Making Your Big Day Match Your Dreams!
Summer typically is the most popular time of the year for weddings, especially in Nebraska, where nature’s beauty makes outdoor ceremonies a natural fit. Nothing has been typical about the summer of 2020, though. While there haven’t been as many weddings as usual this summer, there’s actually been even more wedding planning going on than ever before. That has included a lot of shifting of plans, which is booking up wedding venues in late summer, fall, and even a year or two out.
Many of the weddings that happened in Lincoln this summer were smaller than originally planned, though a slew of brides and grooms planned alternative ceremonies to get hitched on schedule. Others didn’t want to give up their dreams of an extravagant wedding with all their friends and family attending, and they postponed to a year or even two out.
Regardless of the unique situation that wedding parties and planners find themselves in this year, there are plenty of local businesses in Lincoln that are highly experienced and skillful at putting their version of magic into your wedding plans and associated events. We asked local business owners what they offer to enhance wedding plans in the area, and we found companies that provide everything from dresses and accouterments for the bride to catering to ceremony and reception venues, limousines and party buses, floral designers, hair specialists, accommodations for out-of-town guests—and yes, even luxury restroom rentals!
With everything that goes into wedding planning, it’s easy to make restrooms an afterthought, but when you invest so much into a day, getting the details right matters. That’s where Grant Stahla and Stahla Rentals come in. Among other services, Stahla is in the potties-for-parties business, you might say—and we’re not talking about stinky, dark, overheated, run-of-the-mill port-a-potties. Stahla rents luxury restrooms that will have your wedding guests thinking they’re in a modern, affluent home bathroom. They are equipped with everything from air conditioning to Bluetooth sound systems, upscale amenities, and handicap access—and some even have showers and multiple stalls and can serve as a bridal suite for the wedding party to get ready.
“We offer wedding parties and their guests dignity and peace of mind,” Grant said. “We all have to use the restroom, so having a private, enclosed space that’s air-conditioned and not smelly is a really big deal. Once you’ve selected the trailer you want on our website, including the number of stalls, and paid your deposit, we do all the rest, including prepping the rooms with all the supporting materials, like soap, paper towels, the hose, and electrical board. We then deliver it all and hook things up exactly where you want it. All you have to do it turn it on before the wedding. They’re really perfect for those Nebraska weddings that are on the family’s acreage or out in a field in the middle of nowhere.”
This is Stahla Rentals’ seventh year in business, and it sure has been an interesting one. However, when it comes to their luxury bathroom rentals, they’re already set for a record year next summer.
“Our business changed dramatically due to COVID-19, as far as what we do for weddings,” Grant said. “We’re still booking weddings, but a lot of them scaled down to between 10 and 50 guests and moved to backyards, which doesn’t always necessitate a portable restroom.”
Typically, Stahla Rentals served weddings averaging about 175 guests, and this year that average is closer to 40. All is not lost, though, as they’re already looking at double the average number of weddings they’ll be doing in 2021, as weddings postponed this summer are moving to next.
“We’re really trying to work with everyone who had to cancel this summer,” Grant said. “Luxury restroom trailers are, I think, the biggest trend in outdoor weddings in the last five years in the Midwest. We’re in the thick of the trend because that’s our world!”
A Flavor Extravaganza
The food and goodies everyone gets to enjoy at the reception are a highlight of any wedding. If you’ve been in Lincoln for any length of time, you probably have at least heard about Nothing Bundt Cakes because locals often bring it up in casual conversation, as they roll their eyes back in their heads and let out a heartfelt “Mmmmm.” You’ll also find these moist, mouthwatering cakes at plenty of weddings and wedding celebrations in the area.
Lincoln Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise Owners Sharon Hansen and Melissa Hegarty say they 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™ and it’s 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, which makes it a great self-serve option,” Sharon said. “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.”
Other sizes include the Bundlet™ and the 10-inch cake. Sharon said brides occasionally order Bundlets™ (which is equivalent in size to a large muffin) for the reception, though they actually are more commonly chosen as hotel gifts for family members in from out of town and as shower gifts, decorated beautifully using wedding colors. The 10-inch cakes are occasionally used for receptions in situations where they can be arranged beautifully on a table, then sliced and plated.
