How to Plan a Wedding in Chicago, IL

You said “Yes”…now what? With so many details to arrange and tasks to tackle, planning your wedding ceremony can feel overwhelming. However, if you give yourself enough time to take care of everything on your to-do list with a checklist, the job will be less stressful. It is advisable to work with a full-service planning company with experience in big city bride weddings.

Gorgeous weddings don’t just happen by chance. It takes event planning. This post breaks down the wedding planning process into bite-sized pieces that you can apply to your upcoming wedding.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

While most engagements last for 12-14 months, the timeline is different for every couple. Try condensing the schedule if your engagement is shorter. For instance, if the wedding day is six months, try to complete the tasks designated for months 12-6 during the first month. It ensures that the remaining checklist items will be on schedule.

How you use the wedding planning checklist is up to you. More couples are now doing away with traditions and finding new ways to make the entire wedding uniquely theirs. Do you want both families to mingle and sit anywhere? Would you prefer potluck-style food?

Please go over the checklist with your fiancee, determine three must-haves for both of you, and plan for them alongside your full wedding planning service. From event design to where to shoot wedding photos, event coordination brings clarity to your wedding celebrations.

Get Help from Wedding Planners

Find a trustworthy wedding planning company based in Chicago and let them handle the finer details of your big day. As for the rest, let your partner, friends, and family take care of the things you think they might be good at managing. Check them off the list when they are done.

Event planners in Chicago, IL, particularly those in the wedding planning business, can help you make your wedding dreams come true. They offer full-service wedding planning, tackling all areas of the planning process with ease. Your job is to tell them exactly what you need, and they will make it happen.

Your event planner will run all final decisions by you, including vendor communications and contracts. However, your friends and family can still help with the time-consuming legwork of event management.

Organizational skills are a lifesaver.

Wedding planning can be stressful if you don’t give yourself enough time and get help to handle all the tasks. It is why most couples opt to work with a Chicago-based wedding planner. Professional planners can contribute to the success of your big day. However, if you are the type that likes to take charge of things, all you need is help and organizational skills.

A wedding planning checklist helps you stay organized. You get to check off items on a list rather than come up with random answers. It also allows you to plan. You can delegate tasks more effectively and modify them as needed.

Negotiate with the wedding planner and vendors early

Talking to wedding vendors, getting samples, and requesting viewings make it easier to secure better deals. It also gives you time to find out if you are a good fit with event planners instead of rushing into contracts because you don’t have a lot of time.

Try prioritizing your vendors along a timeline. Start with venue selection, as most wedding venues book a year in advance. Several months’ notice is crucial when it comes to floral arrangements, cake, and catering. It gives the vendors enough time to pin down exactly what you need.

The DJs, photographers, and videographers can be the last vendors to negotiate with; while an integral part of event styling, they only need a few months’ notices.

That said, give yourself as much time as possible to research and negotiate with vendors for a stress-free ceremony. No one wants to be scrambling last minute to ensure the wedding celebration goes off without a hitch.

The Ultimate Chicago Wedding Planning Checklist

12 Months Out

The main focus at this point should be the big details such as:

  • Wedding budget planning
  • Making a guest list
  • Hiring the best wedding planners in Chicago, Il or assemble a wedding planning team (friends and family) if you’re on a budget
  • Figuring out your wedding signature style
  • Starting negotiations with venues, caterers, florists, and other vendors
  • Discussing the must-haves for the wedding celebration with your partner

Bride’s tip:

The numbers will change throughout the wedding planning process. Keep this in mind when working on your wedding budget. A detailed spreadsheet can help you and your Chicago-based wedding planner track spending.

Speaking of wedding planning services, choose one based on their combined experience, ability to provide customizable services, and type of wedding planning packages offered. Trust your gut rather than a pros and cons list when it comes to venue selection.

10-11 Months Out

It is time to start getting things in order. Many destination weddings take place in Chicago each year, and as such, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to wedding venues.

  • Reserve the ceremony and reception venues
  • Throw an engagement party
  • Mail save-the-dates
  • start shopping for wedding dresses, veils, and other accessories
  • Hire vendors who book up quickly
  • Choose the wedding party, i.e., bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, ring bearers. Statistics show that the average wedding party consists of 10 people.

