Money Matters

A Wedding Costs What?

Recently The Knot published that an average wedding costs roughly $35,329 across the nation, while weddings happening in major cities (like Chicago) would run nearly double that ($60,035 to be exact).

No matter which way you roll the dice, a wedding is an investment.

So where can you save?

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If You Build It They Will Come

Let’s start with the venue: The more space you have to fill, the more likely you will be to invite that second cousin twice removed who you met that one time when you were seven at Aunt Kathy’s 90th birthday.

An average wedding is roughly 150 – 200 guests, so when doing the math ($60,035/200) your average per guest is going to be run around $300 - $400 per person. If you are looking to save on costs, limiting the guest count may be the right way to go.

If your budget is roughly $10,000 and you run the numbers ($10,000/$300) you have enough for an intimate gathering of approximately 30 of your closest friends and family in Chicago. Keep in mind that this does not include all of the costs associated with a typical wedding, like postage for your wedding invitations, and your gratuities for your vendors. So when budgeting it’s a good practice to separate out your food, beverage, and venue budget from the ancillary budget for photographer, music, dress, etc …

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Depending on how many out-of-town guests you are inviting and what weekend your chosen date falls on, something else to consider is that you will probably have anywhere from 20% - 30% attrition on your invite list.

Before You Sign the Dotted Line

Both on-premise and off-premise venues (see the difference between venues HERE) have their pitfalls. Generally speaking anything customized beyond a hotel’s set menu is going to cost. Similarly, an addition to the bar package, lighting embellishments, and even sometimes a DIY project that you need to pay union labor to have installed, will drive up overall costs.

The same could go for that perfect loft venue that was just within your budget, until you realize it doesn’t come with any chairs, tables, glasses, forks, knives, or coffee equipment (Don’t get us started on the cost off off-premise coffee). All of a sudden your caterer has to tack on another significant charge to their bill that sometimes can equal the same amount as the venue itself.

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There’s going to be pressure to sign and lock in a date. There’s going to be that emotional connection you have with a space that checks all your boxes and evokes that vision you had when you thought of your wedding when you were younger. As a voice of reason, we encourage one extra look through the contract, a few extra questions, or a conversation about where you may want to customize. This could mean the difference between “We do” or “We do need to find an additional job.”

So Where Can You Save Some Money?

With all of the options available, we recommend finding the space with the least amount of stress on your vision. If you are set on suspending elaborate hanging centerpieces over long feasting tables, a venue like Café Brauer, which is excellent for rigging, may be the right choice. Or if you want a contemporary and elegant environment with incredible views, maybe the Langham Ballroom is the right fit. Either way the more your vision aligns with your space, the more your decisions will match what the space is already equipped to do.

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The same could be said for food and beverage. If you know you want to recreate the appetizer you and your fiancé shared on your first date, you may be hard-pressed to find that on a hotel wedding menu, whereas an off-premise caterer will be able to recreate it in a snap of a finger. If you are interested in a completely customized bar, with 12 craft beers, a whiskey tasting, and wine pairing with each course, it may behoove you to look into a venue that would allow you to provide your own liquor, like the Newberry Library.

If your top priority is having a live band and creating a dance party that rivals River North’s best night clubs, choosing a venue that has ample power, includes a dance floor, and has a list of recommended bands that have worked in the space is a smart route to take.

When you align your vision with both your vendors and your venue, things will naturally fall into place. The vendors themselves will be able to naturally guide you through conversations and decisions that match your vision, and inevitably the costs associated with those decisions will fall closer to your ideal budget.

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What Not to Do

One of the most commonly missed opportunities we come across when working with our clients is prioritizing the budget. Establishing what is most important to your vision is the #1 way to establish whether the expense is worth the dollars associated with it. Our recommendation is to choose your top three “budget busters.” This may be the band, food and bar or perhaps it’s venue, dress and desserts. It’s different for every couple!

We won’t lie, it is very easy to spend a few thousand dollars on custom letter-pressed invitations, and if that is the most important thing to you, then it’s great to establish that when allocating funds. However, if you’ve gotten wrapped up in the fun of planning then the budget you allocated for your band may have just been spent on those beautiful invitations. 

When you are able to prioritize the important items, it will establish where you should start, what matters to you as a couple, and also give you the confidence to say, “the most cost-effective option is just fine” for those items that fall outside of the lines.

With the amount of details, guests, vendors, and logistics that go into a wedding, it is sometimes hard to have “the budget” conversation, but the more you are able to clearly allocate your funds and prioritize what is most important, the easier it will be to come to your day with peace of mind, allowing you to say “I do” without the weight of the wedding on your shoulders.

