Narnia Estate is beautiful and unique and secluded, letting you have a very personal, private day. However, although I loved the atmosphere of the estate and it was perfect for us, there were several drawbacks.
The major minus is that dealing with the staff is very confusing, as other posters have already noted. I would send an email to Katie and get a reply from Melissa and ask a follow-up and get a reply from Katie again: which in itself isn't too bad since at least someone is replying. But, it became hard to keep track of if everyone was one the same page over there (which was not always true). There was a lot of confusion for me because even when I was told to go over there to drop off a check, I would go in and there was someone to take my money but not answer any questions I had! I wish they were better at communicating to their clients and even if there are multiple events in a weekend, well this is the business after all. Be prepared to track your conversations yourself on your end because you need to keep yourself and them straight. I had last minute seating changes (not really last minute since it was still half a week before) which my mom actually had to argue with the staff to get them to fix the number of chairs at a table even though it was still resulting in the same headcount number.
This is not a cheap location, but I thought it was worth it for the privacy of having the whole place exclusively for us, and we had both ceremonies and the reception here. Many times going to the suburbs is cheaper then a downtown location, but if you think that is the price of having your event at Narnia that is not true. They price themselves very similar to the Botanic Garden in that they know they have an atmosphere that people want, just like restaurants with great views of the city and lake do, so just know that going in. This place is most worth it if you are doing both ceremony and reception to get the most of the grounds.
I spent an extraordinary long time looking for a wedding videographer. I had always dreamed of using someone similar to StillMotion, but reality set in that flying in someone from another country, no matter how beautiful their work and once in lifetime my event was, is not going to happen. I get motion sick very easily, so some videography studio styles of camera-work or editing just didn't work for me- I couldn't even watch their sample clips. I also exchanged long emails with many (I was an out of state bride) trying to explain my vision of what would make it watchable again and again for me. I was not interested in nostalgic film styles either- I wanted something as close to a short movie. I considered more then a dozen vendors in my final list. Once I found Wijaya though, everything closed very quickly because I felt almost immediately that he understands.
His camerawork is very smooth and cinematic- honestly I don't know how he manages carrying his equipment and following me during my day yet the finished product sometimes looks like he was using professional equipment like camera dollies or tracks. He has an eye for detail of small moments we had while also looking at the big picture of lighting, composition, and everything going on at the same time. His editing tells that story of both the details and the big picture and the emotion.
He was/is the vendor that I am pleased with the most. After watching all those clips from the website and his blog, I was still blown away and he exceeded expectations. he is incredibly reasonably priced for what he offers, and my family and I treasure how perfectly he captured one day better to make it seem even more perfect than our memories of it. Thank you and so recommended!
Chicago, IL 60626
Sonia made me look beautiful all day- it was unreal how good I look in even my guest photos! The makeup was applied so quickly by her experiened hands, and she upped my dramatic look from the trial when I showed her a updated inspiration photo with no problem and gave me exactly what I was looking for.
Because of scheduliing issues, even though I had booked more than a year ahead of time, she didn't do me and the bridesmaids- just me. An assistant Jo did the bridesmaids, and we don't think she did as good of a job as Sonia. However, Sonia refunded the difference between her price and Jo so I am satisfied and would definitely recommend.
They patiently let me try on probably 30 dresses - I actually not only filled up the rack of my dressing room but had an additional rack outside with more. However, thanks to them I picked out a dress I probably wouldn't have because they had so much to try on. I went to the one on Roosevelt Road and they were so patient. Make sure you have an appointment and give yourself enough time to really browse!
The estate was beautiful, and exactly what I was hoping for as a feel to my wedding day. Katie was very helpful in running around when necessary for little things, and accomodated additional details I wanted to add, such as microbrews to the bar and a beverage stand during the ceremony intermission. The price is not cheap- but you are paying for exclusivity and the atmosphere. I wish the communication had been smoother- a change in caterer a few weeks before the wedding left me hanging for a few days before I heard the real story, and a change in table assignments (but not guest count) that I sent to them was lost by the setup people and caused a snafu in seating guests who thought they had no seat. I would recommend a detailed additional coordinator who can help track those details and follow up with the Narnia people for you. Everything else was great though!
I contracted Amy for full wedding coordination services. However, I felt like I was only provided some of the services, and although Amy was a great help that day in running interference and taking care of the details, I wish she had been more pro-active in reviewing the detailed lists I had for her to take care of and done them as I had noted and been more responsive to my vmails. For instance, I had photo upload cards that I wanted put on the dinner tables. She put them by the bar instead- where no one saw them. Similarly, the gold and silver mints I had asked to be put on the tables- it is a sign of auspiciousness to have gold and silver on it. Instead, she put it in a bowl on the table the table cards used to be so they were slightly wasted. When I called her because I had forgotten my veil at home the night before the wedding and asking if she would be able to bring it to the hotel in the morning, she never responded back until the next morning- after I had already panicked found a friend to drive it to me late that night. A simple call back saying she could bring it by would have prevented a lot of stress. I called that night since she was packing up the reception telling her I had forgotten my suitcase there and could she bring it to the hotel- I never heard back, though the sisters brought it to the hotel for me. Again, just a courtesy call back telling me would have helped. For the price I paid for full coordination I did not feel like I got that level of service, if I had paid partial or day of price then she would have met my expectations.
Kelly did a wonderful job on the bouquets and centerpieces- they were so classic and romantic. I was disappointed at how the pomanders looked though- they really just looked like a branch of hydrangea tied to a ribbon hanging from the sheperds hooks, not the balls I had shown her pictures of. We re-used the "pomanders" from the ceremony to decorate the high boys during cocktail and even the cake table. Email communication when I was asking her to show me what the design for the gazebo took a long time- it would have been better to have thought of all this when I met her in person at the consultation, so be prepared to go through all the details at that meeting!