Many of us dream about our weddings, sometimes from the time when we are little girls (or boys). For many people, their wedding day is one of the most important in their lives and should be planned accordingly. There are so many things to plan that it’s easy to get overwhelmed during the process, though. From the type of wedding you want to colors to attire to the location…it’s easy for what should be the happiest time of your life to become one of the most stressful. To relieve some stress and bring the excitement back into the process, begin your planning early and work with the proper professionals who can help make your dream day a reality. If you’re planning a wedding in the near future or helping someone else do so, read on for some helpful tips from the experts!
First Things First
Set the Date It’s difficult to start booking anything until you know the date of your wedding. When choosing the date, keep in mind how much time you’ll need to plan as well as any conflicting events (other’s wedding, birthdays, sporting events, vacations, etc.). Pay special attention to Husker football weekends as well! Even if you or your spouse aren’t fans, it’s likely that either guests or those you want in the wedding party are and there may be a conflict. In addition, it might be difficult for guests to find hotel accommodations on these busy days and, if your event is downtown, the parking and traffic could be a nightmare. Before you set the date it in stone, run the date by those who will be in your wedding party and those who you know you’ll want to attend to make sure there are not any conflicts you are unaware of.
Set the Budget “The biggest obstacle I see most couples make is not setting a “real budget”,” explains Lynne Rustad with Ellynne Bridal. “”When you know much money you have to spend, then it’s easy to get where you are going. Sitting down and putting it to paper and looking at the numbers and staying in that budget will help the couple have a good experience. It’s just the beginning of how to do things right in a marriage.”
Prioritizing is extremely important when it comes to the budget. Unless you are very lucky, it’s likely that you won’t have an unlimited budget that will allow you to spend whatever it takes to get what you want. That’s why you should know what is most important to you and put most of your funds toward that. For example, are your wedding photos critical but you could really care less where the reception is held? Then you should budget more for a quality photographer to be with you all day and to be able to order plenty of prints and budget less for an affordable reception venue.
Working with a Wedding Planner
Sometimes working with a wedding planner is the easiest and least stressful way to make sure your wedding is exactly the way you want it. According to Denise Scholl-Serrett with The Event Lady!, “There are two major functions a wedding planner can be involved in. First is actually planning the event and second is managing it. Although many brides want to do the planning themselves, they can’t be both the bride and the manager the day of the wedding, it just isn’t possible. The wedding planner pulls together all of the details and makes the day seamless and enjoyable for the bride, the groom and their families.”
“The Event Lady! offers everything from training classes to the DIY Bride to a package called “The Bride’s Best Friend” which is where we are by the side of the bride for every decision and meeting along the way. Probably the most popular package for Lincoln brides would be the “It’s Here!” package where we manage or coordinate all of the details for the rehearsal and wedding day. This package is great for the bride who wants to plan it herself, but needs someone to pull off her well-prepared plan. Finally, the newest service offered is a great one for the bride who wants to plan it herself, but doesn’t have the time to call every photographer or caterer in town. This service is a consultation before the planning begins where we sit down, review the budget and needs and then I can recommend a short-list of vendors within any category that are within their price range and meet their needs.”
“Using a wedding planner can save a bride a lot of money,” adds Lynne Rustad with Ellynne Bridal. “I negotiate contracts and help find the best deals for my brides. I am always their advocate. My job is to free up the time of the bride and her mom. When you have a wedding planner, you know that things are getting done without having to attend to every detail.”
Choosing the Location
Choosing the location of your ceremony and reception are crucial parts of the planning process and should be one of the first things you cross off your list. If you plan on getting married in a particular church, you should contact them as soon as possible as they are likely to fill up quickly, especially during wedding season. You should also try to book your reception venue very early in the process as well as you don’t want to settle for your second or third choice if the place you really want is already booked.
Perhaps after visiting a number of wedding venues and posing all of your questions, you’ll realize where you really want your wedding is your family’s home or a park where you have happy childhood memories. If this is the case, you should probably look into renting a tent for your event. Lori Miller of Lincoln Tent says, “A tent offers you a blank canvas and your wedding can be completely originated from your ideas. We allow couples to use the tent for a week so the bride has plenty of time for setup and décor and most couples use it for their rehearsal dinner and opening of gifts as well.”
