Wedding Timeline's - when to start what projects!

We have talked about time lines for the event day, but what about when you’re supposed to be doing what!  Here is our suggested what to do when.


Upon Engagement!

·      Talk with your fiancé & talk about what kind of wedding you’d like & what kind of wedding you can afford.

·      Establish a budget

·      Pick a timeframe

·      Start a guest list


If all of this seems overwhelming – now is the time to start booking a wedding consultant.


10 – 12 or more months

·      Invite Bridal Party to be a part of the wedding!

·      Select a ceremony & reception site (using your pre-agreed upon budget!)

o   Make sure you research what other vendors are allowed at your selected venues & that you factor their prices in to your budget. 

·      …have an engagement party thrown for you!


8 – 10 months

·      Book Caterer if you haven’t already!

·      Order your wedding cake – or start tasting cakes to figure this out.

·      Make sure the wedding gown is selected & ordered (you can allow 6 months for this at least!)

·      Book your band or dj – musician for the ceremony or cocktail hour/ photographer &/or videographer & floral company.

·      Reserve any room blocks at suggested hotels for out of town guests


·      Fun Project – Register!


8-6 months

·      Send “save the date” cards

·      Order bridesmaid dresses

·      Check on availability of any additional vendors:  cake, transportation, musicians, etc.

·      Plan the honeymoon


4 – 6 months before

·      Grooms:  Get your formal ware purchased (or envisioned)

·      Order invitations

·      Order wedding rings

·      “old school”  attend pre-cana or other pre-wedding counseling

·      “new school”  draw up & agree upon any pre-nuptual agreements

·      Renew passports – depending upon your honeymoon!


3 months before

·      Hire calligrapher for any professionally addressed invites

·      Hire hair stylist & makeup artist & book trail sessions with both to agree upon a look!

·      Confirm transportation & don’t forget to include yourself:  limo’s for family, street car / busses for guests, if necessary

·      Mail Invites!


1 month prior

·      Apply for marriage license

·      Final Gown fitting – think about including your MOH (maid of honor) or a bridesmaid or two to learn how to bustle – this is ALWAYS trickier than you think

·      Adjust any counts with vendors & schedule any final walkthrough’s / meetings

·      Are you planning on doing welcome baskets for out of town guests in their hotel rooms?  Why don’t you plan / order & get those done

·      Order any favors & papergoods for the ceremony & party (printed menus, table cards, programs etc)


2 Weeks Prior

·      Check on any RSVP’s that haven’t responded & contact them:  Turn in final number to venue, caterer, florist, etc!!!

·      Photographer’s To Do’s:  Who do you want photos with – make this list & give to photographer ahead of time to save time & runningaround

·      DJ / Band:  Finalize any song request or not to be played request etc.

·      Finalize the ceremony & think about the bridal party order (processional / recessional, etc)

 Finalize Timeline with ALL VENDORS & confirm any meals necessary on site for vendors & any necessary other needs, such as tables for DJ’s, etc(photographer, band, etc & make sure this is on the catering order with a timeframe).  Communicate this to the venue / caterer!


1 Week To Go!

·      Call all vendors to finalize any last minute details / changes, etc.

·      Finalize timeline & important number list with wedding planner, or by yourself & give to all vendors so they know what’s what & who they can call!

·      Finalize count to caterer, wedding planner, florist, etc.

·      Finalize seating chart – print place cards & table cards.


·      Get any facials / hair cuts / colors, etc out of the way now!

PAY ANY REMAINING BALANCES ONCE EVERTHING IS FINALIZED.  You don’t want to worry about writing checks the day of your wedding – pay any unpaid balances now.  Decide on any gratuities that you want to distribute that night & get cash / checks ready to give to wedding planner or designated on site coordinator to distribute.  Most vendors can put this on a final bill to keep this simple & can suggest industry standards!


2 – 3 days prior

·      Bride:  pick up gown & make sure it’s pressed / steamed, ready to go

·      Groom:  Make sure your outfit is with you & in good shape! 

·      Remind all bridesmaids / groomsmen to have their outfits ready to go!

·      Deliver any baskets to the hotel (typically a concierge can coordinate this – if propertly labeled!)

