Ask any woman (and many men) and they’ll tell you that their wedding is one of the most important days of their lives. To make the day perfect and go off without a hitch isn’t easy, though. There is a lot of planning involved, some of which you may or may not have time to do by yourself. Depending on your situation, you may be planning a wedding for one of your children (or helping them do so), planning your own wedding or planning a second wedding or renewal of vows. All occasions are equally important and it’s essential that you not only plan ahead of time, but also that you use the right professionals to help you plan the event of a lifetime.
For a full, blow-out wedding, most people start the official planning at least a year in advance. Spaces are reserved for receptions, dinners and ceremonies several years in advance, especially for the prime summer months. If you plan on getting married locally and if you have specific places in mind for a reception hall, caterer, photographer, etc., the sooner you can plan and book the better! This is a huge day in the bride’s life and she will not want to settle for second, third or even fourth choices because her top picks have already been booked.
Choosing the Dress
Lynne Rustad of Ellynne Bridal states, “Choosing the right gown sets the tone for a bride’s wedding—casual, contemporary or traditional. Her gown also will help decide which bridesmaid gown 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. The gown should be the crowning jewel of her vision. My favorite bride is one who loves fashion and wants to be a bit unusual. I love themed weddings and brides who will step out of the box to try something new.”
She goes on to say, “Most often the mistake that a bride makes is allowing someone else to influence her decision about her wedding. Everyone involved must remember it is her day, it her dream and whatever she chooses is perfect. They should feel privileged to participate, not feel like they can be making decisions for the bride.”
Brides should begin looking for their gown at least six to eight months before their wedding. This means that crash dieting in the last month or two before you wedding is probably not a good idea as the gown you pick out might not fit you anymore and require drastic alterations. If you have your heart set on losing weight before the wedding, try to do so in plenty of time before the ceremony and THEN begin shopping for your wedding dress once you have reached the size you want to be.
Rent the Formalwear
“Most couples make arrangements for tuxedos between three and six months before their wedding,” states Andrew de Alvare of Savvi Formalwear. “Men’s formalwear is an important aspect of a wedding because it will contribute to the mood of the men on the day of the wedding. The happier our customers are with the choices they’ve made, the more comfortable they will feel. This is especially true when considering lighter weight fabrics for use in outdoor and/or summer weddings. Even more importantly, the men’s formalwear selections will be preserved through the wedding photography, which is usually one of the larger investments. We help make sure our customers are truly satisfied with the way they look now and that they think about how all the facets of the wedding will look in their photography for years to come.”
Trends are always interesting for future grooms to consider. Andrew says, “The biggest trends in weddings now are a high degree of personalization. We are more than happy to explore the countless options in accessories to make sure that every couple is happy with their formalwear selections and that the look is one of their very own. More specifically, grey fabrics, bow ties and fitted looks are all growing in popularity this year. Also, many weddings are tending towards the extremes of casual versus formal. Accordingly, we carry a selection of merchandize that will fit any level of formality and any personal preference. Just remember that darker colors are always more appropriate for formal attire.”
Booking the Photographer
The photographer may be one of the most important choices you make when planning your wedding. Why? Because these will be the memories you will be looking at for years to come. “We always feel like we’re an important part of the wedding planning process because we’re with you longer than any other person on the day of your wedding,” says Sunny Dwyer of Shane and Sunny Photography. “We are involved in every aspect and like to know all the details from the catering to who is singing. At the end of the day, the photos are the only things that are left. The cake is gone and the flowers fade away, but the photos will always be left. We want brides and grooms to choose us first and then everything else will work itself out.”
“Quality wedding photography is one of the best investments a bride and groom can make,” adds Gina Zabloudil of Zabloudil Photography. “The wrong photographer could ruin your wedding day and entire experience! Chad (her husband and business partner) and I offer a team approach, so we don’t miss any aspect of your wedding day. We also don’t count hours, so there’s no need to worry that your photographers are leaving. We are there for you all day, and we use our experience to help everything go smoothly.”
