Choosing Your Chicago Wedding Venue

We’re going to run with the theme of “how to choose…” and share the importance and process of choosing your Chicago wedding venue. Big City Bride posts blogs often about this topic because it is one of the most important decisions in your Chicago wedding planning.  Here is what to consider when making the big decision:

  • Date: When planning a city wedding, know that your venue choice will determine your wedding date based on their availability. It’s much more difficult to decide on a wedding date and then find a venue you like to match the day. Don’t compromise on your Chicago wedding venue, be as flexible as possible.
  • Location: City or Suburbs? Obviously the city offers more for your guests, but the suburbs might offer spaces for larger guest lists and lower budgets. For out of town guests, a city location is not only more convenient but more fun – offering endless opportunities for site seeing, museum visits, restaurants and shopping for a weekend away. Consider the feel and area of Chicago that you’re interested in (historical, in the action, park, edgy, industrial, etc.) Also consider the ease for your guests and whether you’d like to provide guest transportation to and from the ceremony and/or the reception.
  • Capacity: Your guest count is of great importance when choosing the right venue. Some brides and grooms are willing to reduce their guest count for a venue they love, and some are not. Do not challenge the maximum guest count. Chicago wedding venues will provide a number possible for their space but your Chicago wedding planner would never encourage you to reach it! 
  • Budget: The venue is a driving force for your expenses. Don’t only consider the rental cost. Also consider the many other expenses that the Chicago wedding venue will incur such as chairs, linens, tables, catering, alcohol, lighting, decor, and transportation.
  • Exclusive Vendors: Some Chicago venues have exclusive vendor lists to limit your options for catering and decor. In some cases this is not an issue because of the available options and a wide selection. In others it can be limiting and drive your budget.
  • Food & Beverage Minimums: Hotels and restaurants require you to meet a minimum in order to reserve their space. Keep in mind that if your guest count is large enough, you will always exceed their minimum. In order to attract your business they could reduce the minimum to $100. You will be required to choose from their packages and to pay their service and gratuity charges. Make sure you work up an estimate based on your guest count rather than rely on the minimum when comparing costs with other venues.
  • Style: There are historic buildings, public spaces, outdoor areas, parks, tents, ballrooms, hotels, warehouses, and lofts … all available to be transformed into your event space. Chicago has wonderful event spaces with endless potential for decor. Choose a space that fits your style. If your’e unsure what design direction you’d like to take, consider your home and how you decorate as a good indicator of your taste.




The venue search may be daunting and we understand that! Big City Bride offers venue search assistance in our Grand Plan package. We love an opportunity to research and suggest the very best Chicago wedding venues that fit the criteria we discussed above. Rather than setting up 15 appointments on your own to view the spaces and try to understand the costs, pros, and cons for each space…Big City Bride can help! We’ll take you on a site visit, spending a day driving you around the city, touring spaces, showing photos (it’s hard to see an empty venue space and understand the potential) and discussing all of the possibilities. Once you choose your top Chicago wedding venue (or two if you’re undecided!) Big City Bride can create an estimated budget for the space(s) so from the very beginning you have an understanding of what is to come.

It’s all very exciting! The venue search is the beginning of the planning and however stressful it might seem, do your best to enjoy it!

Choosing Your Chicago Wedding Planner

Whether it’s your first move as a newly engaged couple or a last minute decision to find some bridal peace as you get near “I Do,” choosing a Chicago wedding planner is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. Big City Bride believes that our success is not only in our event knowledge, industry connections, and professional execution, but also in our relationships with brides and grooms. As you search for a Chicago wedding planner to fit your needs and budget, also search for a planner who you click with! It sounds silly perhaps, but you have to like us! We are around you all day on wedding day, spending intimate time with your family and friends, supporting you in your nervous moments, and celebrating with you on your happiest day. 

Of course there are other the professional specifics as well that make Big City Bride a trusted and respected Chicago wedding planner with brides, vendors, and Chicago wedding venues. Here is a little advice to consider as you choose your Chicago planner:

  • Your time is valuable and your schedule is probably busy. So often we hear about brides and grooms in school, studying for the bar exam, working hard hours as doctors, totally devoting a month to a case or a campaign, dealing with family health issues, buying a house, or moving across the country! What is this year going to bring for you? Find a planner who is comfortable meeting in person and working via email, conference calls or even Skype!
  • Choose a Chicago wedding coordinator with flexible hours to fit your schedule, even if it means in the evening. Big City Bride welcomes an after work meeting where you can enjoy a glass of wine and dinner while we guide you through the many details of your wedding.
  • Where are they located? Big City Bride is proud to have a studio conveniently located in Lincoln Park with easy parking and restaurants near by for dinner! Our working office is full of samples, swatches, set-ups, and materials to make the planning interactive and productive. With an office of planners, it is guaranteed that someone here can help you even if you planner is unavailble for a moment.
  • Don’t be someone’s trial. Your Chicago wedding day is too important to trust it to someone looking to get in the business. If you’re considering a helpful friend, beware of the “friendor” and all the drama and awkard confrontation the might occur if they aren’t able to meet your expections. Somethings are best left to the professionals with years of experience and too many references for you to ever call yourself!

