Planning a Chicago Sweet Sixteen Event

Published: 05th February 2009
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Aside from a wedding reception a Chicago Sweet Sixteen Birthday can be one of the biggest moments in your son or daughter's life. Putting together an epic event like this can be overwhelming and frightening. This is why we've created this guideline to layout some proper steps in planning your Chicago Sweet 16. We'll cover each aspect of your party and walk you through each area correctly.


  1. Determine your Budget: The very first step of any party would be to set a realistic budget for your event. Setting a budget can often be rather difficult, especially when money is tight. Before setting any budget you should contact some of your local Chicago vendors and see what their average rates are. You may think party favors cost $40, but in reality they could turn out to cost $200. Many vendors usually have minimums; you should try to get this information up front.

  2. Choose a venue: After you've set a realistic budget you'll want to begin by looking at venues. There are tons of different locations in Chicago where you can host your event. Often time parents will begin by looking at reception halls and banquet facilities, but will find these places can be more than their budget allows. You may also want to look into local facilities like recreation departments or VFW halls. These facilities tend to be much cheaper and you're able to bring outside food and drinks. This will help save on the costs. You'll always want to keep in mind that the venue where the party is held will dictate all the details of your party including the decorations and costs.

  3. Select a Theme: Not everyone chooses to theme their Chicago Sweet Sixteen birthday party, but lately this is becoming more of a trend. There are several themes out there and we recommend doing a Google search on "Party Themes. Some of the more popular themes we've seen are masquerades, highlighter parties, pretty in pink, and of course the night club theme. Once you've selected a theme you'll want to choose colors that complement the theme. Lighting can also be an important aspect of your Chicago Sweet Sixteen. It can turn your ugly VFW hall into an all out night club experience if done properly. Check with your local entertainment company and see if they can help you pick out lighting that will match the colors of your event. Your entertainment company may also be able to add your son or daughter's name into their computerized lighting. Lighting is often overlooked when planning a Sweet 16, but it can really make your party shine! (No Pun intended)

  4. Choose Your Entertainment: The key to party success is often your entertainment. There are several different types of entertainment, but most people choose to use a mobile DJ route. You'll want to choose your entertainment based on your son or daughters personality and style. As stated before, the entertainment can make or break your party. You'll want to search for an entertainer with a high level of energy as that may be needed in the beginning of the night to get the party started. You'll also want to choose an entertainer with some style and an up to date music library as the kids will demand it.

  5. Choosing a Cake: Will you have a cake at your event? Will it be homemade, custom made, or store bought? You'll want to choose a cake that fits into the theme of your Chicago Sweet Sixteen and of course you'll want it to taste good!

  6. Photography or Photo booths: Having a professional photographer is becoming quite a trend. Of course you'll want to try to stick to your budget as photographers tend to be expensive. Not only will a photographer grab all the special memories that night, but they can make your son or daughter feel like a true celebrity. When choosing a photographer you'll want to hire a professional and see if they've shot a Sweet Sixteen party before. You'll also want to see what kind of style they shoot (traditional, photojournalistic, artistic, etc). Often times your DJ or entertainment company can provide you with photographer referrals. Having party professionals who work well together will really make your event come together smoothly. Another option would be to rent a photo booth for the night. These can be a lot of fun for the kids and everyone will have a photo keepsake to take home from the event.

  7. Grand Entrance: Often time people will choose to have a grand entrance for the birthday boy or girl. You'll want to know how they will enter the room. Who will handle the introductions? Will there be music playing? Will you have a red carpet entrance? Will they come in by themselves or with a VIP or closes friend? Maybe a paparazzi entrance with pictures everywhere? This is when having a professional entertainment company will come in handy. They'll be able to help you with planning the grand entrance and they may have some creative ways of doing this too.

  8. Choosing an Outfit: Picking out that right outfit can crucial, especially for the girls. You'll want to try to match the colors or theme of their event. Some even choose to do something brighter or completely different so that they'll stand out from everyone and look their best.

  9. Will there be an After party: So the official party is over and it's time for the after party. This party may be for your son or daughter's closest friends to hang out afterwards. Often time people choose to get hotel rooms or have a sleepover back at the house with food, drinks, and a movie. Having a solid plan for after the party will make sure your day is complete.


As you can see planning a Chicago Sweet Sixteen birthday party can be a lot more work than you anticipated. Not everyone chooses to go as elaborate and detailed as others. The thing is there really is no right or wrong way to throw a party. The key is to try to be completely unique. With the help of this sweet sixteen planning guide, you'll now have the building blocks to throw a one of a kind Chicago Sweet Sixteen.

Stevie Dee is Owner and General Manager for Operation Getdown DJs. His team provides DJs and lighting for Chicago wedding receptions. Visit the following links for more info check out Chicago DJ Blog or Chicago Sweet 16 DJs.

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