There’s a flavor for every taste bud, too. That includes carrot, confetti, chocolate chocolate chip, lemon, marble, pecan praline, red velvet, white chocolate raspberry, classic vanilla, and then a tenth 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.
“When we have a bride and groom interested, they have a consultation meeting with someone at our store and walk through the details about what they’re looking for and we give them a box of sample Bundtinis™ so they can try all of the flavors. We can work out several different price options to give them an idea of what will fit their budget,” she said. “They are pretty reasonably priced, so that’s appealing, and the cake is soooo good. It’s dense and moist and, I think, more memorable than your average cake.”
Class Things Up
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 and Events 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. Oh, and if you haven’t sampled the menu at Venue, you’re in for a treat! 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.
“We are fortunate to offer two of the most historic ballrooms in the city—the Jasmine Room and Scottish Rite Ballroom,” said PILLAR Event Coordinator Lisa Petersen. “In itself, this offers a singular uniqueness for our clients. Coupled with our event-planning team and chef-inspired cuisine, our clients can experience a fully customized wedding event. Our team is always on-trend and up-to-date with continuing education and training.”
Social-distancing restrictions have changed many of the plans that Venue and PILLAR had for this summer—but it’s also kept them on their toes.
“COVID has made us all think about what we do,” Lisa said. “Most all of our couples have chosen alternate dates with us, and some have had to move their wedding to a third alternate date. Helping couples work with these circumstances is an important part of what we do and is central to our company’s core values. Couples have had to make some interesting decisions: How do we cut back on our guest list, and how do we keep everyone safe? At the end of the day, COVID has reminded us what is really important.”
Lisa said some of the trends in wedding planning at Venue this year were hosting smaller weddings, more morning weddings, and Sunday weddings. There was never a dull moment.
“Hands down the experience of our team and our passion for what we do are the most important things we offer to clients and their guests,” Lisa said. “We have members of our team with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. With that comes a confidence that can only be achieved with people who have been doing this for many, many years. Our passion and experience translate into a fun and worry-free experience for our clients and their guests. Our goal is to provide the opportunity for the client to be a guest at their own wedding!”
Dream Dresses and Peace of Mind
One thing that never gets overlooked in wedding planning is the bride’s attire, but there’s a lot that goes into realizing your dream dress. Blush Bridal Boutique in Lincoln is all about helping brides-to-be get exactly the look they imagine and enjoy an experience that they’ll treasure forever.
“At Blush, we are not just providing brides their dream dresses and wedding accessories,” said Blush Owner Emmy Gorman. “We are creating an unforgettable experience for them. They get to feel like a true VIP when they are at Blush, and I believe that sets us apart! Our stylists provide such excellent service and care that it isn’t uncommon for our brides and stylists to actually form lasting friendships.”
Emmy said that while COVID is a scary thing, it can’t cancel the most important part of a wedding.
“COVID has created a lot of uncertainty and has made everyone adjust,” she said. “While we have seen brides adjusting their wedding plans, there is a common factor: Love is not canceled. We have embraced that approach at Blush to give the best service and care possible to our brides.”
So, what are the latest trends in bridal attire? According to Emmy, they are constantly changing, cycling even. One season, fitted gowns with simple skirts will be all the rage, and then the next season’s brides want full glam and ball-gowns. Whatever their choice, Blush Bridal Boutique is always in tune with trends—and with what their brides want in their dream gowns. They hand-select all of the gowns in the store and are well-known for customizations to create the perfect look. Tears come at no extra charge with virtually every dress fitting.
The most important part of Blush Bridal Boutique’s process is creating relationships and making brides feel at-ease.
“We always say we are in the business of love,” Emmy said. “Yes, we sell amazing gowns to wonderful brides, but more important, we are giving brides an experience they will never forget. Buying your dream wedding gown shouldn’t be stressful, and we do our best to make sure our brides know that. Your relationship with Blush and your stylist starts before you even step foot in our store. Once you find your gown, we will still work closely with you all the way up to wedding day—and even after for preservations.”
Emmy offers a couple of tips to brides looking to plan their big days: Stay organized, and try not to worry too much. Also, find your vendors first, usually 12–18 months before your wedding, then take care of your dress 9–12 months before the big day.
