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Illinois is a land of contrasts. It's one of the most populous states, yet includes vast expanses of beautiful, uninhabited territory. It has one of the biggest & boldest cities in the U.S. (Chicago), but also exemplifies main street USA with hundreds of small towns and villages. And even the state's climate can contrast itself within a matter of minutes. Illinois weather is notoriously unpredictable during certain times of the year (more on that later). For soon-to-be-newlyweds, Chicago offers everything for a perfect Illinois wedding: world-famous architecture, historical sites, trendy neighborhoods and literally hundreds of wondrous Chicago wedding ceremony and reception venues. The entire city is a wedding photographer's dream. Chicago is also located in the heart of the state's Great Lakes region, particularly the Lake Michigan waterfront. The entire northeastern portion of Illinois is always a popular spot for wedding planners. The Illinois countryside includes hundreds of miles of Mississippi River waterfront, as America's most famous waterway forms the state's western border. Also, the Ohio River forms the state's southern border with Kentucky, giving Illinois two of the most storied rivers in American history. Many couples plan accordingly, with rustic steamboat-themed wedding celebrations on the rise. Other state highlights include Peoria, located in the north central part of the state, and Champaign, which is located almost due south of Chicago. Champaign is home to the University of Illinois, and many alumni plan their Illinois wedding in and around the Champaign region. Springfield, the capital, exemplifies Illinois' Midwestern character, and is another area currently en vogue with wedding planners.
If you're planning a wedding in Illinois, keep a close eye on the weather. Summers can be steamy, and Illinois winters can be absolutely unforgivable, (especially in the northern part of the state, due to lake-effect snow). Many couples choose to play it safe with their Illinois weddings, opting for spring and autumn celebrations. But all four seasons are wedding worthy times of the year. Keep all of your options open; there are few states that offer the wedding-ready venues, natural scenery, small town serenity and urban excitement of Illinois. Fall foliage, sparkling blue lakefront areas, sweeping architectural masterpieces, rolling river valleys - Illinois has everything a wedding planner could want in terms of photogenic backdrops. And that means deciding on a color can be a difficult task. Try to match your tone with the surrounding season and locale, or go for bold contrast to mix things up.
The cost of an Illinois wedding varies greatly across the state. While the state sales tax is 6.25%, local and municipal taxes (we're looking at you, Cook County and Chicago) can nearly double the base rate up to 11%. Generally, prices head south when you literally head south from Chicago. A wedding in the city of big shoulders will demand a big price tag. Only Los Angeles and New York City weddings cost more than Chicago. Swanky Chi-town venues can cost upwards of $300 per person, once catering costs are figured in. However, that doesn't mean all Illinois weddings are mega-expensive. In fact, the state stacks up favorably with other affordable locations in the United States. Weddings in Peoria, Springfield, Champaign and other mid-sized Illinois cities are considered average or slightly above average. Illinois' wedding décor possibilities are fitting of a state with so much to offer. Unique Chicago wedding catering options in the Land of Lincoln include everything from hearty country fare to elegant, sophisticated urban dishes. For décor, you can do it yourself or choose an Illinois wedding decorator.
Illinois wedding license requirements aren't terribly stringent, like other states. The cost of your marriage license ranges from $15.00 to $30.00, with Chicago and Cook County licenses in the upper range. There is no waiting period to receive the license, and only a 1-day waiting period from license receipt to wedding day. Keep in mind, an Illinois marriage license expires after 60 days, so make sure your venue, caterer, photographer and all other logistical considerations are taken care of well beforehand.