Reception Ideas

Venues without preferred catering lists

Hello,

I'm in a strange situation. I'm looking to find a venue in Chicago that does not require you to use their preferred catering list. My uncle has graciously offered to pay for our catering bill, and has a licensed and insured colleague to do the wedding for us. My uncle is in the food industry and this is so helpful for our budget. The problem is, I cannot find many places that will allow outside catering. He's on the preferred list to a few places but they don't have availability for our date. Even the Park services require their own preferred list. I'm starting to run out of ideas. We found one place but its a bit too cramped. Either I reduce the guest list (which would make my fiance happy) or we move it to the suburbs of Chicago. We're pretty fixed on the date as my fiance's entire family is flying out from England. Any ideas? 
KnotRiley

Re: Venues without preferred catering lists

  • Hello,

    I'm in a strange situation. I'm looking to find a venue in Chicago that does not require you to use their preferred catering list. My uncle has graciously offered to pay for our catering bill, and has a licensed and insured colleague to do the wedding for us. My uncle is in the food industry and this is so helpful for our budget. The problem is, I cannot find many places that will allow outside catering. He's on the preferred list to a few places but they don't have availability for our date. Even the Park services require their own preferred list. I'm starting to run out of ideas. We found one place but its a bit too cramped. Either I reduce the guest list (which would make my fiance happy) or we move it to the suburbs of Chicago. We're pretty fixed on the date as my fiance's entire family is flying out from England. Any ideas? 
    Personally, I'd move the wedding out of Chicago-proper.  I wanted to have a wedding The City, but gave it some additional thought and felt bad about my family having to pay so much for hotels, parking, cabs, having to deal with one-way streets, unhelpful locals, getting to and from the airports.  And have decided we'll probably go with the burbs.  All my family visiting from out of town can still go visit the big city if they're staying for a few days, but otherwise, I'm hoping to have everything Ceremony/Reception/Hotel in one location even if it doesn't fit my "vision."  Because having the PEOPLE there are more important than the WHERE.  And we'll get pictures (either engagement or wedding pictures) taken in Chicago with the classic backdrops.
    Knottie1449423031cowgirl8238
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mod
    You might want to post this on your local board.  This is an international board. The local board should help you more.

    http://forums.theknot.com/categories/local-wedding-boards_illinois-chicago  






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    How far out is your preferred wedding date?  Has any of your FILs purchased plane tickets?  If your preferred wedding date is 8 months or so out, then I would consider changing your date to fit with one available.  I'm sure none of your FILs have purchased a plane ticket yet if you are still 8+ months out.  I would just check with those planning to come first.
  • Check out Architectural Artifacts. They have a preferred list but if you can go off their list and pay an up charge. At least that is what they did last year for my daughter's wedding. We used a preferred caterer but knew about the options.
  • Thanks for the replies. My uncle is actually providing the food himself, from his fellow food industry people. It wouldn't be an actual caterer and I'm finding every venue requires an insured caterer to take care of the wedding. I wonder where people get married who are doing a potluck wedding? I have no problem going to the suburbs, I grew up in Evanston. I'm probably posting on the international site because of my IP address, I'm in England. We have a lot of time, yes but I go to Chicago in May and want a list of places that I can visit and quickly make a decision. I'm not inclined to turn down free food for my wedding, its reduced our costs significantly. I'll definitely try the suburbs, I don't want to move our date because it lies perfectly between end of term in England (third week of July) and the time my friends need to get back to their home state to start teaching prep (beginning of August). Lollapalooza is that weekend and I'm not competing against that. Chicago will be a mess that weekend. Thanks everyone!
  • i just found out last night that he's decided to just provide the food himself rather than ask a caterer to take care of it. We're thinking of hiring staff for the day to serve the food and a bartender to serve drinks. I think a wedding coordinator would be very helpful right now (and within budget as food is taken care of!). We think that if we have it out in the suburbs, we can afford to pay for an activity for our out of town friends, like taking in a baseball game. They're Brits and have never been to that before. Or a nice cruise off Navy Pier at the end of the reception.
    [Deleted User]
  • How many people are you having? An uninsured uncle cooking for people whither or not he is in the food industry. Let people buy their own activities and get a real caterer.


