Hmm, not sure how many affordable venues you’ll find… definitely check out the Chicago park district for more reasonable rates, Promontory Point is gorgeous, although it was a little small for our wedding, which will be about 175 people, so it may not work for you, either.
A New Leaf was my first choice, but it’s also too small, boo. 🙁 It’s drop dead gorgeous, the lofty event space of a floral shop, and I was so sad when I gave up on it.
Cafe Brauer at the Lincoln Park Zoo is gorgeous and big, but way too expensive! The initial fee doesn’t seem bad, but they get you because you have to use their alcohol packages, which are ridiculous, and there are a lot of little fees.
Ivy Room is also gorgeous, and also way out of the price range.
The Newberry Library is beautiful and reasonable when you account for the fact that they let you bring your own alcohol and are in a great Gold Coast location, but they’re more marble than loft.
Which brings us to Salvage One, our venue – I hope, and Architectural Artifacts! We haven’t had an official tour yet, but they’re similar concepts with different spaces. They’re both architectural artifact retail shops with huge spaces. You get to use the furniture and items in your decor, and it’s really great and unique. AA ended up being out of our price range because they have this really exorbitant security fee. Salvage One is on the pricy end of what we can afford, but it’s a splurge we’re willing to make.
If you really want to bang your head against a wall after looking at the breakdowns from these places, you might want to look outside of the city… I hate to say that, because I love Chicago so much, but I sometimes wonder if I’m crazy for being so adamant that we get married here. You can have the same wedding for 1/2 the price in the suburbs, but your venues aren’t going to be as unique. Hope this helped! I’ve compiled so much research on each venue, and talked to so many brides – it’s been a great resource for me. 🙂