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Rock the "unwedding" for your nuptials

A trend that’s gaining popularity is what some have aptly named the “unwedding.” And it’s much more than just the two of you running off to the justice of the peace and completely forgoing a celebration.

This style of wedding is perfect for the couple that’s not that interested in all the planning and fanfare of a big wedding, and especially one who wants to avoid the enormous credit card bill afterward.

The unwedding can blend the best that the Chicago area has to offer, with what the two of you love: good food, great wine and your closest friends and family.

Guest list
The unwedding starts with the guest list. Your guests have to fit into a restaurant or home, so small and intimate is your goal. Think immediate family and your closest friends; omit your mom’s bridge partners and the friends you haven’t talked to in five years (or you won’t be talking with in five years).

Bridal party
Since your guest list is small, you won’t want ten people in your wedding party. Also, the smaller your wedding party, the fewer flowers and thank you gifts you’ll need to purchase.

The ceremony
You may want to consider an alternate ceremony location like a park, a small chapel or your back yard. Ask your reception venue if there’s a private location at their site for your small ceremony.

The Chicago Park District has several outdoor ceremony sites and some offer a building for rent, in case the weather turns south on your special day. A side note, it’s wise to have a backup plan if you’re getting married outdoors in Chicago.

If you do a church ceremony, consider having a solo musician – like the ones available from Backthird Audio – who can play a quiet, meditative tune for your processional and recessional. Forgo the pew bows or tall candelabras at each row. Candles are lovely and will add ambience if your ceremony is in the evening.

The reception location
Pick a restaurant that the two of you love, with food and drink you enjoy. An elegant place would be lovely or you can go for something offbeat and quirky, depending on your personality. Make sure it has a private room so you’re not paying to rent an entire restaurant (which is very costly). You might be surprised what you can afford if you have a cocktail or dessert reception on Friday evening, so ask around. It’s worthy of mention that most restaurant venues will allow for a couple of quiet musicians (like an acoustic trio), but not a DJ or live band with a dance floor.

If a restaurant is still out of your budget, have the reception at home! Find a good caterer, like Dave’s Specialty Foods and buy your wine at Trader Joe’s. There’s nothing like a beautiful dinner party at home to bring in personality and intimacy. Even if your space is small, you can do hors d’oeuvres or buffet. Hire a string trio to play in the background…instant elegance! 

Flowers
There are many ways to save on flowers in your ceremony and reception. And with an unwedding, you can use a wrist corsage or small nosegay for you or your bridal party. Visit Jewel Osco for items like corsages and boutonnieres.

Attire
Since the unwedding is typically in a smaller venue, a full-length train on your gown is probably not ideal. However, you can still wear something very bridal…or not! Look for a gown with little or no train, a suit or a short bridal cocktail dress (which is completely on trend). As for the groom, a simple suit is perfect.

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