The People Must Eat – 64 Days

I want to start by wishing all the best to my friend and fellow blogger, Jennifer of City Girl Bride, at her wedding this Saturday. She’s been through a lot in her planning process and I’m so glad she’ll finally tie the knot and go on a fabulous honeymoon. Congratulations, Jen! You did it!

On to my wedding craziness… One of our biggest problems we’ve run into (one-off crises aside) is food. Food is expensive. At first I was all about being the offbeat bride and starving everyone to save us some money. Ok – not STARVING, but just not providing more than what I would at a normal house party. A dinner isn’t necessary and many couples are cutting big ticket traditions like sit-down dinners from their weddings in favor of more non-traditional receptions. Non-traditional is my favorite! However, the more I thought about it, the more I felt terrible for having all of our guests (the vast majority from out of town) come to our wedding and stay for hours with only some cheese and crackers and cupcakes to munch on. “But beer is filling!” said the momentarily college-aged Crystal. While true, beer IS filling, something tells me this will not be sufficient to hold a group of possibly 150 people over for 5 hours.

Jordan’s Food of Distinction

On the suggestion of my newly engaged friend Michelle (see my last post), I called up a company called Jordan’s Food of Distinction. From the name of it, I thought “I can’t even afford normal food, let alone food of distinction.” However, I followed the advice and gave them a call. On the call, I learned that they are also an all-inclusive caterer which means that they will not only provide the food, but also the rental furniture (chairs, tables, etc), the servers, and will even act as a sort of “coordinator” for the event and everything! Fancy!

The woman I spoke with was named Pam and she was FABULOUS – very easy going, professional, and friendly. She made me feel comfortable telling her my budget (which can sometimes be difficult if you are dealing with a high-end company and you have a very modest budget). She asked me a few questions like what I was willing to do without to stay in budget. (i.e. Could I do disposable plates, cutlery, etc? Can we cut out high-priced meats like beef and seafood?)  My answer, of course, was “whatever can keep me in my budget.” In a couple of days, I had a sample menu and an itemized invoice in my inbox to review. I was floored with how delicious everything sounded on the menu and that it was in (or right around) our budget! I asked for Latin-themed food that didn’t require our guests to sit-down to enjoy, and I got a lovely menu with a delicious-sounding “taco bar” as the main event. It was perfect.

Long story short, we didn’t end up booking with them. After re-evaluating our budget post house-buying, we really didn’t want to push it and this option, while definitely an affordable option for most, was pushing what we felt comfortable paying. But please check them out and speak with Pam if you are looking for a nice custom menu and somebody to handle your rentals for you! You’ll be surprised what you can get for your money.

Our Food

So, here is what we ended up deciding on: family-cooked appetizers (in the industrial kitchen at Kitchen Chicago – perfect!) supplemented with chicken, steak, and pork tortas from the Costa Rican BYOB restaurant on Milwaukee in Wicker Park called Irazu.

Potluck style 

Appetizers: My fiance’s family was so kind to offer to cook for our reception. Luckily, his family is very easy to please in that they are all happy as long as they are together. They love spending time with one another and they love to cook for people. And boy, are they good cooks! My future mother-in-law helped me pick out some appetizers that would be fairly simple for them to make on a large-scale and to keep well on the table without a ton of rental chafing dishes and whatnot. (I’m so lucky to have awesome future in-laws – the entire extended family is just a treat to be around.) Here is what we came up with:  mini chicken & cheese quesadillas, tostones (Dominican fried plantains), tortilla chips & guacamole, veggies with ranch dip, and assorted fruits with this delicious fruit dip my future M-I-L makes. Nothing requires a fork! I am budgeting about $200-$250 for ingredients from Costco for all of this.

Tortas: Irazu is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Not only is it BYOB, but the prices are unbeatable for the amount and quality of food. (Go visit them right now if you haven’t. It’s so worth it. Oh! And try an oatmeal shake. I mean it. Fair warning: cash only.) Now, Irazu’s tortas are HUGE. I mean, half of one leaves me so full I want to sleep. So, we are having them all cut into quarters in order to be more finger-food friendly and to make sure a ton of food won’t go to waste. It will fit in perfectly with the rest of the food and will be a very filling (and delicious) option for all of our hungry guests. Can I also brag that this will only run us about $300 including delivery?