  • The event is for less than 50 people. He's not cooking the food, he owns food businesses and they are providing the food themselves. As well, everyone invited is related to him or my fiances family. I've priced caterers in Chicago, and to be honest, the menus are not what we'd be looking for with a simple wedding. The idea that you need a real caterer to do a wedding is the reason the average wedding costs over $25,000. Absolutely ludicrous.  
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mod
    Your uncle is in the business, can't he give you some suggestions?


    As where people have events that are self-catered?    VFW, Fire, church, community centers are typical places that allow self-catering.     






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    [Deleted User]
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    member
    Get a wedding coordinator, honestly. 

    I've heard of places with preferred lists but they often charge up when you go off list. Keep in mind the reason caterers are preferred is often because the company is used to doing business there which makes logistics far easier. The venue trusts those companies to do a good job. I'm guessing that helps for liability too. 


    ________________________________


  • lyndausvi said:
    Your uncle is in the business, can't he give you some suggestions?


    As where people have events that are self-catered?    VFW, Fire, church, community centers are typical places that allow self-catering.     
    Elk Lodge, VFW, Community Center, Park District.  I'd consider looking at Theater spaces if I was you.  I know the Main Street train station in Evanston has a theater space, maybe someplace like that would let you rent it out for the weekend.  You'd need to hire people to setup and takedown, but if the space is big enough...
    Knottie1449423031
  • Thank you all! I spoke with a few venues and they said if I hired a wait staff, they'd be more than happy to help us. :smile: I'll still check out the theatre as that would be pretty cool. We're hoping to do a pre-wedding event for our families to get to know each other. This would be the first time they've met and we'd like them to get along and mingle. Churches won't work with us, he's atheist and I'm agnostic. 

    I understand why they used preferred lists, if I was in a different situation, I'd happily use them. I found a venue that said one of the caterers on their list will cater the food we provide, getting around the issue. They would also give us a preferential price for set-up, decoration, everything. This also includes an on the day coordinator to make sure it all runs smoothly.

    As we're trying to keep our prices down, a wedding coordinator is a bit too much for us right now. A smallish party with our friends and family is all we really need. Our wedding party is only six people! This is the hardest/most complicated part of it. The rest will be pretty easy! 
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Thanks for the replies. My uncle is actually providing the food himself, from his fellow food industry people. It wouldn't be an actual caterer and I'm finding every venue requires an insured caterer to take care of the wedding. I wonder where people get married who are doing a potluck wedding? I have no problem going to the suburbs, I grew up in Evanston. I'm probably posting on the international site because of my IP address, I'm in England. We have a lot of time, yes but I go to Chicago in May and want a list of places that I can visit and quickly make a decision. I'm not inclined to turn down free food for my wedding, its reduced our costs significantly. I'll definitely try the suburbs, I don't want to move our date because it lies perfectly between end of term in England (third week of July) and the time my friends need to get back to their home state to start teaching prep (beginning of August). Lollapalooza is that weekend and I'm not competing against that. Chicago will be a mess that weekend. Thanks everyone!
    The only place someone would "host" a potluck wedding would be in their own home.  I say "host" because if it is potluck, it is not hosted.  A potluck wedding is simply not appropriate, nor tasteful.

    Please make sure that the comfort and (food) safety of your guests is not put at risk because the "price is right".
    lnixon8levioosa
  • adk19 said:
    Hello,

