FAQ


Get answers to frequently asked questions about hosting an event at Independence Grove. If you don’t find your question below, then please send us a message and we’ll get back to you with an answer very soon!

  • Wedding
  • Social
  • Corporate
  • WEDDING FAQ


    Is swimming allowed at the North Bay Pavilion?

    No, swimming is not allowed.

    What are your available dates?

    We do not publish our availability calendar. Please contact us for information on hosting your event at Independence Grove.

    How much is an event going to cost?

    Please contact us for detailed budget estimates based on your type of event. If your event is at Audubon Hall, please click here to see the rental fee and Food & Beverage minimum that would apply to your date. Please keep in mind that these are minimums, not “out-the-door” prices.

    What if I want to book an event without catering?

    Select spaces within the forest preserve are available without catering. Contact the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) office at (847) 968-3499 for further information or to book an event without catering. Please note, food deliveries, restaurants and other caterers are not permitted at Independence Grove.

    Do you allow outside vendors?

    Events at Audubon Hall:
    We have a preferred vendor list for florists, DJs, bands, photographers, event planners, and decor. You may choose from vendors on this list or bring in other vendors of your choosing with our approval. Valet and linen may only be contracted through Events at Independence Grove.

    Events at North Bay Pavillion and all outdoor event spaces:
    If booking an event with catering through Events at Independence Grove, we work with an exclusive list of approved vendors for any services you may require at your event. No other vendors will be permitted. All services must be contracted through us.

    If booking an event without catering through LCFPD, they will provide you a list of exclusive list of vendors you may select from. No other vendors will be permitted.

    Can I bring my own alcohol?

    No. All beverages must be provided by Events at Independence Grove.

    Am I able to have my event in the evening/after sundown?

    Audubon Hall is available for events any time of day. For other spaces, please see the Event Spaces page for details on hosting evening events.

    What happens if the weather is inclement the day of my event?

    Weddings at Audubon Hall with a ceremony taking place in the Native Garden:
    We can set up the ceremony in a portion of Audubon Hall. During your cocktail hour, our staff would re-set the space for the reception. The Native Garden rental fee is non-refundable and will still be included on your final invoice even if the ceremony is held indoors and there will be an additional labor fee for re-setting the indoor space. Your outdoor cocktail hour will be held in the Exhibit Hall.

    Weddings at North Bay Pavilion with a ceremony taking place in the Native Garden:
    Your ceremony and reception would both be held underneath the pavilion. Side walls are available for the pavilion at an additional charge and must be ordered at least one week before your event. The Native Garden rental fee is non-refundable and will still be included on your final invoice.

    Weddings at North Bay Pavilion with a ceremony taking at North Bay Pavilion:
    Your ceremony and reception would both be held underneath the pavilion. Side walls are available for the pavilion at an additional charge and must be ordered at least one week before your event.

    What if I would like an item not listed in the menus sent to me or if I would like to offer a brunch, buffet, stations, tapas, ethnic, themed, cocktail reception or dessert reception menu?

    Since we are a custom caterer with thousands of recipes, we can do almost anything. We can help you create a unique and eclectic menu no matter the style you prefer. You may wish to put together some ideas and items you think you and your guests will enjoy. We can start there and offer more ideas to you until we come up with the perfect menu.

    What if I have guests with allergies or special dietary restrictions?

    We will do our best to accommodate your guests if given enough notice. Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, Kosher Style, Glatt Kosher are all available.

    Please ask your Event Coordinator if you wish to serve a completely Kosher or Indian event.

    Do you cook your food at Independence Grove?

    When you book an event at Independence Grove, you get award-winning catering from Catering by Michaels in Morton Grove. Catering by Michaels specializes in off-premise catering. Food is prepped fresh daily at their corporate kitchen and transported to Independence Grove in refrigerated vehicles. All cooking, final preparation, and presentation of food occurs at Independence Grove and is served fresh to your guests. Our food is never held in hot boxes or steamers.

    Am I permitted to have my dog or any other pet at my event?

    The LCFPD does not permit pets, dogs or otherwise, in this Forest Preserve. Service animals, such as seeing eye dogs are permitted and must be in uniform.

    Will my guests have to pay to enter the park?

    If you are hosting an event with Events at Independence Grove, your guests do not have to pay to enter the preserve. Your Event Coordinator will provide you details on the process after you have contracted your event.

    The contract states that no Food or Beverage is permitted to be brought in by the host and that no food or beverage may leave the premises. Are there any exceptions?

    We do permit Guest Table candy/nuts. We also allow wedding cake to be brought in; however, there is a convenience fee applied. Homemade food/sweets are not permitted because we cannot guarantee their safety. Please ask your Event Coordinator if you have specific questions regarding what is permissible.