Dessert: Have I mentioned lately that my future in-laws are great? 😉 My future mother-in-law makes this secret-recipe carrot cake that is out of this world. I didn’t even know I liked carrot cake until I had hers. When my fiancé and I started talking about our wedding cake, this carrot cake popped into my head and I couldn’t let it go. No other cake is going to be as good; this I know. So I asked her if she would be willing to make carrot cake cupcakes to serve as our “wedding cake” for the big day. She agreed and I couldn’t be more excited to see everybody’s reactions when they take a bite. Yum! Also, my future sister-in-law is taking a cake-decorating class to learn how to make the icing pretty to display on a cupcake stand (or two). Love her! Take THAT expensive wedding cakes!


So, the moral of the story here is that there ARE affordable options in the way of caterers, albeit few and far between. And don’t be afraid to contact your favorite local restaurant, no matter how small, to see what they can do for you. Even (and especially) if they don’t normally cater weddings or events, they could have some really budget-friendly options for you that you may not have even thought of. Call them and start the conversation. Food is what they do, so they should be able to give advice and steer you in the right direction at the very least. Chafing dishes and catering equipment are available for rent if you need them at most rental companies. Think outside the box, and don’t let yourself get played by the over-priced caterers in this city!

Bon appetite!

3 Months and a House

Can you believe it?! In 88 short days, I will be all dressed in white and walking down the isle to wed my handsome groom. I am so excited! *Insert high-pitched squeal!* Though, I have so many things to sort out still that I’m having stressful wedding day dreams where nothing is done and I’m scrambling to get chairs and food. Those are the worst. But here’s why I still have so much…

Since my last post, my fiance and I have become homeowners! We purchased a beautiful condo in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed duct work and stainless steel appliances…!!! Everything a girl could ask for. Now that I’m settled (though still without internet, hmmpf), I would LOVE to get everybody caught up on my wedding planning and all of my discoveries since my last post.

First and foremost, I want to give a huge CONGRATULATIONS to my friends Michelle and Tyler on their recent engagement! It is so nice to have a fellow bride-to-be to bounce around the city with looking at dresses and chatting about our roadblocks and triumphs. SO EXCITED for this beautiful, happy couple!

(just because I love this bouquet)
Flaky Photographers

I may have mentioned my photographer in a previous post – family friend, immensely talented. We had a contract and plans to fly her in from California for the big day. Well, long story short: She bailed. After having what I can only imagine was a full-blown panic attack, I started desperately asking around for recommendations. On a budget as small as ours, good photographers are few and far between. WAY far between. I couldn’t find one (that fit my slightly snooty standards). I was looking for a full day of coverage and rights to all the photos for $1000. While there are options out there in this price range, the picture quality seemed to reflect the cost if you know what I mean. And pictures are THE only thing I will have after this day to show my kids and grandkids, family that couldn’t make it, etc. Big deal in my book.

So, after enlisting the help of my sister, we started our search. We found many close-but-no-cigar options – either they were just outside our budget or just below par on creativity (comment or email me for some great Chicagoland options!). Just when I was going to give up hope completely, my sister offered the creativity and services of her fiance. Why it didn’t dawn on me a long time ago that he is a very creative and talented photographer/artist, I don’t know. She said she was holding off on offering to see if we could find another option for fear he will be too distracted by our family members to get good coverage. I say, free & talented is the best combination and I am very grateful for his generosity. We’ll make sure that everyone we know has their digital camera in hand all day to catch any moments he might get stuck talking to our grandpa – which is both highly likely and almost impossible to squirm out of.

Crisis averted.

(See my photographer/future brother-in-law’s artwork & portfolio here. Though, please beware NSFW! He has many artistic nude photos and it is possible they could be right on the home screen. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.)

Bye Bye, Down Time!

Most brides know that there is a lull in your planning schedule if you have the typical year from engagement to wedding. Well, mine has come and is now packing its things to leave forever. I started planning fast and got a space booked and a wedding dress right away. But some things just can’t be booked a year in advance…and some don’t need to be. It was still too early to map out the tiny details. Not anymore. I’m coming up on our 6-month marker next weekend and it’s time to get my booty back in gear.