Choosing the right photographer is key in how your treasured memories turn out. “We recommend that you always meet potential photographers in person,” says Sunny Parsons. “Never choose someone on the phone or based solely on price. It will be a nightmare. Anyone can put a couple pictures on a website, but you need to meet them to get a sense of their work ethic and personality. Interview photographers and choose them not just on price, but also work ethic, personality and experience. If you do choose a photographer for price alone, you will regret it.”
“To really discover the importance of wedding videography, ask the groom who lost his bride three weeks after the wedding day, or the bride who lost her dad within months post wedding,” says Cali Hlavac with A Sound Impression. “Hearing the voices, seeing the emotion…video is single handedly the most vivid way to remember your wedding day. If your parents had a wedding video, would you watch it? Of course, and your kids will feel the same way in 10, 20, 30 years. Imagine playing your wedding film at your 50th wedding anniversary – don’t discount the importance of remembering all the little moments of your day. Wedding cinema has come a long way from the “camera on a tripod in the corner” mentality – it is now a feature film starring you and your fiancé. I would encourage any couple getting married, locally or destination, to consider spending money on a quality videographer who can guarantee to produce something you know you’ll want to watch for years to come.”
Choosing a Venue
Where you have your wedding and/or reception is a crucial piece to the wedding puzzle and is not a decision that should be taken lightly. If the wrong venue for your big day is chosen, it could mean the difference between the wedding of your dreams and a stressful fiasco. Too often a couple will fall in love with a venue and book it without first considering the many practical questions that must be answered before a decision can be made. Before any choices can be put on the table, you should first decide approximately how many guests you’re inviting and size of your budget as well as if you want the ceremony and reception in the same or two separate places.
Once you know these things, you can choose a few different venues to consider that fit your criteria. Then you can begin asking the flurry of other questions that are important! These include:
–What’s the décor like? Does it fit your style and wedding colors?
–Do they have an in-house caterer and, if so, do you like that food?
–Do they have adequate coat check and bathroom facilities?
–Is the venue easily accessible (especially important if you have a number of elderly relatives who will be attending).
–What is the parking like?
–What’s the cancellation policy?
–Is there a payment schedule? What kind of deposits are required?
–Are there any hidden costs?
–What are overtime charges?
–Do they have a liquor license?
–Will they allow you to bring your own liquor?
–Is there room in the wedding venue for a band and/or dancing?
–Does the wedding venue already own a sound system with adequate speakers or will that need to be rented?
–Is there space for the bride and groom to change and/or relax?
–Where will you take photographs? Is there a park nearby or do the coordinators have recommended spots on the grounds?
–Who will be supervising and troubleshooting before the day of your wedding? Who will be supervising and troubleshooting on the day of your wedding? Can you meet them now?
–Especially in museums or private clubs, are there limitations on decorations? Do they limit food and drinks to only certain areas of the wedding venue?
–Are candles or other open flames allowed?
–If its an outdoor location, do they have any backup plans for rain or other inclement weather? If not, is there a place that you can put up a tent?
It’s likely that after you have all these questions answered, one venue will rise to the top as the best choice for your event. If you are still stuck between a couple of choices, just picture your wedding in each. Which one feels more right to you? The one that seems to fit best and makes you happiest is the right choice.
One example of a local venue is Wilderness Ridge, the ideal location for your spring or summer wedding. The beautiful, rustic, log Clubhouse seems like something you would find in the mountains rather than the Nebraska plains and their Yellowstone ballroom is complete with a fireplace and outdoor patio and seats 230 comfortably. Your visit to the Lodge would not be complete without a tour of Wedding Island, one of Lincoln’s best-kept secrets. Their wedding island is situated near the first hole of their Executive Course and is the perfect setting for your outdoor ceremony.
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 and Awning 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.”
