Chicago wedding under 10K - is it possible?

Ok, Chicago budget wedding planners...
Does anyone know how expensive the permits are to have a ceremony in Grant park or millenium park? 
Also, anyone know of any venues where we could do heavy hors d'oeuvres & open bar (or maybe signature drink & wine/ beer) for 150ppl  that would stay under a wedding budget of 10K?  I'd really love a evening reception on a Fri or Sat... I know brunches would be cheaper but my family wants a party.  :-)

I don't want to give up before I begin but I know this is quite a stretch in Chicago.  I was thinking maybe a loft space in the west loop that would let us bring in our own food/ alcohol...  Any tips or ideas?

Re: Chicago wedding under 10K - is it possible?

  • edited December 2011
    I hate to be Debbie Downer, but I don't really think it is possible in the City. I tried SO hard to find something "affordable". We were definitely doing a meal, so that is probably pricier than hors d'oeuvres. Just with the rental of the space and the bar package alone I think you will be at 10K. Plus tax and tip!  It is semi-depressing. I know.

    Anyway, tips... I think you are right on with bringing your own food/drink. If you can find a caterer to allow you to buy your own alcohol that would help. Plan on Jan-March if you can, sometimes people cut deals then. I also found restaurants to be more affordable, plus they have nice chairs (ie no chair covers!) A traditional plated meal seems to actually be the least expensive way to eat (vs buffet, stations, etc). Sunday will definitely be less expensive, Fridays, maybe. I don't know much about the Park District stuff though, that might be more affordable? The only thing with a raw space is you need to rent everything.

    I found this was the hardest part of planning, the whole budget/reception site. Good Luck and HTH!
    Steph & Brandon 4.17.10
    Planning Bio
    Married Bio - Updated 7.2
  • MsBunny312MsBunny312 member
    edited December 2011
    Oh man. I've been struggling to make that budget a possibility, but at this point I'm not sure how it will be possible. So many restaurants in the city have minimums above our budget and the loft spaces in the West Loop are much more expensive for rentals than I imagined — most are at or above $3000 and don't include anything other than the space. Chairs, tables, decor, dinnerware, servers, etc. are all aditional and they all add up to above 10K fast. I think to do it on a budget, you really have to do some major sacrificing, and if the venue is important, then its probably going to be the food/drinks. Unfortunately so many spaces have preferred vendors you have to choose from and they all seem pricey.

    But perhaps there's something I missed. Please share if anyone has a secret gem venue. I'm sure there's a way to do it.

    This is city's park venue site:

    And this is Millenium Park's:
  • u_rica77u_rica77 member
    edited December 2011
    I think the taxes alone would make it impossible downtown- especially for 150 people. If you are willing to branch out a bit from the city, I have a friend who had a $10k wedding on a Sat night in Lincoln Square at the Dank Haus. They had around 100 people I think, but the venue could definitely hold more. Portillo's did the catering and brought in all of their own alcohol. It's only a block from the L so for the people that were staying downtown, it was fairly easy to get to by train or cab.

    Just from talking to her, I think the key is figuring out what the biggest priority is that you are willing to spend money on. Having the reception on a Saturday night was important, so they figured out what else they had to cut out in order to do that. It's definitely possible to do $10k if you are motivated to hunt down deals. Her wedding was one of the more fun ones I've been to, and I don't think anyone noticed the things they left out.  
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  • edited December 2011
    I imagine you can have a nice party in the city for you and your family but if they want something and they are calling the shots, they should be assisting in paying.

    The smaller the guest list, the nicer the event will be quality wise I think.

    There are some restaurants with function rooms that do events I think and I bet they can give you quotes. I think Friday or Sunday nights might be cheaper too if you are flexible.

    Consider trimming your guest list or moving out to a swanky cool venue closer to the edge of the city. That will cut parking costs a lot too.

    Talk to the venues after you get a quote and go back to them asking what you can cut out to make it more cost efffective.

    You can save on your dress, floral arrangements and hair and makeup if you are wiling to get a once worn dress and go with someone starting out who is doing florists and do your own hair and makeup I think. Going with student vendors seems to be looked down upon on the boards though sometimes.
  • chosen175chosen175 member
    edited December 2011
    Try Salvatore's at Clark &  Fullerton (-ish.)  We looked at them and their prices were pretty reasonable.  It's a restaurant, but they have banquet space available.
  • schaiblejenschaiblejen member
    edited December 2011
    Park district permits were around 300.00 for the basic one, we did one level up and it was 580.00 for a two hour permit for our ceremony at the cancer survivor gardens. 