The Wedding Salon
I haven’t been completely ignoring the wedding lately, to be fair. I went to the Wedding Salon event at Sofitel Chicago with my best bridal blogger buds Hollie at Thrifty in White and Jennifer over at Peach Bride. We got to taste a few passed appetizers & desserts, get our pics taken in every photo booth we could find, and drink as much wine as we could get our hands on (which didn’t end up being much because the place was so packed).

I blocked out the first one for everybody’s sake. Jen, I LOVE the tiara. 😉

#1: Silly, #2: Awkward

Since our tickets were free via a promo code, it was well worth the trip just to get some ideas for hair styles and table decor, but I have to say that these events are NOT for the bride on a budget. They’re great for inspiration and free wine but don’t expect to actually find a deal there. The only thing that might end up working out is a honeymoon package from Sandals, who had a booth there. Oh, and Hollie’s incredible chalkboard writing capabilities that I may have to barter for all-you-can-drink wine and/or DIY help. (Hollie, look what you got yourself into.) 🙂

House Hunting
Since I am slightly insane, we have started our search for a home while also planning a wedding! How exciting though, right?! If I’m sparse on the posts, that would be part of my excuse. We’re taking our time and visiting places every weekend in various neighborhoods in Chicago (but mostly in Lakeview/Lincoln Park/Downtown). I must say I think I’m getting better at narrowing them down online first before we go see them because we are getting closer and closer to the perfect place every week. THIS is what I want to spend our money on, NOT the one-day event that is our wedding. So, in a way, the house hunting comes at a perfect time to keep me on track with our wedding budget. I’m so excited to have a place in mind when I’m registering for gifts!

The fiance and I are off to NYC next week for a family wedding and I am SO EXCITED to get to take some mental notes while I’m there. Seeing one in action will definitely get my creative juices flowing and inspire me to start getting things wrapped up for my own!
190 days…

DJ. Check!

Have I ever told you how much I love checking things off of lists? I want to make lists all day long just so I can check things off of them…. breathe, check! eat, check! Anyways (I almost just wrote “anyhoodle” like my pal and fellow blogger, Hollie at Thrifty in White hahaha), I have checked off a few things that were pending on my list from my last post and this makes the checker-offer in me very satisfied.

As I mentioned in my last post, I got my save-the-dates from the vendor blimpcat on Etsy. We had some issues with the postal service, but when I finally got them in I was DELIGHTED! Blimpcat had wrapped the cards up in this adorable blimpcat custom wrapping paper and tied it with a bow and put it in a box with pretty tissue paper.

Kitties! Ribbon!

A “thank you” card is attached to the top, handwritten from the lady I had been in contact with regarding my order, Kate. This was such a lovely gesture that I had to take a picture of it.

So nice.

Maybe this is typical from vendors on Etsy and I have just been missing out all this time, but I thought the little extras were a very nice touch. They have very much earned my recommendation.

We had one tiny problem: the somewhat glossy finish on the card makes even permanent markers smear. Luckily, our brilliant friend John recommended we use shipping labels. Not only did this solve the ink smudging problem but also the terrible handwriting problem that both my fiance and I have been stricken with. My handwriting would have taken those beautiful cards from a 10 to a 2 in as little as a few pen strokes.

So we bought Avery shipping labels from (use that Prime membership!) and used the template that they have available for free at to create a 10-page PDF. After trying and failing to print them on our own, we brought them to FedEx where they printed them for FREE! I love free. Thanks, FedEx/Kinkos. The labels & ugly Liberty Bell stamps have now been affixed and our save-the-dates are currently en route to a home near you. Total shipping costs including labels: $40.

Disc Jockey
I would like to take a moment to thank my wonderful fiance for helping book the DJ. Thank you, my love. 😉 Who knew DJs were so darn expensive?! Goodness gracious! There was a moment there in our planning where I thought we would have an iPod (or in our case, Zune) wedding. I was given many wonderful recommendations for DJs that I’m sure are great, but I can’t justify spending that much for a DJ when I have my eyes on a new house. I also know that a DJ is important and can make or break an event. Conundrum.

