Lots of brides and grooms saw the date of their special day come and go—multiple times, in some cases—in 2020, as COVID pushed pause on big gatherings, and wedding parties scrambled to reschedule or adjust to the conditions. We’re hopeful that 2021 will see many of those postponed nuptials go off with all the regalia they deserve. With restrictions still in place, and changing constantly, ceremonies in 2021 may still look a little different than the old norm, but both businesses and couples are finding creative ways to may those special days truly special, nonetheless. We found plenty of wedding-related businesses in Lincoln that are putting their version of magic into wedding plans, associated events, and all the trimmings.
You know you want to look amazing on your wedding day. With that in mind, one of the most important elements of most weddings is the bride’s dress, and it takes some planning and fittings to come up with that perfect dream gown. Blush Bridal Boutique (blushbridalne.com) in Lincoln is all about helping brides-to-be get exactly the look they imagine and, in the process, enjoy an experience they’ll treasure forever—and they actually had their best year ever in 2020! The boutique is open to the public again now, after closing for a short time early in the year and creating At Home with Blush virtual consultations, including contactless curbside pickup of wedding gowns to try on, plus Bling Boxes of accessories to top off your wedding-day look.
“At Home with Blush allowed us to still serve our brides while maintaining safety and health for our brides and staff,” said Blush Owner Emmy Gorman. “We hosted many virtual consultations with brides, some of whom chose to do the Blush At Home package to say ‘Yes!’ at home and some who ended up coming in when we reopened to say ‘Yes!’ to the dress back in the boutique.”
If you choose the Blush at Home package, you’ll get a free virtual consultation, during which Blush stylists will get to know you and your style, help guide you through your options, showing you available inventory and relaying the same helpful information you would get in the store. You then can pull up curbside to the boutique and go home with up to five beautiful gowns to try on (for a small deposit) before having a Zoom try-on appointment from home with one of their stylists. Talk about making lemonade out of COVID lemons!
Whether it’s in the boutique or using At Home with Blush for brides who prefer it, Blush Bridal goes the extra mile to create memorable, individualized shopping experiences for clients. They recommend that all brides purchase their dresses at least six to nine months in advance to allow plenty of time for alterations and last-minute details. They have a tremendous selection of customizable designer wedding gowns, including the Studio Levana line of gowns to cater to curvier brides.
“Every bridal store has pretty dresses and accessories,” Emmy said, “but not every store has Blush stylists! These girls are hand-picked for their servants’ hearts and their ability to love big and fast. Our best advice is to take a deep breath and remember to enjoy this process. It doesn’t have to be stressful. We want brides to remember that the most important thing is that you are marrying the love of your life…and that doesn’t change whether you are surrounded by just your closest family or 250 of your friends!”
Top of the Tiara
If you’re aiming for a spectacular setting for your wedding, Wilderness Ridge (wildernessridgegolf.com) delivers a hole-in-one. Situated on one of Nebraska’s most prestigious golf courses, Wilderness Ridge offers the ideal setting and ambiance for your one-of-a-kind wedding experience. They provide extensive amenities, including everything from event planning assistance, multiple menu options, room-layout coordination, and set-up and tear-down services, to audio-visual equipment, raised stage for band or DJ setup, table linens, centerpieces, table services, welcome sign in the lobby, cake-cutting services, private servers, in-room bar service, dance floor, lockers, and golf carts for photography on the course. With COVID restrictions in place, Wilderness Ridge goes the extra mile to keep clients’ safe, and the smaller events that have come as a result of those restrictions have actually been pretty special.
“Smaller groups create a more intimate reception,” said Social Sales Manager Melissa Jacobs. “In some cases, the smaller weddings seem more personal. Instead of guests filling the dance floor, we’ve seen DJ’s come up with some terrific socially distanced fun, like trivia games or casino games that the guests can play at their own tables. Instead of passing appetizers around, we have hot and cold appetizers set up at stations with an attendant, and in lieu of sheet cake, individual desserts are pre-packaged and creatively displayed. For party favors, brides are making their own labels to stick on masks, hand sanitizer, and social-distance wristbands.”
The key to wedding planning in pandemic times is flexibility, which isn’t always comfortable for such a big occasion, but it’s the situation we’ve been dealt.
“We are trying to remain as flexible as we can,” Melissa said. “Planning weddings is a long-term investment and already can be a stressful planning process but trying to plan when the future is unknown can be a nightmare. I try to remain positive while planning each client’s event, but I also remain realistic with them about capacity limits and what could possibly transpire.”
Wilderness Ridge was recognized with four major awards by Nebraska Wedding Day Magazine in 2020. That included the Top of the Tiara Award, which goes to the Best All Around Wedding Vendor, Best Venue in Nebraska, Best Country Club or Golf Club Venue, and Best Rehearsal Dinner Venue. That’s a lot to live up to, but Melissa said Wilderness Ridge does whatever it takes to meet their own high standards: “To be recognized as Nebraska’s best venue for a wedding or rehearsal dinner is a great honor that we do not take lightly, and our team of professionals works hard every day to maintain these lofty standards.”
