Real Wedding Budgets of Chicago Brides

Three Chicago brides dish on every single wedding expense.
by Katerina Gkionis

It sounds easy -- 10 percent to flowers, 50 percent to catering -- but let's be real: There's no way you can plan each purchase down to the last cent! Here's what three Chicago brides spent on their weddings and which pros they used to stick to their budgets.

Angeles Liu & James Kasper

June 6 | Chicago | 175 guests

Their Budget: $35,324

Their Breakdown

Ceremony site $1,140, including an officiant, an organist and a cantor. Assumption Catholic Church, Chicago, (312) 644-0036

Ceremony acc essories $28 for pew bows and a unity candle.

Reception site $4,500. Newberry Library, Chicago, (312) 943-9090

Photography $4,000 for three shooters for the day and digital images. Kenny Kim Lifestyle Photography, Chicago,

Videography $0 for a photographer just breaking into a new camera. Ray Pryor, Emotia {photo + cinema}, Chicago, (312) 927-3545

Formalwear $0 for James' tux, shirt and cufflinks through the bride's company. Tom James Clothiers, Chicago, (312) 628-0868

Gown $1,500 for a dupioni-silk dress with a detachable train and $240 for a waltz-length veil with lace. "I bought them in Michigan to save on tax." Paloma Blanca, Elizabeth's Bridal Manor, Northville, MI, (248) 348-2783

Alterations $225 to take in the dress, add cups and a bustle, reinforce the train and take up the hem.

Hair and makeup $350 for both with trials. Lillian Toma, Starlight Makeup, Chicago, (312) 543-4093

Hair accessories $100 for a feathered flower with rhinestones. The Left Bank, Chicago, (773) 929-7422

Shoes $35 for gold heels. Naturalizer,

Wedding rings $1,100 for the couple's white-gold bands. Joseph Wolf Jewelers, Chicago, (312) 332-3135

Bridal party gifts $800 for purses and jewelry for the bridesmaids, digital photo frames for their parents and hats and monogrammed duffel bags for the groomsmen.

Stationery $450 for invitations, programs and escort cards. Xpedx, Chicago, (630) 480-8400

Sign-in book $6. "They had a promotion so we only paid for shipping."

Flowers $1,100 for seven bouquets, 15 boutonnieres, seven corsages and one arrangement and $200 for vases, petals and floating candles for the DIY centerpieces. Gina Alcantara, G-n-G Floral Designs, Grayslake, (847) 477-4700/

Catering $16,200 for a cocktail hour with four hors d'oeuvres, a three-course plated meal, a wedding cake, desserts, linens, servers and bartenders. "We provided the alcohol to save." Froggy's Catering, Highwood, (847) 433-1560

Reception music $1,100 for a DJ. DJ Harsh, Chicago, (312) 953-0226

Favors $400 for a Chicago-style hot dog cart. Mustard's Last Stand, Evanston, (847) 864-2700

Cake $720 for a zucchini-lime cake. Intricate Icings, Erie, (303) 479-9922

Transportation $900 for a limo bus. Empire Limousine, Chicago, (866) 367-4736

Accommodations $800 for the honeymoon suite. The Westin Michigan Ave, Chicago, (866) 716-8104

Tara Vorhes & Daniel Urban

July 27 | Chicago | 54 guests

Their Budget: $20,413

Their Breakdown

Ceremony and reception site $3,500. A New Leaf, Chicago, (312) 642-8553

Ceremony accessories $60 for candleholders with rose buds and satin ribbon for the chairs.

Photography $2,025 for one shooter for ten hours, an engagement session and two discs with the digital images. Brian Kinyon Photography, Chicago,

Consultant $1,000. Lori Stephenson, Lola Event Productions, Chicago, (773) 942-6172

Officiant $300. Bruce Otto, Spirited Weddings, Chicago, (312) 671-1804

Gown $1,600. Justina McCaffrey, Belle Vie Bridal Couture, Chicago, (312) 751-2222

Alterations $275. Davis Imperial Cleaners, Chicago, (866) 267-4560

Hair $125 including a trial. Dave Fonseca, Chicago, (773) 355-8878

Makeup $450 for Tara and five attendants, with a trial for the bride. Sonia Roselli, Chicago, (312) 371-8596

Veil $53 for a mantilla-style veil.