I started researching and comparing rates online and panic ensued. Almost every DJ was over $1000 for 4 hours, with a couple $795+ exceptions. The new “it” DJ group for the nontraditional Chicago wedding, Toast & Jam, came highly recommended…..for a quoted $1295. I know you guys rock and everything, but it’s just not in this savvy bride’s budget. So then I remembered the DJ from our company Christmas party last year. Rafael and I liked them so much that we were talking about them days later. They really felt the vibe of the crowd and kept everybody dancing. They even had Lupe Fiasco in their library! Thumbs up!

I asked our HR department for the information and they were very helpful in giving me the name (One Stop DJ Service) and their pricing from last year. I knew we were in business. I contacted them (despite their terrible, horrible, ugly website) and was promptly contacted with a quote for 6 hours plus 1 hour of set-up/tear-down time at $795. After about of day of not responding to them, they called me and left a voicemail saying that if we pay the deposit by the end of the month, they would take $100 off of the price. Better yet – if we pay in FULL by the end of the month, they would take $200 off the price. Now we’re talking. I handed it off to my fiance and he got them all paid up and booked for the low low price of $595 (though we miss every penny).

218 days to go…

Save the date! (8 months to go)

Hola amigas!
All of a sudden, I woke up and I only have 8 months left to get everything together. I know it seems like a long time but I’m already starting to hear “I’m sorry, we’re not available for your event date.” Jeez, fellow brides-to-be! Rush much? I’m kidding. I get it. Early bird gets the worm. So, I still have a long laundry list of things to consider in the following months including but not limited to:

  • Book a DJ
  • Address and send save-the-dates (see below!)
  • Meet with florists – choose one
  • Choose invitations
  • What are my guests going to eat? Drink?
  • Who will bartend?
  • Table decor – what is it going to look like? What is realistic for my budget?
  • Find & book an officiant

Those are the main ones I need to take care of before January when I really start getting details in place like footwear, accessories, ceremony scripts, hairstyle, decor specifics, etc etc.

Notice, NOT on the list is “Order save-the-dates.” You know why? Because I already did! I found them on Etsy from a vendor called blimpcat. The woman I was in contact with, Kate, was very attentive and helpful. They should be arriving to my office today (although it’s not looking good, USPS).

Proof from blimpcat

They are simple, cute and don’t tie us down to a theme for invitations. However, they DO set the color scheme. Perfection. $130 well spent. The final pieces also have our wedding website address for our guests to find maps, hotel booking information, and (sshhh) registry information – free from, I might add.

Up next – book a DJ. One that is well under $1000, please. Thanks. 🙂

The Dress

Wow! It’s been a while, huh? You look so grown up! 🙂

Since my last post, I have been a planning monster, and today I’d like to announce that I have purchased my wedding dress! Yaaayy!!! Actually, I purchased TWO wedding dresses. Let me explain…

First try
I started out where I think every bride should start her search: David’s Bridal. Some brides get this look on their face when they hear the words “David’s Bridal.” They get all scrunchy-nosed like you just put plate of liver and kidneys in front of them. Listen up ladies! David’s Bridal is a GREAT resource. They were so very helpful. I went in not knowing the first thing about wedding dress styles, sizes, colors, etc and now I feel like a pro. They help you find styles that you feel great and look great in and they will bring you as many dresses to try as you can fit into your time schedule. Find your perfect style here and then shop online if you don’t find The One in the store.

I tried on a ton. After 2 visits, I realized that strapless was the way to go for me and on my 3rd visit I purchased one!

Note: I will not be posting pics of myself in the dresses as my fiance will not be pleased. He is determined to not see me in white until May 7, 2011 as I walk down the isle. I am obliged.

Dress #1: David’s Bridal

There she is! David’s Bridal dress style WG9859 (if you want to see better pics). I felt like a princess bride. You can’t tell from the photo, but it has little sparkley things all over it – not sequence, mind you. Heaven forbid. And it fit me so well too! I was absolutely glowing when I had this dress on.

