- 4 years ago
- Wedding: January 2014
Hi All – I just got married Saturday (so much fun!). When planning, I was on Weddingbee A LOT. I really appreciated reading everyone’s posts, from DIY tips, to budgets, to dress information, etc. I want to give back with some of the things that worked well, and also some of the things I did that were just OK.
We focused a lot on convenience for our guests, since Chicago in January is cold, cold, cold. That forced us to keep church, hotels, and venue close together, but I was thrilled with the way everything turned out. We did a lot of DIY, tried really hard to think outside of the box, and were pretty careful when planning to stick to a budget that we both felt comfortable with. Everything (including the rehersal dinner and rings) was right around $20,000. Here’s a breakdown – I’ve also included some pictures, so you have an idea of how everything turned out!
Rehearsal Dinner: ~$1500. We didn’t want to host it in a restaurant because we wanted our guests to be able to linger and chat as long as possible. Many of the groom’s college friends live far away, and hadn’t been able to see each other in person in years. We also wanted to utilize our condo building’s party room, which is on the top floor of our high-rise and has some great views of the Wrigley Building and Trump Tower. We had a “Taste of Chicago” themed dinner, with Chicago-style hot dogs from Vienna Beef, deep dish pizza from Giordano’s, and Italian Beef from Portillo’s. All together, it went great, but required more set up time to collect everything on the day-of. In hindsight, I would probably pay more and have one venue handle bringing everything to us.
Ceremony: $1600. Our church (Old St. Patrick’s) was beautiful and our priest did a fantastic job. Even though it was a full Catholic mass, we were permitted to write our own vows. We had one piano player and one singer. We lucked out with the rich, powerful quality of our singer; without him, the music might have sounded thin (no trumpets, violins, etc.). We chose music carefully to complement our two-man band.
Transportation: $400. This may have been our best decision. We rented a school bus (they’re not too busy on the weekends!) to take guests from the hotel to the church and back. After the bus brought people back to the hotel, it became a party bus and drove those interested around Chicago so we could take pictures outside Chicago landmarks and drink some beers along the way. The guests loved it! They saved a lot of money (and time standing in the cold!) by not needing cabs.
Venue: $2100. My handsome groom works in a building downtown with a private bar on the top floor called “the library” that used to be an old law library. It was beautiful, with 40th floor views and two story ceilings. It’s also only seven blocks from Old St. Pat’s and right next to the W and the JW hotels, where most guests stayed. Guests really liked the style of the room and the many alcoves where they could duck away and chat more quietly. Also, chairs and tables were included with the rental.
Catering: $9000. This was the biggest surprise, and where most of our budget went. When we started planning, I had no idea that catering was so expensive. However, Wishbone was great, and the lady we worked with served as an unofficial day of coordinator (coordinating with other vendors, setting the room up, etc), so I feel like it was money well spent.
We hired Wishbone, a BBQ place beloved by Oprah for its North Carolina tastes. It was definitely not traditional wedding food. The main entrees were beef brisket or poached chicken in gravy on a biscuit. However, the quality was super high. Many guests were happy that we didn’t have traditional wedding food, like the filet mignons that always taste good at tastings but rarely can be cooked well in high volumes away from a restaurant. We loved it and didn’t hear any negative feedback, but maybe our guests were just polite. There were three passed appetizers, a salad and four sides available with the entrees, and late night tacos as a finishing/sobering touch. Wishbone also provided all of the linens, dance floor, plates, flatware, etc. Glassware was an extra $1,000, so we decided to go with plastic, which wishbone provided. It didn’t seem to be an issue at all. We also skipped chair covers.
Cake: $200. We got our cake from Mariano’s (a local grocery store). It was a four tier cake with buttercream. The cake decorator was amazing, and followed a picture we showed her. Everyone loved it, and no one suspected it was from a grocery store – the groom’s dad had three pieces!
Alcohol: ~$1300. Our venue was BYOB, which saved a lot. We got the bartending package through the caterer, so they provided mixers, ice, etc. We bought wine (4 types including champagne), hard liquor (full bar), and beer (seven craft brews from around the country) through Binny’s. They also take back anything that is unopened, so that was an added benefit!
Attire for wedding party: ~$1000. This includes wedding dress ($400 ordered from dressilyme.com), ties and pocket squares for the groom and nine groomsmen/ushers (they all wore their own black suits), $200 for hair for the bride, four bridesmaids, and two mothers (a family friend coming to the wedding did hair, and charged $25/per person), and bouquets/boutonnières ($150). The boutonnieres were hand made paper flowers, and the bouquets were made out of flowers from Jewel-Osco and Trader Joe’s. I also made my own veil, and DIYed my make-up.
Photography/videography: $1400. We hired a videographer for the ceremony portion only. We got a deal since the company was not fully booked at this time of year. The photographer was from central Illinois, and did another family member’s wedding. Her prices were much more reasonable than Chicago area prices, but we did have to pay a travel fee. Overall, it was much cheaper to hire her than anyone around Chicago. The previews look great, but we have not seen the final photos or video.
-Glass favors – $150. We etched the Chicago skyline into glasses, along with our wedding date.
-Invitations – $150. We bought library cards, brown cardboard stock and printed in a typewriter font to create a unique invitaion.
-Menus – $5
-Bells for after ceremony – $20
-Guest book – $55. We used a Chicago skyline picture and had people sign.
-Book Favors – $100. We bought used books and made bookmarks for everyone. It was a great conversation starter at each table, and people laughed about what books everyone received.
-Centerpieces – $100. We had tea lights and books with paper flowers for the centerpieces. We also named each table after a book, and had that book on the table, along with a frame and the book’s name and author.
There were other things, such as Save-The-Date Cards, rehersal invites, postage, signs for the venue, escort cards, etc.
DJ/Photo booth: $1200. We found a DJ that also provided a photo booth with props. We didn’t know much about them, but they had good reviews, so we took a chance. They were fine on the day itself, but communication leading up to the wedding was not great, and caused a little stress.
Wedding Bands: $21. We bought silver rings in Thailand.
Very glad we saved money on flowers, chair covers, the dress, tux rentals, glass rentals. I’m also really glad we allocated more for the church, food, alcohol, and transportation. If anyone has any questions about getting married in Chicago, let me know!