Archive for December, 2010

Good bye 2010…. HELLO 2011!!!

Friday, December 31st, 2010

Happy New Year from all of us at Exquisite Weddings!

Catch us on January 7th at 5:30PM at the Love at Breathtaking Heights bridal show at The Metropolitan Club at the Willis Tower.

For tickets please call Ashley at 312.993.2529, for more information visit their website.

Quick Fire Post ~ The first look

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

First look in the wedding industry means, that you will see each other in your wedding attire before the wedding ceremony takes place. Just the two of you, with nobody else around but a photographer who is discreetly snapping away pictures of that moment. You will have a private little moment to yourselves (to hug, to kiss, to take it all in) before the day starts to unwind. I actually love first looks, but they are not for everyone as some couples have been dreaming of that moment of walking down the aisle and seeing their sweetie waiting for them at the altar.

The question that many couples ask themselves is to do a first look or not? It is a strictly personal decision that you (and your other half ) must make together. They both have their pros and cons. It really depends on timing, time of the year (there is so much sunlight to go around during the winter time and you need it for good pictures), how large is the wedding party and how many locations would you like to go to within a set time. With all that being said, talk to your photographer. Let him/her know about all of these things so they can guide you and tell you if you have enough time for what you want to do. Whatever you decide your photographer should be able to work with you and make it happen.

Local Chicago finds for All Things Chicago

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Many couples love Chicago and tend to plan their wedding around all things Chicago. Here are a few local finds of were to get your “All things Chicago!”

Third Coast Collection ~ Created by Kara Underwood Gordon (who is the whiz chic behind Magnificent Milestones invitation studio) in October 2010. Third Coast Collection is an array of paper products that is unique and specialized to appreciate all of the attractions that make Chicago the Third Coast. Think Lincoln Park, the West Loop, Logan Square and all the different neighborhoods that makes our city special. In addition, to custom invitations Third Coast Collection is also providing custom totes … perfect for your out of town guests. I also wanted to add that Magnificent Milestones studio has moved to a new location at 472 W. Erie in Chicago and it will open the first week in January.

Ricci & Company ~ Chicago is after all a candy manufacturing town. Ricci and Company is located at 162 W. Superior (right were the action is at!) If you are looking to stock the candy jars at the end of the wedding you need to go to visit them. If Almonds, Yogurt Raisins, Malt Balls, Swedish Fish (my guilty pleasure) and Chocolate Covered Pretzels are right up your alley then you are headed in the right direction, because they have them all.

Garrett’s Popcorn ~ Who doesn’t love a bowl of popcorn. Savory and sweet all in one bite. The perfect Chicago treat for your out of town guests. Once you place your order from Garrett’s Popcorn make sure you pick it up the same day as your guests arrive to ensure it’s freshness.

Realistic Weddings Budgets ~ What’s Included?

Sunday, December 26th, 2010

Yesterdays post I said you needed to have three things before you started looking for a ceremony an reception venue. I said you needed a guest list, a wedding date but one of the most important of all is a wedding budget. So I decided I need to bring back and old but goodie blog post about setting realistic wedding budgets for a wedding in downtown Chicago…. see below.

I previously talked about setting realistic budgets for a wedding in Chicago based on a $40,000 budget, 150 guests and a wedding party of 4 bridesmaids and 4 groomsmen. So let’s go thru the rundown of what $40K gets you for your money. And for anyone asking if $40K is a lot of money…. it is.