There are a number of location options available in the Lincoln area, including reception halls, restaurants (for small wedding parties), vineyards, parks and more. When choosing a location, keep in mind what is included and what is not included in your reservation. For example, some venues may offer tables, chairs, linens and other necessities while others may not and you’ll need to contact a rental company. You should also inquire about their food policy. Many venues are affiliated with certain caterers (or have their own in-house catering) and you are not allowed to hire your own outside caterer or bring in your own food. This is an important question to ask when you are looking for reception venues, especially if you have your heart set on a certain caterer.
Choosing the Formal Wear and Gown
Choosing the formal wear (tuxes or suits for the men, and wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses for the women) is an important part of the process and one that should be started around six to eight months in advance.
“Choosing the right gown sets the tone for her wedding, whether it is casual, contemporary or traditional,” says Lynne Rustad. “Her gown will also help decide which maid’s gowns to choose to complement her special gown. When a bride chooses her wedding gown, she should choose a gown that best reflects her style, body shape and her personality. This gown should be the crowning jewel of her vision. Most often, the mistake I see a bride make is allowing someone else to influence her decision. Everyone must remember it is her day and her dream and everyone else should just feel privileged to participate. I often suggest the bride start her bridal gown search with just her mom or a close friend as too many friends only add to the stress of the day. I tell her to choose the gown she loves, then show her friends what it looks like.”
Remember, gowns do not have to cost an arm and a leg! Make sure you check out used and consignment shops during your gown search as well. Jane Powell at Cause for Paws says, “At our store, all of our dresses and gowns are donated and some are new with tags still on (closeout dresses donated by a local Lincoln shop) and others are worn once. We keep only the dresses that are in good condition. We’ve had one dress that was homemade, but the rest have been brand names like Alfred Angelo and Jessica McClintock and no gown has been sold for over $199. Even if you have to dry clean it and have it altered, you will still be getting a very good deal. Not only do we get dresses, but we also have veils, mother and grandmother dresses, shoes, purses, exquisite jewelry and wedding items like pillows and cake tops. My advice for shopping at re-sale stores is checking in on a regular basis as you never know what is going to walk through the doors and things move quickly.”
Of course, you can’t forget the men’s formal wear! “The groom and groomsmen should be fitted four to six weeks before the wedding,” suggest Andrew Shannon and Andrew de Alvare of Savvi Formalwear. “Most formalwear specialists do not charge for measurements. We would advise going to a reputable professional for measurements to save time during that final fitting as many people forget to schedule adequate time for it.”
“The biggest trend we are seeing in men’s formalwear are the charcoal gray tuxedos,” they continue. “Also, traditional looks—especially those featuring prohibition-era elegance—are increasingly common. This means that bow ties are making a comeback as well. The academy awards this year were ninety percent bow ties! Remember, think about how your pictures are going to look after the ceremony and how they will look twenty years from now. Keep it classy!”
Choosing the Cake
Cakes are an important part of the overall reception. Not only will the cake be out for every attendee to look at, but it will also be in your wedding photos. And, of course, you want it to be delicious for everyone to eat as well! Brenda from Mama’s Dream Bakery explains, “We offer a variety of different flavor of cakes and we encourage the bride to bring in a picture of what they’re imagining and we can design a cake based on that. We try to work with the bride and offer suggestions, but it is ultimately what the bride wants. We pull from their ideas, their dress and their wedding decorations to make the cake that they have envisioned. We offer a combination of flavors, fillings and frostings and can create the perfect cake.” She encourages brides to come in for consultations and taste testing so they can work together to provide the cake the best fits their event.
Of course, many couples are going a more non-traditional way and having desserts other than the traditional cake. For example, LeShara from My Cookie Jones explains, “We have cupcakes and ‘Teasecakes’ (individual cheesecakes) that can be ordered in a variety of flavors to offer your guests. We also have rich and decadent tortes that would be perfect for a wedding. Sometimes couples want these instead of a cake or in addition to the cake, it all depends on the type of event and what they want. We also specialize in cut-out cookies that can be arranged on a platter, made into bouquets or bagged with ribbon for wedding favors in case the couple wants the traditional cake and just have other desserts as an extra touch.”
“Cupcakes and Teasecakes are a great way to add a little fun and variety to your wedding,” continues LeShara. “We can do so many things with them and the sky’s the limit! We have colored the cake, frosting and/or decorations to match wedding themes and we also offer a variety of decorations to top our cupcakes and Teasecakes from sugars, sprinkles and bobbles to fondant decorations stamped with the bride and groom’s initials, chocolate and white chocolate wedding bells, doves, hearts and more. We pride ourselves on being able to offer desserts that will match the feel of any wedding from whimsical and fun to sophisticated events.”