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First Comes Love, Then Comes Venue Hunting?!


So you said “Yes”

No matter if you are bride or a groom, everyone has envisioned their wedding day at some point. From gilded golden archways that spill into a candlelit aisle, to reclaimed wood beams that frame wildflowers and natural linens, that day started as a vision somewhere.  

But wait.

No one said there would be just as many decisions required to build and furnish a house, as there would be to say I do.

We understand.

So where do you start?

Well it all needs to happen somewhere, right? So, let’s start with the venue.


The Basics of Wedding Venues

In Chicago there are two major categories of wedding destinations; hotels and venues. From the Drake Hotel and Union League Club, to the Bridgeport Art Center and Chicago History Museum, there is no shortage of options to float over the floor during your first dance. However, there’s another, often overlooked, differentiator between the locales: on-premise vs. off-premise.

What is on-premise?

On-premise venues refer to venues in which the food is prepared on site. Think hotels, private clubs, restaurants, banquet facilities, and even some of the cultural institutions like the Shedd Aquarium. These venues generally are able to offer you more finite wedding “packages,” many of which include in-house equipment, like tables and chairs. On-premise venues will often provide the bar and may include staff as a part of your per person price. On-premise venues generally will come with an F&B (food & beverage) minimum or tag on a mandatory gratuity or service charge.

A Service Charge? Where does that go?

More often than not, a service charge will go towards staff gratuities and taxes. When working with a hotel it’s important to establish early on what the standard service charge of the property may be. There’s nothing worse than budgeting based on a published menu or package price, only to be surprised when the actual bill is going to be 20% - 25% higher.

If the property does have a service charge, another important thing to note is if that service charge covers gratuity. If so, confirm with your catering manager or salesperson if the expectation is that you would add any additional gratuities on top of the total charge. Think of this being similar to going to a restaurant with a large group and finding that a standard 18% gratuity will be added to parties of 6 or more. For exceptional service, you may tip beyond that.


What is off-premise?

As you might guess, off-premise is somewhat the opposite. Think a converted loft venue that can be transformed into a Soho House fantasy, or a park district venue that does everything from public programming to garden weddings. Off-premise venues, a lot of the time, will allow you to choose your caterer, may or may not have tables and chairs for you to use (or if they do, you may prefer not to use them, just saying), and may even allow you to provide your own liquor for the bar.

It takes a village

With off-premise venues, you can expect to be reaching out to a few more partners to execute your day. With more partners, comes more meetings, more logistics, and sometimes more room for details to slip through the cracks.

At an on-premise venue, by comparison, you will typically be working with one Catering Manager who handles your menu, room layout, staffing, equipment, and sometimes even lighting. In the world of off-premise, you can expect to work with someone who represents the space (a Venue Manager), your main catering contact (who will typically handle staffing) and may even have a third-party equipment provider that will be bringing in specialty furniture or rentals. There’s also potential for a lighting crew (which may be coordinated through your décor partner), or a vendor hired to provide some drape or fabric panels.

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All of these vendors will be in addition to your more commonly referenced wedding vendors which apply to both on-premise and off-premise venues: Wedding Planner, Florist/Decor Provider, DJ or Band, Photographer, Videographer, and Bakery.

What Wedding Venue Is Right for You?

So where do you start? While style is always a driving factor, something else to think about is the amount of decisions you will want to make. We’ve sat through a tasting with a caterer that has erupted into an argument over the flatware pattern for an off-premise wedding. While the argument was never about the pattern on the fork (we kid you not), it was only heightened due to the amount of decisions that had to be made.

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Off-premise venues are often times a blank slate, allowing you, as the incredible visionary you are, to mold and transform the canvas into your own personal work of art.

Now if that last sentence just made your heart flutter, and a wave of anxiety washed over you, maybe off-premise is not the way to go. We are not saying you can’t turn the ballroom at the Four Seasons into something that is truly unique and incredible (if you are interested look up Oprah’s going away party, pretty astonishing to see the before and afters), but even so, you are generally a little bit more limited in your selections.

We are lucky enough to live in an incredible city that allows us the luxury of having every type of venue available to us. There’s no one right way to choose the place you may be taking your fiancé’s hand in marriage and dancing the night away, but hopefully a little knowledge leads to power in weighing the options.

As always, we’re here for you, with services ranging from month-of coordination to full service planning, and everything in between!

Happy hunting!