    I'm in a strange situation. I'm looking to find a venue in Chicago that does not require you to use their preferred catering list. My uncle has graciously offered to pay for our catering bill, and has a licensed and insured colleague to do the wedding for us. My uncle is in the food industry and this is so helpful for our budget. The problem is, I cannot find many places that will allow outside catering. He's on the preferred list to a few places but they don't have availability for our date. Even the Park services require their own preferred list. I'm starting to run out of ideas. We found one place but its a bit too cramped. Either I reduce the guest list (which would make my fiance happy) or we move it to the suburbs of Chicago. We're pretty fixed on the date as my fiance's entire family is flying out from England. Any ideas? 
    Personally, I'd move the wedding out of Chicago-proper.  I wanted to have a wedding The City, but gave it some additional thought and felt bad about my family having to pay so much for hotels, parking, cabs, having to deal with one-way streets, unhelpful locals, getting to and from the airports.  And have decided we'll probably go with the burbs.  All my family visiting from out of town can still go visit the big city if they're staying for a few days, but otherwise, I'm hoping to have everything Ceremony/Reception/Hotel in one location even if it doesn't fit my "vision."  Because having the PEOPLE there are more important than the WHERE.  And we'll get pictures (either engagement or wedding pictures) taken in Chicago with the classic backdrops.

    Wow, I feel exactly the opposite. If I'm going to an Out of Town wedding, I always want it to be in the city. That way you don't have to rent a car or worry about how to entertain yourself out in a random suburban hotel. If it's in the city you just take a taxi to the hotel, and have hundreds of places to eat and drink within walking distance of where you're staying, and don't have to worry about drinking and driving too (since people won't typically drive from a city hotel to a city venue). 
    KatWAGlyndausvithisismynickname2
  • MandyMost said:
    adk19 said:
    Hello,

    I'm in a strange situation. I'm looking to find a venue in Chicago that does not require you to use their preferred catering list. My uncle has graciously offered to pay for our catering bill, and has a licensed and insured colleague to do the wedding for us. My uncle is in the food industry and this is so helpful for our budget. The problem is, I cannot find many places that will allow outside catering. He's on the preferred list to a few places but they don't have availability for our date. Even the Park services require their own preferred list. I'm starting to run out of ideas. We found one place but its a bit too cramped. Either I reduce the guest list (which would make my fiance happy) or we move it to the suburbs of Chicago. We're pretty fixed on the date as my fiance's entire family is flying out from England. Any ideas? 
    Personally, I'd move the wedding out of Chicago-proper.  I wanted to have a wedding The City, but gave it some additional thought and felt bad about my family having to pay so much for hotels, parking, cabs, having to deal with one-way streets, unhelpful locals, getting to and from the airports.  And have decided we'll probably go with the burbs.  All my family visiting from out of town can still go visit the big city if they're staying for a few days, but otherwise, I'm hoping to have everything Ceremony/Reception/Hotel in one location even if it doesn't fit my "vision."  Because having the PEOPLE there are more important than the WHERE.  And we'll get pictures (either engagement or wedding pictures) taken in Chicago with the classic backdrops.

    Wow, I feel exactly the opposite. If I'm going to an Out of Town wedding, I always want it to be in the city. That way you don't have to rent a car or worry about how to entertain yourself out in a random suburban hotel. If it's in the city you just take a taxi to the hotel, and have hundreds of places to eat and drink within walking distance of where you're staying, and don't have to worry about drinking and driving too (since people won't typically drive from a city hotel to a city venue). 
    Mandy, as a city girl, I completely agree with you.  But my country-bumpkin relatives don't.  Cabs are scary, trains are scary, buses are super duper scary, Uber is unbelievably scary. And god-forbid you try to walk somewhere!!!  What if you get lost in a "bad neighborhood"???

    So, I'm thinking about my people.  They would prefer to park their car in the hotel lot for a weekend where they can see it from their room, at a location where the hotel shares a parking lot with a stripmall with a restaurant or even just a gas station convenience store.  So, that's what I'll give them, unless I elope.
  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    member
    adk19 said:
    MandyMost said:
    adk19 said:
    Hello,

