How To Plan a Micro Wedding in Phase 4
Chicago Loft Venues’ creative director, Joshua Yates, weighs in on planning your Phase 4 nuptials—and proves that, although it may not look the same, bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to your wedding bash.
By Taylor Morgan
On Friday, Chicago entered Phase 4 of reopening—and the city is seeing some significant changes. More businesses and cultural attractions have opened up, and are respectively rolling out revised restrictions and updated sanitation protocols. Chicagoans are already enjoying the return of indoor dining, as well as the reopening of museums, zoos, performance venues, summer camps and more. Better still, gathering limitations have been loosened to 50 people, however residents are still urged to social distance and wear face coverings.
The city’s events industry is following suit—and getting creative. Take, for example, Chicago Loft Venues, the Boystown-based venues group that runs The Zephyr on Motor Row with two more amazing venues set to open come August: Stockhouse in Pilsen and The Wildman in Garfield Park. “Most couples' immediate perception of a wedding during Phase 4 is a capacity of 50 people—period,” says Joshua Yates, creative director at Chicago Loft Venues. “That’s true, and Chicago events venues must comply. But there are options if you’re willing to think outside the box.”
Here, Yates outlines the creative offerings Chicago Loft Venues already has in place for couples committed to keeping their impending date during Phase 4…
So your guest list was originally 150 people, but, thanks to this pesky pandemic, and the resulting Phase 4 restrictions, you now have to cut back—or do you? “Chicago Loft Venues is now offering “wave weddings”—concurrent fetes throughout the day that will accommodate all of your guests if you are willing to divide things up,” says Yates. “It’s like having three, separate micro weddings back-to-back, all on the same day. You can have a 50-person luncheon followed by a 50-person dinner and, later, a 50-person dance party. You can still achieve your original 150 guest count—just in shifts.”
MICRO WEDDINGS + AN ANNIVERSARY BASH
For couples who aren’t down for dividing up their guests, but who still aren’t willing to push their big-day date back, Chicago Loft Venues has a suggested solution for that, too. “A lot of couples have had long engagements and really want to get married now—and we get it,” says Yates. “Our thinking is that you have a micro wedding now, with the 20-50 most important people in your lives in attendance, and then, on your one-year wedding anniversary in 2021, you have a super fun party—cocktails, dancing, maybe a food truck—to make up for and celebrate your wedding with all the people who couldn’t be a part of your petite wedding.”
Another option for couples who aren’t willing to wait (and postpone their date) is to live stream their ceremony and celebration for guests who aren’t able to attend. “Sure, it’s not the same as being surrounded by 100 or more of your loved ones,” says Yates, “but it does allow for guests who are high risk, or who still feel uncomfortable about traveling, to be a part of the experience in a unique, modern way. I mean, who gets to say they ‘went’ to a wedding from their couch?!”
Yates also has some sage advice when it comes to selecting the venue for your Phase 4 wedding. “Don’t be afraid of a larger venue,” says Yates. “While a smaller venue might initially seem like the perfect fit for a micro event, you’ll still be on top of each other. Instead, opt for a larger venue and create socially distanced vignettes that your guests can explore throughout the evening in groups. The money you invest in a larger venue, you’ll save in flipping and cleaning fees. And your guests will be grateful for the breathing room. Plus, a progressive celebration is really fun! Every room/lounge/vignette is a surprise that you get to reveal.”