  • Wedding Bands  ~ $1,500 This number is based on a simple wedding band for the groom with no bling and a modest wedding band for the bride with a few small diamonds. Nothing over the top but quite nice.
  • Wedding Dress, Alterations and Veil ~ $2,000 This includes a reasonably priced gown for the bride, alterations, shoes, jewelry and a veil.
  • Reception (Site and Catering) ~ $19,900 The biggest vendor in the wedding budget and rightfully so as it includes a full open bar for four hours, wine with dinner (they close the bar during this time), hor d’oeuvres during cocktail hour and a three course meal. This also includes taxes and gratuity which in Chicago will take up 30% of your catering budget. There are some great reception venues in Chicago that can fit this budget and do it quite nicely. A few examples of these places are the Metropolitan Club at the Willis Tower, the Hotel Palomar on State Street or the Crystal Gardens in Navy Pier.
  • Photographer  ~ $3,600 This includes six to eight hours of wedding photography by a local freelance photographer, an album, an engagement session and depending on the photographer a copy of the high resolution files. Don’t skimp on a photographer. After the last dance has played, after the toasts have been heard, the flowers wilted and the last slice of cake eaten all you have is pictures, so think of this as an investment.
  • DJ / Entertainment ~ $1,600 A Disc Jockey for six hours during the reception. If you want to make an investment in a band (and I have to add.. I love bands!) then you may want to cut the amount of guests as most bands will start at $3,800 and go up from there based on the amount of musicians and time they will play.
  • Invitations/Stationery  ~ $800 This includes save the dates and invitations for your guests. Remember one per couple or family. Don’t forget to include the postage for both the save the dates, invitations and reply card.
  • Flowers ~ $3,100 Includes personal flowers for the entire wedding party and parents, tall altar arrangements that can be reused for the escort card table and gift table along with low and lush centerpieces at each table. In addition to delivery, setup and taxes.
  • Cake ~ $1,000 I’m a sucker for good cake. If this is your only dessert you may want to make it a good one. A cake not only has to look good but also taste great. This includes a slice of cake for every guest in the wedding along with taxes and delivery.
  • Parents and Wedding Party Gifts  ~ $800 This cost can certainly vary on the type of gift that you want to give the wedding party and your parents. It’s an average of $60 to $65 per person.
  • Rehearsal Dinner for 40 guests  ~ $2,000 Go for a casual setting and avoid serving the same meal two nights in a row. Most rehearsal dinners last three hours, this cost includes a meal for 40 guests along with light libations and a casual meal such as Spanish Tapas, Mexican night or lots of italian food.
  • Officiant/Ceremony Fees  ~ $600 An officiant to perform the ceremony, sign the marriage license and file it with the county clerk.
  • Wedding Party Limo/Car  ~ $800 A limo to drive the wedding party along with the newlyweds before and after the ceremony for four hours.
  • Groom’s Tuxedo Rental  ~ $300 Rental of a groom’s tuxedo. A lot of locations offer a discount on the groom’s tux if the groomsmen and the parents order their tux from the same location. Definitely something to consider.
  • Bride’s Hair and Makeup   ~ $500 Hair and makeup by an experienced professional makeup artist for the bride who will meet the bride on site. This also includes a trail run for both hair and makeup prior to the wedding. It certainly is an item were there are cost savings but keep in mind good makeup makes you feel good and will certainly show in your pictures.
  • Month of Wedding Planning  ~ $1,500 After you’ve made an investment on your wedding why leave it to Aunt Sally to run the show when what she really wants is to relax, spend time with the family and join in on the celebration. Let an experience coordinator direct the vendors, be the go to person, troubleshoot on the day of the wedding, keep you sane and on schedule.

These numbers are estimates of what I’ve seen in the past, things change based on selections, time of the year and availability. A good planner can maximize your budget by negotiating (remember we tend to use the same trustworthy pool of vendors. Therefore, we have more leverage when it comes to negotiating) I want to finish with this. Everyone has a budget, it may be large, medium or small. Don’t be ashamed to let the vendor know what it is so they can maximize the rate of return and let you know what are your options. If $40K is more than what you would like to spend, think of trimming down the guest list, sever beer & wine only or consider hosting the wedding in the suburbs were there are some wonderful resorts with beautiful rooms. Another idea would be to think of  a mid day brunch (who can say no to mimosas!) or afternoon tea vs. a full blown evening wedding.

This post previously ran on Feb 27th, 2010 but we decided it was a good one and it needed to be reposted with a few updates on pricing and venues.

Starting the wedding planning process

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

If you just got engaged a big,  CONGRATULATIONS is in order. As you begin the planning process there are a few things that you must do before you can really start actively planning the wedding.

A. First and foremost, create a realistic budget. We all have one, now matter how big or small we all have a budget. It’s good to know what that is before you start looking at venues or figuring out how many guests will be invited. If you need a little help, this blog post may be a good place to look at. You may tweak it as you go but for the most part this will be a good guide throughout the process.

B. Create a guest list. Start gathering addresses for all your guests along with contact information (this will be handy if you have the wrong mailing address or your guest forgets to RSVP on time). Compiling all this information will take a while, but for now it’s good to start creating a list of who will be invited. Add up all the guests. Is it just the right amount? Is it too many based on the budget you created? Trim, or tweak as needed.

C. Select a wedding date. Would you like a summer wedding? Maybe the warm weather is not your thing and will opt for the fall. Whatever that may be… start narrowing down on a few months or make sure you know of certain dates that can be a conflict with most of your guests schedules (ie the Saturday before Easter Sunday is one of those dates to avoid).

Now that you are armed with all of these things you can start location scouting for the ceremony and reception. You will be asked two questions over and over again…. When is your wedding date? and How many guests are you anticipating?  Since you already have these two answered, and you have already put together a budget you are ready to begin the process.

Let the planning and the fun….BEGIN!

Happy Everything!

Saturday, December 25th, 2010

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays or as my holiday card said this year “Happy Everything!”

As wonderful as it is to open lots of presents this Christmas morning, I hope that all of you spend the day in a warm & beautiful place along with your family and friends. May your day be filled with laughter, good food, wonderful movies, warm blankets, joy and lots of cheer.

Happy Everything!