Hey! You’re engaged!! First off, congratulations on going into this next chapter of life with the person you love most at your side. You’re probably just starting to get into the thick of wedding planning, and one thing you’re for sure noticing is how many different vendors there are that make up a wedding day. But how do you decide which vendors your Chicago wedding needs and which you can pass up on? That’s what we’re here to answer today, so let’s take a look at all the different types of wedding vendors so you can decide whether they’re the right fit for your wedding!
We’re going to start the list off with the vendors that I believe are crucial in giving you the best wedding day experience possible! Of course with each wedding being different the list of MUST have vendors will vary slightly from wedding to wedding, but generally these are the vendors that you are almost always going to want to book for your Chicago wedding day.
There really isn’t a way around this one! If you’re having a wedding celebration in Chicago, you need to book a venue. Whether you’re having a huge wedding celebration, something smaller and more intimate, or an elopement of just the two of you, your venue is going to be the first vendor that you book for your Chicago wedding. Lucky for you there are a TON of cool and unique wedding venues throughout the city to choose from. Check out ten of my favorite venues in the city for some inspiration! With that being said though, unless you plan on eloping at the Cook County Courthouse (which you’ll still need to schedule and plan a time for!) you’re going to be booking a venue as a vendor for your Chicago wedding!
Next up on our list we have, yours truly, your photographer! Although I am just a little biased towards a wedding photographer being a must have for your Chicago wedding since I am one myself, the fact remains that having a photographer there to capture your wedding day is a MUST have for nearly every couple. If you think about it, your wedding day is just one glorious, wonderful, fun and love filled day. But once it is done though, that’s it.
There aren’t any do overs, and while you can have some incredibly fun anniversary celebrations, there’s just nothing that’s quite as magical as your wedding day. It makes sense then that having a vendor there who can capture all the best moments of your day is SO worth it. From the moment you start getting ready for your day, to the two of you rocking on the dancefloor with your favorite people, having a way to capture and look back on these memories is just non negotiable in my opinion!
When it comes to vendors for your Chicago wedding, there are only a few that provide as much value as a wedding planner can! They’re one of the only vendors that will be with you for the long haul, helping you plan each and every moment of your day. This not only makes sure that your day runs smoothly, but also GREATLY reduces the stress you’ll experience from the start of your planning to the end of your wedding day! While not every couple will need a wedding planner, especially if planning things out and going over all the details is your jam, for most they are an invaluable member of your vendor team. So much so that I actually wrote a full blog post about wedding planners along with a few of my recommendations for those based in Chicago!
Next up on our list we have your hair and makeup artist! Having your hair and makeup professionally done for your wedding day is such a perfect way to start one of the best days of your life. It is SUCH a confidence boost as well as a stress reliever knowing that your hair and makeup are in the hands of a professional. While not every Chicago wedding will need a hair and makeup artist as a part of the vendor team, it is something that I HIGHLY recommend especially if it fits your style!
Your wedding reception needs entertainment, and while you technically can just set up a playlist on your phone and hook it up to a speaker, trust me it is not a real substitute for professional entertainment! DJs and Bands aren’t just there to play music, they’re there to get your guests on the dancefloor having a good time. They can read the room and adjust what’s being played on the fly to ensure the vibes are always on point for your reception, which is why they are crucial vendors to your Chicago wedding!
When deciding between a DJ or live band it’ll mainly come down to two things, budget and the feel you’re looking for. With a DJ comes a lower cost but also a more chill evening since people are much more likely to take breaks from the dancefloor. With a live band comes a higher cost, but also the guarantee of a packed dance floor for the entire night! If you’re curious about the cost of a wedding in Chicago and want more info check out this blog post here.
Similar to your entertainment, every wedding reception has to have catering and beverages in order for you and your guests to have a good time! Most venues either have in house catering and/or beverage service, or have a list of preferred vendors in the field that you have to work with. There are still venues out there though where neither is the case, so as you’re deciding on your vendor list for your Chicago wedding make sure you know where your venue sits and if hiring out for food and drinks is something you’ll have to do!
Last but not least are the desserts and wedding cake! No celebration is complete without some sweet treats for you and your guests to enjoy as you celebrate your new marriage. There are a plethora of local Chicago bakeries that would be a perfect fit for any wedding day. If you’re a local from Chicago you probably have a few in mind, but if you’re travelling to the Windy City for your wedding day from out of town I recommend asking your photographer for some recommendations!
Like I said before, every wedding is different which means that vendor priority for each wedding will also be different! So even if one of the vendors below isn’t part of my must have list for your Chicago wedding day, if you feel that your wedding needs them and they fall within your budget, by all means go for it!
This will vary greatly depending on what your wedding day looks like in terms of travel! If you’re getting ready at your venue where both your ceremony and reception are taking place, and you plan on taking portraits nearby then transport probably isn’t necessary for your day. On the flip side if you have a separate ceremony and reception space, or if you plan to head into Chicago for portrait photos with your wedding party, then this is a MUST have vendor! Something like a trolley service in Chicago is a great option to take the stress of traveling off of your shoulders for your day!
I absolutely ADORE florists for wedding days! They’re one of those vendors that are able to truly elevate your wedding day experience to that next level! A professional florist can create stunning pieces to add to and accentuate the beauty of your space and your wedding day itself which makes the experience just that much more incredible for you the day of. For larger Chicago weddings, or weddings where the venue is a more DIY space, a florist is more of a non-negotiable wedding vendor as they’ll be a key part in creating the setting that you’ll enjoy the rest of the day in!
Whether or not a videographer falls on your must have list or not depends both on preference as well as budget. While similar to photographers in that they document your wedding for you to look back on for years to come, they do so in a drastically different way! Things like the way your mom delivers her toast at dinner, the way you and your bridesmaids goof around while getting ready in the morning, or the two of you singing along to your first dance song. If you have a budget for a videographer, I strongly recommend hiring one as the moments they capture in tandem with your photographer give you even more memories to look back on and relive your wedding day through!
I mentioned a wedding planner earlier in this blog as a must have wedding vendor, so how does a day of coordinator come into play? While similar to a wedding planner, they are two different roles. See, a wedding planner often includes day of coordination, whereas a day of coordinator specifically works with you the day of your wedding day as well as the month or so leading up to it. If a full wedding planner isn’t in your budget I do recommend hiring a coordinator so that some of the planning and day of stress can be unloaded onto a professional who’s specific job is to handle these issues. One last thing to note is that some venues actually have a day of coordinator as part of their staff, so you may not need to hire one if that is the case!
Last but not least for Chicago wedding vendors we have rental companies! This one is very hit or miss on whether or not you need it as a decent amount of venues provide everything you need in terms of tables, seating, tableware, etc. If that isn’t the case though they are a MUST so you and your guests actually have somewhere to sit and eat! For couples looking for a bit more decoration to accentuate their space a rental company is also a great option for helping to bring your ceremony and reception space to life.
Deciding on your vendor list for your Chicago wedding is no small task by any means, but with this article in mind you should be one step closer to creating the dream vendor team to help put your wedding day together! For more wedding planning tips check out my blog. If you’re ready to book me as your photographer be sure to send me an inquiry so we can reserve your date today!