Hair accessories $50.

Shoes $130 for Tara's fuchsia shoes. Stuart Weitzman,

Wedding rings $125 for Tara's and $75 for Daniel's.

Other jewelry $150 for earrings.

Bridal part y gifts $402.

Formalwear $160 for his Calvin Klein suit and pink socks, $100 for his Paul Stuart tie, $75 for his Hugo Boss shirt and $133 for alterations. Special Tailors, Chicago, (773) 665-0000

Flowers $1,186 for three bouquets, three corsages, six boutonnieres, ceremony arrangements and six centerpieces. A New Leaf, Chicago, (312) 642-8553/

Catering $5,961 for a cocktail-style reception, a bartender and desserts, $311 for alcohol, $15 for cocktail stirrers and $96 for personalized cocktail napkins. FIG Catering, Chicago, (773) 793-1035/

Ceremony music $450 for a n acoustic guitarist and a cellist. Moeller Music, Elgin, (224) 535-8932

Reception music $800 for a DJ. Chris Corbett, Three 5 Media, LLC, Chicago area, (847) 989-9606

Cake $170 for cupcakes and wrappers. Sweet Mandy B's, Chicago, (773) 244-1174/

Stationery $128 for DIY invitations, programs and menu cards.

Sign-in book and card box $57 for an album, $90 for a Polaroid camera and film and $17 for a birdcage for cards.

Favors $55.

Welcome bags $35 for snacks, cellophane bags, Kraft bags and Chicago maps.

Accommodations and transportation $379 for a hotel room and trolleys. The Ambassador East Hotel, Chicago, (312) 787-7200

Alison Deany & Joseph Wolz

June 16 | Joliet | 200 guests

Their Budget: $17,235

Their Breakdown

Ceremony and reception site $200. "They waived the $1,000 reception site rental fee because we booked early." Grand Ballroom at Joliet Union Station, Joliet, (815) 727-1200

Ceremony accessories $30 for a unity candle, ring pillows and a flower girl basket.

Photography $1,200 for a shooter for 12 hours, an album, an engagement session with one large print, wedding day prints and digital negatives. Modern Image Studios, Downers Grove,

Gown $700 for a satin, A-line gown, $150 for undergarments and a garter and $250 to add a corseted back. Maggie Sottero, Eva's Bridal of Orland Park, (708) 403-3334

Hair $0. "One of my bridesmaids is a hair stylist." Beth Anne Kelly, Joliet, (815) 603-8020

Makeup $150, including a trial and false lashes. Anything but Ordinary Make Up & Photography by Chantel, South Elgin, (630) 361-2698

Veil $60 for a two-tiered fingertip-length veil with a pencil edge.

Hair accessories $30 for a silver comb with pearls.

Shoes $20 for silver heels.

Wedding rings $50 for Alison's white-gold band and $80 for Joseph's stainless steel one. Sam's Club, Marion, (618) 993-5568/Kay Jewelers, Marion, (618) 997-7710

Other jewelry $25 for earrings.

Bridal party gifts $500 for jewelry for the bridesmaids, cigarette cases, dice sets and flasks for the groomsmen, a necklace and a doll for the flower girl and aquarium memberships for the ring bearers.

Formalwear $30. "His tux was free, but we rented the vest and tie."

Stationery $70 for DIY invitations, programs and escort cards.

book $15 for a Kolo scrapbook.

Decorations $150 for DIY table runners, candles and vases for the centerpieces. "I didn't buy anything unless it was on sale or I had a coupon!"

Catering $12,000 for an open bar for five hours, three entrées served family style, table wine and a wedding cake. Bussean Custom Caterers, Worth, (708) 448-1554

Flowers $750 for seven bouquets, sixteen boutonnieres, seven corsages and cake flowers. The Flower Basket, New Lenox, (815) 485-7369

Ceremony music $250 for bagpipers. Bagpipes & Drums of the Emerald Society, Chicago Police Department, Chicago, (773) 885-4629

Reception music $400 for a DJ. Big Hit Productions, Crest Hill

Favors $125 for personalized CDs for the adults and gift bags for the kids.

Accommodations $0 for two nights in the honeymoon suite because the couple arranged for a block of guest rooms. Empress Casino & Hotel, Joliet, (815) 744-9400

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