August 5, 2020
This conversation is brought up many times when we have a full-planning client who is not sure if they want to get married downtown Chicago or in the surrounding suburbs. We break it down by vendor/category to show our couples how the pricing really varies. Every wedding has different needs so we have to examine every wedding separately to determine what will fit in the couple’s budget. Some factors affect more of your budget, like food and beverage (F&B). We’ve broken down the general cost categories so you can envision what goes into each wedding if you’re trying to compare the city and suburbs. Please note that these are all estimated costs and may or may not be in line with your specific venue. Since COVID-19, some prices will be adjusted due to demand and availability. Talking to a professional about your needs is the best way to get an accurate vision of what a wedding really costs.
This is the first cost that you will be looking into, other than a Full Planning Wedding Consultant if they’re helping you through the venue search. This number is a huge range in both the city and suburbs. For places that imply a rental fee instead of a F&B minimum, for a guest count of 50-150, prices will be relatively the same in the city and suburbs. Once you go above 150 guest capacity, prices seem to sky rocket from there. On average, a Saturday venue rental in either city or suburb is between $3000-7000 for 150 guests. Above the 150 guest count, the venue rental in the city can be anywhere from $5-17K on average. There are a few venues that are above $17K in the city and if you search there are definitely venues below $3000, especially with smaller capacities. But the suburbs, you rarely see a venue rental above $9K. If you look at rentals on days besides a Saturday or in off-season, these averages will drop.
Generally, fees to get married at a church in downtown Chicago is much higher than the suburbs. We’ve seen as high as a required $2,500.00 stipend to get married at a church. And there are additional fees on top of that (pastor, ceremony musicians, etc.).
Now this is where we can cut some major costs in the suburbs! For venues that have in-house catering we tend to see a per person F&B cost of $85.00-$200.00 depending on what you are serving. But in the city, we see this number rise to $150.00-$350.00+ per person. So those of you with a large guest count may want to consider what the suburbs have to offer.
Although you may not be paying for this portion for all your guests, hotel costs are definitely something to consider when choosing a room block. Hotels in the city range from historic and traditional to massive and modern. They can cost anywhere from $150.00-$400.00+/night depending on your taste. The suburban hotels definitely lose that unique Chicago touch, but you can’t beat their price. These can range from $75.00-$200.00/night on average.
This factor is less of a comparison, and more of a fact. Chicago taxes are more than the suburbs on all everyday taxes. On top of that, there is an additional 9% tax on most rentals if the venue is in city limits. This will impact you more if you bring in a lot of rentals (blank space venue that has no tables, chairs, catering equipment in house). Make it or break it factor? That’s up to you to decide!
Parking in the city can 1) Be a pain and 2) Add up cost wise. Most times you have to cover vendor parking if it’s in their contracts so calculate that in your head, especially if you hire a band with 10 musicians. If you choose to cover parking for your vendors AND guests, you can find yourself paying $50.00-$85.00/night, or an average $35-50.00/day rate. This can really add up quick. Perks of the suburbs is that almost all venues have complimentary parking.
This is variable based on many factors such as what you are serving, how many guests, if you want a private space, and much more. But an overall comparison between the two is the per person plate cost. You could find yourself spending under $100 in the burbs and over $100 in the city depending on how formal you want it.
Although the cost of the transportation itself is consistent overall, it is important to consider other fees associated. Did you know that within city limits you need a security guard to drink alcohol on board? This can cost you around $35.00/hour for security. Whereas in the burbs, this rule doesn’t apply – drink away!
On any given wedding day, there are so many weddings that scout out the most popular places to take pictures, especially in the city because there are more weddings and less outdoor options. It’s more common to “need” a permit (especially on a rainy day!) in the city compared to the suburbs. Although, a permit for the common photo locations in the suburbs (Morton Arboretum, St. James Forest Preserve) generally are a similar rate to the city. You just have a higher chance of finding natural landscape without paying for a permit.
Now that we have covered the differences between the city and the suburbs, what costs are the same no matter the location? There are many vendors that stay consistent no matter where you go. Some of those stagnant costs include:
You can’t go wrong with the city or surrounding suburbs, just take the costs into consideration. Depending on your vision and needs, it might not be a huge difference price wise. But there are some instances that you could be paying a lot more. Break down the costs for both areas and see what works best for your wedding. Even if you’re not working with Ohana Events, if you’re interested in getting a budget breakdown consultation (~2-3 hours), feel free to reach out and we can provide more information.
Photo Credit: Cattura Weddings