Monday, July 4, 2022
For Chicago wedding planner Barbara Vanni, who has lived, traveled, and worked with people from around the world and now owns a boutique wedding planning company, Chicago stands out as a home base and a top-choice destination wedding location. While Mexico, Hawaii, Spain, and France frequently come to mind when thinking about destination weddings, we know that some of the best weddings happen in Chicago. What is so special to Barbara (and so many others) about Chicago, and why is it such a fantastic location to celebrate a marriage?
Have you recently Googled “wedding planner chicago”, “chicago wedding planners”, chicago wedding planners”, or “wedding planners in chicago” in hopes of finding the top wedding planning in Chicago? Read on to learn more about destination weddings and many of our expert tips along the way.
Whether you envision your ceremony on a beach, golf course, ballroom, religious space or backyard, Chicago can deliver. With world-class venues for celebrations, top restaurants and chefs, a breathtaking backdrop, plenty of infrastructure for visitors from out of town, and its unique charm, Chicago is definitely a place to consider for your wedding, no matter the size or style.
Read on to learn more about destination weddings in general, including top tips for planning and etiquette, and the things to consider when wondering if a destination wedding in Chicago is for you.
A destination wedding is a wedding that is in a location outside of where the couple lives. It can be the next town over, a few hours away, in another state, across the country, or even across the globe! It may involve both a ceremony and a reception and be a larger, traditional event, or it could be an elopement, micro wedding, or mini wedding.
Couples sometimes choose to have a destination wedding because there’s a place that is very meaningful to them and they’d like to mark the beginning of their commitment at that location. Other couples wish to travel to their venue because the vendors or landscape suits their interests better than where they live. Still others may select a destination based off a desire to combine a wedding and honeymoon, a love of travel, or wanting to offer a specific experience to guests.
Many couples who choose to celebrate with a destination wedding discover that there are additional elements to include when in the planning process. Because traveling to another location means that things like transportation, accommodations, and usually less familiarity with vendors and even the culture might be factors to consider, we recommend that couples work with an experienced Chicago wedding planner or at least a day of coordinator in Chicago to assist with the process.
Are you considering a destination wedding and looking for tips on how to select a location? The items below are some things that couples consider as they narrow down their options. Although every destination wedding is different, these factors can help you to see the big picture and envision the experience so you can make the choice that’s right for you.
It’s normal to feel a little bit overwhelmed at the beginning of the process. After all, there are a lot of amazing places where you could say I do! We like to suggest to couples that if they have too many choices, they might benefit from first eliminating the options where they don’t want to get married first.
Another factor to consider is your estimated or ideal guest count. Your venue will need to be large enough to host everyone. Will your guests be flying or driving? Are there other guest-related logistics to think about to make sure that the VIP guests are able to make it to your destination wedding?
As you may have guessed, destination weddings can span an enormous budgetary range.
Ideally with the help of your wedding planner, outline your anticipated budget, making sure to include travel costs, accommodations, permits and fees, and taking into consideration the time of year you plan to be there. If it’s tourist season, a holiday weekend, or a popular time of year to be at a certain destination, your costs may be higher than if it’s the off-season or not a high-demand time.
Are there costs associated with vendors that you may wish to travel with or join you at the location you need to consider? These vendors may include photographers, your planner, and perhaps your designer, but you may also opt to work with vendors or a planner located at the destination itself.
The benefits to hiring vendors, like a day of wedding coordinator in Chicago at the destination location include familiarity with the location, a higher likelihood of knowing local tips (like that perfect first-look spot, or the best venue for a rehearsal dinner or post-wedding brunch), and confidence that any unexpected road bumps can be handled with ease.
If you’re wondering when you should have your destination wedding, we recommend considering the following for your destination; seasonality, weather, travel options, the type of venue you desire, your budget and any activities you wish to offer for your guests.
For example, if you are hosting a more traditional wedding in Chicago and wish to have an outdoor garden ceremony and reception, we recommend you select a time between June and August, when the weather is warm and the garden will be in bloom. However, it’ll be important to also expect the possibility of more limited availability (since the demand is likely to be higher than in winter months) and perhaps higher pricing for the venue.
Many couples wonder when they should notify their guests after deciding on a destination wedding. Although this depends on the guest count for your event, we recommend using save the dates (whether physical or mailed materials, or online technologies) to get the word out.
Guests may need to request time off, arrange for childcare, secure travel arrangements like airfare and lodging, and perhaps budget for the event. More time to do so is frequently appreciated by guests both near and far, and consideration for your guests is important.
Something else to consider is the question of who is responsible for guest accommodations. This item varies, and depends on many factors. From the number of guests you anticipate to the destination location, to your financial situation, and beyond, how couples decide if and how to cover guest accommodations and itineraries varies widely.
