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?