Think Small, Celebrate Big
Given the trend to smaller weddings with proper social distancing, James Arthur Vineyards has the perfect outdoor space and full-service wedding facility to host your special day.
“We do all 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, and we make sure all the landscaping is at its best for your big day. Our full-service space by the tasting room and waterfall is for smaller weddings and is more intimate, with room for about 70 people total. We do have a larger space that fits more like 150 to 200, with a picnic area and green space that we can rent out for bigger weddings, but we don’t provide the chairs, tables, or anything else for the ceremony. You would have to rent all that out, but it’s another beautiful area for an outdoor wedding.”
Jim said COVID was tough on their wedding and other event business, including cancellation of almost 50 events, including three weddings. But things started picking back up in June and July, and the venue has been able to work out options for those weddings that got canceled. Just know that if you choose James Arthur Vineyards for your nuptials, you’re going to feel like you’re in paradise. They’ll handle everything from providing seating, setting up, tearing down, and give you a room for the bride to change. They even provide a wine toast at the end of each ceremony.
Prompted about some of the latest trends they’re seeing in weddings, Jim said, simply, “Masks are the all the rage!”
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 all you need from start to finish, including wine and catering. Jim said they still have some spaces left for weddings and rehearsal dinners this year, through October, but they have been booking for summer 2021, too. Jim offered one piece of advice for people planning weddings in the current pandemic environment.
“It’s just a matter of being prepared for anything with the times we’re living in,” he said. “Be patient and work with your venue closely and let them take care of the details.”
Elegant, Neo-Classic Accommodations
As you’re planning for your big day, you’ll want to get a block of guests rooms reserved for your wedding party and your out-of-town guests. That’s where The Kindler Hotel comes in—and these folks will treat you all like royalty, from the elegant accommodations to top-shelf customer service and designer rooms in a neo-classical building conceived and designed by the award-winning Ross Vincent Design.
“The Kindler Hotel offers our guests a very personal experience, exceptionally high-level amenities, in a modern deco-designed and relaxed atmosphere,” said Kindler Sales Director Cheryl Deiro. “The Kindler Hotel will assist with special wedding-guestroom block rates for you and your guests. We have beautiful bridal suites and special wedding-night packages to make your special day extra special.”
Of course, the wedding scene has not been like most other years for The Kindler Hotel. While it has still hosted some wedding parties and guests, most of them have been far smaller groups and many rescheduled to later dates when they can have the big wedding and guest list of their dreams.
“We are experiencing brides and grooms with smaller, more intimate weddings,” Cheryl said. “They are also gravitating to more intimate and guest-experience-oriented hotels with the highest sanitation and social-distancing standards like The Kindler Hotel. Keep in mind that your guests will remember and appreciate the accommodations you arrange for them, especially those coming from out of town. Choosing a property with the highest level of cleanliness, sanitation, and social-distancing standards will help ease their reluctance to travel again. These standards and providing the highest level of hospitality are top priorities of The Kinder Hotel.”
The Kindler Hotel has 45 rooms and blends the independent spirit of Lincoln’s heritage, neo-classical architecture, and sophisticated accommodations to create a boutique hotel experience that Lincoln hasn’t seen before. The creative spirit of the late Lincoln native and hotel namesake, Ken Kindler, lives on through artful details, and the hospitality provided they extend to their guests. The hotel’s well-appointed guest rooms also take inspiration from Lincoln’s rich cultural history. What’s more, the lavishly appointed Boitano’s Lounge and newly opened patio will allow you to gather with your guests to enjoy uniquely crafted cocktails and a seasonal dining menu develop by world-renowned Olympic medalist and Food Network star Brian Boitano. Put the cherry on top of your wedding plans and include The Kindler Hotel in them!
Another fabulous venue for your rehearsal dinner or wedding reception is the Nebraska Club. With unbeatable views and all-inclusive packages, the club is a bit of a hidden gem. Though it is a private club, it is open to the public for events. They provide everything from furniture to dishes, linens, AV equipment, plus top-notch customer service that will allow you to relax and enjoy your wedding reception, while they keep things running smoothly. They’ll even accommodate special requests, including favorite family meals. The Nebraska Club can accommodate groups of anywhere from 15 to 250 guests, and they have an in-house event planner that works with their chef to make sure your event goes off without a hitch.
