1. Congratulations! Awesome story!

  2. Katrina Ladendorf
    Katrina Ladendorf at

    This is amazing! If we wouldn’t already have gotten married last year I would definitely be looking into this place! Hope your day is AMAZING!

    1. Thanks Katrina!

      Where did you get married?!?! I LOVE hearing everyone’s stories… any chance you blogged about it? Would love to read it.

      And if you have any vendors who were rockstars, do tell! While I may already have lots of mine, I get asked about 15 times a minute for referrals.

      1. Katrina Ladendorf
        Katrina Ladendorf at

        We got married at River Forrest Country Club in Elmhurst, IL. Private club that hosts weddings, etc for anyone (don’t have to be or know a member) Outside ceremony and nice big ballroom inside and no worries about multiple parties a day. Hayes (their event manager/coordinator) is the most wonderful person to work with and I can’t say enough about ALL of the food!
        We loved our DJ, Paul from Admit One out of Naperville. Admit One lets you choose your DJ from their vast staff at Meet the DJ night and we loved him! The dance floor was rocking from our group first dance until the music stopped along with the wonderful music he played during the ceremony.

        We brought in cupcakes for our dessert, made by the fine people at Cupcakes 4 Courage (now Courageous Bakery) in Elmhurst, IL and Alliance Bakery (Wicker Park neighborhood, Chicago). So delicious people were stealing the left overs at the end of the evening as they walked out the door.

        The rest of the stuff I did on my own, with the help of a wonderful fiance, some very good friends and family!

  3. So fabulous. I’m planning a wedding out of state, but two of my favorite vendors/folks have been Chicago-based: Crafty Broads, who altered my dress (and who I believe also do day-of coordination etc), and Rebecca Zemans, who’s making our (very reasonably priced) wedding bands and who incidentally works in an awesome gem-of-a-space-with-a-pie-shop-beneath, Lillstreet Art Center. Not sure if you’ll need any of that, but just a heads up on a few more fab local ladies who actually take a genuine interest in realizing whatever vision you have, and fairly.

    1. Thanks JS!!!

      Rebecca has been recommended by a few folks. If we don’t exchange fruit loops, maybe we’ll contact her. Haven’t heard of Crafty Broads, good tip!

      And I know where to come if I decide I need wedding dancers, am I right?

  4. Love hearing how everything is coming together! The location looks amazing! Textual storytelling…I like! Congratulations again, Saya!

    1. Thanks Laila! We’re excited. Funny how things work out, no?

  5. I love, love this! You two are adorable and I love how you approached your wedding planning. It’s REAL. Real is often forgotten by couples as they get swept in the whirlwind of flowers, color schemes, how to make it fabulous…for everyone else. I can’t wait to hear more, your day is going to be super special for both of you and everyone there.<3

    1. Thanks Lisa P!

      Every time someone asks me about my “color scheme,” I stare back blankly. Same for dress, flowers, hair and makeup. Could care less!! We just want people to have fun, us to have fun, Fiancé People to smoosh with Saya People, and to not spend a ridiculous amount of money. And it not to rain.

      PS – I met the gal from 10th and Blake (that’s what it’s called, right?) at Ignite, she’s awesome. I don’t like beer but she had me craving a pint.

  6. Love this! It’s so important not to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing. My husband and I got married in Galena Illinois for half the price of Chicago – on a farm with BBQ picnics and lawn games. No white dress, no cake, no first dance. My friend made the dress, a friend was the DJ, a friend was the photographer, a friend’s friend is the jeweler of our rings. It was perfectly us and so much more special because of it. Some people want the big white wedding, which is great, and some people choose a more alternative route – the most important thing is that you stay true to yourselves as a couple. 🙂

    1. Great story Shayna, thanks for sharing! Solidifies my feeling that we’re heading down the right path.

      Where in Galena did you get hitched? Had a family reunion at Eagle Ridge and went to a wedding at an adorable schoolhouse/tiny church place that I can’t remember the name of.

      I’ll be dress shopping at the Old Navy clearance rack. Hello $8 sundress.

      No first dance or cake for us either!

      1. Yes, we got married at the same place with the school house and the chapel! (although our ceremony was outside) It’s called Oak Hill. All our families stayed at Eagle Ridge.

  7. Drew
    Drew at

    Yay! I feel the same way as a Community Manager. Why would I want to plan an event for free when I get paid to plan them because they are stressful?

    Our plan is to have a “destination” wedding, which is a cop-out for not having any wedding at all, and just going on vacation.

  8. leslie
    leslie at

    What a great story!! looks like the perfect venue for you two totally original people! : ))

    1. Thanks LM! 🙂 Just got blessed with another awesome female-entrepreneur offering up her services — wedding brunch catered by Ambiente Chicago, woot!