Bride’s Tip:

Enlist the help of a boutique event planning firm to find the best vendors. Most Chicago wedding planners have a team of florists, photographers, caterers, videographers, and bakeries they work with. They will also be able to recommend the best venues and hotels for guest accommodations.

8-9 Months Out

Things are coming together with the help of your wedding planning team.

  • Create your wedding registry with at least 2-3 brands
  • Choose the bridesmaid’s dresses and schedule fittings.
  • Buy your wedding dress.
  • Book an officiant


6-7 Months Out

It is only a few months left before you can enjoy the wedding day with your fiancee. Here are the following wedding details to check off your to-do list.

  • Decide on the wedding day makeup and hairstyle.
  • Buy the wedding bands.
  • Have the groomsmen fitted for their suits if necessary
  • Choose wedding invitations, one for everyone who received a save-the-date
  • Arrange transport options to and from the different venues
  • Go over the ceremony and paperwork with your officiant.
  • Book the wedding rehearsal venue
  • Make rental reservations for lighting, set-up equipment, specialty chairs, dance floor, lounge furniture, draping.
  • Hire a band or DJ for the great event


4-5 Months Out

Now is the time to iron out the smaller details of your big day. Again, it’s a good idea to use your lead planner, family, and friends to get these tasks done.

  • Approve the wedding invitations submitted by your wedding’s creative director
  • Select and order the wedding cake
  • Start planning the honeymoon
  • Buy or rent the groom’s tuxedo
  • Meet with the florist to discuss floral arrangements
  • Book a room for the wedding night
  • Send the wedding dress in for alterations
  • Prepare your wedding playlist
  • Send invitations for the wedding rehearsal dinner


3 Months Out

With three months left, your day of wedding coordination has already taken care of the big stuff. There are just a few things remaining to make your wedding dreams coming true. At this time, focus on the following.

  • Finalize honeymoon plans and any documentation
  • Buy travel tickets and pay for accommodation
  • Plan the wedding reception seating
  • Try out hair and veil styles
  • Finalize the wedding reception menu
  • Finalize readings and readers
  • Buy serving pieces, guestbook, flower basket, ring bearer pillow
  • Order wedding favors and menu cards
  • Send out wedding invitations


2-1 Months Out

So close! Here is are more items to cross off your Chicago, IL wedding planning checklist when the ceremony is two months away.

  • Start writing wedding vows
  • Apply for a wedding license
  • Choose something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue
  • Finalize your wedding playlist
  • Touch base with all the wedding vendors
  • Submit a list of wedding photos that your photographer absolutely has to capture
  • Review ceremony details with the officiant
  • Enter RSVPs into your wedding planning spreadsheet
  • Buy wedding party gifts and assemble gift bags
  • Create a seating chart
  • Send the finalized guest list to the caterer and all venues
  • Have a final venue walk-through

2-Weeks Out

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the final two weeks of the planning process. Take a deep breath now – you’ve tackled most of the hard work with the help of your wedding planning company. All that’s left are the nitty-gritty details like;

  • Breaking-in your wedding shoes
  • Final dress fitting
  • Packing for the honeymoon
  • Confirming date, time, and location with the wedding vendors
  • Delegating the after-wedding duties
  • Preparing final payments and tip envelopes to the vendors and personnel
  • Getting a manicure, pedicure, haircut and your eyebrows done
  • Relaxing and enjoying the entire wedding day


Are you looking for a reliable wedding catering service? Make Corkys Catering part of your wedding planning process

Corkys Catering can work alongside your wedding planning company to ensure guests, loved ones, and the wedding party eat to their fill on your big day. Our passionate team will ensure no one walks away hungry. We have over a decade of experience catering for corporate events, special events, personal events, and weddings.

Our team members and event professionals know what it takes to make clients’ celebrations successful. We have worked with some of the big days of coordination and bridal consultants that offer full planning services like Camille Victoria weddings and urban allure events.

Whether you are planning for a new event, community social events, or micro weddings in Irving Park or surrounding suburbs, we have got you covered.

Share this

Related Articles



Recent Posts

Signup Our Newsletter