your tower. Guests will be surprised to find that it was actually a quick at-home DIY project! 3. Pie The options when pie is involved are limitless. Flavors? Size? Design? You can offer guests a variety of different full-sized pies, or stick to personal pies for an easy-to-serve option. For your cutting pie, you can even top different-sized pies on top of one other to create a taller “cake version” of this crowd favorite. Make sure to have whipped cream and ice cream at your dessert station for guests to top off their slices. 4. Pancakes Everybody loves breakfast for dinner, so why not breakfast for dessert? Pancakes are so beautiful no matter how you decorate them. Let your guests add their toppings as they grab a slice of your “cake”. Provide whipped cream, sprinkles, syrup, and fruit to give each pancake slice its own unique design. 5. Croquembouche Talk about a show stopper! Croquembouche will impress guests every time. Delicious, decadent, and beautiful, these towers are made of puff pastries and bound together using caramel drizzles. Of course, be careful as you cut into this tower! The last thing we want is a toppling tower in your cake-cutting photos. Pull out a puff pastry or two at a time for the easiest serving, and of course, always start from the top. 6. Cheese Wheels Now, I’m not talking about cheesecake. I’m talking about a cake made out of CHEESE! Perfect for those that don’t have a big sweet tooth, create your Wisconsin-themed “cake” with 3 different-sized cheese wheels. Place the largest on the bottom and the smallest on top. You can ask your florist to bring extra flowers to create a really beautiful “cake.” Just be sure you and your partner are given a strong knife for your cake cutting! 7. Donuts Donuts have been a staple wedding dessert for a few years now, but why not stack them to create a tiered donut cake? Start with a rounded base, then build up your tiers until you make it to the top tier with one donut. For your cake cutting, you can even break apart a donut and feed it to your partner (or smash it in their face if that’s more your style). 8. Cookie Cake Calling all cookie lovers! You can have your cake and eat it too – by making it a giant cookie! Create a stunning design with frosting on the outside of your cake, or stack some cookie cakes on top of one another to create a tiered cake. Serve with shooters of milk to give guests that classic milk and cookies taste. Planning a wedding should be fun, especially when you start figuring out how to make your wedding special! Take some time to create something new with your partner as often as you can; then celebrate with some of those leftover zebra cakes you have in the cupboard. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
Stationery & Signage for Your Wedding Day
Beyond your wedding save the dates and invitation, there is a whole host of optional stationery and signage you may want to incorporate into your wedding day! Emphasis on optional – you certainly shouldn’t feel like you have to include all or most of the below items. Consider what makes sense for your day and what you want to spend money/time on. There are a few different ways you can go about securing stationery and signage. The first is to hire a stationer and/or calligrapher to create the items for you. If you’re looking for a more frugal option, check out sites like Minted or Etsy that offer customizable options. And last but not least, if you’re a DIY couple, you can create some or all of your stationery or signage right at home. A quick note on DIY-ing! While it’s a convenient way to add a personal touch to your day and cut back on design costs, be realistic with yourself about what you can take on. If you aren’t particularly artsy or haven’t used certain tools required for what you’re creating, give yourself enough time to do a few practice rounds before you make the actual sign or stationery. Also keep in mind that certain items can only be created within a certain period of time. For instance, with place cards or a seating chart, you’ll have to wait to create these until you get back all your RSVPs and have put together your seating plan. This would typically be within the last 3 to 4 weeks leading up to the wedding when you might have a bit more on your plate. Think through if this is a project you’re comfortable taking on or if it will only add more stress. On the flip side, something like your welcome sign, can really be made at any point once you have your wedding date and a general idea of your design style. Check out below some of the stationery and signage we commonly see at weddings and how you can make them unique to your day! Welcome Sign This of course welcomes guests to your wedding and is a good confirmation that they’re in the right place! These signs are especially useful for venues that host multiple weddings at a time or are more difficult to locate/inconspicuous. Unplugged Ceremony Sign These signs have grown in popularity over the past few years. They ask guests to not use their phones during the ceremony and remain in the moment (and hopefully cuts down on the phones out for photo purposes…you hired a professional photographer for a reason!). This is also an announcement your officiant can make prior to the ceremony beginning. Ceremony Programs Programs list out the order of events for your ceremony. Most couples we work with opt for a short and sweet ceremony (30 minutes or less) and typically don’t see programs as a necessity. If you’re having a longer ceremony or just like the idea of programs, go for it! There are some fun ways to make them unique as well, like attaching a wooden stick to the bottom of each one in order for it to serve double duty as a fan. If you do want to have ceremony programs, there are a few options for distributing them. The programs could be placed on each seat; in this case, you’ll want to ensure you print or order enough programs to fill each seat (and always order a few extra just in case). Another option is to have your ushers or greeters pass them out to guests as they arrive for the ceremony. If you’ll be going this route, you’ll only need to order or print programs for about 75% of your guest count, as couples and groups will share or opt not to take one. Similarly, you can have the programs set out on a table, basket, etc. for guests to grab as they please. Event Timeline This is a sign that gives guests an overview of when certain festivities will be happening throughout the night, such as first dances, cake cutting, dinner, etc. This type of signage is commonly placed in the cocktail hour and reception space(s) for guests to check out. You can find tons of inspiration for this on