I read in some random wedding blog the other day that you should not settle for just any wedding venue. When Andy and I began our search I really felt that we would be doing just that. Let me explain Andy and I love the city. I was born and raised here; Andy is convinced he was accidentally delivered to Wisconsin, he was meant to be in the city, the stork’s GPS was broken. Initially we were set on having an urban wedding highlighting all the things we love about Chicago – the great food, unique architecture and the lakefront.
Now if we win the lottery between now and our wedding date we plan to renting Buckingham Fountain, throwing up one of those white tents with the windows and hiring Rick Bayless (Frontera Grill) , Art Smith (Table Fifty-Two), Matt Troost (Thee Aces) and Cary Taylor (The Southern) to prepare a fabulous feast. In the meantime we have a budget. Initially we thought about renting a restaurant for our event, but the places big enough to host our ceremony and reception were too expensive, the places in our price range were too small.
We looked at some of the loft event spaces, but then we had to consider the additional cost of rentals and at minimum a day of wedding coordinator. We decided to look at wedding venues in the Chicago suburbs. As we drove out there I could almost hear the words we had said earlier “We will never get married in just some banquet room and no rubber chicken” mocking us. However I was very pleasantly surprised. The search can be overwhelming so many options, but we set a target budget point and drew circle on the map and then dove in. After building the fifty column spreadsheet we actually only ended up visiting three venues before we picked one, all of the venues were beautiful and had a lot to offer, there was just one, that was just the ONE Here is a summary of the three we visited. You might want to consider adding them to your list.
Meridian Banquette and Conference Center http://www.meridianbanquets.com/ in Rolling Meadows is a beautiful event space. The first thing you notice when you walk is a beautiful waterfall installation in the middle of the lobby. It would be a great back drop for pictures. They have an on-site ceremony room, lots of parking and the venue is easy to find off the express way. The rooms all have really tall ceilings capped off with beautiful cloud murals. The room we looked at featured a bar in the room, if I remember correctly they can host four events at the same time, but the space is really roomy and the pricing is affordable. One thing I learned if you have an event here they have a catwalk your photographer can take a picture of the room from above what a great way to cature all your guest.
Midwest Conference Center http://www.midwestconf.com/about.html in Northlake underwent a remodel a few years ago, and is sleek and modern. The space is large and multi functional, but we focused on the on-site ceremony room and the Skyline Ballroom. The ballroom is beautiful, it has floor to ceiling windows with a great view of the city, Chicago is our wedding theme so this was a draw. There are also two areas in the building that would be great for photos including an outdoor gazebo.
Victoria Banquets http://www.victoriabanquets.com/beaujolie/ has three facilities we visited Beau Jolie in Schiller Park. Smaller than the other venues we visited Beau Jolie has it charms. The space is beautiful with a winding staircase, for photo ops. The view during the day is the runways of O’Hare, but at night it twinkling city lights. They can host two events at time, but the rooms are far enough apart to prevent noise bleed. Our wedding would fit in the smaller Le Chocolate room. The room has a bar and dance floor, and the ceremony can be held in the same space.
Each venue was unique we did select one of them and I do not feel I settled in anyway. Once we finished the day I kept dream about our wedding being at one of these places. Even though we had scheduled other visits, I could not stop talking about the one. I looked at reviews, Andy and I talked about it, and then we picked…drum roll please…..Really? You think it is going to be that easy? If I tell you now I won’t have anything to write about next time.
I will leave you with some tips.
- Some places have a minimum for a Saturday night wedding, since we only have a 100 guest I made sure to mention that in our request for information.
- You can save substantially by having a Friday or Sunday wedding.
- If you love the venue, consider other options if a sit down dinner is too expensive? What about buffet or heavy appetizers? You can just have dessert and champagne. Make sure you let your guest know what to expect you don’t owe them a full dinner, but if you a not going to provide one give them a heads up.
- We visited on a Saturday afternoon, so we had a chance to see the venues being set up for weddings, it was nice to see the set up, and how staff the works in person. So if you can visit on a Saturday I would recommend it.
- Read the venue reviews on wedding websites, every instinct I felt about each of the venues was further confirmed by what I read.
- Check if they have a bridal suite you will want a place to freshen up, store your things, or if you are like me change your dress.
Happy Venue Hunting