IT’S NOT EASY CHOOSING A WEDDING VENUE. You need a place that suits your budget, accommodates your guests and most of all suits your wedding style. Whether you’re a nature lover, a modernist or a hopeless romantic, there’s a wedding site for you.
FINDING YOUR STYLE
There’s always a lot to think about when planning your wedding. One of the best ways to get started figuring out your style is asking yourself what kind of mood you want to create for your big day.
“Couples can determine their style by paying attention to their daily life,” says Ann Turnbull of The Metropolitan Club. “How are their homes or favorite restaurants decorated? What does the couple do in their spare time? If the Chicago Cubs brought the two together, why not offer ballpark franks as a late-night snack?”
“If the couple loves great wine,” she adds, “they can offer pairings for each of the courses and invite a sommelier to mingle with the guests. The possibilities are endless. The small touches that make the wedding all about the couple will also make the wedding memorable for their guests.”
Take some time to discuss your vision with your fiancé and write out your wants and needs for your wedding.
Laura Kay of Odyssey Cruises says wedding planners can help brides and grooms find a venue by pinpointing what couples really want.
“Questions about whether they envision a casual or elegant reception, their preferred entertainment and if they want buffet style dining vs. guest-choice plated dining, are a great way for the couple to form an idea of what type of wedding they wish to have,” she says.
Once you have an idea of what style works for you both, you’ll be able to find a venue to match that style.
“There is no reason to give up what you love on your wedding day,” says Erin Hubbard of Affinia Chicago. “Let your personal style shine on this most important day.”
Don’t hold back when considering your style. Get creative and be honest so you can make your wedding fantasy a reality.
Michele Zurlo of Eaglewood Resort and Spa says the best way to determine your style is to visit various sites: “While visiting different venues couples discover whether they like: the dramatic ballrooms with crystal chandeliers, or perhaps they like the ballroom with floor-to-ceiling windows with great views, perhaps they discover that they see their style more within a garden setting where tents or gazebo settings become their style.”
You plan to wear your hair in a simple updo; you love a gown with simple lines; and for your ceremony and reception, you want a venue that’s timeless.
Built in 1893, the historic Congress Plaza Hotel has a vintage touch. Its Gold Room is “both classic and romantic,” says Slavyana Brooks. “It takes your breath away.”
The hotel has hosted many dignitaries including U.S. Presidents and celebrities. Weddings are typically held in the Gold Room in the South Tower that accommodates up to 300 guests for a ceremony and reception. Another option is the Florentine ballroom in the North Tower that accommodates 150 people for dinner and dancing.
Megan Streiff of InterContinental Chicago O’Hare describes her venue as, “sophisticated, clean and modern.”
The hotel is also a working art gallery and features high ceilings, marble and woodwork – the hallmarks of a “modern art museum.”
“The four grand ballrooms are the canvas and the event design and food is the paint,” says Streiff. “The spaces are purposefully neutral, to allow the couple or the event designer to create the event they dream, without the limitations of ornate or dated design that competes with their concept.”
InterContinental Chicago O’Hare has four ballrooms, can accommodate more than 1,000 guests, and follows a green initiative.
“I definitely characterize it as elegant,” says Lisa Rodriguez of Grotto Oak Brook. The venue has a classic Italian menu like pastas, seafood and chicken, a glass chandelier and can accommodate up to 250 people. Many weddings use the patio with the fire pit and the bar.
“We are really unique in our set-up,” says Rodriguez. “We’re a classic Italian steakhouse. The banquet side offers the same classic Italian recipes, hand-picked ingredients and prime steaks.”
You and your guy love privacy and want a venue that is cozy and inviting. Your wedding is suited to be a small affair that’s big on personality.
Gibsons Steakhouse is an option for small weddings. The steakhouse has hardwood floors, a lighted wine cellar, four balconies and a wood bar.
“It’s a great intimate setting,” says Lynette Velez of Gibsons Steakhouse. “The food and service are amazing.”
Unlike most wedding receptions where meals are ordered in advance of the big day, guests at Gibsons Steakhouse get to order when they arrive. “We are very personalized to our clients and their guests,” says Velez. “We can customize just about anything.”
Another intimate venue, Salvatore’s Ristorante is “elegant, warm, and timeless,” says Salvatore’s Suzi Sarkady. The restaurant, located in the former grand lobby of a historic Lincoln Park hotel, has a large layout and accommodates up to 230 people.
“With two full-service bars, a dance floor, enough space for 230 guests to dine and an outdoor garden patio,” says Sarkady, “Salvatore’s offers an experience that is flawlessly planned, elegantly executed and tastefully set.”
The venue can be adapted to many different tastes. “This versatility allows us to offer planning for upscale, elegant gatherings, as well as events that are more fashionable and contemporary,” says Sarkady.
You read all the latest fashion magazines; you eat at the trendiest restaurants and you party at the hippest clubs, so why should your wedding be any less cutting edge? You crave a venue that has modern appeal and all the amenities you’ve come to expect.
The Metropolitan Club has been renovated and Turnbull says, “The club has taken on a worldly chic style, offering guests contemporary decor paired with a breathtaking view. Our designers used bold color combinations in addition to rich furnishings to create a one-of-a-kind venue, guaranteed to encourage a night that bursts with elegance and fun.”
Kim Weinberg of Hotel Sax Chicago calls her non-traditional venue “urban chic.”
Hotel Sax Chicago can accommodate up to 200 guests and features a 36-inch semi-circle video screen on the wall that is a hit with brides and grooms.
They offer customizable packages including an option for food stations which are “less structured,” says Weinberg.
Stylish couples want a stylish wedding venue. Affinia Chicago fits the bill with its rooftop lounge and space to accommodate up to 130 guests.