Choosing a Florist
When you picture yourself walking down the aisle, you probably first think of your beautiful dress…but what is the next thing you see? It’s probably the bouquet you’re holding in your hands! Flowers, including but certainly not limited to your bridal bouquet, are an important detail of your wedding. Stacy Combs of Petal Creations explains, “We’re intricately involved with our brides’ overall wedding design. We’re actively involved in the design of the entire event from linens to lighting to the tablescape. We help create the overall look of the wedding and how guests will feel when they walk into the event. I always tell brides that flowers are the final piece of jewelry they’re going to put on. Flowers bring the ceremony and the reception to life and they add an element of elegance nothing else brings to the event.”
Choosing the right florist to create the perfect mood is a big decision. “The main thing brides need to do is pick a florist who believes in and understands their vision,” says Stacy. “They also need to choose a florist who is willing to be creative and wants to create something unique and breathtaking within the boundary of their budget. If you’re comfortable with the florist you choose, you will be more open to the florist’s design ideas as well as your own, which will create a better experience and end product for all.”
Choosing the Cake
The wedding cake often becomes the center stage for the wedding. Gifts are placed around it, everyone gathers to see you cut it and each person who attends your wedding gets to try it out. That’s why it’s important that your wedding cake not only be delicious, but also visually stunning. Finding that perfect bakery to deliver your masterpiece is definitely a key decision. Denise of Mama’s Dream Bakery and Deli states that when you’re choosing someone to design your wedding cake, “You need to be sure they are dependable, timely and will give you what you ask for. You should also find out how much experience they have. You should also do cake testing for the flavors of the cake and the filling to make sure you like how they taste.” Finding a bakery that has done a number of weddings is usually a good idea. If they’ve done many weddings before, it’s likely they know how to work with the bride and the other vendors and will deliver a cake that will be everything you dream of when you walk in the door of your reception.
Depending on the type of venue you have chosen for your wedding, you might have many decorating decisions to make or they may have almost all been made for you. If you do have some decorating decisions to make, make sure you get some help from the professionals! “You want to love your wedding, but planning it can be stressful, hectic and quite frankly the happiness of planning can be quickly taken away,” says Sarah Allison of Hallow Candle Co. “In order to take the stress out of planning, you need to work with people who already know what to do! Working with professionals doesn’t have to cost you any extra – if you shop smart and stay local you can lighten the load without lightening your wallet! Hallow Candle Co. can provide a customized and unique approach to wedding décor. From ceremony candles to matching wedding colors for the reception, Hallow Candle Co. brings a unique perspective for the impressive look you want on your wedding day! A free consultation will tell you everything you need to know about how to give your wedding the memorable glow people will remember.”
Having a limo on your wedding day is that special touch that turns the day into an ‘event’. Why should you, your future spouse and the wedding party have to worry about driving around to the ceremony, reception and other destinations? Wouldn’t you all rather be together, enjoying the day? A limo can provide your wedding party transportation from the wedding to the reception or you can book it for longer and have it deliver you to the church and even take guests home after the event is over. It all depends on what you’d like for your special day!
Gifts are always a big part of any wedding—and not just the gifts you receive as a couple! There are also gifts to your wedding party and some couples also enjoy getting gifts for their parents or other special people they want to recognize. One great gift idea, according to ArtGlass Unlimited, is framed wedding invitations. “We custom frame wedding invitations at our store,” explains Karen. “We sandwich the actual invitation between two pieces of extra thin glass, then frame it with stained glass. This makes a great wedding gift as well as preserving the invitation.”
Karen also mentions that jewelry makes a great gift, especially for the wedding party. “We have had bridal groups come in as a group and make their own wedding jewelry,” she says. “This is a great way for the group to bond and do something creative together.”
If you’re not quite sure what to get for your wedding party, your parents or even your spouse (some couples love getting their betrothed a special wedding gift), visit a store like Plum Creek Gifts that offers a number of different options split into themed rooms for easy shopping! Maybe a country-themed home décor item for mom, something handmade by a local artist for your significant other or some Nebraska items for out of town wedding party members!