If you are trying to decide between a city and suburban venue, Hotel Arista, in Naperville will blow you away. With a number of unique spaces, the possibilities are endless. From a Grand Ballroom that accommodates up to 350, to smaller, more intimate celebrations, their professional wedding planners will truly make your day one of a kind.
Meet Laura and Katie, from Hotel Arista. The two bring an unparalleled amount of expertise to Chicago weddings. Discover their advice to local couples + learn how they help guide them through the wedding planning process ~
How long have you been in the wedding industry? What motivates you to keep going every day?
Laura: I have been working in the wedding industry since 2010, where I planned my first wedding in South Carolina. It was so rewarding to be able to help create someone’s perfect wedding day, and each wedding that I do fuels my efforts for the next. Being a Wedding Designer requires one to be not only each couple’s planner, but also best friend and advisor. I love being able to customize advice for each couple, and it keeps me on my toes.
Katie: I have been a part of the wedding industry since 2009. Since I was young I always wanted to be in the wedding industry. I am very lucky to wake up each day to do something I love. What keeps me motivated are my wonderful couples. I enjoy getting to know them and learning what they envision their day would be like. It is not long before I know what would make their dream become a reality. Nothing is more rewarding then seeing everything you planned come to life on the wedding day.
As Catering Manager, you have a lot of experience helping and meeting with couples who are planning their wedding. What are your expert tips to share with couples planning? Are there any questions that couples should ask when meeting with a catering manager?
L: My biggest piece of advice would be not to sweat the small stuff. Don’t spend hours agonizing over the perfect bridesmaid’s dresses. Out of the ten options you have, probably half of them would be just fine! Pick one. Another important discussion I always have with my couples would be to identify priorities. Unless you have an unlimited budget, there will always be some things that are out of reach. Figure out the most important pieces of the wedding for you and your fiancé, and base your decisions around that.
One thing that is not always consistent in the wedding industry is pricing model. So, it is important that couples ask about how the pricing is organized – is it a package price? Is there a rental fee? What about a la carte options? This will help them be able to compare apples to apples, and ensure that they are making the smartest decision for their budget. I would also recommend asking about the catering manager’s role within the planning process. Venues will vary based on what the catering manager will handle. Some venues will offer a full planner, like the Hotel Arista, and others will be handling just catering and set-up. So it’s good for couples to factor that in, and decide what is best for them.
K: Go about your wedding search with an open mind. Don’t let the details consume you because they will fall into place. Also, don’t fall in love with a date; fall in love with your venue! Go into your venue search with your vision in mind and find a one that is perfect for your dream wedding and then see what dates they have available. When meeting with a catering manager, make sure you ask the venue’s capacity. If your guest count is larger than your venue’s capacity, please know that there is often wiggle room. And when it comes to your guest list, know approximately 20 percent will decline. Also, they might not always bring that “and guest.”
You need to ask what dates are available, what the food and beverage minimum is, are there any hidden fees, serving styles available, how many servers and bartenders there will be based on the guest count, what the deposit would be or if they would do a courtesy hold, and when final payment and counts are due. Most importantly, you should ask them if you have forgotten to ask anything important.
What sets your venue apart from our Chicagoland reception sites? What would you like couples to know about these venues?
L: There are so many wonderful venues in the Chicagoland area, which can make the wedding planning process daunting for couples! However, the great thing is, that means there is a perfect fit for everyone. The biggest thing that I feel sets the Hotel Arista apart is our attention to our couples. As Wedding Designers, we are so privileged to work with our couples from day one all the way through to the wedding – and beyond! Our couples become a part of the Arista family. We love guiding them through the planning process, helping coordinate ceremonies, select decorations, even helping to choose vendors as needed.
We also recognize that everyone has different styles. Although we can accommodate almost every style, if we aren’t the right fit for your vision or budget, we work with a lot of other great venues in the area that can provide a completely different feel. Ultimately, we want each couple to have their perfect wedding, even if it’s not here with us. (We just hope they’ll come stay with us!)