    I was a "budget" bride in the city, I had about 160 people at my wedding, we had a full dinner at Maggianos.  you could save by doing just apps, but if you want to feed 150 people in the city, the tax and tip alone in the city are expensive. 

    I scrounded and saved where ever i could,  DIYed almost everything that i could, used talented friends for thier services, ordered TONS of things online including my dress...  That being said, with full dinner with 160 people, we still spent closer to 20K when all was said and done... 

    My sister is planning her wedding right now in Michigan and is saving a ton...  my wedding was great and I wouldnt have changed a thing...  but i wish it would have been less expensive.
  • edited December 2011
    Downtown might be out of the question unless you have connections at UIC, Roosevelt, or NLU.  All of the places have spaces for such events but can be pricey unless you work there.  Try Chicago Park District for gold course venues like the South Shore Cultural Center.  It's a beautiful venue but not downtown.

    I'm doing a brunch at a golf club in the south suburbs for 200 people including champagne, wine, juices, coffee and tea for under $3000.  My entire wedding budget is $7000 including DJ, invites, STDs, dress, flowers, shoes, and gifts.  But, it's a March wedding so I was able to negotiate lots of deals.

    Good Luck.
  • lmb5109lmb5109 member
    edited December 2011
    We were planning our wedding in the city (ceremony at The Green Dolphin, reception at Maggiano's) but the minimum at Maggiano's was $10k. So we moved it out to a country club in Mt Prospect, my total bill to the country club (ceremony & reception) was under $6k. With everything total (rings & honeymoon included), we were just under $26k.
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  • edited December 2011
    We just booked our wedding at Fulton's on the River.  My original budget was 10k for a city wedding for 100 people and I quickly learned that wasn't going to happen.  Tax & tip in the city alone is 30%!

    Our budget is now $14,000 and we are doing a heavy hors d oeuvre, open bar style reception at Fulton's.  We will have roughly 100 but the space holds 175 for a cocktail style reception.  We are also getting married there.  They do not have a fee for the room..only a minimum spend of $6,000 on food & alcohol (pre tax).  Plus $150 for two bartenders and $200 for dance floor set up.  I'd check them out.  I absolutely love the urban feel of Fulton's and there is also an outdoor area.  We are doing a mix of high boys and low 4 tops and even a lounge area with a few couches.  All the furniture, white or cream linens, and three white votives in clear holders on each table and more lining the windows along the river are included in the price.

    Let me know if you have any other questions!  Brittany is who we have been working with there.  If you reach out, please tell her I sent you!   Kari Johannsen
    Me: 35/Hubs: 35 - just moved to Minneapolis from Chicago. TTC for 18 months and expecting baby #1 April 18, 2012! Needed IVF after a few failed rounds of IUI and it worked!
  • abellorinabellorin member
    edited December 2011
    I think you could do it if you planned very well in advance and researched around. You can look around at the most affordable bridal salons- davids bridal or you could see if you could use your mothers old gown and alter it- that would make it really special.  i think the only pricey thing would be the location- but if you do it oustide i think it would be cheaper, i'd say chair rentals would be 1,000? i guess it depends on how many people.  As far as the reception goes you could always see if you could have it at the rooftop of a chicago building and have the view be the most of the decorations (maybe get access from a friend who lives downtown in the building and ask the front desk). you could also save on the favors if you have DIY ones.  If you use a rooftop or most chicago high rises have a private party room you could use and you can decorate it on your own.  some people also have registries where they have a "wedding fund" for people to donate for the wedding if you think you want to do that also.  It will be hard but i don't think it's impossible, you will have to make sacrifices but in the end the people there should be those you love and would like to share the special day with so who cares!  i hope this helps and keeps you motivated!
  • abellorinabellorin member
    edited December 2011
    Also, i forgot to mention- everything is negotiable!!!!! EVERYTHING! it can't hurt to ask if you can get an extra discount. sometimes at some stores if you order a dress like a BM dress withouth seeing the sample they will give you an extra discount.  just do alot of research. it's definilty a planners market. good luck!
  • kchlebekkchlebek member
    First Comment
    edited December 2011
    How was your Maggiano's wedding. I'm thinking about having mine there. Did it remind you of a good restaurant sometimes found at malls or did it step it up and have the special feel of a wedding day celebration?
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