I had the hardest time choosing a venue. I made an epic list of venues, then a spreadsheet of venue options, then another for the caterering.
And we just had no idea. We saw some gorgeous venues, but we were still stuck. I came up with a few options and we went and saw a bunch more places. My standard method was to google Venue Name Chicago Wedding. Since we did a lot of this over Facetime (Shamrock was travelling for work), that’s what I would tell him to put in as well. Usually the first several hits would include some photography or wedding blogs, and we would check those out.
But photos only show so much and often (rightly) focus more on the people than the space. When I was wondering how dances would work at the Allerton Hotel–I was worried our short mothers would not see the first dance at all because of an awkward layout–he went to video. Of COURSE. If you find a wedding video, they are likely to pan the space at least once, and you can see how some key moments might play out in the space, like the first dance, toasts or exit. So, when you google, go to video and check out what you can find! (I was right about the first dances at the Allerton–it looked like only about a dozen people could see them because of the barbell-shaped layout of the ballroom.)
Watching all those videos ended up making us more and more comfortable with our final decision…Cheney Mansion!
We had it down to a short list–Allerton Hotel, Murphy Auditorium, Columbus Park Refectory, Cafe Brauer and Mystery Final Winner (a total surprise to us, and probably you).
Um, a spreadsheet obviously.
In case you missed it, we’re very analytical people. So we made a ratings spreadsheet, with 15 different factors like location and parking and cost and green space. And then we weighted each one by its importance (yep, really this much of a nerd), and then we rated them all. So, four spreadsheets, eight visits, and a heck of a lot of Googling later, it was time to make a call.
Although these were mostly helpful things to do, we initially weren’t even going to look at our venue because the online pictures were so terrible.
Image via: Cheney Mansion (This is one of the better pictures, sadly).
Image via: Cheney Mansion
(Wait, what? You never even mentioned this place Miss Clover!)
I mentioned before that we saw some pretty bad pictures online. This is one of those cases. After showing Shamrock the pictures, he said he didn’t like it, so I crossed it off the list. After a few coincidences, we (sorta) saw it anyhow and liked it–which meant we had to go back and reconsider a bunch of other places as well! We headed out to the west side of Chicago to see the Columbus Park Refectory (so pretty! so in the ‘hood!), which is pretty close to my mother, so we stopped by for lunch.
My mother is not exactly known for food (unless by “food” you mean “cereal” in which case she’s got you covered), so we walked up to Tasty Dog for lunch. While eating our hot dogs, Mama Clover asked if we had considered Cheney Mansion, and I said that we had but Shamrock didn’t like it. She asked if we wanted to go see it to be sure, and since we were only a block away, we figured it wouldn’t hurt (and mom clearly wanted us to!).
PHOTO FROM CAILI
Image via Caili Helsper Photography
We looked around a bit, and then Mama Clover went up and looked through the glass doors into the foyer. We know they do events there, but it isn’t open to the public, so we weren’t expecting to go inside. By luck, the coordinator was there and had an appointment in 25 minutes; she was on the phone but let us in to peek around and then got off the phone and gave us a quick tour.
Image via Cheney Mansion
As I mentioned in my last post, decent pictures are few and far between, but the space itself is really pretty and the grounds are simply amazing.
Style Me Pretty actually featured a wedding reception here, and it was gorgeous.
They held their dinner on the lawn and ours will be inside, with most of the guests in the living room, where they had their sweets table. The living room connects to the Garden Room, which connects to the Parlor–our guests will be seated in those three adjoining rooms.
The coordinator said they usually do a sweetheart table with the bride and groom kind of in the fireplace area (where they would do the wedding if you have a ceremony there and indoors). Shamrock doesn’t like the idea, but she also said they don’t do head tables, so we’ll see what happens. You can see the fireplace behind their sweets table.
So this is it–our venue, courtesy of a chance lunch at Tasty Dog. How did you find your venue? Did you cross off any venues because of terrible pictures?