So you’re wondering, “Sounds great! What went wrong?” Nothing really, but the whole time I had this tiny little voice in the back of my head saying, “Isn’t this a little much?” The whole theme with my wedding is laid-back and not showy. Just a celebration of love and commitment. This dress says (a little too loudly) “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!” It has the train that I would have to bustle and the appliques all down the front and the sparkles and the ruching…. plus it was about $624 on sale… $124 over my ideal budget for a dress. Finally, after about 2 or 3 days, I decided that it wasn’t the one. Yeah, I felt great in it…but it just wasn’t me and I didn’t want to start going over budget on things. Fortunately, David’s Bridal has an AWESOME return policy. I had 10 days to cancel my order without paying a dime. They refunded me 100% of my down payment (half of the total) and that was that.

On to other dresses!

Second Try
My sister, knowing that the first dress wasn’t right even before I realized it, made me appointments at two bridal consignment shops on the Saturday after I canceled my DB order. She knows me better than almost anyone, I’d say, and I was very excited to have her there with me to choose the perfect dress. She’s very honest with me too and that is extremely helpful for this very important decision….perhaps a little too honest at times. 😉

The first place I tried – I Do, Inc. Designer Bridal Consignment – was terrific! It is a very small, family-owned boutique on the far west side of Chicago. They have gowns in all shapes, sizes, and colors and from all eras. They let you go into their storage room and forage through the tight isles of puffy dresses. It’s worth noting that this is a task for only the most serious thrifter. Luckily, that is exactly what my sister and I are. I actually prefer to look through things myself than to have people wait on me and bring me stuff. (I’m sure this boutique will cater to any bride, though. If you want to be waited on…still give them a try!) This boutique is also very budget-bride friendly. They ask you outright what your budget is and tell you frankly what to not even look at. I really appreciated that they didn’t make me feel shy about my modest budget and really helped me get the most of it.

I found some really great vintage pieces in that storage room. But the one I loved the most was a fairly new piece from….wait for it…. DAVID’S BRIDAL. Yes, I ended up with a David’s Bridal dress anyways. It has my favorite elements from Dress #1, but none of the over-the-top glitter and appliques. Best part: it was only $250! That is half of my budget for gown and accessories!
Note: The following were taken from

Lovely, figure-flattering ruching!

No train = lots of dancing

So, there you have it. We canceled my second appointment that day and I paid for half of the dress right there. They are holding it in a temperature-controlled room for me since I don’t have central a/c in my apartment and I will go in early next year to start my alterations. However, it almost fits me like a glove. Just a couple tiny adjustments, a small sweetheart dip in the neckline and it’s good to go! Even the length is perfect for a nice pair of cute, comfy flats or kitten heals.

Dress. Check!


Just a quick note about friendship that I have witnessed today…

I had a bit of reunion today on Twitter with my Freshman year roommate in college. Her name is Mallory, and reuniting with her is exciting for the following reasons:

  1. We got back in touch rather randomly after I saw an @ reply to her by a fellow wedding blogger, The Knotty Bride. Exciting because The Knotty Bride posts some of the most awesome and inspirational wedding photos. She also is open & honest on her Twitter account, which I truly appreciate. If our paths ever cross, this is the kind of person I could see myself sitting around with on a lazy Saturday afternoon sipping margaritas on a patio somewhere.
  2. She’s also getting married!!!!! Congratulations, Mallory & James!
  3. She blogs too!!! Please read her work at and (Don’t miss the story entitled “Reasons to say, ‘Yes!’” and the groom’s version “Reasons I’m Hoping You Say ‘Yes’.” You will cry. Have tissues.) She is a skilled writer, to say the least. Finding someone with this much care for words is not easy these days. Mallory and my fiance. Those are the two people that could write an instruction manual that I would want to read from cover to cover.
  4. She is an all-around good person. Kind-hearted, grateful, loving, determined, ambitious, and passionate. Mallory saved me from a horrible roommate placement my very first semester of college by offering me the extra spot in her double-occupancy room. Anybody else would have kept the room to themselves! If I remember correctly, I was a bit of a bad influence on her studies from time to time, but those nights always ended with laughter and smiles. She is one of the first people I met out of high school that I considered a strong, independent female- something that has stuck with me through the years.

