One of the most common questions we’re often asked by couples is how to score cheap wedding venues. When you are planning an affordable wedding in Chicago, finding and selecting the perfect venue is easier said than done. You simply don’t have the luxury of looking at all types of venues, but you do have options no matter how lean your budget is.
The trick is to strike a good balance between your wedding style and budget. Not sure where to begin? Fear not — we’ve put together an awesome list of lovely yet cheap wedding venues in Chicago. We’ve also created a handy guide packaged with frequently asked questions, tricks, and tips to help make your wedding venue search easier, faster, and more rewarding.
How have you created this list of affordable wedding venues?
The Second City is one of the most sought-after wedding destinations, and that means it’s jam-packed with an assortment of event venues. So, to narrow down our list to only the best budget-friendly wedding venues, we used a six-factor criterion.
– Capacity: Comfort and capacity go hand in hand. However, most couples don’t have a definite headcount of guests until a few days to the big day. As such, it pays to pick out a venue that has an ample capacity; it shouldn’t be too small for your guests, or so expansive that it makes your wedding feel “empty.”
We considered both standing and seated room capacity of each candidate, as large spaces are more forgiving and comfortable.
– Versatility: When creating our list, we gave preference to multi-venue facilities with halls, garden areas, barns, and other usable spaces. After all, nothing frazzles wedding guests quite like being told they can explore the whole location, especially when the venue has lovely gardens, breathtaking views, and other conversation starters.
It’s also helpful when the venue is a multi-purpose facility, so you can use it for several different events that surround the actual wedding. For instance, you can have a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, reception, bridesmaid brunch, and breakfast, all within the same venue. This level of versatility takes the pressure off you and accommodates all your needs.
– Cost: Your bank account will love you for planning an affordable wedding in Chicago, but you don’t want to go overboard. You see, choosing a wedding venue is one of those things that you often get what you pay for. If the venue’s rate is too good to be true, it probably is not worth your top dollar.
Most certainly, we checked long and hard for any hidden charges. We made sure that what you will pay for the venue is spelled out in black and white. All the places that made it to this list are not only budget-friendly but their rates also include no questionable charges and no hidden fees.
– Proximity to important amenities and activities: Even if you’re working with a small budget, you’ll still want to make your out-of-town guests feel comfortable and welcome. You’ll want a venue that is not only wallet-friendly but also close to the hotel, shopping, and other fun activities your out-of-town guests will enjoy as they stay the weekend for your special occasion.
In this regard, we favored venues that offer all-around experiences that will make it easy for guests to enjoy their stay.
– Venue’s style: Having a sense of the style you’re interested in will really help you hone in on a location that will make your big day a success, as well as meet your budget. The good news is that the Chicago area offers up a nice blend of venue styles, ranging from traditional and vintage to contemporary elegance and Bohemian romance style. We make sure that our list covers several wallet-friendly venues for each wedding style.
– Wedding flow: Have you ever been to a wedding that put minimal thought to function needs and guest flow? We get it: no one wants bottlenecks in the bar area, bathrooms, hallways, and other wedding hotspots. That’s why we considered only venues that create a smooth flow for the wedding functions and guests.
With these six factors in mind, we distilled all the venue options down to a list of only the best locations for affordable weddings in Chicago.
What should I look for in a cheap wedding venue in Chicago?
It’s much easier to plan affordable weddings in Chicago if you know what you are looking for.
Off-the-beaten-path locations: It should not come as a big surprise that venue rates are often higher in city locations, so venture outside the city limits to garner amazing deals. Choosing to get married in a downtown venue, for instance, may cost you five to ten times more than in a suburb nestled 30 minutes outside of Chicago. In fact, you might save up to $5,000 for an offbeat venue compared to quotes you’ll be getting closer to the city.
Spacious: A cheap wedding venue should have enough space to accommodate your party. This is an area where outdoor event venues shine. They are usually more spacious, more versatile, and more comfortable than indoor halls, hence allowing you to host a beautiful wedding without breaking the bank.
Venue coordinator: Most weddings, particularly large ones, could use the assistance of a venue coordinator. Pick a venue that comes with a coordinator or wedding specialist who can plan and organize everything down to the last detail of your big day.
Has the right equipment and technology: You don’t want to skimp on the audio/visual equipment and other features needed to put on a memorable wedding. No matter your budget, make sure the venue has space for dancing, DJ/MC, band, video production equipment, and caterers.