Pinterest! And remember that this sign certainly doesn’t need to be as in-depth as your planner’s timeline; par it down to what’s most pertinent for guests. Bar Menu and/or Signature Drinks Sign Bartenders will commonly set up a display of what alcoholic and non-alcoholic options are offered at your bar, but you can also indicate this with a bar menu sign. If you’ll be offering a signature drink(s), a sign is a great way to illustrate what it is, the ingredients, and the name! Gift & Guest Book Table Signs Couples commonly have signs to show guests where to place gifts and cards. A card box sign is especially helpful if you’re using a holder that is more unique like a basket, lantern, birdcage, etc. Along with the cards and gifts, we typically set up the guest book on this table as well for guests to sign. If your guest book requires some instruction, a sign can be useful for guests to know what it is and how to sign it. Memorial Table Sign There are several ways to honor loved ones that have passed at your wedding. If you’re opting for a memorial table, you may want to include a sign describing what the table is for. Dinner Seating As guests transition to dinner, there are a handful of options for indicating where guests will be seated: Seating chart: A seating chart is typically placed in an obvious location for guests to check their seating assignment as they move into the dinner space. With a seating chart, guests will be assigned to a certain table for dinner, and they’ll be able to select their preferred seat at that table. Place cards: If you prefer to assign guests to a specific table and seat, you can couple a seating chart with place cards. Place cards are set out at each individual seat, so once guests find their table based on the seating chart, they can then find their individual seats based on where the card with their name is placed. Escort cards: This is an alternative to a seating chart. Escort cards are typically placed either in the cocktail hour space or in the area as guests move from cocktail hour to dinner. The cards are each printed with the guests’ name and table assignment, and the cards are set out in alphabetical order. Once the guest finds their card, they’ll bring it with them to their assigned table; from there, they can select their seat at the table. If you’ll be having a plated dinner where guests get to select their meal in advance, your caterer will likely require that you utilize either escort cards or place cards. On each card, you’ll use what is called an entree indicator so the server can quickly reference what each guest will be eating. This indicator could be a different color dot (i.e. yellow = chicken, red = beef, green = vegetarian), different shapes (i.e. square = chicken, circle = beef, triangle = vegetarian), different stickers (i.e. chicken, cow, or leaf), or even just the entree name written out. Open seating sign: If you won’t be assigning guests to tables, it can be helpful to have a sign indicating this to guests so they know they are welcome to sit wherever they like. This style of seating is only possible if you’re doing a non-plated dinner, such as a buffet or stations. Overall, it’s not highly recommended because it tends to cause confusion for guests and make create situations where families or couples get split up because there aren’t enough seats left at a certain table. If you do opt for open seating, consider placing reserved signs on tables meant for your immediate family and/or wedding party. For the first three options, you’ll also need to have table numbers set at each table so guests can easily find their seats. If you’re having open seating, table numbers can be helpful if you want your DJ to release tables for dinner (i.e. tables 1 and 2 get to go through the buffet first, and so on). Dinner Menus Menus that detail what is being served for dinner are another optional stationery item. They’ll typically list out each of the dinner courses, along with the dessert option(s). While menus are optional, they can be especially helpful if you are having multiple stations for dinner service that are scattered throughout the room. Having menus in this case ensures that guests don’t miss out on any of the yummy options! If you want to have menus but want to cut back on costs, an alternative option is to just have one to two menus per table. These could be framed or just placed down on the table for guests to pass around. Neon Sign Another popular trend in the past few years is a neon sign! The wording of this sign can truly be anything but is commonly a cute quote/saying or your new shared last name. In terms of placement, this sign can be above your head table or sweetheart table, an addition to a lounge area, a focal point for a photo moment area, etc. Favor Tags and/or Sign If you’ll be offering guests favors, you may want to include a tag on these that thanks the guest for coming. If the favors will be placed out on a table for guests to grab, have a sign saying that guests can each take one. Other Miscellaneous Tables Think through any other tables or elements that you’ll be including during your cocktail hour or reception that may require signage. For instance, if you’ll have a basket of disposable flip-flops for guests to grab while dancing, consider making a sign for this so guests know they’re free to grab a pair! Thank You Cards You of course won’t use these on your wedding day, but you can order personalized thank you cards for sending to guests as your receive gifts. These can be created to match your invitation suite or just play into the general theme/color scheme of your wedding. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
Your Wedding Invitations Crash Course
