Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Getting Buff, Locally

I can't afford a Cheetah Gym membership just yet, but there are a few local programs that might help me drop a few dress sizes. If you haven't heard of these already, you might want to check 'em out:

Walking Trails/Tennis/Gym in Humboldt Park
The Chicago Park District offers a ton of local park trails, pools and other amenities, but since Humboldt is closest to me, here's the lowdown:

I haven't been able to find a beginner's tennis buddy just yet, but the trails are fantastic! If you take the loop around jog or walk around roughly 2 miles of parkway, which takes you all over and through the woods (well, some trees anyways) and past a lagoon and prairies. The gym leaves a little to be admired, but for $50 every three months, it's not a bad deal. Do not recommend signing up for the gym in the summer months at this location. There's no A/C yet.

Swimming in Holstein Park:
For the full schedule of CPD pools, go here.

Holstein Park is one of my favorite pools in the city. Closer to Olympic-sized than most area pools in the parks, this location offers morning and evening adult swim. Alas, for the past three years, the adult lap swim has been free of charge, but the new $22 sign up fee works for any pool in the park district and gets in you through the summer.

You can do whatever your feel...
Yeah, Village People. But seriously, if you can't do the pricier alternatives, the Y is an option.

Brides Run:
If you require a workout buddy to get yourself motivated, this could be a good option for you. I know they have some fitness classes meeting up at Stan Mansion on Kedzie right now, but check 'em out for future dates. The bonus is that everyone you're working out with will also have a little wedding on the brain, so you're less likely to annoy your new fitness pals the same way you might be annoying your single friends.

Millennium Park Free Fitness Programs:
I always overlook things going on downtown because I can get busy as it is in the Northwest neighborhoods, but this looks fantastic. Follow the link for a classes and times.

If you've got a local favorite fitness place in Chicago that doesn't break the bank, please pass it on.

Wedding in the Park

Because I'm way too excited to keep it a secret...

We're planning on doing our wedding in Humboldt Park!

We're using the Boathouse for the ceremony and the Fieldhouse for the reception. It could not be more perfect since it's in Chicago, not too far from public transit and a 10 minute walk from our house.

Here's a few pictures I was able to find online. Hopefully, I will be able to post some of ours soon, but in the meantime:

The Boathouse:
Photo credit: Humboldt Park Boathouse Photograph by Frank Dina, http://fineartamerica.com/featured/humboldt-park-boathouse-frank-dina.html

The Fieldhouse (from the back view):
Photo credit: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/chicago/look/look-humboldt-park-051863

The Banquet Hall:
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yochicago1/251914858/

The banquet hall is actually not enough to hold our whole party (250 people might be a bit cramped in this space). But there are two adjoining gyms that just need a little decoration and imagination and it should be perfect.

Speaking of decorations, after we landed the space, we were thinking that if anyone was doing a Friday wedding the day before us, splitting costs would come in handy for both weddings. Then I read that Broke Ass Bride just launched a new website that lets brides team up with other brides to save some cash by going dutch wherever possible.


So, if you're looking for a Friday wedding in October and think you might want to do your wedding here, let me know.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Narrowin' It Down

Finally down to the final two venues!

This process has honestly been kind of a pain and taken way longer than we'd hoped, but the sooner we can sign the contract and do the fun stuff the better, and we're down to two. Unfortunately, our Number One choice won't let us lock it down til' this fall, so that means waiting for three more months or praying they return all the millions of questions we have in writing so we don't get any nasty surprises. HUGE THANK YOU to Johnny's mom who worked her art of negotiation skills to get us an earlier signing date.

To be fair, our backup plan is nice too, just not everything we've dreamed of. It's close by, so that helps, but it honestly needs a lot more imagination that I feel like mustering up for monetarily. Also, it has no windows and so having a wedding in the Fall kind of loses it's reasoning when you're spending most of the wedding not seeing any of the natural beauty around you.

I'll probably be keeping the final details on hold until we settle everything, but in the meantime, friend Robin sent along this Yelp list that helped me find some of the not so well known wedding reception places. It's a pretty comprehensive list, and I have added some additional venues I looked into in case you're on the search for a Chicago wedding venue and want to explore all of the alternatives out there.