    We do not offer “to go” bags to guests for dinners and/or dessert. If you wish to provide wedding cake boxes/bags for your guests, you are welcome to do so. We will pack up leftover desserts for the host to take home at the conclusion of the event. We will decide on a case by case basis what other food items can be packed up. Our main concern is food safety and quality control. If you have any questions about what items you are able to take home from your event, please ask your Event Coordinator.

    Do you offer tastings?

    We offer tastings only to clients who have a signed contract, deposit, and completed a detail meeting with their Event Coordinator.

    What is a Banquet Event Order (BEO)?

    A BEO is a highly detailed document that describes your wedding day from the time you arrive until the time you leave. The document will detail in chronological order all of your outside vendors, ceremony details, event space set-up, food & beverage selections, linen colors, and pricing.

    What happens after I sign my contract and pay my deposit?

    We work as a team. The person who executes your contract may not be the Event Coordinator assigned to produce your wedding. In January of the year of your wedding, you will be contacted by your appointed Event Coordinator. The first step will be to set a “detail meeting” at least 4 months prior to your event date. This meeting will take place at Independence Grove. During this meeting you will go over all the details of your event and schedule your tasting.

    The tastings are held at the Catering by Michaels corporate office in Morton Grove no sooner than one month after your detail meeting and at least two months prior to your wedding.

    Approximately six weeks prior to the wedding, we will send out an email with “Next Steps and Due Dates” so you know when all the “last-minute” details, such as final count, final payment, etc. are due.

    If I am inviting 250 guests, how many guests should I actually expect for my event?

    It depends upon how many guests are being invited from out of town, how many are business associates, how many are being invited out of courtesy (but you know will decline), etc. A good rule of thumb to follow is to expect approximately 20%-25% of your guests to decline.

    How are wedding cakes handled?

    We do not bake our own wedding cakes. Our wedding cakes are provided by Oak Mill Bakery unless there is a special request to use another bakery.

    You are welcome to provide your own cake. We do charge a per person convenience fee. This applies to cupcake trees as well.

    What if I only want to have a ceremony at the Independence Grove Native Garden but not the Reception?

    You may book your event through the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) office at (847) 968-3499. All ceremonies booked through LCFPD will work with exclusively with LCFPD and not with Events at Independence Grove, as we only handle ceremonies booked in conjunction with a wedding reception.

    Where can I have my ceremony?

    We offer several options to hold your ceremony. When hosting your reception at Audubon Hall, your ceremony may be at:
    • The Native Garden can accommodate up to 250 guests
    • The North Patio of Audubon Hall can accommodate up to 175 guests
    Audubon Hall can accommodate up to 300 guests
    North Bay Pavillion can accommodate up to 300 guests. This space comes with an additional F&B minimum.

    When hosting your reception at North Bay Pavillion, your ceremony may be at:
    • The Native Garden can accommodate up to 250 guests
    North Bay Pavillion can accommodate up to 300 guests

    Do you have a sound system available for the ceremony?

    Yes, we offer a portable sound system that can accommodate a maximum of 2 microphones. We have wireless lavalieres and wireless handheld microphones available as well as two microphone stands. You are also permitted to have your DJ or musicians provide the sound system.

    When can I schedule my wedding rehearsal?

    Wedding rehearsals are scheduled for a one hour time slot on a first come, first serve basis, subject to availability as wedding ceremonies/receptions and corporate events have first priority. There is no fee for the rehearsal.

    If you desire, your Event Coordinator can coordinate and oversee your rehearsal and ceremony. There is an additional charge for this option.

    If I do not have the Native Garden booked for a ceremony, can I still take pictures there the day of my reception?

    The Native Garden will be open to the public unless another group has booked the venue. If the area is not booked, you may take pictures, but please remember that it is open to the public and others may use this area while you are taking pictures.

    Since the Native Garden is open to the public, how can you insure the park patrons do not interrupt my ceremony?

    We will have a security guard posted at each entrance to the Native Garden during your ceremony.

    What is the process of booking an event?

    Submit an inquiry on our contact page. We will email you a large package of awesome information with date availability and approximate costs. If your date is available and you are interested in scheduling a tour, please call or email. Once your tour is complete, you have the option of a 14 day complimentary hold.

    Do you do weddings in the winter?

    Yes! Wedding ceremonies and receptions can be held inside Audubon Hall year-round. The view of the forest preserve through our floor-to-ceiling windows is stunning blanketed in snow.

    Can I have my reception at The Native Garden or the Beach?

    No, these event spaces are for ceremonies only.

  • SOCIAL FAQ


    Is swimming allowed at the North Bay Pavilion?

    No swimming is allowed.

    What are your available dates?