The Nebraska Club has a wide selection of appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts to choose from. They can also do a themed-dinner buffet, standard buffet, carving-station dinner buffet, or plated dinner to go along with a variety of bar packages.
If you expect a lot of out-of-town guests for your wedding, Graduate Lincoln is a perfect venue option. The Graduate prides itself on its playful atmosphere and vintage vibe with the spirit of Nebraska as its core inspiration. They have different ballroom sizes to accommodate most wedding sizes, including the Ardis Ballroom, which fits 450 guests, the Scarlett Ballroom, which fits 200, and the Legends for smaller receptions of up to 100 people. The Graduate also boasts a Bridal Suite for brides to use to minimize stress on their wedding days and, for the groom, they have a Topgolf Swing Suite provides the groom and groomsmen with an immersive golf experience to relax them before getting the show on the road.
The best way to ensure that you get your dream venue at Graduate Lincoln, with the least amount of stress, is to contact them as early as possible and to have a variety of date options rather than just a single day. That way, you can guarantee you’ll get the most of your experience!
Party in Style
These days, it seems that nearly every wedding involves a party bus at some point during the celebrations—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. If you’re looking for dependable, luxury party transportation, Tailored Dreams Party Buses has you covered. They have a variety of buses, with capacities of anywhere from 26 to 45 passengers, and the majority of their business is wedding parties. Given their core business, however, it’s easy to understand why COVID has hit hard. In fact, Tailored Dreams bought a new bus in February and just brought it back in service in mid-July.
“It’s been nothing in terms of wedding activity lately and that’s about 75% of our business,” said Owner DeeDee Loomis. “We actually shut down for about four months, and it’s a bit of a two-edged sword because now we’re booking out as far as two years. Next spring and into summer is already getting pretty full. We always take care of our customers, and as we take care of all of those who rescheduled, it’s leaving limited space for new bookings.”
DeeDee’s advice to wedding parties looking to book a party bus is that if you find one you like and it’s available, jump on it.
“There are four major players in this industry in Lincoln,” she 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.”
When you get your party bus booked with Tailored Dreams Party Buses, you’ll get the royal treatment. They offer a wedding package that is all about you! The wedding package is economical and includes your choice of party buses, plus a professional chauffeur in a tuxedo. What’s more, when they pick you up, they’ll literally roll out the red carpet for you to board in style. All you have to do is enjoy!
Every bride and groom have different ideas about the flowers that they want to include in their celebrations, but picking the right ones for your wedding day takes plenty of planning and the experience of professionals who can give you the ins and outs about creating the aura you want. One of the finest florists in Lincoln is Sara Sudman, owner of Fields Floral.
“We offer personalized, stress-free planning for weddings and events,” Sara said. “We’ll make sure your flowers bring joy to you, your attendants, your tabletops, and your guests.”
Fields Floral is a longstanding business in Lincoln with a flawless reputation. They are located in the historic College View area of Lincoln, on 48th and Cooper. With about 40 years in business under their name, they remain passionate about the superb quality of their stems and the meaningful and fun relationships they build with their customers.
When it comes to weddings, Sara said some of the most classic formal choices for a bride’s bouquet are roses, tulips, and calla lilies, while carnations, roses, and orchids are among the most popular for the groom and groomsmen.
“The bride’s flowers are often larger and more detailed, so it stands apart from the bridesmaids’ bouquets,” she said. “The bridesmaids’ flowers also might be lighter colors, while the bride’s bouquet generally is fresh and vibrant.”
Whatever your choices, the important thing is to take your time to pick the flowers you want.
“One thing you can do is narrow your list of options to research wedding flowers that fit your overall theme and design, and put together a quick list of flowers you’re interested in,” Sara said. “Fields Floral can help you put together all the perfect arrangements for your special day.”
Another outstanding option for your wedding flower decor is Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers, where you’ll find experts in planning floral decorations for anything from the altar to columns or candelabras flanking the altar to archways or canopies, podiums or lecterns, ends of the pews, communion rails, window ledges, dressing rooms, restrooms, the entry vestibule, guestbook table, wreaths on the doors leading into the sanctuary, the stair rails outside the entrance, and more! Of course, every wedding doesn’t call for flowers in all locations, but you can basically use fresh flowers to decorate anything you want.