There is no requirement that couples assist with cost management for guests. That said, we always advise the expression of extra gratitude to guests who make the time and effort to celebrate with you. Thoughtful ideas for ways to show you appreciate your family and friends who attend include working with wedding planners in Chicago to offer small welcome packages, a special gift, treat, or packaged snack, or supplying them with information about day trips or excursions.
Did you know Chicago is America’s third largest city? Along with that quality, it is also home to four of the country’s eight tallest buildings and has set trends in urban architecture for over a century. If you opt to host your wedding in Chicago, this city’s urban skyline will play a part in some of your best memories for years to come.
Chicago grew in the 1800’s and 1900’s to become a force in industrialism and global economics - all from its roots as a small trading outpost on the shores of Lake Michigan. Because of this, most US major rail transport networks pass through or converge in Chicago.
The expansion of the city that occurred near the time of World War I led to the start of the skyline’s development. Today, looking up at the architecture from below, you’ll see everything from brick and stone to glass, steel, and spires. If you’re up for it, be sure to head to Willis Tower and other skyscrapers, where numerous glass-bottomed balconies allow you a unique look at the city below.
As a bustling metropolitan center situated near a lake in the Midwest, Chicago offers venues of all kinds for events that range from sophisticated black-tie affairs in ballrooms of historic hotels to classy-industrial breweries, lakeside soirees, and ceremonies in world-class gardens. The many types of venues and different Chicago wedding packages offered mean that there’s no one-size fits all, so go ahead and explore your options!
Loft on the Lake is an urban space that can accommodate 150-175 guests. Located in the West Loop area, it is extremely customizable, with a 65-ft skylight through which tons of natural light pours in. The Loft is intimate and classy and blends the city’s energy with a warm and welcoming ambiance.
With its beautiful Georgian architecture, outdoor Lincoln Park plaza, hardwood floors, tall ceilings, and historic grandeur, the Chicago History Museum shines the spotlight on your wedding’s timelessness. We love that the options for rentals include the museum’s signature exhibition, as well as lots of rooms to choose from for your celebration.
If you’re interested in saying “I do” on a private yacht, surrounded by friends, family, and the cerulean skies above, there are more than 5 companies to choose from to make your dream come true. Select from The Sophisticated Lady Yacht Charters, Chicago Private Yacht Rentals, Free Spirit Yacht Cruises, and more for your event.
Whether you host a Chicago beach wedding and celebrate with a reception on a yacht or spend the whole evening above the waves, this breathtaking option allows you to enjoy the Chicago skyline and will be one your guests never forget.
While in Chicago, work with your planner to be sure to encourage your guests to celebrate this amazing city by visiting and experiencing what this top destination has to offer. We’ve provided some of our favorite things to do, just don’t forget to add on and include your top activities as well!
Don’t miss this world-class museum. Featuring installations and exhibits that span from ancient Egypt to modern-day masterpieces, the Art Institute of Chicago provides an amazing look at the art that has shaped who we are. Whether you enjoy a self-guided tour, attend a workshop, or just drop by for an hour or two, you’ll be sure to leave inspired.
A visit to the 360 Chicago Observation Deck, located on the 94th floor of the former John Hancock Building, will take your breath away. You’ll get a look at the Magnificent Mile from 1,000 in the air, have the opportunity to enjoy happy hour at one of numerous sitting areas, and consider a ticket to TILT, a chance to see the city from the highest thrill ride.
Encompassing more than 14 acres of hands-on exhibits for kids and adults alike, the Museum of Science and Industry is the Western Hemisphere’s largest science museum. Inside, you’ll get to see why this museum has been so loved since its inception in 1933 - it offers something for everyone, and leaves visitors more curious about the world around them.
Called “The Bean” by its fans and by visitors, Cloud Gate, the iconic statue located in Millenium Park, was introduced to Chicago in 2004 and has been reflecting the city ever since. If you visit Chicago, this installation is a must. Just head to the downtown loop, turn toward the park, and you can’t miss it!
Across the street from Millenium Park is the Chicago Cultural Center, another don’t miss location in this city. Offering music, dance, and theater productions, art exhibitions, films, lectures, and family events, this historic building is also home to breathtaking stained-glass domes. Visit their calendar to check out the events, or swing by between 10am and 5pm to see what’s going on at the Chicago Cultural Center.
For the shopping-lovers out there, head to North Michigan Avenue for visits to more than 450 retailers, including an array of flagship department stores, boutiques, high-end shops, brand houses, and shopping centers. For a complete listing of all of the shops (and more are always opening!), visit this site.
Just a few steps from the Magnificent Mile, this museum offers a unique glimpse of the art, architecture, and design that inspired the global trends set in the 1800’s and early 1900’s. The building and its restoration are works of art in themselves, inspiring appreciation for historic preservation.