The last three to four months leading up to your wedding can start to feel like a flurry of little tasks to do. From obtaining a marriage license to picking a first dance song to having your final attire fittings, there’s a lot going on! One of the (not so little) tasks you’ll complete during this time frame is sending out your invitations and tracking RSVPs. We’ve found that once couples start getting into the details of designing their invitations, it can get a bit overwhelming! There are lots of decisions that go into creating your invitation suite: selecting a design that’s cohesive with your wedding theme, determining the proper wording to use on the invitations, establishing how you’d like to address the invitations, picking out an RSVP date, and so on. Below we walk you through the who, when, and what to include for both save the dates and invitations, as well as some of our best tips! Save the Dates Who? You’ll send save the dates to anyone who is for sure getting invited to the wedding. Meaning that if you have a secondary guest list (called a B list), do not send a save the date to those people. For both save the dates and invitations, order an extra 10% or so just in case. When? Save the dates can truly be sent any time after you have a booked venue (and therefore a confirmed wedding date). Typically, they are sent out about 6 to 9 months before the wedding, but if you prefer to send them out earlier, go for it! If you’re planning your wedding on a timeline that’s shorter than 6 months, you may want to consider skipping save the dates and just sending invitations. What should I include? A save the date is relatively simple! Include your names, your wedding date, and the location of your wedding (most couples opt to keep it to the city and state where they’ll be getting married, rather than the specific venue). Optionally, you can also include your wedding website if you have it completed by this point. If you’re accepting online RSVPs, you may even get a few early ones back. You can also optionally have the phrase “formal invitation to follow” on the save the date to indicate they’ll receive more information closer to the wedding. Invitations When? There are a few factors to consider for determining when you should start the invitation process. If you’ll be working with a stationer to design a semi-custom or custom invitation suite, the lead time for this can be longer compared to ordering invites online from a site like Minted or Zola. When working with a stationer, you’ll likely start the invites process around 6 months out from the wedding date. This may vary a bit depending on the individual stationer’s timeline, but this is a standard expectation to have. For invitations that you’ll order online, plan to start looking at designs around 4 to 5 months out. Allow for around a month to select your design, customize your wording, and order your invites. Shipping typically takes 3 to 4 weeks. For sites like Minted, they’ll provide you with a digital proof of your invitation suite to approve prior to them printing and shipping the entire order of invites. However, keep in mind that if you prefer to receive a physical proof, this may add on a few extra weeks to the process to allow for them to get this to you. If you’ll be booking a calligrapher to handwrite your envelopes (or if you’ll be handwriting them yourself), allow for an extra month in your timeline for this. Overall, you’ll want to send your invitations out around 2 to 3 months prior to the wedding date. What should I include? Wedding invitation suites can vary in terms of what’s included, but you may want to include any or all of the items below: The invitation with your wedding date, time, and location Reception card: If your reception is at a separate location, you may opt to include a second card detailing the time and location; if your reception is immediately following your ceremony at the same location, you can just include the line “reception to follow” on your invitation. Accommodations card: This will detail any arrangements you’ve made for accommodations, such as a room block at a hotel. You can include instructions for booking a room in the block, as well the link for your wedding website to direct guests to more details. Directions card: If you would like to detail how to get to the wedding venue(s). If you prefer to consolidate the last three bullet points, you can just include a Details card that includes reception, accommodations, and directions info. Weekend events card: If your wedding weekend will have multiple events throughout the weekend that all guests are invited to, you can include a weekend events card with the details of each. If you’re thinking about planning other wedding weekend events but haven’t quite nailed down the details yet, don’t worry! You can always add this info to your wedding website later on. RSVP card & return envelope with postage: This will be necessary if you’re collecting RSVPs through the mail. The RSVP card at the minimum should include a spot for the guest to accept or decline the invitation and your RSVP by date. If guests are selecting what they would like to eat for dinner, this should also be included along with a line for them to list any dietary restrictions. The return envelope should already have the return address printed on it, along with a stamp. RSVP online card: If you’ll be collecting RSVPs online, you can include a card that directs guests to your wedding website. If you prefer to consolidate this info, you can include a line on your invitation saying “Please RSVP by [date] on our wedding website, [url].” Pro tip: Check and re-check the proofs sent to you, whether it’s from a stationer or an online store! Ask a set of outside eyes, like a parent, wedding party member, or your planner, to read through everything to ensure the information is correct and easy to read. When should my RSVP date be? When determining your RSVP date, you’ll want to pay attention to when your vendors require your final guest count to be submitted to them. Your venue and caterer will commonly require your final guest count 10 to 14 days prior to the wedding in order to ensure their food and alcohol orders, equipment, staffing, etc. are appropriate for your guest count. Beyond venue and catering, other vendors that may need to know your final guest count are your florist, stationer (if they’re providing extras like menu cards or escort/place cards), equipment rentals, alcohol providers, external staffing companies, and transportation providers. For instance, if you were originally planning to have 15 guest tables, but your final guest count only requires that you have 12 guest tables, your florist will lower the number of centerpieces in your order (and therefore your final payment will be less). Any vendor providing tabletop equipment, such as chargers, flatware, and so on, will also adjust the order so you’re not overpaying. All this to say, read your contracts thoroughly before deciding on an RSVP date! Oftentimes, your venue or caterer will ask for your final guest count prior to other vendors, but there may be an instance where another vendor needs the final count earlier. If your contracts are all looking fairly standard in that the earliest a vendor needs your final guest is 2 weeks out, plan for your RSVP date to be at least one month before the wedding. This will give you enough time to track RSVPs and follow up with any guests that have not responded by the RSVP date. If you prefer to have your RSVPs back earlier than this of course, you can always bump that date earlier. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
Should I Do a First Look?
As your wedding day gets closer, you or your planner/coordinator will start putting together a timeline for the day that details the who, what, when, and where of your wedding. It’ll cover everything from the first hair and makeup service to the last dance of your reception. There will of course be a lot of details and factors that will impact how the flow of your day works and that make your wedding yours. One of those elements is if you’ll have a first look or not. Some couples know immediately or feel strongly that they do or don’t want to do a first look. Some like the intimacy of a first look that allows you to get some jitters out on the day, while others want that special moment of seeing their partner for the first time on the wedding day at the altar. But, if you’re not quite sure if you’re team first look or no first look, that’s totally fine! Chat with your planner or photographer to see how it would affect your day and what they recommend. It can also be helpful to compare two versions of your timeline – one with a first look and one without – to visually see how your day would play out with or without one. Below we chat you through what exactly a first look is, and some wedding day factors to consider as you’re making your decision! What is a first look? A first look captures the first time the couple sees each other on their wedding day. Rather than not seeing each other until the ceremony, a first look occurs earlier in the day so that photos can be taken prior to the ceremony. During a first look, one partner will typically face away from the other, as the other walks up and taps the other on the shoulder. As the first partner turns around, the moment when the couple sees each other for the first time is captured by the photographer, tears and all! There are countless stunning locations to do a first look, whether it’s at your venue, hotel, or a location in the city. If you’ll be doing your first look at a location that requires you and your partner to both travel (i.e. you’re getting ready in separate rooms at a hotel, then meeting at North Ave. beach for the first look), this is going to take some extra logistical legwork in order to ensure you and your partner don’t accidentally see each other prior to the first look. If you’ll have a wedding planner or coordinator on-site, they’ll be able to coordinate getting ready and travel schedules so that this doesn’t occur. Otherwise, make sure to have some wedding party or family members from both sides of the group in contact with each other to avoid crossing paths. Should I do a first look? More and more couples are opting to do a first look, but is it the right choice for you? To give you a short and sweet answer, a first look will generally give you more time on the wedding day to take photos (which typically translates to more time to spend with your guests and your new spouse). If you’re not yet convinced, there are some factors that can help with your decision to do a first look or not! The biggest factors are going to be your ceremony time and/or location. Not doing a first look is easiest when you have an earlier ceremony with a few hours separating the ceremony and reception. By “earlier,” I really mean an afternoon ceremony with an evening reception. This is most common for church ceremonies that usually fall between 1 and 4 PM but could be the case for any ceremony that isn’t taking place at the same location as the reception. With this timeline, you have a few hours of buffer time between the ceremony and reception for pictures even if you don’t do a first look. On the other hand, if your reception will be taking place right after your ceremony and at the same location, you’re likely going to really benefit from doing a first look. If you weren’t to do a first look in this instance, you would only have the time of cocktail hour to accomplish family, wedding party, and couple photos which is a lot to knock out in just an hour. Also consider if you want to take photos at another location other than your venue, and you may also have to factor travel time into that hour. And while it may be an easy fix to say we’ll just make cocktail hour two hours, your guests will likely end up hungry and antsy to move things along. Instead, doing a first look if your ceremony and reception are back-to-back, will free up a lot of time for you both during the day and during your cocktail hour. Here’s what a standard timeline could look like in that case: 12:45 pm – First look 1:15 pm – Travel to photo location 1:45 pm – Wedding party photos 2:30 pm – Couple photos 3:15 pm – Travel to venue 3:45 pm – Photos around venue 4:30 pm – Couple tucked away 5:00 pm – Ceremony 5:30 pm – Cocktail hour / Family photos 6:00 pm – Family photos end / Couple joins cocktail hour or have a private moment 6:30 pm – Transition to dinner As you’ve probably picked up on by now, deciding if a first look is best for you (or if you’ll have enough time if you opt to go no first look) might come down to a lot of technicalities within your timeline. Consider factors like where you want to take pictures, your ceremony timing and location, if you and your partner want to join guests for cocktail hour, and the general flow of your day. Whether you do a first look or not, the photos always turn out stunning and it’s such a special moment captured by your photographer! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
Where Should I Get Ready for My Wedding?
The morning of your wedding is such a special time (and a personal favorite moment of the day!). There’s the serene calm of everyone getting ready with a buzz of excitement for the festivities to come. Making sure you have a comfortable, spacious area to get ready in shouldn’t be an afterthought! If you and your wedding party are getting hair and makeup done, it may be an early morning, and you want to ensure everyone starts the day in a relaxed environment. The four most common options for a getting ready space are at your wedding venue, a hotel, a home, or a salon. Below we’ll walk you through the pros and cons of each so you can determine which makes the most sense for you and your group! At your wedding venue You may have the option of getting ready at your wedding venue. The biggest asterisk with this is that just because your venue lists a “getting ready suite” or “hospitality suite” as an amenity, this doesn’t mean it’s necessarily large enough for full hair and makeup service. Especially in the city, these suites tend to be smaller rooms where you, your partner, and wedding party can stash your stuff during the wedding. That’s not to say you won’t find a large getting-ready area in a Chicago venue, but just make sure to check it out yourself during your venue tour to ensure it’s big enough! A few other things to keep in mind if you’re hoping to get ready at your wedding venue. Make sure to ask what the earliest time you’re able to arrive is. For instance, if you have 8 people getting hair and makeup done and need to start bright and early at 6 AM, this is going to be an issue if your venue doesn’t allow you through the doors until 8 AM. Typically, you can pay hourly for that extra time if needed. Which brings me to my next point – ask if the suite is included in the venue pricing or if there is an additional charge. Most commonly, it’s included but there are a few venues that offer it as an optional add-on. Another great question to ask is if you have access to the suite for the whole night so you can leave your personal items there, touch up your hair and makeup, etc. At a hotel Possibly the most popular spot for getting ready is at a hotel. This is typically the same hotel that you have blocked rooms at for guests, and some hotels are able to offer a discounted rate for your suite if you block and book a certain number of rooms per night. If you’ll be doing full hair and makeup service in the hotel room, you’ll want to book some sort of suite, rather than a standard guest room. Suite size can vary greatly by hotel, and some hotels will have different suite options. Hotels, especially those in the city, are used to having wedding parties get ready in their rooms, so if you’re not quite sure which suite can accommodate your group, your contact at the hotel should be able to help you. If you’re looking for more space than a suite can offer, another option is to book a meeting room space in the hotel for hair and makeup. This is a great route to go if you have a larger group getting hair and makeup done and would like a bit more space to spread out in. If you won’t be getting hair and makeup done, booking a hotel room can still be a sensible option for a general gathering place for your wedding party. It’s an easy spot for your group to meet at, get ready, have some drinks and food, and get excited for the day. At home Typically, we’re going to recommend that you only get ready at a home (whether it’s yours, a parent’s, a friend’s, etc.) if it’s close to your venue. While it can be cheaper and more convenient, if you’re having to travel from Evanston to a suburb in the West Loop, chances are we’re going to have to allot a bit more travel time (weekend traffic plus the potential for crashes/slowdowns means you’ll probably be spending more time on on the road than you’d like to). Of course, there are instances where getting ready at a home is totally doable and sensible! If this is you, check out our blog 5 Things That Make a Great Getting Ready Venue because there are a few factors you’ll want to pay closer attention to with getting ready at said home. With a hotel suite, you’re typically going to be in a more ideal room placement in the hotel (think: better views and better lightning). With a home, especially if it’s an apartment, the lighting might not be the best, and this can really impact how your getting ready photos turn out. If possible, check out the lighting in the home prior to your wedding day around the time that you’ll be getting ready there. Getting ready at a home often is easiest if you’re not getting hair and makeup done. If you are, however, it’s important to consider the space and electrical requirements of the hair and makeup artists. Think about if you’ll have to move around any furniture, bring in extra chairs or tables, etc. in order to accommodate the services. At a salon Getting ready at a salon is best for small groups where just a few people are getting hair and makeup done. With this, you’ll of course still need to coordinate a location for getting dressed. Some hair and makeup artists have service minimums; depending on when you’re getting married, they might require a certain number of adults to get hair and/or makeup done in order for them to travel to your getting ready location. If you don’t meet that minimum, they’ll usually ask that you come into the salon for your services instead. This is most common on weekends during peak wedding season. If you’ll be getting hair and makeup done at a salon, keep in mind that it might not be as comfortable or private as getting ready at one of the above options. There will likely be other clients there, so you’ll get more of the “hustle and bustle” of a weekend at a salon. You’ll also want to think through the logistics of transportation: how you and your group will get to/from the salon and allotting extra time just in case. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
Do I Need a Wedding Website?
Picture it: It’s the day before your wedding. You’re getting ready for your rehearsal dinner, excited to soon marry the love of your life. Your phone pings with a text from Uncle Joey: “What’s the wedding venue’s address?” The last thing you want to deal with the day before your wedding is guests coming to you with questions about the timing of the day, the dress code, what time they can check into their hotel room, and all those other details they should have known by now. Meet your hero, the wedding website! A question we get a lot from couples is “do I really need a wedding website?” While it’s completely optional, there is SO much value in a wedding website, for both you and your guests. Learn more below about what exactly it is, how to set one up, what to include on yours, and more. Do I Need a Wedding Website? We encourage all our couples to set up a wedding website! It will serve as a central location for your guests to find important information about your wedding weekend (read: hopefully, they’ll look to the wedding website for answers to their questions rather than bothering you, your partners, or your VIPs!). It’s totally free to set one up through sites like The Knot or Zola. And because so many couples set up wedding websites through these companies, they’ve made it super straightforward and easy, so don’t worry if you’ve never created a website before. They offer templates and customizable website designs so that you can match your website to the style of your wedding. What Should I Include on My Wedding Website? Some essential information that you’ll want to include on your wedding website: Date, time, and location(s) of your wedding ceremony and reception Accommodations for guests, whether you’ve booked a hotel room block at a hotel and have a custom booking link or are just recommending certain hotels in the area If you’re providing transportation to the ceremony and/or from the reception and what the schedule is If you aren’t providing guest transportation (or just want to be extra thorough, you can include notes about public transportation or encouraging rideshares. Parking information for the venue is also helpful if applicable. Links to your gift registry/registries The dress code and any other related notes (for instance, if your wedding is outside, make a note of this so guests can dress appropriately) If applicable, any COVID related information Some optional bits that can be included on your wedding website as you see fit: The story of how you and your partner met and got engaged A wedding party page detailing who the members of your wedding party are and how you know them Information for other wedding weekend events that all guests are invited to (i.e. don’t post your rehearsal dinner information on the public website, or you’ll likely get a few guests who weren’t actually invited) RSVP form if you’re collecting these electronically An FAQs page (this could answer questions to the above pieces of information or be additional items you want to address like “can I bring a date?”) Your wedding hashtag and/or where guests can share photos of the day Should I Track RSVPs Through My Wedding Website? Unfortunately, there’s not really a simple yes or no to this question, as there are pros and cons to both types of RSVP tracking. Some things to consider! With online RSVPs, you of course have the ease of tracking everything electronically. If guests are replying to your invite online, the website or system you’re using will automatically track responses, and you can typically download these into an easy, manageable spreadsheet. With an online RSVP form, you also have the space to ask your guests more questions related to your wedding. For instance, you can ask if they plan to book a room in your hotel block or utilize the guest transportation so you have more accurate numbers in advance for these vendors; what songs are sure to get them on the dance floor; or their best piece of marriage advice. With a physical RSVP card, you likely won’t have enough space for extras like this. On the flip side of all this, there are some downsides to online RSVPs and benefits of doing mail-in responses. In the past, we’ve found that on-time response rates tend to be lower with online RSVPs compared to mail-ins. This means that you’ll have more work on the back end once your RSVP date rolls around to contact those that haven’t RSVP’d. With a mail-in RSVP, the guest can immediately fill out the response card when they open the invite, and then just have to drop it in a mailbox. Online RSVPs may also be confusing for elderly guests or those that aren’t comfortable with technology. Because of that, mail-in RSVPs may be a better option in this case in order to make the process easier and more familiar for those guests. Creating a wedding website is a simple and straightforward way to ensure your guests have all the info they need so that you can focus on what matters in the months and weeks leading up to your wedding day. Give yourself that peace of mind by creating yours today! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
How to Determine the Style of Your Wedding
When starting to talk about the design of your wedding, it can feel like there is an endless vat of options! From trendy to elegant, narrowing in on a wedding style that you love (and are going to love in 30 years looking back at your wedding pictures) is a bit of a daunting task. Below are some ways to help make this process easier for you and your partner! These are simple and actionable steps you can take to bring clarity to your wedding style and get back to being excited about bringing your vision to life. Start venue searching If you’re not quite sure about the direction of your wedding style or colors, finding your venue first can be a great starting place. Your venue might have certain design elements, color palettes, or a general vibe that can assist you in determining the style of your wedding. If you’re in the preliminary stages of planning, even just checking out the venues in the area can give you an idea of what’s out there and available. Going on venue tours can also really get the wheels to start turning. Seeing photos of a space is great to narrow down your potential venue options, but getting to physically stand in the space and begin to envision the design possibilities will make it come to life a bit more. Consider the formality of your wedding How formal or casual your wedding is can help dictate what styles you might naturally lean towards. For instance, if you’re wanting a black-tie event with all the formalities, this is commonly best matched with an elegant, glam, or modern style. On the flip side, if you’re planning for a more informal