Choosing the Photographer & Videographer
You put a lot of work into your wedding and it should be one of the happiest days of your life. You want to be able to relive this wonderful day months and years down the road. The best way to do this is with quality photographs and video.
“Photographs are very important for many reasons,” says Shane with Shane & Sunny Photography. “The big one that jumps out at everyone is that your wedding portraits will be the only thing you have to remember your wedding five, ten, twenty years from now. Your wedding photographer is usually the only person who is with you for your entire day. Be sure to choose a photographer who you will be comfortable with. Remember, personalities play a big role in what you get as well as how you will remember your big day!”
Of course, what you do with the beautiful photos after they are printed is important, too. “Accent moments captured in time and turn your treasured memories into heirlooms that will be cherished in your family for generations to come,” suggests Dennis with Fast Frames Lincoln. “Preserve every moment you hold dear in a professionally crafted custom frame and display it with pride in complete confidence. Protect fragile photography from harmful aging elements that can cause irreplaceable photography to fade, discolor or tear. There are a variety of frames in keeping with the essence of every event. A simple photo can wear a sophisticated look if framed in an aesthetic photo frame. The wedding photos are usually gorgeous, so high-end quality wedding photo frames with beautiful artwork will fetch attention from many.”
“Once the wedding is over and done, the best way to relive your day is through a wedding film,” says Cali Hlavac of A Sound Impression. “Wedding videos are not what they used to be or what many people still picture—the huge camera on the tripod, up in the middle of the action. Now, the cameras are extremely small and mobile and most couples barely notice we are there. The goal in the end is to create a movie-like production of their entire wedding day that they will actually enjoy watching! When choosing a great videographer, it’s important to ask for feedback from some of their prior brides. They will be able to give you insight on not only the final product, but also the experience leading up to the big day. Video is truly one of the most important aspects of the day and the only thing you will have left when it’s over.”
Choosing the Music
“Music sets the tone for your ceremony and brings meaning for the present and the future, most importantly to the bride and groom,” explains Russ Free with Complete Music. “Music selections used for a ceremony that are heard beyond the wedding date will rekindle all the great memories you have of our wedding day. Consider DJ service and other music options as far in advance as possible, especially for dates in the height of the wedding season. Advance planning also provides more time to make the critical decisions important to you and your fiance’s goal for a successful reception.”
When choosing a DJ, Russ suggests choosing one based upon the years the DJ service has been in business and referrals from friends and other wedding vendors. “Think about the goals your DJ service has to fulfill your plans for your reception,” he says. “A decision about DJ entertainment should not be based solely on price. The sweetness of a low price can result in the sorrow of poor service. Select a DJ service that uses approved music to avoid any liability for bootlegged or file-shared music and also consider the DJ’s back-up entertainment and what is available in the event of something unexpected happening.”
Choosing the Invitations
One of the first glimpses of your wedding that guests will get is when their invitation arrives in the mail. Make sure you make the best first impression possible! According to Nicki Burnham with Simply Chic Creations, “Metallics are huge this year and many brides love the metallic paper as well as metallic envelopes. They bring the higher end look to your invitation. Damask prints are also very trendy right now. Another trend is brides who want to cut costs without losing quality. I help them find a way to get an invite that fits what they were imagining for their wedding as well as their budget. I make sure they know you don’t have to compromise on style when you’re on a budget.”
“Let your invitation designer minimize the stress of choosing the perfect wedding invitation,” Nicki continues. “Together, you can create the invitation you imagine, whatever your wedding style may be. Work with a designer to create invitations and stationery that reflect your personality and capture the spirit of one of your life’s most memorable occasions.”
Choosing a Gift Registry
One of the most fun parts about planning a wedding is the gift registry. Who wouldn’t love going to their favorite stores and picking out things they want that other people are going to pay for? When creating your bridal registry, make sure you take some time to focus on what you’ll really need (or want) after your wedding is over. If you’re a younger couple and have lived mostly in apartments or with roommates, you might want to focus on the basics such as pots and pans, towels or home décor. If you’re a more established couple who will be combining homes, perhaps you can focus on hobby materials (golf clubs, for example) or even ask guests to contribute to plane tickets for your honeymoon.
“Starting a wedding registry with us is a great way to start your new home with our home décor of all sorts,” says RuthAnn with Plum Creek Gifts. “We also have items for the actual wedding, such as unique wedding picture frames, rhinestone cake servers and rhinestone wine glasses, beaded table runners and table accents, so make sure you look at wedding décor at the same time you are creating your registry!”
