The Digital Journalism Blog

Wedding Season Bliss: Planning the Big Day

By: Jessica Mayo and Jacob Terranova

This time of the year is the busiest time for weddings. With wedding season between the months of May and September, many couples are getting ready for their big day. There are a number of things to consider including: hiring a wedding planner, finding the right ceremony and reception venues, hiring a DJ, caterer, photographer, florists, and of course, picking out the wedding dress. Here is a helpful guide on how to maneuver wedding season.

The Making of Matrimony: a look into the role of a wedding planner

Peoria- It’s the unofficial start of wedding season.

Beginning in May and typically stretching into October, thousands of couples across the country are preparing to say “I do.”

They’re not the only ones preparing though.

Thousands of wedding planners are also busy preparing, helping couples decide on key things, such as the ceremony date or wedding venue.

Sara O’Shea is a wedding and event planner that operates in the central Illinois area.

As the owner of  SoChic Events in Morton, O’Shea said her business will start to get busy, with the most popular months being September and June.

“I’ll probably do 25 [weddings]. As a company, we’ll probably do about 60 in the next five months,” she said.

Even outside of wedding season O’Shea remains busy. Wedding planners are typically booked up to nine months in advance.

The first thing the wedding planners help with is booking a venue, which can be difficult to coordinate during the more popular months.

“People have to be flexible on something, whether it’s the specific date or venue,” she said.

Besides the venue, wedding planners also have to assist with all the smaller tasks. O’Shea likes to break the wedding down into pieces so couples don’t get overwhelmed.

“The first three things to decide on are the ceremony location, the reception venue, and then the photographer,” she said. “Those are the three things that typically determine the date; everything else is built around that date. You can’t hire a dj until you know that date. You can’t hire a florist until you know that date.”

From there, O’Shea works with the couples to help decide other wedding details.

For this season, she has noticed emerging trends. One of the biggest is forgoing tradition all together.

“People are really bucking tradition totally, whether they skip the formal traditions of bouquet and garter toss and all that. People are being more creative and personalizing their weddings a lot more. It used to be very cookie-cutter,” O’Shea said. “You always had a traditional cake. I would say 90 percent of my couples this year are not doing a traditional wedding cake. Weddings are becoming a lot more casual.”

O’Shea believes her role is to help remove the stress of wedding planning from young couples. Most clients she has are young couples who are both busy with careers.

More and more couples are resorting to wedding planners nationally as well.

One in three weddings are now planned by wedding planners, according to an article in Wedding Industry Statistics.         Hiring a planner isn’t that bad of an idea, with average weddings costing more than $25,000, and a typical wedding planner costs around $1,000 or $2,000, according to the article.

Not only can a planner save couples stress, they can also save money. O’Shea likes to present couples with a variety of options that can match their budget. She often uses Pinterest to help explore couples options.

“What they want and what they can afford are two different things,” O’Shea said. “It’s a delicate balance and I don’t want them to walk away disappointed.”

While wedding season may be filled with stress and emotion, the mark of a good wedding planner is to create a unique and memorable experience for every couple.

The Making of Matrimony: a look into the role of a wedding venue

Lauren Hansen from Embassy Suites in East Peoria shares her role as the Social Catering Manager and gives a wedding venue’s perspective on the busy wedding season.

How to Budget Your Time

Check out a timeline that will help you plan your wedding, nine months out from the date to avoid last minute stress and ensure you have covered all of your bases.

Peoria’s Most Popular Wedding Services


This is an interactive graphic. When the user clicks on each photo or label, a list of the top five most popular options in Peoria will pop up with addresses, phone numbers and descriptions. (All information was obtain from Sara O’shea, wedding planner and owner of SoChic Events).

Caterers: This list excludes venues that already do their own catering

One World – 1245 W. Main Street, Peoria, IL. (309) 672-1522

Cracked Pepper Catering and Baking, Inc. – 3406  NE Adams St.  Peoria, IL 61603 (309) 219-1717

The Catering Company – 16992 Dee Mack Road Mackinaw, IL 61755 (309) 678-9000

Chef’s Catering – 1504 Washington Rd. Washington, IL 61571 (309) 444-3805

A Matter of Taste Catering – 838 E Glen Ave Peoria, IL 61616 (309) 682 3663


The Cake Shoppe –  5701 S Adams Bartonville, IL 61607 (309) 697 8372

Trefzger’s Bakery – 3504 N. Prospect Road Peoria, Illinois 61604 (309) 685 9221

Le Bakery – 4700 N University St, Spc 14a, Peoria, IL 61614 (309) 693-9190

Apple’s Bakery – 8412 N. Knoxville Peoria, IL 61615 (309) 693-3522

Corner village Bakery – 1100 W. Garfield Ave Bartonville, IL 61607 (309) 966-2305


Kinard Photography – offers a wide variety of services including weddings. Their services come in cost efficient package deals.

Kira Kwon – specializes in photography for weddings, specifically day of. The company focuses on providing a personal relationship with the photographer and couples.

Sweet Memories Photography – a lifestyle photographer that offers wedding services. It is a one woman operation, so the service is more personal, and a little more cost efficient than bigger photographers.

Ernst Jacobsen Photography – provides an excellent service for couples looking to save on money.

Baillie Photography – a married couple of photographers who provide wedding services.


Prospect Florist – 3319 N Prospect Road Peoria (309) 688 3421

Sterling Flower Shoppe – 3020 N Sterling Avenue (309) 682 2320

Floral Expressions – 2415 N University St. Peoria (309) 676 8000

Heaven on Earth Floral Design Studio – 5201 W. War Memorial Dr. Peoria (309) 691 5330

Geier Florist – 2002 W Heading Avenue, West Peoria (309) 674 0047


The Packard Plaza – is a traditional wedding banquet hall that is tied to the catering services of One World.

Corner Stone – Located in the heart of downtown Peoria, Cornerstone Banquet Hall provides couples with a traditional and elegant experience.

Lindenhof – As Part of the German American Central Society, the Lindenhof provides couples with a german centric themed hall.

Embassy Suites –  With a location right on the riverfront, Embassy suites provides couples with an extravagant wedding reception hall and catering services.

The Waterhouse – Another riverfront venue. The Waterhouse is a popular venue and provides couples with a nontraditional experience with its rundown aesthetics. The venue also provides on-site catering.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: