Off the bat, I really, really wanted North Pond, because I love the place. The Arts & Crafts style architecture of the restaurant reminds me of the Gamble House in Pasadena that AF and I toured together a few years ago. I also thought the Lincoln Park location would be perfect, especially because right in front of the restaurant there's a beautiful view of the Hancock Building that makes a wonderful backdrop for photos. The restaurant size and layout are also exactly what we wanted for our ceremony/reception. North Pond was the first venue I contacted right away and, much to my excitement, they were available for our first choice date. Unfortunately, the cost to buy out the restaurant for the night is $20,000, which was beyond what we want to pay, so we scratched North Pond.
When contacting the venues, I just threw out summer 2009 to see what I'd come back with, but we're flexible. Here's an abbreviated version of my spreadsheet of potential wedding venues (in no particular order):
|Art Institute of Chicago||Available; still waiting to tour|
|Architectural Artifacts||Available; strong possibility|
|Chicago History Museum||Available; strong possibility|
|Chicago Cultural Center||Unavailable|
|Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum||Unavailable|
|River East Arts Center||Available; expensive ($10,000)|
|Wrigley Field||Available; not sure if right venue for us|
|Murphy Auditorium||No response|
Of all of these I think I would rank Art Institute at the top because (according to its brochure) it seems to be not that expensive, plus it's located near lots of hotel options. Communication with event managers is slow going, though. I've been contacted by three different people already, but when trying to set up a time to see the place, days go by before I hear back from them.
My goal is to have the save-the-dates out the door by the end of January, so I will keep on trucking.