Flexible policies: Let’s face; planning any wedding can be tricky, especially if you have a limited budget. Last-minute changes can even complicate things further. The whole process will be much easier and smoother if the venue of your choice has policies that are flexible enough to accommodate unexpected changes.
A good venue usually offers a wide range of packages that incorporate a variety of amenities. This makes it possible for you to personalize the experience and put together an affordable wedding in Chicago that guests will talk about for months to come.
It shouldn’t make your wedding look cheap: Sure, the idea here is to help you find venues for affordable weddings in Chicago. However, the venue itself should be gorgeous, stylish, and a good fit for your wedding style. Even though you want an affordable wedding venue, it shouldn’t feel cheap.
Is Chicago a good place to host an affordable wedding?
Yes, there are plenty of superb venues for affordable weddings in Chicago, and they are available in a variety to match every wedding style. Whether you want an offbeat venue tucked away in a suburb, a historic mansion, a banquet room with stunning lake views, or a 20th-floor ballroom with floor-to-ceiling windows and panoramic skyline views, Chicago has got you covered.
Moreover, Chicago has multiple commercial districts which are great for entertaining out-of-town guests on the cheap. A classic example in the Magnificent Mile which boasts several posh hotels, restaurants, shops, and upscale fashion outlets. They draw many out-of-towners because the area has many options for affordable and exciting accommodation, shopping, food, and activities.
What are some good neighborhoods where I can host an affordable wedding in Chicago?
With historic hotel mansions, lush parks, high-rise ballrooms, vintage barns, and repurposed industrial parks, Chicago has a boatload of lovely venues at which you can say “I do” without breaking the bank. And you don’t have to make a quick dash to the City Hall; the Windy City has no shortage of wedding-friendly neighborhoods with affordable venues. These include:
Rogers Park – The North Side neighborhood is home to a host of cheap outdoor and indoor venues for bridal showers, wedding banquets, and receptions. The most notable venue is the Lake Shore Campus within Loyola University.
Magnificent Mile – This commercial park neighborhood has been lauded as the capital of budget destination weddings in Chicago, and with good reason. It has everything you will need to entertain your guests and make sure no one will forget the day you tied the knot.
Ravenswood – This event-centric neighborhood has an old-school industrial vibe. For couples, that means you’ll get ample venue space without spending a small fortune.
Avondale, North Park, and Hollywood Park – These three Chicago neighborhoods offer an urban-suburban vibe that’s great for weddings of all styles. They are surrounded by picturesque parks, monuments, and other breathtaking landscapes that will offer stunning backdrops for your wedding photos.
Other great neighborhoods with cheap wedding venues include West Loop, Lincoln Park, Logan Square, Boystown, River West, and Fulton Market.
How much does a usual Chicago wedding cost?
What does it cost to tie a knot in Chicago? The answer does vary greatly depending on the location, as well as the style, size, and complexity of the wedding. According to recent statistics, an average wedding in the Second City will set you back a little shy of eye-watering $51,000. If you choose a suburban venue, you should expect to pay around $33,400 for an “average” Chicago wedding.
Both figures register higher than the national average of $31,213, according to Knot Bridal Magazine’s Annual Real Wedding Study.
How much can I expect to spend on an affordable wedding in Chicago?
One of the most influential decisions you will make when planning a wedding is choosing the perfect venue. It will affect both the ambiance and eventual cost of your wedding. With that being said, the average cost of a wedding venue in Chicago ranges between $4,600 and $14,500. So, for an affordable wedding, the venue should account for around $5,000.
Talking of the average cost of an affordable wedding in Chicago, you should expect to spend roughly $39,694.
How can I make my Chicago wedding affordable?
> Go for a cheap wedding venue
The venue should be the first place you consider when organizing an affordable wedding. After all, the venue cost can gobble up around 40% to 50% of your wedding budget. By switching to an inexpensive location, preferably one that offers an all-in-one package, you can cut your wedding spending by up to $5,000.
Let’s get one thing straight, though: an affordable wedding venue doesn’t have to look or feel cheap. It should cut the mustard as far as your wedding style and guest expectations go.
