There are many steps of planning a wedding reception in Chicago (that’s why there is a long wedding planning checklist), and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Where do you start planning?
The very first step of planning is to think about what you and your fiancé want at your wedding reception. Discuss these key wedding planning details:
- what your style as a couple is,
- where you want to hold your wedding reception (and whether you want an indoor or outdoor reception),
- the right wedding date (or season),
- your budget (with this wedding budget worksheet) and how you plan to pay for it,
- how many guests,
- anything else you really want at your reception.
Then, it’s time to jump into the first steps of planning a wedding reception in Chicago.
Once you’ve decided to hold your wedding reception in Chicago, start sorting through this list of wedding venues in Chicago. (Use other couple’s reviews and information on wedding review sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire for references.) Look for wedding venues in your favorite location with your preferred style and guest capacity. Then, contact each wedding venue and ask for information about their availability, cost (what is included), cancellation policy, parking, local accommodations for other guests, and other key details. (Use this list of wedding venue questions to assist you with your search.)
Once you’ve got a “short list” of possible wedding venues, it’s time to set up tours with potential venues. You should never book a venue without seeing it in person and making sure it is the “one.” When you’ve found the perfect backdrop, ask to see their contract and review it carefully. If the fine print is acceptable, return the signed contract as soon as possible and move on to the next step in planning your awesome wedding reception.
Once you’ve chosen the right location, it’s time to start thinking about refreshments. Even if you’re hosting a wedding reception in Chicago during a non-traditional time (such as in the afternoon or morning), it’s still a good idea to have light refreshments and drinks to keep guests fueled and comfortable. For a more traditional wedding, you should expect to provide hors d’vours during cocktail hour, a meal, and a late night course that keeps guests dancing.
Depending on the size of the reception, you can plan to make your own food or hire a professional. If you’re hiring a caterer, research Chicago caterers online or ask a trusted friend or family member for a recommendation. Just like with venues, make a “short list” and contact them with caterer questions. Many wedding caterers offer tastings where couples can sample dishes so they know what to expect on their big day.
The third major detail of a wedding reception in Chicago is entertainment. Do you want a band, wedding DJ, or to play your own wedding play list? If you decide on a band or wedding DJ, start researching your options and looking for recommendations and reviews. The next step is to contact potential entertainers with a list of questions (such as these wedding DJ questions). You can also make your decision using these pros and cons of band versus wedding DJ.
Once you’ve got your list narrowed down to a few, don’t hesitate to ask for videos, references, or schedule a meeting to hear more about their services. Be careful if you experience any of these red flags as you search for the right wedding entertainment professional. When you think you’ve found the right wedding entertainer, always review the contract before signing on the dotted line. While planning a wedding may take a lot of time and effort, remember to keep your eye on the prize: an awesome wedding reception and celebration.