    We do not publish our availability calendar. Please contact us for information on hosting your event at Independence Grove.

    How much is an event going to cost?

    Please contact us for detailed budget estimates based on your type of event. Please click here to see the rental fee and Food & Beverage minimum that would apply to your date. Please keep in mind that these are minimums, not “out-the-door” prices.

    What if I want to book an event without catering?

    Select spaces within the forest preserve are available without catering. Contact the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) office at (847) 968-3499 for further information or to book an event without catering. Please note, food deliveries, restaurants and other caterers are not permitted at Independence Grove.

    Do you allow outside vendors?

    Events at Audubon Hall:
    We have a preferred vendor list for florists, DJs, bands, photographers, event planners, and decor. You may choose from vendors on this list or bring in other vendors of your choosing with our approval. Valet and linen may only be contracted through Events at Independence Grove.

    Events at North Bay Pavillion and all outdoor event spaces:
    If booking an event with catering through Events at Independence Grove, we work with an exclusive list of approved vendors for any services you may require at your event. No other vendors will be permitted. All services must be contracted through us.

    If booking an event without catering through LCFPD, they will provide you a list of exclusive list of vendors you may select from. No other vendors will be permitted.

    Can I bring my own alcohol?

    No. All beverages must be provided by Events at Independence Grove.

    Am I able to have my event in the evening/after sundown?

    Audubon Hall is available for events any time of day. For other spaces, please see the Event Spaces page for details on hosting evening events.

    What happens if the weather is inclement the day of my event?

    Events at Audubon Hall with a ceremony taking place in the Native Garden:
    We can set up the ceremony in a portion of Audubon Hall. During your cocktail hour, our staff would re-set the space for your event. The Native Garden rental fee is non-refundable and will still be included on your final invoice even if the ceremony is held indoors and there will be an additional labor fee for re-setting the indoor space.

    Events at North Bay Pavilion with a ceremony taking place in the Native Garden:
    Your ceremony and event would both be held underneath the pavilion. Side walls are available for the pavilion at an additional charge and must be ordered at least four days before your event. The Native Garden rental fee is non-refundable and will still be included on your final invoice.

    Events at North Bay Pavilion with a ceremony taking at North Bay Pavilion:
    Your ceremony and event would both be held underneath the pavilion. Side walls are available for the pavilion at an additional charge and must be ordered at least four days before your event.

    Events at North Bay Pavilion with no ceremony:
    Events at North Bay Pavilion happen rain or shine. Your event would be held underneath the pavilion. Side walls are available for the pavilion at an additional charge and must be ordered at least four days before your event.

    Events at Grassy Knoll:
    Events at Grassy Knoll happen rain or shine. Tenting is required for the use of this space.

    What if I would like an item not listed in the menus sent to me or if I would like to offer a brunch, buffet, stations, tapas, ethnic, themed, cocktail reception or dessert reception menu?

    Since we are a custom caterer with thousands of recipes, we can do almost anything. We can help you create a unique and eclectic menu no matter the style you prefer. You may wish to put together some ideas and items you think you and your guests will enjoy. We can start there and offer more ideas to you until we come up with the perfect menu.

    What if I have guests with allergies or special dietary restrictions?

    We will do our best to accommodate your guests if given enough notice. Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, Kosher Style, Glatt Kosher are all available.

    Please ask your Event Coordinator if you wish to serve a completely Kosher event.

    Do you cook your food at Independence Grove?

    When you book an event at Independence Grove, you get award-winning catering from Catering by Michaels in Morton Grove. Catering by Michaels specializes in off-premise catering. Food is prepped fresh daily at their corporate kitchen and transported to Independence Grove in refrigerated vehicles. All cooking, final preparation, and presentation of food occurs at Independence Grove and is served fresh to your guests. Our food is never held in hot boxes or steamers.

    Am I permitted to have my dog or any other pet at my event?

    The LCFPD does not permit pets, dogs or otherwise, in this Forest Preserve. Service animals, such as seeing eye dogs are permitted and must be in uniform.

    Will my guests have to pay to enter the park?

    If you are hosting an event with Events at Independence Grove, your guests do not have to pay to enter the preserve. Your Event Coordinator will provide you details on the process after you have contracted your event.

    The contract states that no Food or Beverage is permitted to be brought in by the host and that no food or beverage may leave the premises. Are there any exceptions?

    We do permit Guest Table candy/nuts. Homemade food/sweets are not permitted because we cannot guarantee their safety. Please ask your Event Coordinator if you have specific questions regarding what is permissible.

    We do not offer “to go” bags to guests for dinners and/or dessert. We will pack up leftover desserts for the host to take home at the conclusion of the event. We will decide on a case by case basis what other food items can be packed up. Our main concern is food safety and quality control. If you have any questions about what items you are able to take home from your event, please ask your Event Coordinator.

