- 2 years ago
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We planned a “budget” downtown Chicago wedding and ended up spending around $28k (including wedding rings, but not honeymoon). Feel free to PM me if you want any more info on these! All photos are from I Luv Photo (http://www.iluvphoto.com). Apologies if they are huge!
Dress: Reddington Bridal – A
I loved working with Reddington Bridal. It’s an adorable shop in downtown Park Ridge by the Metra. You need to make an appointment and you get two rooms in the back area to yourself. I especially liked the fact that you changed in one room and then went into another private room with a pedastal/mirror. They don’t carry a ton of different designers, but I told them my price point and that I wanted a dress with straps, and she brought out at least 10 different dresses. The owner is very knowledgeable and respected my price point, without pushing me to spend more. I needed to buy right away, so they actually sold me the sample for 20% off. This wasn’t a negative for me, since I only brought 2 people with me, but if you have a large entourage, their space is kind of small.
Veil: A Royal Wedding (Etsy) – A+
Totally affordable and a gorgeous veil. Very quick shipping and she even includes tips on steaming or altering the length of your veil after you receive it. I planned to take mine off at the reception, but I actually left it on because I loved it so much! I got the waltz-length veil in ivory. You can see in the below photo it was very full (and it ends slightly below where the photo crops).
Alterations: Gail (PM me if you want her info, she works from her home) – A+
Gail is awesome. I had a size 10 wedding dress altered down to a size 0/2. She listened to my vision, had everything done in a timely manner, and came in UNDER her price estimate, even with a last minute adjustment requested by me. She is flexible with her appointments, as she works out of her home, also located in downtown Park Ridge. She had excellent recommendations on bustle types and gave advice to me on how to deal with any last-minute dress mishaps. I highly recommend Gail, she is a very experienced wedding dress alternationist.
Seriously huge dress on the left, well-fitted beautiful dress on the right!
Groom’s suit: Burberry – B-
We went to the flagship store on Michigan Avenue. The suit itself was gorgeous, but I felt the customer service was really lacking. They didn’t have the color my husband wanted in stock, so they said they would have to call around to find it. Time goes by, we follow up, they can’t find it in his size to get it in, etc. Then we have the idea to look online. It was clearly in stock, we ordered it, and had it sent to the house. Boom. Easy peasy. They did alterations for free at the store, but it would have been nice to have them order it for us (especially for such a high end store!).
Invitations: Ann’s Bridal Bargains – A
I didn’t care at all about my invites. I bought their tear-apart invites, which included a reception card and the RSVP card. I upgraded the paper and I thought it was of good quality. You can also customize the fonts, colors, etc at no extra charge. I was lazy and went with the standard template. Overall, it was easy, affordable, and I was able to send each invite with one standard stamp. Win.
Rehearsal Dinner: Balena – A+
We held our rehearsal dinner at Balena in Lincoln Park, which is a short cab ride away from our church (below). They have a lovely private room downstairs (not easily handicapped accessible however). The drinks were delicious and the food was out-of-this world (served family-style). The service was absolutely phenomenal. They had piped in music, and when my father-in-law began to give a speech, they ran and turned it off without even being prompted/asked (and it wasnt even that loud). Every single server was attentive, respectful and just plain nice. Additionally, they gave us a gift card to use on our 1st anniversary, which was really sweet.
Hair and Makeup: Antonette White – A++
Antonette does an absolutely gorgeous job with hair/makeup. She comes to your location, brings everything she needs, and is super efficient. I had a trial (which is credited to your acct) and she was really open to my suggestions/ideas. I gave her a lot of creative license and she came up with a stunning look for me. My bridesmaids all got their hair done and everyone loved their styles. I had girls asking me about which products she used, etc, because the styles lasted so long and were so full of volume and shine. She is also really sweet and her prices are on-par for bridal and slightly lower than average for the bridesmaids. Her website is out-of-date, and in my opinion, she is very on-point with bridal trends.
PM me if you want any photos and I can send them to you.
Ceremony: Saint Teresa of Avila – A
Its sort of odd to review a church, but here you go. My husband and I have attended St. T for around 2.5 yrs and knew we wanted to get married here. Its not the fanciest church, but the priest here is amazing. Plus, it was nice to walk into a church that was FULL. We had considered getting married at St Vincent (since St T will be closed from June 2014- Dec 2014 for renos), but we didn’t want to walk into an empty church will just have the first 5 rows filled. We had so many compliments on our Catholic service, even from non-Christians. The only negative was that I felt the rehearsal was a little uncoordinated and my bridal party wasn’t given extensive direction. We also forgot to rehearse parents/grandparents walking in, so it was a bit of a scramble on the day-of. However, I thought the day of the wedding overall went very smoothly. If you don’t have a home parish, I would really encourage you to look here to get married.
