The date is set: November 2, 2013! Last night, I dropped off a signed contract and a sizable chunk of money for a deposit on the perfect venue. After looking at (and hating) more than ten possible places, a desperate late-night Google search brought us to…a cooking school that happens to have a gorgeous loft space and on-site (locally sourced and organic) catering.
It has everything we were hoping for:
- A proper downtown Chicago location
- Ample street parking, an affordable paid lot, and walkable proximity to CTA and hotels
- Skyline views from the roof
- A built-in day of coordinator
- Passed appetizers, dinner stations, and dessert for an affordable per-head price
- They will take care of all table, linen, silverware, glassware, etc. rentals at negotiated rates
- Great lighting, and wired for sound (you’d be surprised at how many places make you source your own speakers, amp, etc.)
I asked Jason, Pierre, Thomas, and Lisa look over the contract for red flags, and Pierre said the following: “Sometimes…after the fact, of course…you need to have a one-on-one with your supplier to let them know they should really raise their prices.”
Lessons learned on venue hunting? Don’t settle. Get a completely itemized contract that includes tax and gratuity. Check references (all glowing). And for how busy my fiancé and I are, all-inclusive (ceremony, reception, food, rentals) was the way to go. (Email me if you’re interested in the place - the wedding coordinator is incredible so far!)
Also checked off the list is my DJ for the evening. To match my 60’s vibe, I gave a call to my friend at Windy City Soul Club, a group of guys who collect and DJ rare soul 45s. They are incredible:
Currently in the works:
- Photography (a good friend)
- Stationary (Save the Dates are at the local printer - which was 20% cheaper than the “cheap” online printers like uprinting or Vistaprint and we saved the cost of delivery). We also chose 4x6 postcards, which can be mailed at standard postage - 5x7 cards require a first class stamp.
- BOOZE (again, we’re calling in favors. One friend is a wine distributer and one works at a brewery, for kegs - any other ideas?).
- Hotel blocks: I’ve called around and most places will do a negotiated rate for 10 rooms that doesn’t require a guarantee. Are there any other best practices around this?
- Flowers: Help! I am 100% clueless. Bouquets, boutonnières: ?!??!!! Ideas?
So far everything seems to be somewhat falling into place with minimal stress, and it’s actually been a lot of fun (knock on wood). Beginning with a budget of zero and justifying every accumulated cost has really helped us build a base of things we need and truly want vs. things we're "expected to have."
Keep the ideas coming!