    Do you offer tastings?

    We offer tastings only to clients who have a signed contract, deposit, and completed a detail meeting with their Event Coordinator.

    What is a Banquet Event Order (BEO)?

    A BEO is a highly detailed document that describes your event from the time you arrive until the time you leave. The document will detail in chronological order all of your outside vendors, event details, event space set-up, food & beverage selections, linen colors, and pricing.

    What is the process of booking an event?

    Submit an inquiry on our contact page. We will email you a big packet of information with date availability and approximate costs. If your date is available and you are interested in scheduling a tour, please call or email. Once your tour is complete, you have the option of a 14 day complimentary hold.

  • CORPORATE FAQ


    Is swimming allowed at the North Bay Pavilion?

    No swimming is allowed.

    What are your available dates?

    We do not publish our availability calendar. Please contact us for information on hosting your event at Independence Grove.

    How much is an event going to cost?

    Please contact us to receive a copy of our menus with prices. Click here to view our rental rates and Food & Beverage minimums.

    What if I want to book an event without catering?

    Select spaces within the forest preserve are available without catering. Contact the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) office at (847) 968-3499 for further information or to book an event without catering. Please note, food deliveries, restaurants and other caterers are not permitted at Independence Grove.

    Do you allow outside vendors?

    Events at Audubon Hall:
    We have a preferred vendor list for florists, DJs, bands, photographers, event planners, and decor. You may choose from vendors on this list or bring in other vendors of your choosing with our approval. Valet and linen may only be contracted through Events at Independence Grove.

    Events at North Bay Pavillion and all outdoor event spaces:
    If booking an event with catering through Events at Independence Grove, we work with an exclusive list of approved vendors for any services you may require at your event. No other vendors will be permitted. All services must be contracted through us.

    If booking an event without catering through LCFPD, they will provide you a list of exclusive list of vendors you may select from. No other vendors will be permitted.

    Can I bring my own alcohol?

    No. All beverages must be provided by Events at Independence Grove.

    Am I able to have my event in the evening/after sundown?

    Audubon Hall is available for events any time of day. For other spaces, please see the Event Spaces page for details on hosting evening events.

    What happens if the weather is inclement the day of my event?

    Events at North Bay Pavilion:
    Events at North Bay Pavilion happen rain or shine. Your event would be held underneath the pavilion. Side walls are available for the pavilion at an additional charge and must be ordered at least four days before your event.

    Events at Grassy Knoll:
    Events at Grassy Knoll happen rain or shine. Tenting is required for the use of this space.

    What if I would like an item not listed in the menus sent to me or if I would like to offer a brunch, buffet, stations, tapas, ethnic, themed, cocktail reception or dessert reception menu?

    Since we are a custom caterer with thousands of recipes, we can do almost anything. We can help you create a unique and eclectic menu no matter the style you prefer. You may wish to put together some ideas and items you think you and your guests will enjoy. We can start there and offer more ideas to you until we come up with the perfect menu.

    What if I have guests with allergies or special dietary restrictions?

    We will do our best to accommodate your guests if given enough notice. Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten Free, Kosher Style, Glatt Kosher are all available.

    Please ask your Event Coordinator if you wish to serve a completely Kosher event.

    Do you cook your food at Independence Grove?

    When you book an event at Independence Grove, you get award-winning catering from Catering by Michaels in Morton Grove. Catering by Michaels specializes in off-premise catering. Food is prepped fresh daily at their corporate kitchen and transported to Independence Grove in refrigerated vehicles. All cooking, final preparation, and presentation of food occurs at Independence Grove and is served fresh to your guests. Our food is never held in hot boxes or steamers.

    Am I permitted to have my dog or any other pet at my event?

    The LCFPD does not permit pets, dogs or otherwise, in this Forest Preserve. Service animals, such as seeing eye dogs are permitted and must be in uniform.

    Will my guests have to pay to enter the park?

    If you are hosting an event with Events at Independence Grove, your guests do not have to pay to enter the preserve. Your Event Coordinator will provide you details on the process after you have contracted your event.

    The contract states that no Food or Beverage is permitted to be brought in by the host and that no food or beverage may leave the premises. Are there any exceptions?

    No. Due to food safety regulations, we are unable to serve any food or beverage provided by the host of an event. The same regulations prevent us from packing up any leftover food at the conclusion of the event. Any food and beverage remaining at the end of your event, remains the property of Events at Independence Grove.

    What is a Banquet Event Order (BEO)?

    A BEO is a highly detailed document that describes your event from the time you arrive until the time you leave. The document will detail in chronological order all of your outside vendors, event details, event space set-up, food & beverage selections, linen colors, and pricing.

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