After all the major plans have been made (venue, music, attire, food, etc.), you can then begin on focusing on ‘extras’ that may not be crucial to the event, but can make the event more enjoyable and uniquely your own. Here are a few options to consider:
Candy Buffets and Gift Baskets
“Usually candy buffet tables replace the favors you would normally hand out to each guest,” says Barb Kock of Favor-It!. “Guests love it, kids love it and it’s a great way to tell your guests thank you for attending the wedding. If you don’t want candy, we can also do a snack buffet table or popcorn buffet table, which is great for receptions that have a bar during the dance. We can also do gift baskets for the hotel for the bride and groom to take with them, or arrange for it to be delivered to the room or we can deliver gift baskets to out of town guests.”
“We love the look on everyone’s face at the wedding when they see our buffet tables,” continues Barb. “Our favorite memory is a popcorn table we did for a couple named Amber and Chris. We took down the cake table set up a huge popcorn buffet while everyone was watching the video of the bride and groom and when everyone turned around after the video and our buffet was set up, there was a gasp in the room and everyone just loved it! We’ve done popcorn, candy, cookies and milk, caramel apples, hot chocolate and sugar cookies, soft serve ice cream, root beer floats…we are only limited to your imagination!”
Spa Services, Hair and Makeup
“Makeup is very important to a bride on her wedding day,” points out Katie Kimbrough with Mary Kay. “Not only does it ensure her skin looks clear and flawless for the pictures, but it also is important to accent her features. For a bride, it is all about looking and feeling glamorous while still looking like herself. For her bridal party, it’s important to have them wearing similar colors so that not one person sticks out in the photos that will be around for years to come. The biggest trend lately I’ve seen is accentuating the lips. When you are doing a glam look, you want to make sure you have only have one bold feature on the face, either the eyes pop or the lips. Most gals have been going for neutral colors with the eye shadow and liner, then making their lips pop with a more showy color of lipstick or gloss.”
“We offer the perfect location for both large and small wedding parties,” says Jason McLaughlin with I?S Salon. “We have a large beautiful space with a full staff of stylists who have been highly trained in the latest in wedding hair and make-up, including advanced training at hair academy’s around the country. We also have the unique ability to host private parties to larger groups that will keep the event intimate and closed to the public. Our salon is a wonderful start to the special day.”
Another great idea is to consider a body wrap before the big day. Ashley Pavlish with Body Nouveaux explains, “We are known for our Slender Body Wraps and we are the only provider of these wraps in Lincoln. We are able to help brides and the bridal party fit more comfortably in their dresses for the big day. The wraps help detox the body and compact your cells together as well as firming and toning the skin. We also offer facials and waxing to brides or anyone who is part of the bridal event. Facials are helpful to give the bride that extra confidence on her big day, whether she is looking for just a healthy glow, has acne concerns or wants to improve skin’s tone and texture. Finally, massages are available for anyone in the bridal party who needs to unwind before the big day (including same room couples massages) and spray tanning is another popular service done before a wedding!”
“This is one of the biggest days of the bride’s life,” Ashley points out. “She should look and feel fabulous! We recommend that brides contact us a few months before the wedding for a couple of reasons. The first is that we can chat about what they are interested in and figure out which services are the best for them. Second, if you plan to make a day of pampering for the bridal party, we will want to make sure we have their special day open. Some other good advice it to try not to leave any of your pampering services for the last minute as we want it to be a relaxing process that you enjoy. If you are planning on having a few services done with us, some may have to be done before others and we will want to plan accordingly!”
“Your wedding day is one that will stay with you forever, and you want to make it memorable and create the evening that truly speaks to you,” says Sarah Allison with Hallow Candle Co. “Decorating your night with candles can capture your unique personality in custom colors, personalized fragrances, and even creating a custom line of candles in different shapes and sizes. Display your individual taste in an arrangement that will not only be unforgettable, but also create an intimate atmosphere with the warm twinkle and glow only a candle can provide. Candles aren’t just for scenting your home any more, they can make your unforgettable night truly yours and truly memorable.”
Your wedding is truly one of the most important days in a couples’ lives and should be a day you remember forever. Remember that your wedding should reflect who you are and should be unique to your tastes, your personality and the life you share with your future spouse. Many couples get caught up in trying to please their families or their guests while in the process forgetting about what they truly want and what means the most to them. This is a celebration of the beginning of your lives together and your wedding should reflect that. Plan early and work with the right professionals and you will find that your wedding is everything that you and your future spouse every dreamed of.