On your big day, LUXX Event Rentals (luxxeventsllc.com) offers everything you need to make any upscale wedding and reception location as beautiful as the day itself. LUXX was created to serve the Lincoln area with incredible “Experiential Events,” and they offer high-end soft seating, catering station displays, wedding arches, and additional décor that is perfect for any upscale wedding, bridal photo shoot, or engagement party. They even subcontract out the basics, like chairs and tables. Maybe most unique of all, however, LUXX offers complimentary virtual layout diagrams showing placement of the rental items in the bride and groom’s selected venue—free of charge for all rentals over $500.
“We are the only rental company in Lincoln and the surrounding areas offering design layout and diagram creation with our rentals,” said Owner Gretchen Arroyo. “We provide upscale services and rental items. We’re willing to go the extra mile to ensure our clients’ satisfaction and are flexible and willing to deliver anywhere in the state. Along with over 25 years in the event-planning industry, our firm also houses a custom prop shop that creates amazing event design elements, giving couples the ability to make their big day as unique as they want. We also offer white-glove setup on EVERY installation of our rental inventory.”
LUXX makes it a top priority to keep their clients’ safety and well-being at the forefront of what they do. They have taken measures to clean and sanitize all rental items between bookings, adding an extra day to their booking window for them to process the items as they come in. Gretchen said she expects to see some creative wedding options in 2021, and LUXX will be there to help bring them to life.
“I love the idea of the ‘drive-in wedding,’” she said. “It’s such a fun and unique way to celebrate on a large scale without compromising people’s safety or health. I have also seen unique outdoor plans connecting tents and staging with full-scale audio-visual production that completely transforms the inside of a standard 20’ x 40’ tent into an upscale ballroom. This will be big for summer 2021 upscale wedding events!”
If you’re looking for a breathtaking outdoor setting for an intimate wedding, we highly recommend that you consider James Arthur Vineyards (jamesarthurvineyards.com). This full-service space is near the winery’s tasting room, complete with a waterfall and fabulous landscaping. The maximum capacity of this space is 72 people or less, so it’s meant for relatively small events already. When you throw social-distancing requirements in there, it gets even more intimate. It’s not the only option at James Arthur anymore, though. They recently opened up a huge green space with a picnic area and the perfect location for a larger wedding.
“We do all of our weddings outside because the setting here is just gorgeous,” said Jim Ballard, one of the owners of James Arthur Vineyards. “It’s a beautiful place to get married. We did a couple of weddings at the winery in 2020, with about 10-20 people to allow for social distancing. We also opened up the green space in the back and have had two weddings there—one with about 50 people and the other with about 80. So, we didn’t have as many as we had hoped for in 2020 but we were able to help some brides and grooms out when they were in need of a new space to get married.”
Operating a wedding venue during pandemic conditions is challenging for sure, but if you book with James Arthur Vineyards, you will feel like you are in paradise on your wedding day. They’ll handle everything from providing seating to setting up and tearing down, and they’ll provide a room for the bride to change. They even provide a wine toast at the end of each ceremony! In addition to weddings, James Arthur Vineyards is a great place to hold wedding rehearsals and small receptions. They’ll make your rehearsal dinner special and provide you with everything you need, from start to finish, including wine and catering.
“We try to make everything as simple as possible for the bride and groom,” Jim said. “We want to be part of making the day special for them.”
Lincoln’s Only Luxurious Boutique Hotel
The Kindler Hotel (thekindlerhotel.com) focuses on the individual needs of their guests and takes extra precautions to protect their health and well-being. If you need accommodations for your family, wedding guests, and a bridal suite for you, The Kindler Hotel offers luxurious accommodations, sure to wow everyone.
“We offer discounted rates on lavishly appointed bridal suites and guest room blocks for your family and friends,” said Director of Sales and Marketing Cheryl Deiro. “Our hotel is different from any other hotel you will find in Lincoln, offering the highest-quality service with Modern Deco guest rooms and décor. The Kindler Hotel was just awarded the 40th Annual Gold Key Award for Excellent in Hospitality Design, ‘The Best Lobby—Upper Midscale’ by Boutique Design magazine.”
Cheryl said The Kindler Hotel has seen many couples opt for smaller, intimate receptions and celebrations in the wake of COVID, which also allows them to offer an overall higher end experience for their guests. The Kindler Hotel is modern and offers unique, alluring accommodations you won’t find anywhere else in Lincoln. Additionally, you just can’t overstate the value of an amazing guest experience.
“We have all checked into a hotel and not felt welcome, felt like the hotel is unkempt, unclean, and outdated,” Cheryl said, “and we have all encountered the front desk associate that treated us as ‘just another guest.’ The Kindler is dedicated to you, our guest. We treat everyone as family and focus on ensuring that our guests feel welcome, comfortable, safe, and special.”