  9. Rina
    Rina at

    Saya, you should have a Mingler where we come over and help you make favors! It could even be wedding themed — your most scandalous wedding story (bride/groom point of view, guest POV), etc. I’d go….I’m sure people have good stories!

  10. Wonderful! Honky Tonk is my favorite restaurant in the city and I love their outdoor space. Willie and his team will take very very good care of you for your wedding!

    1. Good to hear Sean, thanks for sharing! We’re hoping we’re as cute a married-couple as you two.

  11. I love love love this story. Yep dreams do come true. Thanks Saya for sharing. This is SOOOO you and Pete (can you see/feel me smiling?) And because I’ve experienced many of these talents, I’d agree you have got some of the best talent in Chicago as part of your wedding day.

    1. I can, Althea! Your gorgeous radiant smile. Thanks for reading/sharing!

  12. Maris
    Maris at

    You are so lucky to get the hook-up from so many awesome vendors! Hope it’s a wonderful (and sunny, non-humid!) day!

  13. […] ToDoist – online ToDoList. I love always having access to my list! (And Fiancé and I are using WeDoist to plan our wedding) […]

  14. […] 22nd – After ridiculous, “is this really happening?” success creating an almost 100% bartered-wedding, I decided to see what seven minutes on Twitter could do. We’re batting almost 1.000 with […]

  15. Missy
    Missy at

    Thank you for posting this, I love the space and your story. I just came across this venue as I am beginning to search for a wedding space that is not “wedding-y” Hope your wedding is everything you want it to be!

    1. Thanks!

      When are you getting married? And what do you think your guest numbers will be?

      Might have some suggestions.

      1. Missy
        Missy at

        We haven’t made any decisions yet as to when, where, etc. We are 60-40 at any given time if we even want a wedding. Lately I have been thinking that we should spend our money on an Icelandic honeymoon, which sounds much more appealing! Our guest list would be between 75-100 people. I love the idea of a simple celebration, because a wedding is something to be celebrated. I dislike all of the hooplah that goes along with the wedding industry though. I would welcome any suggestions!

        Also – I was checking out your site and I am thoroughly intrigued by the class you are having next Thursday. Currently at a point where I don’t know what to do with my career and am feeling kind of lost on the matter.

        1. Here are some non-traditional options —

          Bang Bang Pie Shop is very similar to Honky Tonk. If you check it out, feel free to drop my name — Dave the owner is FAB! He’s always on twitter, @bangbangpie. I’m @sayahillman. http://www.bangbangpie.com/ http://www.stylemepretty.com/illinois-weddings/chidago-weddings/page/4/

          Bridgeport Arts Center http://bridgeportart.com/

          Lacuna Artist Loft http://lacuna2150.com/

          And a friend I know married at City Hall, took a trip to Paris and then had a huge party at Chief O’Neills in their gorgeous outdoor space. She said is was the best idea ever.

          You should come to Dabble next week, always a good two-hours! (Biased of course 🙂 ) The reason you give is the reason most give for coming.

          1. Missy
            Missy at

            We visited Honky Tonk and the garden a few weeks ago and immediately knew that this was the space for us! We are set for a solstice wedding next June. I hope your wedding is amazing, can’t wait to see pictures!

          2. Saya
            Saya at

            Yay, exciting! How’d you hear about it?

  16. JJ
    JJ at

    I admire your success in cobbling things together organically and getting the best of each element, rather than be suckered into the “convenance” of a package. No doubt it will be a delightful affair!

    Readers and writer alike, please do not overlook the fact that none of this is, as implied, actually “free.” While procured by barter, these treats are the result of thousands of hours of your professional labor and the products created therein. So for the rest of us, while our careers of, say, teaching physics, might not afford us a clamoring cadre of fierce, party-minded colleagues armed with craft beer and childcare, it does provide us a tiny bit of money with which to procure the same.

  17. […] recently, including her hair stylist! I then mentioned that someone I knew was in the process of bartering nearly 100% of her wedding this summer. What a great way to approach life: an exchange of passions and strengths with others […]

  18. Amy
    Amy at

    Awesome! Love that place and I was the mac and cheese person you ran into the first time around at that space. I always thought it would be a great space for a wedding. And my friends who you met who met that met on match.com got married last year and had BBQ picnic for their reception along the lake in Rogers Park. Congrats to you both!

    1. Saya
      Saya at

      Hi Amy, I remember you! That night seems sooooooo long ago. Love all the love going around! And the BBQ. Thanks for sharing.

  19. […] unique – an abandoned convent owned by a BBQ restaurant- that is nothing like we initially wanted but turns out to be exactly what we want […]

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