In fact, I’m so excited about this that I may take an impromptu weekend trip to NY in the near future to catch up over a cocktail (or two or three). I never thought when I started this blog that I would meet (and reunite) with so many fantastic people – some already married and some in the same boat as me. There is a whole community of brides out there that I never knew existed. It’s like a little secret society and it’s fabulous!

Three cheers for Twitter, old friends, wedding planning, and (one that often gets left out) the wonderful men who live on the other side of these blogs.

P.S. I looked all over for a digital photo of Mallory and me, but the only ones I have are paper photos. I shall scan and update tomorrow!

The Space is Booked

If I thought it wasn’t 100% tacky to post our signed agreement on here, I would do it. I’m so excited to have this massive piece of the puzzle in place. The weight of an elephant is off my shoulders and the rest will be smoooooth sailing. Right? HAHA! Kidding. But really, it feels good.

We had it narrowed down to the last 2 locations that I featured in my previous post: Westgrand Studios Loft and Kitchen Chicago. They both have the feel I was hoping for and for the price I was hoping for.

Westgrand Studios Loft
This space is really beautiful. However, the experience was a little rocky right from the start. As I mention in my previous post, getting a hold of the owner was a bit of a challenge. He doesn’t have a staff member to follow up on leads and take people on tours. He should.

After a couple awkward conversations with him on the phone, I finally got an appointment set up for my fiance and I to see the space. He had us meet him at his personal apartment down the street to get the keys from him. (His apartment is really awesome, btw. An old firehouse. Gorgeous.) I thought this was a little bit odd.

Anyways, we got the keys from him, went to the building down the street, and let ourselves in. We searched the 3rd floor, per his instructions, for the door to the event space. I couldn’t find it for the life of me. We were all turned around, and I was sure that we were in the wrong spot. I called him and he walked me through it, the key wouldn’t work right away, then I opened the door. Wow. It was spectacular. I mean, really really above my expectations for all that I went through to get there. Large space, neat vibe, beautiful city view, lovely skylight, industrial touches…swoon!

Westgrand Studios Loft
(all pictures taken by me)

The lovely skylight

Good view of the brick walls & skylight

After getting sent the wrong contract a couple times long after I requested it, I started having big time doubts. If this is the person I will be working with for my wedding day (the biggest day of my life to date), this isn’t going to work out. His emails were written in all caps and with broken sentences. Maybe it’s just me, but that stuff matters.

So the winner is….

Kitchen Chicago!!!!!!!!
The space is just as, if not more, beautiful than Westgrand. The event space itself doesn’t have a view of the city, but the kitchen does! A GREAT one! So it’s still there, you just have to work a little harder to get it. The ceilings soar to the sky and the exposed brick is rustic, home-y, and welcoming! It also comes with really great solid wood benches/tables that we can use at our discretion for seating and/or for display purposes.

Tables & benches at Kitchen Chicago

I won’t have to do much at all to this place as far as decorating goes. The owner is super friendly,accommodating, and approachable. I love her passion for the kitchen and for her business. There’s also extra washrooms and a little private area that my groom and I can retreat to during the night if we need it. And one last thing about this space that I love: the location. Not only is it blocks from our apartment, but the industrial landscape should make for some really awesome photos!

I love this place!

The loft within the loft at Kitchen Chicago
(will need help brainstorming how to maximize that space)

My fiance, standing where we will be saying our vows. 🙂

I also did some research into the Chicago Park District buildings and gardens. That deserves a separate post as they are great options for tight budgets!

Location, Location, Location

We know that we have to book an event space as soon as possible for a number of reasons.

  1. We want to get our first choice spot. If we fall in love with a place then find out it’s not available on the day we were really hoping for, sadness ensues.
  2. If we book far enough in advance, we may be able to cut a deal with the venue if their calendar is still wide open.
  3. I want to know what the space looks like and how big it is so I can plan rental furniture and decorations accordingly.
Naturally, our first choice was the Adler Planetarium (see first post). It’s a really special spot and has unreal views of the city, Navy Pier, and Lake Michigan. Unfortunately, once I started looking into it further, I discovered that event rental space is about as much as our total budget for that time of year. We did consider getting married in the low season – dead of winter – so that we could have this space but decided that we couldn’t put our families through a visit to Chicago in the winter. That’s just mean.