A haven for nature enthusiasts, home gardeners, and those who recently adopted their first pandemic plant alike, the Garfield Park Conservatory is a neighborhood staple and a nationally recognized conservatory. When you visit, expect to be wowed by the eight lush display gardens, the amazing and inclusive opportunities for nature education, and the unique plants from all around the world in this living museum.
Another Chicago icon, this flowing installation was installed in 1927 and is now enjoyed by thousands of visitors daily. Be sure to visit for the hourly major display, which is about 20 minutes long and occurs every hour from 9am to 11pm, from early May through mid-October.
The Chicago Theatre
Considered among the earliest movie palaces and built in 1921, the Chicago Theatre was among the first developed by movie moguls Blaban & Katz. Today, the historic theater is the venue for concerts, comedians, dance performances, musicals, and more.
When looking for a team to help you manage and produce your Chicago wedding, there are many vendors to choose from. With such a high number of weddings occurring in the city annually, you’ll be sure to experience Chicago wedding vendors that are experienced, professional, and world-class. To make it smooth and easy, here are some of our favorites in planning, florals, catering, and entertainment in the Chicago area.
BWeddings is among the top Chicago wedding planners with an expertise in destinations. With our professional and attentive team, you’ll receive the best advice, support, and event management experience. We are hands-on and offer peace of mind both for couples familiar with Chicago and who are just visiting this city. Our trusted network of wedding professionals can assist with both large and small weddings, ensuring that your big day is unforgettably beautiful, smooth, and stress-free.
This high-end floral studio is outfitted with drapes, lighting, linens, and more, making it a great option for couples looking to celebrate with opulence and style. A unique aspect of Life in Bloom Chicago’s work process is their team’s 3D modeling of the design. This Chicago wedding vendor focuses on ensuring every detail, from initial consultation to the end of the event, is thoughtfully and intentionally covered, and the design process and 3D modeling means that the event’s look and feel is consistent from start to finish.
Owned and managed by a mother-daughter duo, A Pretty Flower is another option for couples seeking a wedding floral provider. Whether you opt for more traditional boutonnieres and bouquets or more elaborate centerpieces or arches, this creative team will turn your event into a work of art. Offering a la carte services, this floral studio is likely to be a more budget-friendly choice for elopements, rehearsal dinners, and smaller events, like micro wedding packages in Chicago.
If you’re seeking a farm-to-table feel for your Chicago event, we suggest looking into Limelight Catering. The team’s genuine love of food and of its power to connect and celebrate meaningful moments carries through in each bite or sip.
This catering company offers full-service catering, which includes appetizers, meals, and desserts, bar service, rental equipment, and staff. With 25+ years in the industry and more than 50,000 events in the books, you can trust Amazing Edibles to treat your guests to a great culinary experience.
Offering ceremony, cocktail, DJ services, and an amazing band to get your guests out on the dance floor, David Rothstein Music provides the full package for couples who wish to feature the energy that music brings during their big day. What sets this group apart is their desire to make each event an experience personalized to the couple being celebrated. Whether its their unlimited song requests, customized song lists, or working with your event planner Chicago so the event is seamless, this entertainment provider will make yours a day to remember.
Whether you opt to say your I do’s in Chicago and honeymoon somewhere else across the globe or revel in all this amazing city has to offer for your honeymoon, Chicago’s infrastructure is well-suited for lovebirds.
If you’re planning to honeymoon in Chicago, plan to get out and experience some of the city’s most well-known sites. A romantic sunset cruise on Lake Michigan, a morning stroll along Navy Pier, a visit to the many museums and world-class conservatory, and a trip up to the 360 Chicago Observation Deck are just a few ideas.
For those departing from Chicago to enjoy a honeymoon elsewhere, there are three international airports in the wider Chicago area that can accommodate your plans. From the Chicago Rockford International Airport and the Gary/Chicago International Airport to the O’Hare International Airport, getting to the site of your honeymoon should be a breeze. If you’re working with Chicago event planners, you may be able to allow them to assist you with your travel plans so that you can focus on enjoying the experience and relaxing with your love.
There are countless reasons we love Chicago. This city’s history, culture, activities, and location all make it an amazing place to have your wedding. The accommodations, venues, vendors, and multiple types of weddings possible in Chicago, as well as the convenient travel infrastructure support our choice of Chicago as among the top destination wedding locations for couples to consider.
If you haven’t already, we invite you to plan a visit to Chicago to stroll down Michigan Avenue, snap a selfie by The Bean, enjoy the culinary offerings of this world stage, and gaze at its skyline - perhaps even from above. The magic never fades, and what better setting for your most unforgettable day?