The best part about a wedding at Hotel Arista is our personalized service. We can customize floor plans to allow for the look and feel that the couple is after. We can vinyl wrap the dance floor with a personalized monogram, customize the draping and lighting all to create a unique look for the special day. We have arranged guests’ chairs in a circular fashion in the ballroom so that the wedding ceremony could be held in the center to give the guests a unique view of the couple as they became husband and wife. The couple wanted to be surrounded by those they loved as they took their vows.
K: Our beautiful 4800 square foot Grand Ballroom is conveniently located on the first floor of the hotel. Inside, you will be mesmerized by exquisite chandeliers, high vaulted ceilings and mirrored columns that give off a contemporary, yet elegant feel. The Ballroom can accommodate up to 280 guests comfortably, along with your head table and dance floor. Adjoined to the Ballroom is a uniquely designed 1700 square foot foyer, which is the area to be utilized for your cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception. If available, we also allow you to utilize our comfortable Living Room where you will find an eco-friendly fireplace, beautiful imported wood floors and multiple soft seating arrangements.
Our Santorini Room, located on our 2nd floor, can accommodate up to 100 guests for a ceremony, reception and/or special events. We also offer our modern outdoor terrace located on our 12th floor as another option. It is great for smaller receptions and events!
In addition, Hotel Arista also offers multiple restaurant locations for rehearsal dinners, after parties or brunches the next morning. The Arista Spa & Salon is on site for hair and make-up or to just relax before or after the event. The Olympus Executive Fitness Center which can be rented for a work-out or fitness class exclusive to the bridal party, or it can be used to practice the couple’s first dance or to choreograph the bridal party dance to surprise the other guests. We offer self-parking or valet parking, along with many other distinctive services and touches that will make your event and stay at Hotel Arista unforgettable.
What can a couple discuss with you that they can’t find online?
L: The most important aspect that can’t be found online is the emotional connection to the venue and to us as Wedding Designers. Planning and designing a wedding is a very emotional experience, and we have found that when our couples come on site to meet with us, that is where the magic really begins. As a family-owned independent venue, we are lucky to have a very comfortable environment – while also maintaining the highest of luxury and service. Our couples know when they arrive that they are not only welcome but truly wanted here, and we do everything that we can to make their experience perfect from start to finish!
K: Couples can discuss anything that they feel they need to. From their vision and dreams of their perfect wedding to their personalized details. I can often defuse differences of opinions on wedding details that couples experience with their families. They can discuss their priorities, budget and concerns. All of my clients use me as a resource, I understand that weddings come with a lot of stress and decisions they have to make for the first time and I am here to give advice, help them and make the process effortless.
What is your favorite part of your job? Do you have a favorite memory of a couple or of a wedding you’ve been a part of?
L: It may sound cliché, but I love being a part of each couple’s special day! I am usually the first one they see when they walk back down the aisle as a married couple, and I get the special privilege of seeing them fresh with emotion and exhilaration.
L: One of my favorite moments to date was helping to plan a surprise for one of my brides with her matron of honor. The bride had an obsession with arcade claw games, and had talked about wanting one at the wedding. Her sister (and matron of honor) told her it was “tacky” so she put the dream aside. Little did she know that her sister was already planning to bring one in to surprise her! It took some coordination, but we were able to wheel out the claw game during the matron of honor speech, and the bride was stunned! It was the perfect surprise, and the bride couldn’t believe that both her sister and I had been planning this for so long. It is moments like this that I am reminded of why I truly love this job.
K: My favorite part of the job is seeing everything we planned come to life on the wedding day and the pure joy it brings to all of my couples! It is very special and rewarding. Weddings can be stressful but when it all pays off in the end it makes everything that much more worth it.
K: One of my favorite memories is a recent one. We planned and executed the wedding from start to finish in less than one month. Each wedding has a different timeline. Here at Hotel Arista we enjoy letting all our couples write their own story and this couple wanted their story to start sooner! It was intense but a lot of fun! It turned out just as they dreamed it would!