Wedding Planning (on a budget): Finding a Venue
Robbie and I really wanted to get married in the city. We both grew up in the suburbs but we love the vibe of the city and the unique venues it has to offer. It seemed like, for the most part, the only venues I was finding in the suburbs were banquet halls and golf clubs. Don't get me wrong, those both can be beautiful options but neither felt like "us." I did a ton of research and emailed more venues than I care to count. If I said 75 venues (including restaurants and high end bars with event spaces), I don't think that'd be too far off. It's easy to get discouraged early on when you're told time and time again that a venue starts at $15k+ just for the space. I quickly realized that if we wanted to stay within budget we'd need to think outside of the box.
Early on we knew that we wanted two separate spaces for our ceremony and our reception. I'm not much of a church-goer so that didn't make sense for the ceremony. What I really wanted to find was a space that was simple. I wanted something that was beautiful on it's own. A space that I wouldn't have to dress up with too many decorations. I ended up (somehow) coming up with the idea to look for a photography studio. Luckily, in Chicago there is no lack of photographers to rent beautiful photography studios from. I found about five or six top contenders and I began emailing. All of the photographers replied and none of them had used their studios for a wedding ceremony before. What a shame! I'm not kidding--these were some of the best raw spaces I've seen in the city and you are able to rent them for as little as $500 for an entire day. The best part was that they were all excited about my proposition. After checking out a couple, we have picked the perfect studio (high ceilings, brick and cement walls, wood floors--SWOON). We have access to the space for five hours and it's only costing us $400.
|Matthew Rachman Gallery|
For our reception venue, I knew that there were art galleries in the city that rent their space out for weddings and other events-- so I started wedding through all of the nearby galleries in order to find a space that felt right. I ended up stumbling upon this unique (and totally "us") midcentury modern art and furniture gallery, Matthew Rachman Gallery. He has since raised his prices but we were able to score his space for $975 for the entire day. Even at his current rates, his space is seriously affordable and can easily accommodate up to 120 people.
My main piece of advice when it comes to looking for a venue is when you find a potential venue, whether it be a banquet hall or an off-the-beaten-path studio, is ask for what you want! Be polite but forward about what you envision for you day. It might take a little more creativity if you use a space that isn't regularly used for a wedding but I honestly believe it's totally doable and worth it!
Also, just a little plug for my venues-- both Matthew (Matthew Rachman Gallery) and Jeff (Throop Studio) have been total dreams to work with. I highly recommended contacting them if you're interested in renting out their spaces for your wedding or any other event.
Tell me in the comments: What is one piece of advice you'd give your fellow soon-to-be brides when it comes to searching for their venue?
Guys- Cassandra is a perfect light capturing wizard behind the camera. Her pictures are always so incredibly gorgeous, and portray her clients in the most beautiful way. I had the pleasure of working with her on two boudoir mega-all-day sessions and it was such a fun time! And I was lucky enough to meet some of the loveliest women and doll them up for the day. I love doing boudoir hair and makeup because it's just that soft, pretty look; amplifying how beautiful they already are. I think we called it the "oh I just rolled out of bed and looked this gorgeous *insert batting of eyelashes and flipping of the hair here*" look. Check out these hair and makeup close ups from the sessions and let me know what you think!! And then be sure to book your own session with Cassandra asap! : )
Here we go with the tough stuff. Figuring out your guest list can be tricky. You don't want to hurt anyone's feelings but you can't afford to invite every single acquaintance, long lost relative, or parent's friend.I had imagined eloping for quite a while before becoming engaged. Once I actually was engaged, though, I realized that when it came down to it, I would be sad not to have our loved ones with us on one of the biggest days of our lives. So, we sat down and made a list of people that we absolutely knew we wanted at our wedding -- people that are in our lives NOW and make appearances regularly. I have a large extended family and I knew right off the bat that there was no way that I could invite everyone. As unhappy as it made my parents, there was no getting around the fact that if I invited every family member, we'd be well over 100 people just for my family. It wasn't easy but we came up with a list of 55 people. Adding the option of dates brought us to a grand total of 75 people in attendance, including us. It's amazing how quickly your guest list can grow, so it's really important that you are sure to only invite the people that you would really miss not being at your wedding.In my opinion, the biggest factor in determining your budget is the number of people on your guest list. Be open and honest about who is invited to your wedding. If someone approaches you in excitement and assumes that they are invited and you know that they aren't, kindly let them know. That will help you avoid an even more awkward conversation later (uninviting is not fun) or having to invite extra people because you weren't honest in the first place.Tell me in the comments: What was your biggest hurdle when it came to creating your guest list? Any tips or tricks?