Garfield Park Conservatory
South Shore Cultural Center [$4800 for the ceremony and reception (that is the cost to just have the building, no linens, security, etc) and you have to use their caterers].
Chicago Cultural Center-Grand Army of the Republic
Chicago Cultural Center-Maxims
Cafe Brauer
Architectural Artefacts
Harold Washington Library
Newberry Library
Lincoln Park Conservatory
Peggy Notebaert Nature M.
Jackson Park 63rd Beach House
Columbus Park Refectory
Promontory Point
Chicago History Museum
The Rookery
Marmon Grand
Murphy Auditorium, American College of Surgeons
A New Leaf
Stan Mansion
Grand Piazza
Crystal Garden Ballroom
Ravenswood Billboard Factory
Civic Opera House
Ivy Room
Irish American Heritage Center
Copernicus Center
Chicago Illuminating Company
Union League Room
West Loop Studio
Cheney Mansion
Union Station
Estudio Tres
Zam Zam
Garden Terrace, Garden Manor, Garden Walk, Royal Gardens
Winnetka Community House
Women's Club Evanston
Manzo's Banquets
Logan Square Auditorium
Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel
Prairie Production
Chicago Club
Midday Club
Green Dolphin St
Waveland Clock Tower
Canterbury Inn
Embassy Suites Downtown
Elks Lodge
Flat Files Gallery
Germania Place
Michelle's Ballroom
Dewes Mansion
Salvage One
Catalyst Ranch
Galleria Marchetti
Columbus Refectory Park
Victoria in the Park
Lincoln Park Conservatory Gardens
Brookfield Zoo
Knickerbocker Hotel ($40K min. and they're dead serious)
White Pines Inn (Mount Morris, IL)
Odyssey Cruises

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Hunt for the Perfect Chicago Wedding Venue

Finding the right venue for a wedding is sort of like finding the perfect apartment. "Perfect" can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, and everyone is different. There's your list of non-negotiable, gotta have it amenities and then there's crap that's extra but doesn't really matter too much. The problem is, if you're as broke as we are, finding a happy balance in a big city has proven to be more difficult than we'd hoped.

For example, if I were looking for a new place, I think that having my cell phone actually work in my apartment (as opposed to making me sit on the window sill and pray for reception) might be high on the list, right next to the cost and location. Likewise, accommodating our very large wedding of 250 people for a an outdoor wedding in the fall, in Chicago, is having a little bit of difficulty.

So, here's all the "gotta have it's" we're hoping to land for our wedding space:
  • Must be available for rental in Fall 2010.
  • Must be in Chicago (or in IL, but very, very close to Chicago)
  • Gotta have room for 250 people. People who may like to sit down and eat and a dance floor big enough for everyone to get a little crazy if they feel like it.
  • Outdoorsy element. If it's not an actual park, it needs to be woodsy with windows.
  • The party cannot end before midnight. It's our big day, and nothing worth going to ends before midnight.
  • If we have to use a list of preferred caterers, can they please not be the most expensive options in the city? Also, they have to be vegan-friendly and just giving us a salad is not an option.
  • If it's over $4,000, we're hoping to get more than just the rental of the space. Some tables and chairs would be nice.
If you're mid-planning mode or just really savvy to event spaces and grassy knolls for hire in Chicago, any advice you have would be much appreciated.

Also, I've read all this crap about negotiating things and how the recession has people knocking down prices, but from what I can tell, all the affordable places have actually raised their prices for this year and next year while the big-deal, out-of-our-league, who-the-hell-spends-$40K+-on-one-day places are the ones who are knocking off a few hundred bucks (as they should be!)



Holy Crap! We're Actually Getting Married!

After almost two full years of stalling (er, being engaged) we're walking the talk and finally getting it all together to make this wedding stuff happen.

If everything goes according to plan - and when does that ever really happen? - we'll be using this blog to post our wedding-worthy ideas, raves and reviews and probably anything else that sparks our imagination, with a heavy interest in keeping it Midwest, local or DIY-driven.

Hope you enjoy the read and if you have any amazing ideas definitely let us know.