Q&A With Mark Johnson - Catering Manager at The Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown

By The Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown By The Royal Sonesta Chicago Downtown | April 30, 2024


Tell us what makes your business different from other wedding companies?

Balance and creativity. I try my best to balance a couple’s dream wedding with the realities of planning, logistics and expenses. While this may seem counterintuitive, this approach builds a level of trust between the couple and me. They know that I will always be transparent and honest with them and help them achieve their dream day. There is always a way to make the dream happen; sometimes you just need to get a little creative.


What is your best advice for engaged couples?

Decide what is most important to you both. There are so many details to planning a wedding that it can easily feel overwhelming. Before starting any of the planning process, I sit down and talk about what aspects of their wedding day are most important to them. A friend and mentor of mine once gave me the best advice: think of your event as a triangle. Each point of the triangle represent the number of guests, style, and budget. This can help focus on what is important and how to be creative to make it happen. Also, hiring a wedding planner is the best money you can spend. No question!


What is your favorite trend for weddings currently?

I am loving the 80s & 90s-inspired larger-than-life décor, floral, and cake designs I am seeing! They are coming back in style but with a cleaner, contemporary and modern feel. I love a bit of nostalgia.


What is one of the most unique elements you have seen in a wedding?

I adore when people bring aspects of their culture into their wedding. Things like traditional dress, music or dances. I have done a wedding that started with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony. It was unforgettable! I have even had a Polish couple order what they kept referring to as a “meat hut” - it was the biggest hit of the night!


What do you think is essential for any wedding?

A wedding planner (there is a reason it’s a profession). Having a professional wedding planner will make planning and organizing the day so much easier and enjoyable. At the end of the day, we’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime party so let us work it and let you, your family, and friends enjoy it.


Photography by: Courtesy of (from top): Jasko Omerovic Photography; Mandelette Photography; Mandelette Photography; You and Me Photography; Jasko Omerovic Photography