We had it down to a short list—Allerton Hotel, Murphy Auditorium, Columbus Park Refectory, Cafe Brauer and Mystery Final Winner (a total surprise to us, and probably you).
And we just couldn’t decide. I came up with a few options and we went and saw a bunch more places. My standard method was to Google “Venue Name Chicago Wedding.” Usually the first several hits would include some photography or wedding blogs, and we would check those out.
But photos only show so much and often (rightly) focus more on the people than the space. When I was wondering how dances would work at the Allerton Hotel—I was worried our short mothers would not see the first dance at all because of an awkward layout—Shamrock went to video. Of COURSE. If you find a wedding video, they are likely to pan the space at least once, and you can see how some key moments might play out in the space, like the first dance, toasts, or exit. So, when you Google, go to video and check out what you can find! (I was right about the first dances at the Allerton—it looked like only about a dozen people could see them because of the barbell-shaped layout of the ballroom.)
But we still needed to make a decision! In case you missed it, we’re very analytical people. So we made a ratings spreadsheet, with 15 different factors like location and parking and cost and green space. And then we weighted each one by its importance (yep, really this much of a nerd), and then we rated them all. So, four spreadsheets, eight visits, and a heck of a lot of Googling later, it was time to make a call.
Image via Cheney Mansion
We’ll be having our reception at Cheney Mansion, in Oak Park! (Wait, what? You never even mentioned this place, Miss Clover!)
Oak Park is right outside Chicago, and it’s also where I grew up—my mom lives a couple of blocks away. I considered Cheney Mansion early on, but after showing Shamrock the pictures he said he didn’t like it, so I crossed it off the list. After a few coincidences, we (sorta) saw it anyhow and liked it—which meant we had to go back and reconsider a bunch of other places as well! We headed out to the west side of Chicago to see the Columbus Park Refectory (so pretty!), which is pretty close to my mother, so we stopped by for lunch.
My mother is not exactly known for food (unless by “food” you mean “cereal” in which case she’s got you covered), so we walked up to Tasty Dog for lunch. While eating our hot dogs, Mama Clover asked if we had considered Cheney Mansion, and I said that we had but Shamrock didn’t like it—it was pretty bad in pictures. She asked if we wanted to go see it to be sure, and since we were only a block away, we figured it wouldn’t hurt (and mom clearly wanted us to!).
Image via Cheney Mansion (This is one of the better pictures, sadly.)
We looked around a bit, and then Mama Clover went up and looked through the glass doors into the foyer. We know they do events there, but it isn’t open to the public, so we weren’t expecting to go inside. By luck, the coordinator was there and had an appointment in 25 minutes; she was on the phone but let us in to peek around and then got off the phone and gave us a quick tour.
Image via Cheney Mansion
As I mentioned in my last post, decent pictures are few and far between, but the space itself is really pretty and the grounds are simply amazing. We’re crossing our fingers for no rain so we can enjoy cocktail hour outside!
This is the view standing right outside the house looking out into part of the garden—so pretty! Style Me Pretty actually featured a wedding reception here, and it was gorgeous.
So this is it—our venue, courtesy of a chance lunch at Tasty Dog. How did you find your venue? Did you cross off any venues because of terrible pictures?