Whether you're a a bride who's a lifelong Chicagoan or someone who's fairly new to the city, planning a wedding in a major tourist and event destination like Chicago comes with a special set of challenges. From managing logistics to choosing the perfect venue, here are 10 tips that every bride should keep in mind when planning her big day in the Windy City.
1. Have a clear budget.
Venues in Chicago can range from very cheap to ultra high-end, and in addition to the venue itself, costs for every element in your wedding can quickly start adding up. Make sure you set yourself a budget and stick to it, with just a little bit of wiggle room. Being a city bride isn't cheap, but it's worth it for those skyline pics!
2. Make sure to book your venue at least a year in advance.
There are a lot of brides who dream of getting married in Chicago, so if you know what venue you want to go with, lock it down as soon as possible so that you don't have to deal with disappointment later.
3. Consider hosting your wedding at a hotel.
From the suburbs to the city itself, there are many beautiful hotel venues in Chicago. If you have a lot of guests coming from out of town, consider hosting your event at one of them. There will be a lot less hassle for both you and your guests — not to mention that you won't have to worry about them getting lost on their way to your ceremony and reception!
4. Use the dramatic architecture to your advantage.
Let the backdrop of the city be part of your wedding! Not only does Chicago have one of the most spectacular skylines in the world, there are many interesting architectural points throughout the city to use as photo ops. If you familiarize yourself with the various neighborhoods and places of architectural interest, it should be easy to find one that reflects your personality as a couple, and your wedding photos are sure to be unique and memorable.
5. Try to reduce the hassle of finding parking.
Whether it's parallel parking or overpriced lots, finding parking in Chicago is never a walk in the park. If your ceremony and reception are in the heart of the city, consider providing transportation for your guests so they don't have to worry about bringing their car into the city — or braving public transportation if they aren't familiar with the transit system.
6. Keep in mind the time of year.
Whether it's a Bears game, Taste of Chicago, or Lollapalooza, Chicago can get extremely busy and crowded — making venues that would be ideal at other times of the year crowded and stuffy. Take note of all the big events happening in the city in the month you're planning your big day, and schedule your event around it.
7. Keep an extra hour open in your time line.
Whether it's bad traffic, inclement weather, or an event taking place in the city, if your guests have to move from one location to another for your ceremony and your reception, there's always a chance that there will be a delay. Account for the potential inconveniences when putting together your wedding schedule.
8. Make sure you have all the necessary permits.
From serving alcohol at a certain venue to playing loud music to bringing pets to your ceremony, make sure you've got all your paperwork squared away. You don't want to have to deal with any problems later on.
9. Hire a wedding planner.
If you've got the budget for a wedding planner, it's always a much better idea to hire one than to try and manage all the details on your own. A planner can help deal with logistical things — like permits and finding the best venues, which can be a chore. Planning an urban wedding is a highly detail-oriented task, but an experienced wedding planner can make your day run much more smoothly.
10. Don't rule out the suburbs.
Chicagoland is a big place, and if you can't find the perfect venue in the city itself, that doesn't mean you can't still have the perfect day. Check out one of the many stunning suburban venues which are located all around the area.