    I'm in a strange situation. I'm looking to find a venue in Chicago that does not require you to use their preferred catering list. My uncle has graciously offered to pay for our catering bill, and has a licensed and insured colleague to do the wedding for us. My uncle is in the food industry and this is so helpful for our budget. The problem is, I cannot find many places that will allow outside catering. He's on the preferred list to a few places but they don't have availability for our date. Even the Park services require their own preferred list. I'm starting to run out of ideas. We found one place but its a bit too cramped. Either I reduce the guest list (which would make my fiance happy) or we move it to the suburbs of Chicago. We're pretty fixed on the date as my fiance's entire family is flying out from England. Any ideas? 
    Personally, I'd move the wedding out of Chicago-proper.  I wanted to have a wedding The City, but gave it some additional thought and felt bad about my family having to pay so much for hotels, parking, cabs, having to deal with one-way streets, unhelpful locals, getting to and from the airports.  And have decided we'll probably go with the burbs.  All my family visiting from out of town can still go visit the big city if they're staying for a few days, but otherwise, I'm hoping to have everything Ceremony/Reception/Hotel in one location even if it doesn't fit my "vision."  Because having the PEOPLE there are more important than the WHERE.  And we'll get pictures (either engagement or wedding pictures) taken in Chicago with the classic backdrops.

    Wow, I feel exactly the opposite. If I'm going to an Out of Town wedding, I always want it to be in the city. That way you don't have to rent a car or worry about how to entertain yourself out in a random suburban hotel. If it's in the city you just take a taxi to the hotel, and have hundreds of places to eat and drink within walking distance of where you're staying, and don't have to worry about drinking and driving too (since people won't typically drive from a city hotel to a city venue). 
    Mandy, as a city girl, I completely agree with you.  But my country-bumpkin relatives don't.  Cabs are scary, trains are scary, buses are super duper scary, Uber is unbelievably scary. And god-forbid you try to walk somewhere!!!  What if you get lost in a "bad neighborhood"???

    So, I'm thinking about my people.  They would prefer to park their car in the hotel lot for a weekend where they can see it from their room, at a location where the hotel shares a parking lot with a stripmall with a restaurant or even just a gas station convenience store.  So, that's what I'll give them, unless I elope.
    Don't forget germ-filled with all those strangers on them! Ewwww!
    Sorry to digress, lol. I attended a suburban wedding with a gap (the horror) and we were bored out of our minds. You know what Trip Advisor said the top activity was in the area where we were? Massage Envy. 

    But, in regards to wedding pictures in the city with having a suburban wedding- no time. That'll take you hours, especially on a nice weather weekend. Just do engagement photos in the city- much easier. 
    ________________________________


    MandyMost
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mod
    adk19 said:
    MandyMost said:
    adk19 said:
    Hello,

    I'm in a strange situation. I'm looking to find a venue in Chicago that does not require you to use their preferred catering list. My uncle has graciously offered to pay for our catering bill, and has a licensed and insured colleague to do the wedding for us. My uncle is in the food industry and this is so helpful for our budget. The problem is, I cannot find many places that will allow outside catering. He's on the preferred list to a few places but they don't have availability for our date. Even the Park services require their own preferred list. I'm starting to run out of ideas. We found one place but its a bit too cramped. Either I reduce the guest list (which would make my fiance happy) or we move it to the suburbs of Chicago. We're pretty fixed on the date as my fiance's entire family is flying out from England. Any ideas? 
    Personally, I'd move the wedding out of Chicago-proper.  I wanted to have a wedding The City, but gave it some additional thought and felt bad about my family having to pay so much for hotels, parking, cabs, having to deal with one-way streets, unhelpful locals, getting to and from the airports.  And have decided we'll probably go with the burbs.  All my family visiting from out of town can still go visit the big city if they're staying for a few days, but otherwise, I'm hoping to have everything Ceremony/Reception/Hotel in one location even if it doesn't fit my "vision."  Because having the PEOPLE there are more important than the WHERE.  And we'll get pictures (either engagement or wedding pictures) taken in Chicago with the classic backdrops.

    Wow, I feel exactly the opposite. If I'm going to an Out of Town wedding, I always want it to be in the city. That way you don't have to rent a car or worry about how to entertain yourself out in a random suburban hotel. If it's in the city you just take a taxi to the hotel, and have hundreds of places to eat and drink within walking distance of where you're staying, and don't have to worry about drinking and driving too (since people won't typically drive from a city hotel to a city venue). 
    Mandy, as a city girl, I completely agree with you.  But my country-bumpkin relatives don't.  Cabs are scary, trains are scary, buses are super duper scary, Uber is unbelievably scary. And god-forbid you try to walk somewhere!!!  What if you get lost in a "bad neighborhood"???