Yes, we believe in Big City Bride and the product we provide … but only if we’re a good match for you. If you’re looking to find a Chicago wedding planner to guide you through this process and to trust to show you the best vendors, consider us. We are not the least expensive option but we promise to be a reliable and enjoyable choice! Give us a call if you’d like to chat at 773.525.7526!

Here are a few of the Big City Bride wedding planners at a recent and glamorous Chicago wedding! Thank you Riverbend Studio for snapping a quick pic of the team (missing Crystal.)

Chicago’s Outdoor Wedding Venues


On a snowy Chicago day, it’s hard to imagine in just a few months’ time we’ll be putting together some of the best Chicago outdoor weddings! Once the spring sunshine melts away the snow, we’ll be decking out some great Chicago outdoor wedding venues. This is definitely a good way to cure your winter blues!  

The Chicago Park District wedding venues along with unique Chicago gems offer a lot of great outdoor Chicago wedding places. These wedding locations have great options for both indoor and outdoor Chicago Weddings! 


Chicago Park District parks can be an ideal location for wedding ceremonies! Be sure to think through your rain plan and a convenient way to transport your guests! 


There are also some of our favorite Chicago wedding venues that allow you to utilize their outdoor space for  your ceremony or cocktail hour!

Or use your own backyard for your Chicago Tented Wedding!

 Your favorite Chicago Wedding Planner will always be sure to make any Chicago Wedding Space a fabulous day for everyone to enjoy! 

A special thanks to Riverbend Studio, Edenhurst Studio, Gerber + Scarpelli and Allori Photography for sharing these amazing photos with us! 

Design Inspirations in ‘The Knot’ Magazine


We’re so excited to share this design feature from the most recent Chicago issue of The Knot magazine. Big City Bride was the Chicago wedding planner behind this beautiful room design for Adrianna’s wedding at the Chicago Illuminating Company – a favorite Chicago wedding venue.

This design grew from Miami and Irish roots into an urban yet organic affair. The crisp and urban backdrop of the Chicago Illuminating Company was accentuated with the modern and clean design of lucite tables and chairs. Guests were assigned seating through personalized Chicago books displayed in a bookshelf at the end of the urban alley entrance. The white and green palette relied on natural foliage, topiaries, and trees throughout the space, branches on each table for juxtaposition to the modern lines, and a pop of green goblets for an unexpected twist to each table. 

Thank you to Robin Sloan with Riverbend Studio for being the Chicago photographer behind these beautiful images!


Custom Bridesmaid Dresses


Finding the perfect wedding dress can be really hard but finding the perfect dress for all of your completely different bridesmaids…near impossible! It is so hard to find something that looks good on every body type, fits properly, and fits YOUR vision. Your Chicago wedding planner has a solution for you: custom-made bridesmaid dresses. Big City Bride works with brides and grooms to create completely custom Chicago weddings from print materials to tablescapes and from ceremony to reception. Why not design the rest of your day completely custom as well.

Concetta Cipriano is the owner and designer for Cettina, a Chicago based women’s wear line. She creates made to measure cocktail dresses and bridesmaid dresses. If you want something unique for your wedding, this is your chance! Make your Chicago wedding party happy with amazing custom bridesmaid dresses! Concetta starts off this process by meeting with you, the bride, to determine the style you are looking for and your vision for the day. She will then provide you with sketches of ideas she has of your perfect bridesmaid dresses! Concetta has many swatches of fabric of different kinds and different colors for you to look through so that you are 100% a part of the designing process. She will have you book 2-4 fittings to make sure your dresses are the perfect fit! 


I Love You! Come To My Wedding?


Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and the city of Chicago is bursting with excitement about it! During a cold winter we need something to look forward to. People are rushing to find last minute gifts and make special reservations at their favorite Chicago restaurant. Perhaps you’re feeling sweet and sentimental so you’re crafting a homemade valentine to say “I love you”? Everyone loves to receive a valentine!