Photos in this post are courtesy of Erika Mattingly Photo / Tim Tab Studios / Ben Elsass Photography / Emilia Jane Photography / Elizabeth Greve Photography

Wedding Traditions Explained

I was recently a guest at a wedding shower (crazy, I know!) and the hostesses led us all in a couple really fun wedding-related trivia games. All of the ladies were really getting into the trivia and it made for such a fun shower activity.

One of them I thought would be particularly fun to feature as a blog post because some of the questions really had me stumped! This quiz features trivia about wedding traditions we all know and love but may not be aware of their origin. Makes you really think before incorporating some of these into your own wedding!

See how many you can guess correctly and post in the comments!

Photo courtesy of    Steve Koo Photography

Photo courtesy of Steve Koo Photography

Match each of the following wedding customs to the reason for doing them!

Answers are listed below the next photo.

  1. The bride wears a veil.

  2. The bride stands to the left of the groom.

  3. Having a designated ring finger.

  4. The bride wears something old.

  5. Having a flower girl drop petals.

  6. The bride wears something blue.

  7. Having a ring bearer.

  8. The bride wears something new.

  9. The bride throws a bouquet.

  10. Cutting the wedding cake together.

  11. Having the bridal party dress alike.

A. To confuse the evil spirits.
B. Pass on good fortune.
C. Symbolizes their shared fortune.
D. Proves the bride’s worthiness.
E. Symbolizes optimism for the future.
F. Protect her from evil spirits.
G. Marriage is doomed if the ring is dropped by the groom.
H. Represents continuity.
I. Contains the vein of love.
J. Symbolizes fertility.
K. To defend her bride, his right arm must be free.

Photo courtesy of    Essence Weddings

Photo courtesy of Essence Weddings

Photos courtesy of    Metts Photo

Photos courtesy of Metts Photo

Clover Events-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Wedding Planning-Wedding Trivia

Answers below!

  1. F

  2. K

  3. I

  4. H

  5. J

  6. D

  7. G

  8. E

  9. B

  10. C

  11. A

Quiz Credits

Chicago Engagement Session and How to Prepare

Engagement session - many couples hear that term and have a million questions.

What is it?
Do we need it?
Do we really have to be in front of a camera more than just the wedding day?

In a word, YES. Yes, you do need it and yes, you do need to be in front of your photographer's camera before your wedding day. Most couples haven't spent much time with a professional photographer, so it's a great opportunity to get comfortable before you put on your wedding dress and tux. It's also a great way for your photographer to get to know you! The more they understand what works and doesn't work, the better off you'll all be on the big day.

I also hear a lot of couples say they don't think they'll ever use the photos, but I beg to differ. My favorite engagement sessions are those done in the couple's home, their favorite coffee shop or restaurant or with their pets. Use this opportunity to get some photos in a place that's special to you that won't necessarily be a part of your wedding day. And anyway, trust me, you will love these photos 10-15 years down the road. I can just hear you saying, "Remember when..."

Photo courtesy of  Ashley Bosnick Photography

Photo courtesy of Ashley Bosnick Photography

I'll get off my soap box now and let the experts step in.

So excited to get some insight on how best to prepare for your engagement photo session from our friends over at Gerber & Scarpelli Photography. They've been at this for years and certainly know how to get couples in the right frame of mind to have some fun!

Photos courtesy of  Emilia Jane Photography

Photos courtesy of Emilia Jane Photography

Engagement Photos-Chicago Engagement Session-Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Clover Events-Emilia Jane Photography

We get it!  Not everyone enjoys being in front of the camera.  For many couples, Engagement Sessions seem like an overwhelming and unnecessary part of wedding prep.  For us, an engagement session is a great opportunity to meet our clients, learn your dynamic as a couple, and see how natural you are at posing and being photographed.  We love the opportunity to spend some time with you and get all the photo-related butterflies and awkwardness out of the way long before your wedding day!

Here are a few ideas to help you prepare and get in the mood to look and feel your best during your engagement shoot:

Eat well and hydrate!  Drink plenty of water in the days before your shoot to make sure your skin looks its best.  Try to avoid salt, lots of sugar, and alcohol the day before your session.

Get a full night's sleep!  Easier said than done, we know.  The more sleep you get before your shoot, the more relaxed and rested you'll feel.

Choose your clothing carefully!  We advise clients to avoid clothing that has a certain time or style specific quality.  Just look at a photo of your parents in bell bottoms and polyester, and you'll know what we're trying to avoid.  Solid colors, classic styles, and the occasional pattern are safe ways to go.  Make sure to coordinate your outfits as a couple so you don't end up wearing conflicting colors or patterns.