wedding, this meshes well with rustic, boho, or garden styles. Look for inspiration elsewhere Wedding inspiration certainly doesn’t just have to come from Googling “wedding themes”! Think about your personal taste, from the style of clothing you gravitate towards to your home decor preferences to what type of art you like. Cues to the types of styles you prefer are likely already all around you! While Pinterest and wedding blogs are great resources for finding inspiration, inspiration can truly be found anywhere (cheesy I know, but true!). Think outside the box and consider what you like in terms of architecture, jewelry, stationery, food styling, graphic design, and more. Flip through a magazine that isn’t wedding-focused or hop on Instagram and see what images capture your attention. Pick a theme and/or color scheme Some couples opt for a more specific theme for their wedding, which can also help you as you start designing your day. A tropical-themed wedding, for instance, naturally brings to mind brighter colors, lush greenery and palms, and rich textures; whereas a Gatsby-themed wedding could incorporate flashy gold design elements, large feathers and pearls, and a strong party vibe. Consider different potential wedding themes and see what imagery pops into your mind with each of them. Moreover, starting small might be the better way to go for you. If there is a specific design element or flower that you know you want to incorporate, let that help you in selecting your wedding style. If you absolutely have to have red roses, for example, you might lean into a very romantic wedding design. If selecting a theme doesn’t appeal to you, consider color schemes that you like. Do you like a lighter or darker palette? What color(s) would you like your wedding party to wear? Do you want to incorporate metallics, and if so, which one(s)? Another aspect of your wedding that may play into your color scheme is the season in which you’ll get married. If you’re planning a fall wedding, you might lean towards a warmer, richer palette. For a spring wedding, you might opt for lighter pastels. Along with colors, consider other elements that attribute to the design of the wedding; for example, do you like to play with different textures or patterns? Start broad with these questions and then start to get more specific with them as they relate to your wedding. Weed out what you DON’T like When all else fails, think about what you don’t like! Narrowing it down this way will help reduce the overwhelm of having all the options. Consider: Are there certain themes that you don’t like? Are there certain colors you know you don’t want to incorporate? What have you seen at other weddings you’ve attended that you didn’t like? If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by all the options, talking through your options with a wedding designer will help get you on track to designing a wedding you love! See how our team can bring your wedding vision to life by scheduling a consultation HERE. Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
6 Chicagoland Wedding Venues We Love
Last week, we brought you 8 Chicago wedding venues that we are loving! This week, we're taking it out to the suburbs with some of our favorite venues in Chicagoland for you to check out. If you’re a Chicago-based couple, getting married in the suburbs might not be your first thought, especially if you love the essence of a city wedding. But, these suburban venues come with one huge benefit – it’s often cheaper to book a venue outside of the city! Because of the lower pricing, you’re less at risk of going venue poor and/or having to sacrifice your vision in order to make it work budget-wise. A venue in the suburbs also likely means you’ll have more space for your festivities, as well as easier access to parking for your guests. Plus, there are some stunning hidden gems outside of the city that you’re going to want to consider! Here are some of our favorites. 1) Brix on the Fox Nothing says Chicago wedding quite like a lofty industrial space, and you can find all that and more at the Brix on the Fox located in Carpentersville! With up to 9,000 square feet of space for you to take advantage of, this space feels like a city venue with the benefits of a suburban venue. Capable of hosting 200 to 300 guests for a seated dinner (depending on what space you’re in), you can opt for a BYO bar and select any caterer of your choosing, both of which can save you lots when it comes to selecting your food and beverage. Photos: Sean Cook Photography 2) Warehouse: 109 Located in Plainfield, this renovated warehouse venue is full of character and spunk. The antique touches of the space provide a focal point for your wedding design, while the clean and functional layout makes it feel updated and modern. The space can hold up to 150 people for a seated dinner, and the venue offers a variety of additional add-on rentals that can take your event to the next level. The outdoor patio area is perfect for a ceremony or cocktail hour on a warm day! Photos: Emma Mullins Photography 3) The Monte Bello Estate If you want your wedding to feel like an escape from the hustle and bustle, look no further than The Monte Bello Estate. The gorgeous and sprawling grounds will provide an exceptional level of elegance for your day, and the photo opportunities are endless across the 55 acres of land. You’ll have 5 picturesque ceremony sites to choose from and can host up to 275 guests at this Lemont venue. They also have lots of unique add-ons to your wedding package like lawn games, a wine tasting experience for guests during cocktail hour, a bonfire for a s’mores station, and more! Photos: Alana Lindenfeld Photography 4) The Farm at Dover You’ll have to leave Illinois for this one, but trust me, it’s so worth the trip! Located in Kansasville, Wisconsin, about a half-hour north of the state line, the Farm at Dover is a historic barn with elevated touches like chandeliers. Their expansive property includes several potential locations for your ceremony, first look, family photos, and more. With a capacity of 160 for a seated dinner, the open-air venue is stunning all on its own, or you can put your own spin on it through your design and florals. Additionally, there are 2 houses on-site perfect for you, your partner, and your wedding party to get ready in. Photos: Jonathan James Photography 5) Renaissance Schaumburg Hosting your wedding at a hotel is incredibly convenient for both you and your guests. With hotel rooms just a few steps away, your guests won’t have to worry about accommodations or transportation for getting to and from the venue. When the party’s over, all you have to do is call an