·      Deliver any place cards, printed menus, favors, etc to the venue for on site set up.  Make sure you know when you are retrieving any leftover items, or whose car they are being packed into at the end of the evening. 

·      Designate a card / gift person who will be responsible for transporting any gifts home at the end of the evening – think about cake too – if you want to save it!


Day Prior

·      Rehearsal!  Meet with anyone in the wedding ceremony (bridesmaids, groomsmen, readers, immediate family, officiant) & run through ceremony.

·      Bring any items for ceremony to be on site then (candles, programs, etc)

·      Hand off the marriage license to the officiant

Party!  Attend rehearsal dinner with family – this is a great time to present any gifts to the bridal party / families, especially if it’s an accessory to be worn


Wedding Day!

·      Wedding bands handed to best man / maid of honor to have for ceremony

·      Make sure payment for officiant is handled

·      Assign a person to be the question handler if you don’t have a wedding planner – introduce them to vendors as the go to:  this also helps to let photographer have a person to go to for any who’s who questions


Get MARRIED! & Party Hard


After Wedding

·      Collect any “stuff” left at venue or family / friends possession

·      Pay any final balances for last minute changes

·      Return any outfits / rentals of any sort to their home

·      Write Thank you notes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Summertime in the City!

Summertime in the City!

Tis the season to be outside in Chicago.  This summer, make sure you double check the event schedule in Chicago to make sure that no large events conflict with your special event.  If it does, don't distress.  Here are some tips on making sure your event is a success regardless of what's going on around you in the city!

The 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards

These past few weeks have been incredibly busy for the Calihan Catering team. We have had the privilege of being a part of some of Chicago’s finest events, like the Butterfly Ball at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the NFL Draft. However, the topic of this article will be showcasing all the things that went down at The 2016 James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera House of Chicago.

The James Beard Foundation Awards showcase all the incredible chefs in North America. It is essentially The Oscars of the culinary world, there is no higher honor. The show is typically 2-3 hours, and there is a VIP Dinner Experience occurring simultaneously in the 30 upper-level boxes. 


photo credit Eliesa Johnson

photo credit Eliesa Johnson

Donnie Madia’s One Off Hospitality Group designed this year’s VIP Experience dinner menu. His restaurant group designed family style dishes of maximum quality. Just to get your mouth watering, here are a few of the dishes: 

Vegetable Trio > Beef Heart Tartare and Tuna Tartare; Burrata with Fava Beans and Strawberry Salsa Verde; Grilled Asparagus Salad with Avocado and Flaxseed–Tahini Vinaigrette

Ramp and Potato Cappelletti with Langoustines, Pine Nuts, and Pickled Lemon

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder Tagine with Chickpeas, Tunisian Couscous, Smoked Yogurt, Carrots, and Mint

photo credit Eliesa Johnson

photo credit Eliesa Johnson


After the award show, 2000 guests stormed the two floors of the Lyric Opera House of Chicago for a station-like dinner. The guests have the opportunity to sample some of the best food and drink created by the countries’ finest. Some of our personal favorites were the Foie Gras Macaroons, Hue Dumplings, Louisiana Crawfish Remoulade in Brioche, and Pork Meat Loaf with Caramelized Pineapple Gastrique.

photo credit Eliesa Johnson

photo credit Eliesa Johnson


For the second year in a row, we have had the privilege of controlling all of the set up, staffing, and most of the rental equipment. Here’s a few numbers to demonstrate the scale of this event:

4,750 pounds of ice

Over 1,000 hours of staffing labor

28,200 VerTerra forms

38,700 VerTerra plates

67,500 Beverage Napkins

VerTerra is a type of disposable plateware option. However, VerTerra is fully sustainable because it is made from fallen palm leaves, and doesn’t affect the environment in any negative way.

photo credit Eliesa Johnson

photo credit Eliesa Johnson

 Overall, the event went flawlessly. The show was hosted fabulously by the one and only Carla Hall, and even featured presenters like Rachael Ray. We could not be more proud of how well our teams worked to execute this event and we cannot wait to be a part of the 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards. If you are looking for incredible staffing support for your next event, look no further and contact Calihan Catering today!

(cover photo credit Eliesa Johnson)