Embrace movement!  Ladies, flowing dresses, scarves, or tops are a great way to guarantee some dynamic movement in your photos.  You'll look and feel like a movie star when the wind starts to blow.

Get a little crazy!  We've met enough couples over the years to know all couples are weird in their own way.  Show off your particular brand of weird by getting a little crazy with the one you love.  We love a couple with a sense of humor and we promise your photos will be unforgettable.

Get ready for some close ups!  Ladies, try to get your engagement ring professionally cleaned before the session and make sure those nails are camera ready!  You'll be glad you did when you're showing off your bling!

Don't be afraid of early evening or winter sessions!  We don't need warmth and sunshine to make beautiful pictures.  We love a dramatic shot framed by Chicago at night.  Fall leaves or winter snow can be fun and beautiful settings for your shoot.  Grab a stylish coat and let's take some photos!

Photo courtesy of  Gerber & Scarpelli Photography

We want you to look like you!  You don't need to wear tons of makeup to look great in your photos.  Choose colors and styles that feel comfortable and normal for you.  If you choose to wear a darker shade of lipstick, make sure it won't rub off when you kiss!

Bring along your fur babies!  We get it, pups are family.  Not only will they help make your photos feel more special, but they'll help you relax and have more fun in front of the camera!

Highlight special locations!  When we're scheduling your shoot, make sure you let us know if there are any significant places you want to visit to help make your images even more meaningful!

We love a costume change!  For more variety in your photographs, consider preparing two outfits each.  Try switching out a formal look for a casual one.  Need advice on what to wear?  Feel free to ask us!

Brush your teeth right before the session!  Everyone looks and feels better with some fresh pearly whites!

Relax and be in love!  We're all here to capture your love and your story.  Try to forget the camera is there and enjoy some time to snuggle up with your honey in a beautiful location!

Photo courtesy of  Sarah Postma Photography

Photo courtesy of Sarah Postma Photography

A Seat at my Table: March Edition

So here we are in March, the month of St. Patrick's Day and our namesake holiday!  When new acquaintances find out the name of my business, they often ask me how I came up with the name.  I knew I wanted to give a nod to my Irish heritage in some way and wanted to incorporate green (my favorite color), but I couldn’t quite put my finger on the perfect name.  We had just moved into a new house (a very old, new house) and I was just beginning to notice all the quirks and details that came along with our new home.  I was walking in the back door one evening and happened to look down and lock eyes on a glass clover ornament that was set in concrete on our stoop.  In the four or so months we’d lived there, I swear I had never noticed it before!  Right then and there, it popped in my head: Clover Events!  It was simple, it was Irish and it was green – checked all the boxes.  I bounced it around for a couple days with my husband and a few close friends and it seemed to be the perfect fit.  I still love it!

It will come as no surprise that, for our March tablescape, we're embracing all that is St. Patrick's Day!  Instead of going full on clovers and leprechauns, we decided to keep our palette and design subtle by using rich textures (I'm looking at you, velvet linen) and incorporating many shades of green.  I couldn't be more pleased with the way it all came together!  Once again, Belen from Gerber & Scarpelli knocked me off my feet with these gorgeous photos!

Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day
Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day

Lovely from May Floral designed a beautiful footed compote filled with the most gorgeous white blooms!  Since there was so much color elsewhere on the table, it was key to keep our floral neutral and light.  I'm just obsessed with those lush garden roses!

Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day
Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day

One of my most favorite parts of this tablescape was the green glasses Amanda from Gather Vintage Tablescapes brought for us to use!  They're so feminine and elegant.  We did a bit of an unconventional plate stack here - incorporating different colors, sizes and shapes.  I love a little unexpected surprise on a table!  The gold flatware was the perfect compliment to the white and green china!

Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day
Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day
Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day

Once again, Jeannie from Simply Scripted Ink helped us finish off the tablescape with the perfect paper complement!  The gold-edged, hand-lettered place cards were nestled in adorable wooden blocks to give them some height.  I can't get over how simple and modern the lucite table number looks as well - such a unique touch!

The gorgeous, rich evergreen velvet linen from BBJ Linen added so much texture and dimension to the table.  We couldn't help but pet it as we were setting the table!  We went simple and neutral with the napkins, in a beautiful Bone color.

Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day
Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day
Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day
Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day
Chicago Wedding Planner-Chicago Wedding Coordinator-Chicago Day-of Coordinator-Clover Events-Green and gold wedding-Wedding Inspiration-St Patricks Day

On St. Patrick's Day, may you have
Walls for the winds
A roof for the rain
Tea beside the fire
Laughter to cheer you
Those you love near you
And all your heart might desire

Thank you again to my incredible team of collaborators on this shoot!

