Four Weddings

So I’ve posted about two top venue  choices, tried to find out about caterers, and created way too  many spreadsheets.

We went and saw Dream Venue on Thursday, and convinced ourselves we could make it work–the higher expense, the less-than-ideal date, but oh-so-gorgeous. And then, finally, we took a step back.


Source: Cafe Brauer/Lincoln Park Zoo

My mom checked A Practical Wedding out of the library, and I read the first 60 pages in a sitting. And then we followed directions.

  • We both wrote down any ideal wedding we could think of.
  • Then we thought about why it was ideal.
  • Then we shared it with each other–here’s what I want and here’s why, unrestricted by reality.
  • Narrow down what really matters. What things are truly important to each of us? What do we want this to look like?
  • We used the list of words in the book and made a list of all the words we wanted to describe our wedding.
  • And then we wrote a sentence.

Just a single sentence. And it made me feel so much better.

“A simple, handcrafted, laid-back, traditional wedding with close friends and family, booze and BBQ.”

That’s what we want it to feel like. And we do still very much want it to be convenient, but not at the expense of the feel we want. So the Murphy? Not going to cut it. I loved it–that was my first choice. I still think its lovely, but the wedding we would have there probably wouldn’t feel like mine. It would feel like a very elegant, formal downtown Chicago wedding. I, however, am not a very elegant person. And neither is Shamrock.

The venue is such a big deal–it determines the overall look of the reception, what colors will be a good fit, and more. Those details I care about, but I can see a lovely event in ANY of our options. The real question is what our wedding will look and feel like. None of these are tied to specific locations, just overall feel.

Wedding One: Downtown Elegance

Navy Linens Room Shot

Source: The Allerton Hotel

Wedding One is set in a gorgeous city location–a short walk or brief ride from the ceremony. Guests arrive for a cocktail hour with fancy foods, and then move to the ballroom for a seated dinner of steak. The decor is classic–floral centerpieces, matching bridesmaids dresses and a champagne toast. The cake is cut, the first dances danced, and all hit the dance floor for the evening.

Wedding Two: City Fun


Source: Loft on Lake

The atmosphere here is a little more modern than downtown elegance–but does include a fun and unique location, hopefully with city and/or water views–or is an open loft-type space. The decor is more modern, with some handmade elements and paper lanterns. Its maybe a 15 minute trip in your own car or on a trolley.  The cocktail hour includes a photobooth, and there are some quirky elements, like a (totally optional) scavenger hunt or a guest book making activity. The dinner could be seated, or it might be buffet style. There’s dancing afterwards, but other things going on in the lobby or another room too.

Wedding Three: Garden Chic

Columbus Park

Image via: Style Me Pretty Photography by: Gerber + Scarpelli

Many of the same elements carry over from Downtown Elegance, but with a more green backdrop and outdoor access. It’s also a little further away, probably a 25 minute trip. Guests arrive for cocktails in the garden/terrace/other green space, then move inside for a plated steak dinner. The look is still elegant with a more formal look–think Chivari chairs, flowers and champagne. Cake is cut, dances danced, and merriment ensues. Dancing is either outside or in a separate room, so some people stay inside or wander around the grounds.

Wedding Four: Garden Party


After the ceremony, guests get a trolley to the reception. Upon arrival, a cocktail hour with comfort food is available, as well as some lawn games and a photobooth or other activities. The atmosphere is laid back as guests make their way inside for a casual buffet dinner–or maybe outside for a barbecue station. After dinner, guests can get dessert from a dessert table, dance outside (or in a nearby room), pick up a candy bar favor or try out our activity.

Which wedding would you choose?


6 thoughts on “Four Weddings

  1. They all sound lovely. Personally, I gravitate towards #4 or #2, if I were planning my wedding. There’s elements of all of them that sound like you could make it a very “Mary” type of wedding. #2 sounds the most like one of your parties, but I don’t know what sounds the most like Mike.

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