Getting married in the Windy City? Chicago is full of absolutely stunning venues, from the Adler Planetarium to Salvage One to The Field Museum. The city's mix of modern, historic, and architecturally unique spaces give every couple a wealth of options to choose from, and can fit in with all sorts of themes — and budgets. So how much should venues on the coast of Lake Michigan cost? Katie Kozlowski, senior wedding & event planner for Bliss Weddings & Events, let us know what Chitown couples can expect to shell out for their wedding venue.
Rather than a rental fee, hotel ballrooms have a food and beverage minimum that couples have to meet (or exceed) in order to use the space. "Packages at different hotels range from $140 per person to over $300 per person, with a total minimum ranging from $20,000 to $60,000 before service fees and tax," says Kozlowski. Sounds like a lot, but the great bonus is that the house selection of tables, chairs, linens, dishes, glassware, and kitchen equipment are all included. "But read the details carefully. City taxes, service charges, and administrative fees add up and need to be budgeted for before you sign a contract to avoid unpleasant surprises down the road!" Kozlowski explains. Want different linens, a creative charger plate, or upgraded chairs? These rentals will add an additional cost to the bottom line.
Lofts and Blank Spaces
Chicago is full of unique blank space venues, ranging from intimate urban lofts to dramatic historic buildings. "The range in prices is just as large as the range in options!" Kozlowski reveals. Venues on the lower end might start at $2,000, but more popular venues cost between $7,000 and $10,000, and larger civic buildings could range from $12,000 to $17,000 — and that's for just the space! "You'll need to hire a caterer to bring in the food and beverages, as well as kitchen equipment, bars, tables, chairs, and place settings," says Kozlowski. "Your wedding planner can also help connect you with some more of the creative pieces you're looking for, like lounge furniture or unique dishware. Catering (including rentals and staff) runs between $150 and $250 per person but, says Kozlowski, "Each venue (and your personal tastes) will play a role in what that final number comes out to be. And don't forget to budget for gratuity!" You'll also want to read the fine print for fees like engineering, union rules, security, and other add-ons that aren't covered by the actual rental fee.
If you're thinking of having your wedding in a restaurant, you've got two options. The first: Private event spaces. "Many restaurants in Chicago have spaces separate from the main dining room that can accommodate up to 75 guests (with a few offering space for even more!)," says Kozlowski. This could include a separate entrance and restrooms dedicated to the space, or even a full separate floor and dedicated event staff. "There's no rental fee associated with these spaces, but instead a food & beverage minimum you have to meet, plus tax and a steep service charge." While it can be pricey, foodie couples tend to gravitate toward this option because they know exactly what type of cuisine they'll get, and can offer guests their favorite local meals.
"Your other option is a full restaurant buyout, which is fun for a couple who wants the 'restaurant' ambiance as part of their celebration," Kozlowski continues. "There's no shortage of amazing spaces to choose from in Chicago, and some restaurants can accommodate up to 300 guests!" The fee to rent the entire space will vary from restaurant to restaurant, but expect a food & beverage minimum of at least $60,000, plus tax and gratuity, for a five-hour event. "You'll want to consider the layout of the space, and work with your coordinator or planner to create a floorplan using the existing tables — remember that most restaurant tables seat 4-6, while most wedding tables often seat 8-10, so you'll have to be creative." But, Kozlowski explains, "The stylish décor, flattering lighting, and hip location can make a restaurant a very trendy choice!"