“Affinia Chicago combines the comforts of a favorite restaurant with the contemporary décor of a modern, boutique hotel,” says Hubbard. “You can make our space your own. Our ballroom space is full of natural light and neutral colors, so you can jazz it up with bright reds or pinks, or keep it neutral with earthy greens and oranges. In addition, with a celebrity chef created restaurant at hand to create an individual wedding menu for you, Affinia truly customizes your wedding day.”
Claire Fitzpatrick of Hard Rock Hotel says her venue appeals to brides who are “urban chic and avant-garde.”
“The space is very urban and non-traditional,” says Fitzpatrick, noting the Hard Rock Hotel has high ceilings, is painted in shades of blue and the Fender Ballroom has the “best acoustic-designed venue in the city.”
You’re most comfortable outdoors with the breeze blowing through your hair and a beautiful view on the horizon. Your dream wedding is casual, quaint and full of natural elements like water and greenery.
A golf course can be sporty, stylish and sophisticated all at once.
Eaglewood Resort and Spa opened in 1928 and is home to an 18-hole championship USGA-certified golf course.
“The Eaglewood has a very warm and charming style,” says Zurlo, who notes the two wedding locations. “The hotel’s Pavilion has a very dramatic draped ceiling and chandeliers with a wonderful patio that overlooks the hotel’s golf course. The hotel’s Red Oak Ballroom is decorated in warm colors and has floor-to-ceiling windows that connects to a spacious patio that overlooks the golf course views.”
The Bolingbrook Golf Club’s three-level building has 76,000 square feet of clubhouse space and can accommodate up to 900 guests. The venue’s Rose Garden overlooks a waterfall and works for weddings with 200 guests.
“We’re able to handle three weddings at one time; we prefer two weddings at one time,” says Randy Farber of Bolingbrook Golf Club.
The presidential wedding package includes a six-hour event with a five-course dinner, champagne, an ice sculpture and complimentary valet parking, among other amenities.
“We’re into personalized service,” says Farber. “Our job is to make sure you have a flawless event and have nothing to worry about.”
You’ve been planning your wedding since you were a kid. You know exactly what you want in a gown, accessories, flowers and stationery. Now you need a venue that meets the one in your dreams — a place that’s charming and inviting, just like your guy.
Jessica Sclafini of Abbington Distinctive Banquets calls her venue elegant and classic. “It’s really breathtaking when you walk in,” she says.
Abbington Distinctive Banquets features neutral hardwood, crystal chandeliers and a ballroom that can be reconfigured as four separate rooms. The guest list can be large or small with enough room to accommodate 1,000 guests.
Doubletree Hotel Chicago Magnificent Mile just completed a $21 million renovation. “The décor is now more contemporary,” says the hotel’s Jeana Drish. The ballroom chandeliers “catch everyone’s eye when they come in.”
Drish says the venue is “a very unique space,” that fits up to 450 guests. There’s one ballroom which means one wedding at a time. The color palette for the ballroom is silver with black, blue and mauve.
“We are reasonably priced,” says Drish. “We customize to meet a budget.”
Another advantage is the hotel’s convenience: “We are two blocks from Michigan Avenue,” says Drish. “It’s wonderful.”
You look your best at all times and you’re looking for a wedding venue that matches your impeccable style. You need a space that has great character, color and location. You may be the center of attention on your big day, but your venue needs to shine too.
The Signature Room, with 360-degree views, is located on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center. “It’s incredible,” says Angela Roman. Floor-to-ceiling windows make it “a truly special venue.”
The Signature Room, which overlooks the Magnificent Mile, features a few dozen entrée options for the four-course meal, part of the standard four-hour package.
“The space is convertible, it can be anything you want it to be,” says Roman. “It’s very elegant, but minimalist.”
The Blackstone Hotel has something for everyone. There’s the elegant Crystal Ballroom for traditional tastes and the quirky Barbershop, where Al Capone used to get his hair cut.
“The Blackstone is a historic property with a contemporary feel, and does a great job mixing the old with the new,” says the hotel’s Rachel Kelly. “The lobby, for example, retains a lot of original architecture, including refurbished sconces and metal railing.”
She says the Blackstone has four suites that are split in décor; two are historical and two are modern. “Two of the suites — the Smoke-Filled Room and the Presidential Suite — are outfitted in historical style, while two others — Heaven and Sky — feature funky styling and bold colors.”
The Blackstone’s Crystal Ballroom hosts many weddings.
“The interior architecture resembles a wedding cake, with dripping plaster garlands on the walls topped off by an eight-foot-tall bronze chandelier surrounded by hand-cut crystals,” says Kelly. “The floor is a carpet patterned in the style of a huge chrysanthemum, the official flower of Chicago. It spans the entire length of the floor colored with reds, fuchsias and yellows.”
Known for its style and service, The Wyndham Chicago is a four-diamond, four-star hotel located near Michigan Avenue.
“The Wyndham has a romantic feel from gold and crystal accents, with the modern flair of city views and crisp table settings,” says the hotel’s Karen Gerhart, who notes the venue’s grand, winding staircase and two-story chandelier as highlights for weddings.
“Watch as our gold-accented grand ballroom is transformed into the wedding of your dreams,” she adds, “or be delighted as our lakeshore ballroom fits your modern appeal with city views and floor-to-ceiling windows.”
EMBRACE YOUR STYLE
As you plan your big day, look for opportunities to make the most of your personal style.
“A wedding is an event to celebrate the union of two people and the love they share,” says Streiff. “I have always felt it is most important for a couple to reflect their own personal style and tastes into the event.”
Since your venue is the backbone of your wedding celebration, you need to find a ceremony and reception site that works overtime to please you and your groom. So figure out your style and choose a space that meets your needs and your tastes. Then sit back, relax and savor every moment of your wedding day.