    So, I'm thinking about my people.  They would prefer to park their car in the hotel lot for a weekend where they can see it from their room, at a location where the hotel shares a parking lot with a stripmall with a restaurant or even just a gas station convenience store.  So, that's what I'll give them, unless I elope.
    hehe.   Funny how people think of other places.

    I have cousins and aunts who never travel. Everything is scary to them. Then you have my family.  We have been around the world as teens.   






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • adk19 said:
    MandyMost said:
    adk19 said:
    Hello,

    I'm in a strange situation. I'm looking to find a venue in Chicago that does not require you to use their preferred catering list. My uncle has graciously offered to pay for our catering bill, and has a licensed and insured colleague to do the wedding for us. My uncle is in the food industry and this is so helpful for our budget. The problem is, I cannot find many places that will allow outside catering. He's on the preferred list to a few places but they don't have availability for our date. Even the Park services require their own preferred list. I'm starting to run out of ideas. We found one place but its a bit too cramped. Either I reduce the guest list (which would make my fiance happy) or we move it to the suburbs of Chicago. We're pretty fixed on the date as my fiance's entire family is flying out from England. Any ideas? 
    Personally, I'd move the wedding out of Chicago-proper.  I wanted to have a wedding The City, but gave it some additional thought and felt bad about my family having to pay so much for hotels, parking, cabs, having to deal with one-way streets, unhelpful locals, getting to and from the airports.  And have decided we'll probably go with the burbs.  All my family visiting from out of town can still go visit the big city if they're staying for a few days, but otherwise, I'm hoping to have everything Ceremony/Reception/Hotel in one location even if it doesn't fit my "vision."  Because having the PEOPLE there are more important than the WHERE.  And we'll get pictures (either engagement or wedding pictures) taken in Chicago with the classic backdrops.

    Wow, I feel exactly the opposite. If I'm going to an Out of Town wedding, I always want it to be in the city. That way you don't have to rent a car or worry about how to entertain yourself out in a random suburban hotel. If it's in the city you just take a taxi to the hotel, and have hundreds of places to eat and drink within walking distance of where you're staying, and don't have to worry about drinking and driving too (since people won't typically drive from a city hotel to a city venue). 
    Mandy, as a city girl, I completely agree with you.  But my country-bumpkin relatives don't.  Cabs are scary, trains are scary, buses are super duper scary, Uber is unbelievably scary. And god-forbid you try to walk somewhere!!!  What if you get lost in a "bad neighborhood"???

    So, I'm thinking about my people.  They would prefer to park their car in the hotel lot for a weekend where they can see it from their room, at a location where the hotel shares a parking lot with a stripmall with a restaurant or even just a gas station convenience store.  So, that's what I'll give them, unless I elope.
    Don't forget germ-filled with all those strangers on them! Ewwww!
    Sorry to digress, lol. I attended a suburban wedding with a gap (the horror) and we were bored out of our minds. You know what Trip Advisor said the top activity was in the area where we were? Massage Envy. 

    But, in regards to wedding pictures in the city with having a suburban wedding- no time. That'll take you hours, especially on a nice weather weekend. Just do engagement photos in the city- much easier. 
    If I did city pictures with a suburban wedding, it would either be first thing in the morning, later at night after an afternoon ceremony/reception, or the next day/day before.  But it's more likely they'd be engagement photos if I felt strongly about city pictures.  But I know the city, I live here, I don't really need photos of it while I'm in fancy clothes.
    thisismynickname2MandyMost
  • How about rent a huge house that will easy for everyone since your wedding is small.  
  • I agree with pp about a theater.  If there isn't a show scheduled, they might be delighted to rent space for a wedding and reception.  Check out The Den Theater - that's a cool space.  

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