Belen Aquino Perfilio, Gerber & Scarpelli
Gather Vintage Tablescapes
May Floral
Simply Scripted Ink
BBJ Linen

2018 West Loop Wedding Walk

Written by Niki Gubernat

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the first-ever West Loop Wedding Walk and it was such a delight! The concept behind this fun event was: 11 West Loop venues opened up their doors for the afternoon. You hopped on a luxury bus or trolley that waited for you outside each venue, ready to take you to the next destination. At each venue, you found a handful of Chicago wedding vendors set up and ready to talk to you and hand out their information. We even got to sample some amazing food and drinks while listening to great music!

My tour started off at Loft Lucia. Once those elevator doors open up, you walk right into a sunlight filled open space! Beautiful bar on one side of the room and a wall full of glass doors on the other side of the room - those doors take you out to a huge terrace. I could see that terrace space filled with people for a cocktail hour on a warm, Chicago summer night. Back inside, just a few steps down, takes you to an even bigger open space. The smell of fresh wood fills the room – the wide-plank wood floors all polished and inviting. The exposed metal ceiling, marble-faced bar, modern drum lighting and brick walls give this loft a true industrial, city feel. 

We hopped on a XL Transportation luxury bus right outside of Loft Lucia and headed off to our next stop, The Lakewood. Let’s talk about that bus for a second: a sleek, black Mercedes Sprinter, black leather seats, TV, WI-FI, bar and a restroom in the back! Got to love that for those groups stuck in some Chicago traffic!

As you walk into The Lakewood, the elegance of the all-white room & the high, exposed-beam ceilings grabs your attention! The grey-washed cement floor (which matches the grey exterior of the building), adds a nice touch of contrast to the space. Large, square windows all around, brings in just the right amount of natural lighting, but doesn’t take away from the glow of the romantic spherical chandeliers. There is definitely a lot of chic that happens there!

Next stop, The Publishing House, you little gem, YOU! I actually had a hard time leaving here. I couldn’t get enough of their eclectic décor, done so fabulously that it can inspire every type of taste. The Publishing House has three floors, 11 bedrooms, a library, a fireplace and grand piano in an open seated area. There is a media room, and they offer a cooked-to-order breakfast every morning in their kitchen, which is also located in their main area. In need of some wine & cheese? The Press Room (on the 1st floor) has got you covered. Oh, need some beautifying? Solo Salon is located just next door and has an extensive list of services they offer! Don’t feel like going there? They can come up to you! My mind was spinning at how perfect this place is for a bridal party to stay and get ready on the wedding day. You could even have the rehearsal dinner here the night before! So many options! I can’t wait to book a night at this place and just have a Chicago stay-cation!

Up next, Ovation! The owners here did some serious thinking about what a space needs for a great party! The sound system at this venue will knock your socks off. They even have a movable DJ booth – they did not mess around when it came to making sure the music will be heard clearly throughout their huge space. Still looking up at those speakers? You won’t miss the huge fans either! Another well thought-out aspect for when the room fills up with major body heat, from all that dancing! The exposed brick walls and ceiling beams, along with the wood-faced bar, brings a rustic feel though out the space and I’m just loving it!!

The last venue I had a chance to visit was Ignite Glass Studios. This is an art-lover’s dream right here! You first walk into a showroom filled with beautiful glass art and can also head around back to the “Hot Shop” for glassblowing demonstrations – I love when a venue has something extra for guests. You have the option to head up to the rooftop, hang out in the main event space, or enjoy their urban garden. Yes, a beautiful grassy area, in the middle of the city, with awesome city views. The perfectly strung café lights give a soft glow to the event space and the urban garden. You will also notice their unique glass sconces amongst the all-white backdrop in the main event space. (Shout-out to Jordan’s Food of Distinction that was set-up there, providing the most light and refreshing lavender-infused vodka cocktails! Amazing!)

Since I had a hard time leaving the venues I did visit, it didn’t leave me enough time to visit the rest of the venues that took part in the West Loop Wedding Walk: Great Central Brewing Co, Room 1520, Moonlight Studios, Loft on Lake, Prairie Production, and Morgan’s on Fulton. I am coming for you next year!!

This was the first official West Loop Wedding Walk and they are already starting to plan the next one. You HAVE TO experience this in 2019!

Chicago is full of wedding events to attend every month – various venues will hold wedding shows where you can find everything you will need for your wedding all in one room, but what if you don’t have the venue yet? Reach out to us at Clover Events and we'll help you find the perfect venue for your big day!