wedding dance floor with DJ after planning a Chicago wedding

How to Start Planning an Awesome Chicago Wedding

Time to start planning a Chicago wedding that is completely you? Whether your ideal big day is a huge bash or a smaller, more intimate gathering, these first steps can get you started planning the day of your dreams.

Talk to your fiancé and set key details.

The first step in wedding planning is to sit down and have a conversation with your fiancé. This is your chance to discuss key details, such as style, budget, when you want to get married, and whether you want a big or small wedding. If you have any one thing you really want at the wedding, mention it now! Most importantly, discuss whether you and your fiancé have time for wedding planning or whether you want to hire a Chicago wedding planner.

Get organized.

Even if you decide to hire a wedding planner, it’s important to get organized. During this wedding planning step, you can set a timeline so you can stay on top of planning. Fortunately, there are a ton of great wedding planning apps and printables you can use to stay on track.

Pick a date and venue.

Remember the old saying, “which came first the chicken or the egg?” The date and venue are a similar question—and either wedding planning checklist item can be completed first. Some couples like to set a date first, and narrow their list of Chicago wedding venues down to the venues that are available on that date (and can accommodate their estimated guest count). Others set a season or month, and choose the date based on their favorite Chicago’s venue availability. If the venue is incredibly in demand, you can also call the venue and choose the date based on the few they have available. The last strategy for choosing a wedding date is to call a favorite wedding vendor that you absolutely have to have—a caterer, photographer, wedding DJ, or baker—and ask about available dates.

As you choose the wedding venue, remember that this is one wedding detail that is incredibly important. The wedding venue is the backdrop for your wedding and creates an amazing first impression. Make sure you choose a Chicago wedding venue that is reputable (luckily Chicagoland is full of amazing wedding venues!) Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you ask each wedding venue these questions:

  • What dates is the venue available? OR Is the venue available on my date?
  • What is the maximum capacity of the wedding venue?
  • Does the venue hold multiple weddings or events on the same date?
  • What is the cost of the venue? What does the cost cover? When is the first deposit due?
  • Does the venue provide rentals (i.e. chairs, tables, etc.)? What is the cost of the rentals?
  • Is alcohol allowed at the venue? Does the venue provide the alcohol?
  • Does the venue provide staffing? Is a staff member going to be on-site during our wedding?
  • Does the venue carry liability insurance?
  • Is there nearby parking? Are there hotels or accommodations nearby for guests?
  • Is the venue handicap accessible?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • What dates are available for a tour?

Start checking items off your planning checklist.

There is one note of caution with this step: always do your research before hiring a vendor. Unfortunately, there are quite a few couples who have been burned by sub-par wedding vendors. When researching vendors, always ask for references and check sites like the Knot or Wedding Wire for online reviews. Never hire a wedding vendor without doing your research and interviewing the wedding vendor.

When hiring your wedding vendors, ask each vendor questions about their cancellation policies, how they prefer to communicate, and other important questions. (Ask your Chicago wedding DJ these important DJ questions.) The goal of every interview is to determine whether the wedding vendor is the “one” and reputable, and to create an ensemble of details that coordinate into a wedding atmosphere that is completely you.