New to the Community and City Wedding Venue Advice

Hello Fellow Knots! 

I just recently started planning our wedding in the city for late summer early fall 2014. I am totally excited but also totally overwhelmed! Thanks so much for your posts, they've helped me at least get started on thinking about this.  

I am trying to nail down a budget for our wedding and start to go see venues that will work for both the ceremony and the reception. 

Based on your posts, I've got some good ideas of places in the city but I have no idea what to expect with cost. Especially once catering is added in. Would you more experienced brides help me group some of these places by sticker shock? 

$   Dragging your feet on a shag carpet
$$ Fork in a Toaster 
$$$ Full on Lightning Bolt

Here's a list of some of the places we're hoping to see: 
The Grand Piazza
Ravenswood Billboard Factory
The Nature Museum
The Newberry Library
Westgrand Studios
River East Art Center
The Ivy Room
The Lacuna Artist Loft 
Holiday Inn Wolf Pointe Room
The Woman's Club of Evanston
Bottom Lounge
Galleria Marchetti
City View Loft

More suggestions and advice is appreciated!!     

Re: New to the Community and City Wedding Venue Advice

  • Hi!
    Each one of these places should be able to provide you a brochure of wedding or private event information so that you can whittle down your list right away based on sticker shock (love the ratings, by the way). E-mail them and request information. I definitely wouldn't go "see" that whole list because you will become very, very overwhelmed. My fiance and I saw 4 places and felt confused--- but again those were my top four after extensive research. 
    I can tell you off the bat that some of those places will charge room rental fees that include nothing- not chairs, not catering, nothing. I call that the "just to exist" fee.  Full-on lightning bolt sticker shock will come from the Newberry Library and the Ivy Room.
    The Nature Museum is more fork in a toaster shock. I think the same for River East.

    I don't know you or your budget- how much you like to plan or if you're hiring a planner or whatever.  I went with the places that were all-inclusive because I have zero desire to choose chairs and linens.  Places like the Ivy Room and River East will require you to design your entire event from the ground up (heart attack alert for me). The restaurants, on the other hand, will do the vast majority of the work for you for a base cost and if you want to upgrade something you can probably do so.

    My fiance and I chose the Signature Room- they include not only the food and bar, but the cake, the table cards, place cards, coat check, personalized menus, linens, and even small flowers per table. They provided me with a vendor in case I wanted to rent any different linens, chairs or chair covers, and recommended some florists for more elaborate centerpieces. Honestly, I'm happy with all their basics and feel a huge sense of relief that I don't have to design the event outside of choosing the food.  That fits my personality; if you want to design something like you see on the bridal shows then have at it with the raw spaces.  

    Don't be fooled by low rental costs for raw spaces either. Catering is not cheap, nor is labor. To me, paying a high all-inclusive cost per head is soooooo worth it rather than piecing together an event and having all these different vendors to coordinate and have the costs just start stacking up.  
    Enjoy, and good luck! 


  • This is my nickname gave great advice.  However, I would disagree that River East is less than Newberry.  I believe it is actually more by the time you add everything up - I think the venue charge alone for River East is 9 or 10k.  I'd definitely put River East and Ivy Room at the top of the list, expense wise.  Newberry is pricey as well but I think it is more in line with Ravenswood (which I would put in your second category). Ditto pp about the Nature Museum's category.   My husband and I just got married at Ravenswood two weeks ago.  When we were venue searching, we requested pricing info for three venues in your list:  Ravenswood, the Nature Museum and River East.  The packages that the venues send you will typically list the venue rental price and will also tell you important pieces of information such as 1) what is included rental-wise, 2) whether you can bring in your own alcohol, 3) catering restrictions, and 4) vendor restrictions (some venues make you choose from a list of pricey vendors such as floral, catering, etc.)  All of these can have a dramatic impact on the overall pricing of your event. 

    Let me know if you have any questions about Ravenswood.  Good luck with your venue search! :)


  • Thank you so much thisismynickname and January Bride! 

    I can relate I'm not much of a planner and my vision for the wedding doesn't stretch beyond eating and dancing all night long. That's probably why this website has been such a help. 

    Has anyone had any experience with Grand Piazza or Galleria Marchetti? My fiance come from a big Italian Family and loves Dan Marino so he got really excited about those places - I'm on board because they look very inclusive.  
  • I hear nothing but good things about Galleria Marchetti, but I haven't personally experienced either place.  

    I just Googled Grand Piazza and my personal opinion is that the ballroom looks boring (and you'd have to decorate from scratch!). You could be in any room in the city or suburbs. If we city brides have to shell out for city costs, I think the more unique spaces are preferable- pay for something incredible you can't get anywhere else :)

  • My friends got married at Galleria Marchetti a few months ago.  They absolutely loved it.  The service and food was great.  I personally prefer a venue that is a little more interesting for photos (Galleria Marchetti is a white tent), but that was the only downside I could see.  It rained the day of their wedding and they did a great job moving the ceremony inside at the last minute.  I think it would be a great pick!
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