“Every wedding we do is custom-designed with the bride and groom in mind,” said Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers Owner and Wedding Planner Gary Tharnish, who has more than 40 years of experience in the industry.
“In planning the decorations for the wedding ceremony location, be sure to consider all the areas that can be enhanced with flowers and foliage,” he said. “We can create a personalized look by adding embellishments to your bouquet and bouquet hand with sparkling touches or accents, too.”
Burton & Tyrrell’s does flower planning and arranging for any type of wedding, from a small gathering to the social event of the year. They’re sure to help make your wedding day truly magical.
“We take special care to ensure the bouquets and onsite floral décor reflect your individual style and budget, whether you prefer timeless tradition or a sleek, contemporary look,” Gary said. “Our floral-design consultants also offer lots of beautiful style suggestions in an effort to create the overall look you hope to achieve. With our talent, training, and experience, we will bring your special day to life!”
Burton & Tyrrell’s also works closely with couples to keep costs within their budgets and help keep the process stress-free. They stay up on trends, too, some of the latest of which include lots of greenery, with a pop of flowers for accents, but it’s all about what you want.
A True Celebration
Whether you’re planning a small wedding and reception or inviting up to 300 guests, the Talon Room can make sure your perfect day is just that. 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. Owner Matt Rogge said the venue is partnered with many local vendors, and their staff can help you plan and execute the wedding and celebration of your dreams.
“From wedding planning to catering, bar service, scheduling, vendor assistance, and basic wedding décor, we do all the work for your wedding celebration, so you can kick back, relax, hit the dance floor, and chat with friends and family, stress-free,” Matthew said. “We can also accommodate any budget and any size party up to 300 guests.”
The Talon Room books weddings anywhere from two months to two years in advance and their goal is to make the planning process as comfortable as possible. Couples work directly with Matthew from start to finish. The process starts by taking a look at their maximum budget and eliminating things that won’t fit their spending plan, then building in the things that are most important to the couple.
“We’ll also work with you in advance to craft a menu that’s perfectly suited to your tastes and preferences,” Matthew said. “Our bar services are top-notch, so you can have all your favorite drinks with the help of a professional bartender and servers. A wedding with the Talon Room is always a true celebration!”
The Talon Room offers various wedding packages and bar and catering options, which span the spectrum on budget, so you’re sure to find one that works for you. On their website, you can even take a virtual tour and read reviews from brides and grooms who previously hosted their weddings and receptions at the Talon Room. This will give you a true idea of what it’s going to be like. Get started with the Talon Room to plan a day you’ll always remember!
Putting the Style in High-Style
When you’re working on wedding fashion, you have to find somewhere to take your bridal party to get the perfect hairstyles for your big day. If you want to do that in a comfortable place that makes you feel at home, Partners ‘N Hair is the place for you. It’s such an inviting and relaxed place that your bridal party will want to hang out and get the latest and greatest ideas from the stylists there.
“People treat Partners ‘N Hair like it’s their second home,” said owner Jen Honnens. “Our stylists enjoy getting to celebrate other people’s happy moments in life, and there are few things happier than two people coming together in marriage. It’s a time to be surrounded by family and friends, and reflect on everything that has happened to get you to that point.”
Partners ‘N Hair, at 6940 Dorn St. STE 108, is a full-service hair salon that has been in business for more than 33 years and strives to make every customer’s experience a special one. Whether members of your bridal party wants cuts, trims, colors, or just a fancy updo, they’ll take care of you—and keep you feeling at home.
After having to close down for a couple of months in the wake of COVID, Partners ‘N Hair reopened in mid-May, and has been crazy busy ever since, so book ahead for your wedding party. You’ll be glad you chose Partners ‘N Hair because you’ll get the full pampering, and customers always leave happier than they were when they arrived!
Certainly, the summer of 2020 has been anything but normal. When it comes to planning your wedding, though, Lincoln offers every possible amenity you could need. As you plan—or reschedule—your big day, remember to support local businesses that will treat you, your wedding party, and your wedding guests like family!