A Flavor Extravaganza
When you’re planning a wedding, the food and goodies you serve are a highlight for your guests. If you want to knock their socks off, Nothing Bundt Cakes (nothingbundtcakes.com/bakery/ne/lincoln) will do the trick. A local favorite, they dish up seriously moist, mouthwatering cakes for plenty of weddings and associated celebrations in the Lincoln area. Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise Owners Sharon Hansen and Melissa Hegarty offer four sizes of Bundt cakes, with the trendiest for weddings being the Bundtini™ and the 8-inch bundt.
“The smallest we have is the Bundtini™ which is really popular for receptions because it’s just two or three bites, is available in all 10 of our flavors, and is easy for guests to pick up and eat. The 8-inch cake is popular for use as part of a combination centerpiece and dessert on each guest table at the reception. We can design and decorate it with the wedding colors or flowers—or whatever the bride and groom choose. We can even put small decorations on the Bundtini™ and make them really cute.
You’ll find a flavor for every taste bud, too. That includes carrot, confetti, chocolate chocolate chip, lemon, marble, pecan praline, red velvet, which chocolate raspberry, classic vanilla, and then a 10th feature flavor that changes every month or two. In working with brides and grooms to make their selections, Sharon said Nothing Bundt Cakes keeps the process as simple as possible and keeps the prices economical.
The Party Bus!
Party buses are all the rage in the wedding industry these days, and Lincoln’s Tailored Dreams Party Buses (tailoreddreamslimousines.com) is here to serve you in style—be it for a night on the town with the wedding party, a bachelor or bachelorette party, or traveling around to different sites for photography sessions. Tailored Dreams is true to its name, providing experiences tailored to match your dreams in dependable, luxury form. They have a variety of busses, with capacities of anywhere from 26 to 45 passengers, and the majority of their business is wedding parties.
Tailored Dreams offers a custom, luxury party bus experience at economical prices, and wedding parties that book one of their buses for both their wedding and bachelor or bachelorette party get a discount. Your wedding party can relax and have a good time while jamming to music and enjoying drinks on the way to their destination. Owner DeeDee Loomis suggests booking a party bus as soon as you know the date you want it, because options in Lincoln are limited and busy—but well-coordinated!
“There are four major players in this industry in Lincoln,” DeeDee said, “and that’s not near enough to meet demand. So, we all work together to satisfy clients. If we don’t have what they need, we can send them to another company, and they’ll do the same for us. All of us are focused solely on making sure clients are taken care of rather than on competing with each other.”
You’ll have lots of opportunities to feed your wedding party and guests during your wedding experience, and Dickey’s Barbecue Pit (www.dickeys.com) is always a popular option. Under new ownership, Dickey’s continues to provide catering for gatherings, including weddings and related celebrations, and providing individual box lunches for more casual gatherings during the wedding planning and celebration period. It’s as simple as making one call to work out details, and Dickey’s will deliver it to your location on time. Dickey’s continues to follow all COVID guidelines to keep customers safe. They slow smoke all meats on-site, and the menu features beef brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis style ribs, polish sausage, spicy cheddar sausage, smoked turkey, and marinated chicken, with an extensive array of home-style sides.
Wedding and Celebration Venues
If you’re looking for the perfect place to host your rehearsal dinner, wedding, or reception, you don’t have to look far in Lincoln. One of the fabulous choices you have is Venue Catering & Events (yourvenue.net/catering) of the PILLAR Restaurant Group. With a combination of five private dining rooms and two large ballrooms, Venue can fit your wedding plans like a white, lace glove. When you see the Venue menu, you’ll know you’re in for a treat, too! You’ll impress your wedding guests with catered options they’ve never seen before, and Venue will cater everything from the rehearsal dinner to the ceremony and reception, with tantalizing food that matches your style and stays within your budget.
Another fabulous option for anything from a small, intimate wedding and reception or up to 300 (minus social-distancing requirements of the day) is the Talon Room (talonroom.com). They can accommodate any budget and will make sure that your perfect day is perfect, indeed. Formerly Spaghetti Works, the Talon Room has been transformed into the perfect venue to host a wedding reception or any other kind of social gathering. From wedding planning to catering, bar service, scheduling, vendor assistance, and basic wedding décor, the Talon Room team does all the work for your wedding celebrations, so you can kick back, relax, hit the dance floor, and chat with friends and family, stress-free.
Yet another event space we recommend is the Lincoln Firefighters’ Reception Hall (facebook.com/Lincoln-Firefighters-Reception-Hall). The Firefighters’ Hall is proud to have a dynamic entertainment space that can accommodate any style of event and up to 300 people (seated)—but obviously fewer during the pandemic. Regardless, it’s a fabulous option, located within minutes of downtown Lincoln with quick and easy access to lodging, restaurants, and shopping, without the inconvenience of paying to park downtown. Their amenities include all-day access, table/chair set-up, the ability to bring in your own catering or use their large commercial kitchen, plus a projector and screen, wireless mics, internet access, bar service with staff available, centerpieces, decorating and lighting options, and much more!
In 2021, weddings are still under pandemic restrictions for social distancing, but Lincoln wedding-related businesses have learned to adapt and provide the same great services and amenities. We recommend considering the companies featured here to suit your wedding needs, from start to finish!