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Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the catastrophe in Southwest Florida, but particularly to our event industry colleagues. Just as our Industry was turning the corner on the debilitating effects of the pandemic, this area of the country now has to recover from the complete devastation of hurricane Ian. Not only have business opportunities been lost, but many venues, products and services have been completely destroyed rather than simply being delayed.

Understandably, many people are concerned about their upcoming weddings and events planned in Southwest Florida. The event industry not only understands but also shares your concerns. However, this disaster has physically destroyed the local infrastructure and many company’s buildings, inventory, communication systems.

For example, while there is no doubt that your venue would love to host your event, they may no longer have a building safe for you to use. Your florist may have lost all of their equipment and delivery vans, and your caterer may not even be able to get the food delivered or staff onsite to produce an event. Natural disasters have a ripple effect on everything they touch, but for complex projects like special events that require multiple layers of products and services, it can be a messier web to untangle.

While the national events community is organizing larger scale relief efforts, as a first step, we recommend that Southwest Florida event industry professionals attempt to communicate with their immediate clients about the reality of their current situation and manage expectations for future communication and responsiveness.

Clients will need to be patient, as such large scale recovery will take significant time. For many vendors there will not be exact answers for the foreseeable future. If you are a client and are waiting for communication from a vendor, please remember that they may not currently have access to power, internet or any kind of support system to weather this storm.

To connect with organizations working on relief efforts in Southwest Florida, please reach out to the listed websites.

The events community is a strong one, and together we will help lift up our partners and vendors in Florida. After all, coming together is what we do best.

Chicago Botanic Garden Rose Terrace  Wedding Ceremony
Olivia Leigh Photographie

As summer wraps up, also does Chicago's outdoor wedding season. We love our summers for putting up tents and pronouncing vows under lush trees. As we begin to head back inside, we wanted to share some of our favorite Chicagoland outdoor wedding venues and think about next year's outdoor events.

1. Chicago Botanic Garden

Garden wedding vibes? Check. Magical photo ops? Check. On-site tent or indoor spaces for inclement weather? Double check. We love designing weddings at the CBG for the incredible views and scenery everywhere you look. Bonus? You get a lot of extra floral for your décor with no effort on your part: the staff gardeners have your back! The breathtaking CBG is not only a romantic spot to host your big day, it’s also conveniently located in Glencoe- just a quick uber or shuttle ride from the city for your guests.

2. Elawa Farms

If you want a more rustic feel with the convenience of all the big city has to offer, Elawa Farms is the perfect option for your wedding. Located in the nearby suburb of Lake Forest, you and your guests can escape the hubbub of the city without driving too far. Rural and romantic, this beautiful restored farm and garden venue can accommodate up to 150 guests. They’ll enjoy strolling under the stars through the mix of manicured landscape and tall grass savannah on-site, and then dance the night away under the beautiful tent available for wedding receptions. Weddings (

3. Rooftop Terrace at Millennium Park

You can’t choose a more iconic Chicago venue for your wedding than Millennium Park itself! The Rooftop Terrace offers endless flexibility for larger events and the sky is the limit when it comes to creating the décor and ambiance of your wedding. Set in the center of the city, your guests will feel as if the city of Chicago itself is the event venue, and the convenient location allows for easy access to all local hotels and transportation. Not to mention, any after party night life you and your guests may want to enjoy is only steps away! Millennium Park Private Events Brochure (

4. Chicago Illuminating Company

Located in the trendy Motor Row district in the South Loop, Chicago Illuminating Company is a unique indoor/outdoor venue. A permanent clear-top tent elevates any and every event, and provides endless opportunities for spectacular event design. Originally this space served as a power plant warehouse, but now it makes a modern statement with lots of character and ivy walls in the courtyard to soften the urban backdrop. What a fun way to incorporate a piece of Chicago’s history while bringing it into the future with your wedding! Chicago Illuminating Company | Chicago Venue Group

5. Armour House

Lush gardens and grounds surround the turn of the century Italian style villa listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Armour House is an outdoor venue that offers old world elegance for the couple seeking a romantic getaway. Instead of feeling like you are in the heart of suburban Chicago, walking the Armour House grounds give the impression of wandering into the Italian countryside. Reflecting pools, fountains, and immaculate gardens are around every corner providing endless photo ops and delights for you and your guests. Weddings | Armour House Catering (

Wedding planning (usually) these days can take anywhere from a few months to a few years. This is a significant chunk of time to spend debating about budgets, bridesmaids dresses, food choices, and invitation fonts with your family and in laws. Sometimes it can come easily and is a naturally fun process for some families! However, more often, it is fraught with tension and emotion (who knew your dad cared so much about the salad course selection….!?). We’re here to help with a few tips for keeping your cool and minimizing drama throughout the process. These are our Four P’s to stay Drama Free!

Alexandra Lee Photography

1. Prioritize Much like with your budget, we recommend prioritizing your selections when it comes to choosing vendors/options. If the menu is really important to you and your fiancé, but your mom really wants a different invitation style than you would prefer, consider compromising on the invitations and letting her “win” that choice, so that you can stand your ground when it comes to the menu selections.

2. Perspective Remember- some of these things may feel like life altering decisions in the moment but at the end of the day, they’re just details! Try to keep it in perspective when making selections and you feel things getting heated. “It’s just flowers. It’s just flowers. It’s just flowers.” Focus your aim on marrying your partner and then everything else becomes icing on the cake- suddenly the heat from those arguments dissipates.

Alexandra Lee Photography

3. Patience Try to maintain patience with all of those involved in the process. Maybe they are stressed (or don’t realize how stressed you are!). Maybe they don’t understand why you would prefer things to be a certain way during the ceremony, and you’ll need to explain it to them… again. If you’re excited to get planning underway it can be hard to maintain patience but if you can take a deep breath and take your time, that can often save a lot of drama. If you have patience and talk it through or maybe explore other options, even just showing the other party that you are putting effort in can sometimes make the difference between peace and .. er… not so peaceful discussions.

4. PLANNER. The most important P of all in our humble opinion! A wedding planner can be a perfect “fall guy”. The wedding planner is a fantastic buffer and neutral third party to help settle disagreements or offer practical advice on selections. If you hire a wedding planner you all trust, you know you have someone on your team who is rooting for you and will guide you (and your family!) through all of the hurdles ahead. Everyone is able to take a deep breath once you have a planner at the helm and that minimizes the drama before it even begins.

Alexandra Lee Photography

Alexandra Martin - NSWE Events

Photos courtesy of Alexandra Lee Photography

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