Reception: City View Lofts – A
City View Loft is a newer venue, which we were nervous about, but they are amazing. You get an entire floor of the venue to yourself and it holds around 200 people. We had 150 attend and it left room for a giant dance floor. You can BYOB, but you are required to use their caterer (review below) and rental place. Everyone is assigned a coordinator, who really does act as the “day-of” coordinator at the venue, which is a huge help. They also are very full service and can coordinate everything from the linens to the centerpieces to the decor. We were allowed to drop off our DIY decor on Friday and they had everything set up perfectly for us on Saturday. The tables and Chiavari chairs are included in the rental price, everything else you need to rent separately. Its also handicapped accessible with an elevator. On the wedding day, everything went very smoothly.
The only negatives to us were the location (small negative, an industrial area in West Town) and the fact there are only 2 unisex bathrooms. We ended up renting a shuttle service (review below) which was a big hit with our guests and shuttled them back downtown after the reception was over.
Pure Kitchen Catering – A+
We loved PKC (exclusive caterer for CVL). They are really involved in the “farm-to-table” movement and the food was so fresh and delicious. They also can accomodate most any diet, including vegan and gluten-free, without compromising taste (no pasta!). The price was really reasonable compared to other caterers and the quality was amazing. We had many compliments on the food, including from one guest who said it was the best vegetarian meal she had ever eaten. They specialize in family-style serving, which is cost-effective and allows everyone to take seconds if needed (and lots of people did!). I would highly recommend them, even if you aren’t getting married at CVL.
Alcohol: Binny’s – A
Binny’s was really easy to work with. They have party specialists who can help you choose your options and recommend quantities. They delivered to the venue and picked up for a small fee. They also will allow you to return any unopened bottles and refund your CC. Very smooth process and we enjoyed working with them.
Dessert: Molly’s Cupcakes – A+
Molly’s was amazing. I think we got the most compliments on our cupcakes. Everyone raved over them and so many people asked us where they were from. We did an assortment of flavors in both mini and regular sized. You can customize flavors and colors. They will deliver and set-up for an additional fee. You also get a discount if you order in bulk. They did a cutting cake for us as well (yes, its Funfetti!), which was also delicious and we proceeded to enjoy it for the remainder of the wedding week because it was huge!
Flowers: Fiftyflowers – D and Asrai Garden – B-
I was really torn on whether I wanted flowers or not. I’m glad I got them because I think they give your hands something to do in photos, but I would have definitely done it differently. I ordered 200 peonies from fiftyflowers.com and only about 40% of them bloomed fully by the wedding, although I followed all their recommended timeframes and preparation. My DIY bouquet looked amazing, but the bridesmaids had a lot of unopened blooms in theirs. I did enjoy making the bouquets myself, I probably would have choosen a less finicky flower than peonies and ordered locally instead of from fiftyflowers.
I ordered wrist corsages from Asrai Garden since my wedding was Mother’s Day weekend and we wanted to honor all our moms/grandmas, etc. I ordered 8 and gave them specific instructions to make them all different, since I wanted them each to have their own unique corsage. When I picked them up, they were beautiful, but only had 4 different styles, with each one repeated. This wasn’t what I asked for, so I downgraded their rating to a B. Additionally, they use ribbon instead of the pearl bracelets, which is fine, but several of the flowers fell off the ribbons so I didn’t think they were the most sturdy.
Transporation: Masters – A+
Our shuttles were awesome. We had 1 shuttle for the bridal party and dates (around 30 people) and then another 2 shuttles running back and forth between the reception and the hotel. The price was totally reasonable, included tax/tip, and they actually upgraded our bridal party shuttle to a huge bus for free. The shuttles were all very clean, updated and included a cooler of cold waters. The drivers were fun and professional. We looked at a trolley, and it was the same price for 1 trolley for the bridal party as it was for all of our shuttle buses. I actually wished we hired them to pick up the girls before the wedding as well, because the only stress I had all day was trying to find a cab from my condo to the church (Uber surge pricing!!). I would highly recommend using Masters if you need any group transportation.
Photography: I Luv Photo – A+
I cannot say enough good things about working with Luis and Clarissa at I Luv Photo. Their prices are really reasonable, but more importantly, their work is stunning and they are true professionals. Their prep work was out-of-this world; they talked with our church, scoped out photo locations in our requested area, developed a rain plan, and helped us develop a timeline for photos. Even before the wedding, I felt really confident in their ability to help us record the day. Their contract states they will deliver the photos within 6-8 weeks, and we got ours at week 4. They do basic editing on all the photos and then further edited (special effects, black and white, etc) around 100 additional photos for us. They give you all the JPEGs via Dropbox for your personal use and also have an online password-protected viewing gallery. They both have an amazing eye and photography is not a side-job for them – Clarissa actually is a professor of photography at a local college. Highly highly recommend – they aren’t one of the super “popular” Chicago area photographers, but they should be! Check out their website for more photos – I am only including photos here that don’t have closeups of our faces
Hotel: Hotel Allegro – C
So I hated dealing with the Hotel Allegro. They messed up our room block multiple times, we had problems with reservations, and nobody in their office was particularly helpful. If you complain to corporate, they refer you back to the local hotel. Huge hassle and personally, I would never stay there based on this experience. However, our guests (who were unaware of all the problems) loved it. The location is great, and everyone spoke highly of the rooms and the decor. I just can’t give them a higher rating because as a bride, I did not want to be dealing with reservation problems 2 weeks before the wedding.