Why not send everyone you love a valentine? Why not take a moment to hide from the cold and send your warmest wishes? Big City Bride loves the idea to send your Save The Dates as valentines! Celebrate your love by sending a little love to everyone you hope can make it to your Chicago wedding.

Big City Bride has an office full of wonderful and perfect Save The Dates….

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…but we have yet to see a valentine save the date and we love the idea! During this snowy time of year everyone could use a little love mail. Feel free to go vintage. Feel free to be a bit cheesy. Feel free to send kisses & candy. Include a photo. Include lace or doilies. Your save the date cards do not need to match your invitations or speak to your wedding design so this is an opportunity for you to have fun and share your love story with everyone!


The Most Unique Valentine’s Day Date Idea Ever!


Chicago wedding planners love any holiday celebrating love and Big City Bride loves a unique way to celebrate it! A little song bird let us know about a fun new musical date opportunity that would make the perfect unexpected Valentine’s activity in Chicago. The Musical U is Chicago’s newest piano learning studio – BYOB! With all the musicians Big City Bride works with, we often discuss how fun it would be to have the musical talent that makes our weddings a PARTY! Perhaps the Musical U is the answer for us and anyone who has ever wondered if they have what it takes to make music.

On February 15th, The Musical U is hosting a “Candlelight & Wine Couples Piano Class” — a 75 minute group beginner piano lesson for couples in their West Loop studio. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your favorite bottle of wine or champagne in this BYOB-friendly class, lit only by candlelight and wall-hanging virtual fireplaces (how hilariously romantic.)  By the end of the session, you will know all the notes on the piano and be able to form all the major & minor chords on the piano — just enough for you to go home to make beautiful music together.

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There is still availability on Friday, February 15th for the 6:00pm, 7:30pm or 9:00pm class but space is limited so sign up now at The class is $100 per couple and for $15 extra, you can break the news to your date with a Valentine’s Day gift certificate from The Musical U and this little treat… 

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The Musical U is located at 345 N. Loomis St. inside The Music Garage — a 65,000 sq. ft. renovated factory building that has become the musical mecca of Chicago.

For more information, email or call 312.380.1490 and Happy Valentine’s Day!


Fantasy Table on a Snowy Day


It’s a magical snowy day in Chicago. Big City Bride is happy and warm inside…dreaming of a comforting and delicious meal at a beautiful table like this!  This photo is a favorite of ours, the table from our most recent Big City Bride photo shoot. Chicago wedding planners love pulling together gorgeous linens, rentals, flowers, and decor. We chose white, ivories, and metallics with luxurious texture.  How beautiful would this be on a snowy street in Chicago? Maybe for the next Big City Bride Chicago photo shoot …

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Beautiful Creatures Free Movie Tickets

Big City Bride is honored to once again work with Warner Bros. Entertainment company to bring you free movie tickets, this time to the much anticipated Beautiful Creatures! In theaters this Valentine’s Day, February 14th, Beautiful Creatures is a supernatural love story of two star-crossed lovers. Be one of the first to see this passionate and epic story of love. As the Chicago wedding planner with free movie tickets to share, Big City Bride hopes you’ll join us this Wednesday, February 6th at 7pm at Kerasotes Showplace Icon Theater (150 W. Roosevelt • Chicago, IL 60605) located in the Roosevelt Collection.

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Ethan (Alden Ehrenreich) is a young man longing to escape his small town and Lena (Alice Englert) is the mysterious new girl. Together they uncover dark secrets about their respective families, their history, and their town. Oscar nominee Richard LaGravenese directs his adaptation of the first novel in the best-selling book series written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

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Click here & enter RSVP Code: BCBC5ZG
to download a pair of the the 50 free movie passes Big City Bride has to offer. Come early as a movie ticket does not guarantee a seat at the Beautiful Creatures exclusive advanced screening.


Eating Chicago – Restaurant Week

Big City Bride is an office of Chicago wedding planning foodies. We love food. We love Chicago restaurants. We love the opportunities that Chicago wedding caterers provide to customize the most amazing wedding menus. Through conversations we are able to draw inspiration from favorite restaurants and trending flavors to discuss a custom menu.


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To draw inspiration and try some of the hottest and more raved about restaurants … this is the time of year to not hold back. Today is the beginning of Chicago Restaurant Week with hundreds of opportunities for delicious prix fixe menus starting at $22/lunch and $33/$44 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax, and gratuity.) This is a wonderful opportunity to try those places you’ve been interested in. If you’re not an adventurous eater, this is a great chance to let the chef pick his very best meals for you. It’s hard to go wrong on a prix fixed menu.

Bon Appetit!