5 Secrets to Planning a Chicago Wedding

If you are planning a wedding in the city of Chicago, below are five essential pieces of information engaged couples must know before doing so!


According to data from The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in the US in 2019 was $28,000. Illinois was the 8th most expensive state for a wedding in 2019 with the average cost of a wedding ringing in at $39,700—$11,700 more than the national average. If you got married in the city of Chicago, the average cost was even higher! The actual location of your wedding will significantly impact your wedding costs. Expect to pay a high premium if you get married in a Chicago zip code. If you get married in a Chicago suburb, the cost may be comparable to the national average, or at the very least, lower than the cost of getting married in Chicago itself.

Day & Season

The day and time of year you have your wedding will impact the wedding budget. In Chicago, wedding season is from May through October. A venue rental every Saturday in that 6-month timeframe will be significantly more expensive than if you had your wedding on a Saturday in November through April, the offseason. If you have your wedding on a Friday or Sunday (excluding holiday weekends), the rates will generally be cheaper than having them on a Saturday and be similar in pricing during the wedding season versus the off season. If you have your wedding on a weekday (excluding big wedding dates like Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve that can cost more regardless of what day they fall on), it will certainly be cheaper than having it on a weekend. Some venues and vendors will run specials during the offseason, so you can potentially save money if you’re flexible with your wedding date.

Venue vs Restaurant

The city of Chicago has a ton of venue options for weddings, from hotels and banquet halls to loft spaces and mansions to outdoor rooftops and lakefront properties—and everything in between. But like most things in Chicago, it can get can pricey, especially when it comes to weddings. One way to have a true Chicago wedding without breaking the bank is to consider having your event at a local restaurant. Now don’t go in expecting a deal because the fee you pay will have to cover the profit the restaurant would make on your wedding date, but a restaurant wedding can be an affordable alternative. The cost will significantly depend on the amount of space you’ll need. For example, a full buyout of a restaurant on a Friday or Saturday night in Chicago will be much more expensive than a wedding held during the day on the weekend if the restaurant is normally closed. However, if you find a restaurant that has a private event space or you’re having a smaller wedding that requires a partial buyout—both cases which allow the restaurant to continue its usual operations—you may find that to be a more cost-effective solution when searching for a wedding venue.

Services Charges & Taxes

Most couples think about the big purchases when it comes to their wedding day (venue rental, F&B, photography, music, etc.), but there are a ton of smaller forgotten expenses than can quickly add up over time. Two of these more substantial expenses are service charges and taxes. They are commonly included in catering, hotel and venue proposals, but other vendors may not include either in their initial proposal to keep the costs down. It’s important to not only ask for the all-in price when interviewing vendors but also know the expected range for service charges and taxes as that will vary depending on the location of your wedding. In the Chicago area, a service charge will range from 18-25% and taxes will range from 8-12%, which is on the higher side in comparison to other places in the US. These expenses are quite hefty and commonly forgotten, so don’t forget to include a miscellaneous category in your overall wedding budget to make room for these two expenses.

Local Wedding Planner

If you’re planning a wedding in Chicago or the surrounding suburbs and are on the fence about hiring a wedding planner, go for it. If you don’t think you need one, get one. There are numerous benefits to hiring a wedding planner. A planner’s main job is to educate and inform couples on anything related to weddings including costs, trends and etiquette. A professional wedding planner will have a wide network of vendors to suggest to you, can come up with creative and realistic ways to save on wedding expenses, can design and organize your wedding details, and will be onsite on the day of to ensure everything runs as smooth as possible— all of which saves couples countless hours of time when planning and provides peace of mind throughout the entire process. The most important takeaway is to hire a planner that is local to or familiar with the area you’re getting married in because the planner will know an array of venues and vendors who service different budgets and styles particular to that location.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Have you ever wondered what else to ask wedding vendors before booking them besides, “How much do your charge?” Enter The Wedding Question Guide.

This digital wedding planning resource has over 300 questions engaged couples must ask venues and vendors before booking your wedding team—all through the viewpoint of a professional and experienced wedding planner.

Make informed decisions about your wedding throughout the entire planning process with The Wedding Question Guide!

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