> Cut the fat: make your guest list lean and clean
It’s your big day, and you may be tempted to invite everyone you know. You see, the math is simple: more guests = more spending. Did you know that each guest on your list will cost you an average of $258? With every guest you add to the list, that means additional seating space, more food, and a bigger bar tab.
Don’t feel obligated to add every Tom, Dick, and Harry you ever met in your life on your guest list. Rather, you should try trimming the list by up to 40%. As a result, you will end up not only saving oodles of money but also keeping your wedding ambiance intimate.
Here are other top tips you should keep heed to for a lean guest list:
- Your system of creating the list should be collaborative, involving both couples, their friends, closest family members (moms, dads, aunts, etc.), and event planners.
- Start with your dream list then re-do it into three different lists based on priority. The priority (A-list) should be given to family and friends that must be at the ceremony, followed by extended family, colleagues, and additional friends (B-list). The last group (C-list) will include people that would be nice to have on your special day if your budget permits.
- Trim fat in phases, starting with the C-list
- Be realistic, make sure to take a hard and long look at your budget, family dynamics, and logistics.
- Cut off someone you have never met, spoken to, or heard their name before
- Consider an adult-only wedding
- A non-relative you have not spoken to for 3+ years is a big no-no for your guest list
> Consider holding the ceremony outdoors
For most couples, the best way to have a wallet-friendly wedding is to hold the ceremony outdoors or at home. Outdoor venues are usually spacious, filled with spectacular views, and cheaper to rent. Inclement weather is a potential downside here, though. Also, make sure that the outdoor venue is in an offbeat location with minimal distractions.
> Ask for financial help in place of wedding gifts
While it’s nice to get every lovely thing on your registry, you might want to ask for financial help instead to perk up your wedding budget. Even better, ask close friends and family to provide services or help associated with their talents instead of giving you a wedding present. This will go a long way to ensure your wedding is affordable for you.
> Use your stereo or borrow an A/V system from family/friends
Hiring a DJ can cost upwards of $1,000 – that’s no small money. You can push this amount for other more important expenses by using your own home stereo. If yours isn’t up to par, you may borrow from a relative, coworker, or friend. Easier still, you can ask a friend or family with some DJ skills to contribute their talent to the wedding in lieu of a gift. Make sure to create killer music playlists based on your taste and those of your guests.
> Forego the bridesmaid and groomsmen presents
In some circles, it’s customary to give presents to your bridal and groomsmen parties. This custom is not set in stone; you can skip it to save a few bucks. Instead of purchasing expensive presents that they may not find meaningful, you might want to write them extra special “thank-you” notes.
> Go easy on the flowers
Rather than spend oodles of cash on elaborate flower bouquets and arrangements that will wilt soon after the ceremony, consider going easy on them. Keep your flowers simple yet elegant. For example, giving each bridesmaid a single rose will make your wedding more frugal than a big bouquet for everyone.
If you have some experience, heck you can cut a few rose bushes and make your own bouquets. What’s even more exciting is that you can opt for fake roses and flowers. Some of the brands on the market are not only dirt cheap but they are also so well-made they can pass for the real thing.
> Ditch traditional wedding caterers for a family-owned restaurant
There are many reasons why you should go with a local family-owned restaurant when it comes to catering. First of all, you will be supporting a local business, plus a family-owned restaurant will likely go above and beyond to make your wedding extra special. It does also matter that the majority are understanding and may be willing to work with your lean budget.
> Buy used wedding decorations or price shop for them
Most wedding decoration shops have sales, deep discounts, and other exciting deals year-round. Start shopping early and keep an eye out for these deals, so you can swoop in right on time.
At the same time, you can also buy used decorations, centerpieces, and other wedding paraphernalia. Recently hitched couples usually sell their wedding decorations on eBay, Craigslist, and other similar sites. You can end up saving a bundle.
> Rent your groomsmen wear as a group
It’s usually a wise move to rent a tuxedo or suit for your wedding. Unless you have a plausible reason for owning one, consider renting them as a group through the same store. The group rental rate will save you a lot of effort, time, and money.
Is it a good idea to keep my wedding affordable?
Yes, it helps you start your new married life on the right “financial” foot.
Sometimes the thought of planning a budget wedding can make any couple cringe. Many couples feel that they are cheaping out on a once-in-a-lifetime occasion. The truth, however, is that an affordable wedding isn’t the same thing as a cheap event.