Wedding at the Adler Planetarium.

(photo from here)

Since that was out of the question, I decided that I want a venue off the beaten path a little. Not your typical hotel space with 4 walls and bad carpet. (No offense to those that choose hotels. There are many great reasons to go that route. Easy set up, experienced staff, room to get ready, often less expensive, etc.) I want a unique space. And hopefully, if I can find a space that isn’t necessarily popular for weddings, I can get it on the cheap.

The following are the spots I am considering or did heavily consider:

Salvage One
This place is AWESOME. It’s full of unique, vintage furniture, has hardwood floors, tall ceilings, and an outdoor garden area – not to mention this extremely swoon-worthy Chicago art piece pictured below. Basically, I would consider this spot to have everything I could ever want in a wedding venue. Here’s the bummer: it’s $6500 for the day. Unless we don’t eat or drink anything and dance to the radio at our wedding, we can’t afford it. SAD FACE!

Salvage One
(photo from here)

Garfield Park Conservatory
Ok, so here’s a nice alternative spot. The conservatory! The price is right – $2,500. Plus, no need to buy a lot of decorations or flowers. The place is basically already styled for me. I just have to add tables and chairs and maybe some mood lighting. I foresee a problem with sound since the ceilings are so high and I know that places like this have weird acoustics. The other possible problem is that they have a restricted catering list which means that I must use one of their caterers. Caterers = $$$. Most of them have minimum packages that can quickly put me over my budget. More research needs to be done here. Very good possibility, though.

Horitculture Hall at the Garfield Park Conservatory
(photo from here)

Westgrand Studios Loft
We found out about this spot from a coworker. The website is terrible, but I sent them an email anyways since the photo looked nice and it is right down the street from our apartment. The price is very competitive for what the owner is offering. $2,500 gets the space for the full day, Friday set-up (if nobody is booked that day), a kitchen prep area, a rolling bar, no catering or alcohol restrictions (bring my own! yay!), and a beautiful view of the city skyline. I’m only a little hesitant because the website is so disorganized and the phone number I called had a full mailbox.

Westgrand Studios Loft
(photo from here)

Kitchen Chicago

I have no idea how I found this space at all. Kitchen Chicago is exactly what is sounds like – an industrial kitchen on the west side of Chicago (about 4 blocks from our apartment) that is available for hourly rental by area chefs without their own kitchens. Fortunately, the kitchen has an event space attached that is available at the unreal price of $1500 for the whole event day. The space is BYOB and I can bring any caterer I want, but they do have a list of caterers that use their kitchen. I’m sure the managers would love to get them some business.

Kitchen Chicago loft space
(photo from here)
Time to set up some appointments, ask many many questions, and take many many pictures. 🙂

The Guest List

By reading all the lovely and helpful wedding blogs that I happily discovered almost immediately after I accepted my fiance’s proposal, I found out that the guest list is the foundation for the rest of the planning.

Therein lies the problem. Did I mention my fiance has the BIGGEST family I have ever heard of? We joke (but in a semi-serious fashion) that he may have the largest family in the United States if somebody were to actually start from the oldest living and count all the way to the newest baby. His dad has 17 brothers and sisters. That’s 17 aunts and uncles – not to mention his mom’s side with another 6! Add their husbands and wives and families and… get the idea.

This is just us at the Planetarium being idiots on the day he proposed.

After organizing it all out on a spreadsheet (thanks, Google Docs!), we decided that our guest list was going to have to include – drumroll please – 150 people! Yes, I am going to have a wedding for 150 guests for $8,000. Ok, so I know not all 150 will show up but better to over-plan than under-plan.

I have a pretty specific idea of how I want our wedding to feel aesthetically. I’m thinking vintage and rustic but still classy, clever, and put-together (see a couple images I love below). I really want to embrace a simple color palette and a simple decor. I’m hoping to have the “wow” factor in the smaller details – that don’t cost as much to pull off! We only get to have this day once in our lives and I want to love every bit of it!

DIY Bouquet of hydrangeas & peonies
(image from

Simple & beautiful tribute to family.
(image from

Next stop: a ceremony/reception location!