elevator! The Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel is a wonderful option for hosting your ceremony and reception. With an on-site restaurant and Starbucks, as well as other amenities like a fitness center and indoor pool, you’ll have everything you need on-site and countless spaces to choose from for hosting your event. Photos: Mandelette Photography 6) The Pavilion at Orchard Ridge Farms Another simply stunning venue, The Pavilion at Orchard Ridge Farms is in Rockton and offers a serene backdrop for your wedding. A sophisticated space with a rustic touch, the Pavilion is located on 130 acres of land. It is an inviting retreat for you and up to 300 guests. One incredible perk of getting married here is that you have the option to stay on-site by booking housing through their Copperstone Inn, an idyllic getaway for your wedding weekend and a gorgeous spot for getting ready photos. Photos: Sean Cook Photography Still feeling overwhelmed by the venue booking process? Chat with our team today to see how we can help you source, tour, and book a venue that fits your vision and budget. Click HERE to schedule a totally free call! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW
8 Chicago Wedding Venues We Love
If you’re on the hunt for your perfect wedding venue, it can be a bit overwhelming to start by sorting through hundreds of options on The Knot. And due to the algorithms on these types of websites, you might not even be finding what you’re looking for! Embarking on the venue hunt without a wedding planner can be a bit disorienting, so we’ve compiled some of our favorite venues in Chicago below to give you a jumping-off point. These are all venues that we’ve worked with in the past and are beautiful settings for tying the knot. 1) Firehouse Chicago A hidden gem located in Edgewater, Firehouse Chicago is a historic and charming venue that can host up to 82 guests for a seated dinner. Fusing garden and antique styles, you can sense the care and attention that the space is given as soon as you walk through the front door. With decor elements already sprinkled throughout the venue, your wedding design can range from simple to extravagant and still bring out the beauty of the space. The outdoor garden is a lovely spot for your ceremony and cocktail hour, and the photos you and your partner capture here will be stunning. Bonus! The marrying couple gets the opportunity to slide down the firepole for their reception introduction. Talk about a grand entrance! Photos: AJ Abelman Photography 2) Fairlie Lofty and industrial, Fairlie is a West Town staple with exposed brick and clean finishes. Towering ceilings make the space feel expansive, while their built-in flowy drapery can be used to section off parts of the venue and create a natural event flow. A central grand staircase creates a picturesque moment as you and your partner walk down the aisle or have a newlywed introduction! Host up to 250 guests for a seated dinner at Fairlie. Photos: Brian Coss Photography 3) Colvin House A more intimate venue, Colvin House is a gorgeous mansion with a rich architectural history. Located in Edgewater and capable of hosting 100 guests for a seated dinner, this venue is filled with intricate detailing, vintage furniture, and a glamorous chandelier. With 16 rooms in the mansion, your wedding photos will reflect the elegance of the mansion. Plus, it’s just a short walk across the street to Lane Beach where you can capture even more photos on the day of. Photos: Alana Lindenfeld Photography 4) Zephyr The Motor Row District is home for the Zephyr, a loft space with exposed beams and an abundance of natural light thanks to skylights. Capable of hosting up to 200 guests for a seated dinner, this two-level venue truly can transform to feel intimate for a smaller guest count or spacious for a larger one. One great benefit of hosting your wedding at the Zephyr is the ability to opt for their all-inclusive pricing. This can include catering, alcohol, equipment rentals, and more to make wedding planning easier for you and your partner. Photos: EV Photography 5) Galleria Marchetti This West Town family-operated venue is steeped in history and beauty. Each of their spaces offers a different design appeal from the Moroccan-inspired La Pergola for smaller guest counts to their garden-esque Pavilion for larger parties. Holding up to 450 for a seated dinner in their largest space, Galleria Marchetti offers delicious in-house catering and a variety of amenities to ensure your vision is brought to life. Photos: Jasko Photography 6) Room 1520 This venue is the perfect cross between loft and elegance. With eye-catching chandeliers and an all-white interior, Room 1520 is full of awe-inspiring glamour, while the exposed bricks and beams provide the more down-to-earth vibes of a loft space. It’s truly a blank slate, meaning you and your florist or designer can have lots of fun bringing your vision to life at this venue! You’ll be able to host up to 150 guests for a seated dinner in this West Loop space. Similar to Zephyr, Room 1520 offers all-inclusive packaging to simplify your wedding planning. Photos: Alana Lindenfeld Photography 7) WildmanBT For local Chicago couples planning their wedding, one criteria for the venue search that we frequently hear is that they want to get married in a different venue than their friends or other family members. Look no further than WildmanBT! Available for weddings, social and corporate events, photoshoots, and more, this venue opened their doors in 2020 and impressed vendors and couples alike despite opening during a turbulent time. Found between East Garfield Park and Humboldt Park neighborhoods, this loft industrial space is thoughtfully designed to create a functional and versatile wedding venue. With a capacity of up to 400 for a seated dinner, the possibilities are truly endless here. Photos: The Gernands 8) VenueSix10 Located right on Michigan Avenue and steps from Grant Park, this sleek and modern venue has to-die-for views. With several spaces that can be used for your event, the largest room can seat up to 350 for dinner, and you can even book 3 separate spaces to create a progressive event flow from ceremony to cocktail hour to reception. The chic, minimalist design of the venue will amplify the sophistication of your wedding, while the convenient location is perfect for a truly downtown Chicago experience. Photos: Madi Ellis Photography Still feeling overwhelmed by the venue booking process? Chat with our team today to see how we can help you source, tour, and book a venue that fits your vision and budget. Click HERE to schedule a totally free call! Wondering if you need a Wedding Planner? TAKE THE QUIZ & FIND OUT NOW