Wedding Planning

Winter is waning and spring is approaching, and with it the allure of blossoming trees and burgeoning gardens. For many, this inspires visions of beautiful weddings and joyful ceremonies, a bride and groom posed for a picture-perfect kiss under the shade of a budding tree. It’s no wonder springtime is such a popular time for weddings. Nature is perfectly suited for these occasions as spring unfolds.

If you are nearing a wedding or see one off in the distance and are just beginning to sketch out your plans, we’d like to light a small flame of excitement to flicker over the romantic occasion ahead of you. A wedding isn’t something you experience everyday, so you want to get it right! Here are some thoughts on wedding planning from Strictly Business and from local experts who are eager to help you plan the wedding of your dreams and make your wishes come true!

Set a Budget

We know we just said the budget word, but don’t derail your excitement just yet. Setting a budget is an important early step in planning your wedding. Once a dollar amount is determined, you can begin identifying the details and traditions you most want to include, always measuring them to the standard of your budget. If this seems limiting, rest assured that knowing your budget will actually help relieve a lot of stress and clarify your priorities. With so many options available and so many decisions to make, a budget will help ground you in knowing the monetary boundaries you will need to set on your event planning. Knowing your budget can also help event coordinators as they narrow the list of options to those that most suit your needs and desires.

Lisa Petersen
Venue Catering & Events

Lisa Petersen, event coordinator for Venue Catering and Events, shared her thoughts on the importance of setting a budget when planning a wedding.

“The first step for someone planning a wedding is to get a budget in place,” she said. “What is the most important thing for your wedding day? For some brides, it is a special meal or the reception space. For others, it’s the bar, or maybe a good band. Ask yourself what you value most, and let the answer to this question drive your budget. Let everything else fall into place around it. It will give you peace of mind and give vendors a price range to work in.”

For brides and grooms who work with Venue Catering and Events, the possibilities and options for your wedding are as endless as the stars, and Venue’s team will share their experience and expertise to help make it all happen.

“Our most prominent service is our experience,” Lisa said. “I’ve been coordinating weddings for 34 years, and our company as a whole is one of the most experienced coordinating teams in the city! We also have a lot to offer brides and grooms through our different sizes of spaces and our unique locations. Our ballrooms are on the national register of historic places. They were built in the early 1900s, and they are valued for their historical significance and charm. We also have small spaces. Are you looking for something modern? Lots of wood? Something historic? Marble? Fireplaces? We’ve got it all.”

Create a List of Priorities

Once the last dance has ended and the guests push back their chairs and return to their homes, what will you look back at and cherish most? What are the things that, if missed, you will wish you had included? These things should get a star on your list of priorities. It would be tragic to look back and realize you’d missed something essential and important to you. Things to consider when listing priorities for a wedding include special traditions, venue space, food, music, season and time of year, whether the events will be indoor or outdoor, number of guests, style and theme, and selecting the wedding party and how they will participate.

Jordyn Champoux
The Kindler Hotel

Jordyn Champoux, marketing manager for The Kindler Hotel, shared her thoughts on the importance of prioritizing the most important thing of all—the happy couple.

“The most important priority should be to make the wedding represent you and your future spouse and really bring that out and let it shine through the wedding events and details,” she said. “Make sure you are picking for you because it’s your day.”

The Kindler Hotel goes above and beyond to make the wedding night a special one for the bride and groom.

“Our romance package for brides and grooms is extra special,” Jordyn said. “We provide champagne and boxes of chocolates in the room, and we make sure everything is just right and ready to welcome the newlyweds. We want them to enter the room and get an immediate feeling of romance, luxury, and relaxation. Our romance package is the perfect way to evoke this feeling.”

The Kindler Hotel truly takes luxury to the next level. They’ve considered every detail in their bright, comfortable rooms. Their furnishings and decor are exquisite and perfectly suited for a romantic wedding night. The experience doesn’t have to be reserved only for the wedding couple, however. The Kindler offers room blocks for wedding parties so everyone can enjoy a sumptuously relaxing sleep.

“I advise people to plan ahead and make sure to book far in advance,” Jordyn said. “Secure your reservation early so you can spend your time and energy planning other things.”

Get Organized and Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is advisable, considering the limitless details to think through in preparing for a wedding. Creating a master checklist is a great way to get everything out on paper so you can continually refer to your plans and realign yourself. Also remember to enlist the help of your significant other, and consider getting help from a wedding planner or an event planning venue. With so much to do, you’ll want all the help you can get! It’s always easier to let people help you when you have a clear plan and defined tasks that you can delegate. Organization is key.

Annie Bohling
The Nebraska Club

Annie Bohling, event coordinator for Nebraska Club, offered advice on getting organized and starting your wedding planning early.

“It’s never too early to start planning, researching, and asking questions,” she said. “Start a notebook and scrapbook of ideas. Pinterest boards are great for this, but there’s something extra effective about brainstorming on paper and writing your thoughts out. Be ready with questions in advance to help your event coordinator make the process efficient for you.”

Annie advises getting as much help as you need for the planning process.

“There are a lot of unknowns for new couples. Let people help you. Many couples will bring parents into the planning process to get their input and experience. Above all, keep it simple. Be flexible. The happiest brides and grooms are those who go with the flow and let in all play out.”

The Nebraska Club has a lot to offer for anyone planning a wedding.

“Our views just can’t be beat anywhere in Lincoln. Our club is a hidden gem that, though private, is open to the public for events, and our event spaces are all-inclusive. We provide furniture, dishes, linens, AV equipment, etc. Our staff works together really well and gives great service. I am the go-to contact for the whole planning experience, and I am onsite for each event. I answer questions and provide quotes as needed. We also accommodate special requests such as a family favorite meal or alcohol, or anything else you need!”

DeeDee Loomis, owner of Tailored Dreams Party Buses is also a big believer in planning ahead and securing reservations as early as possible, particularly when reserving a party bus.

“Make your reservations as soon as you know a date,” she said. “Many people remember to book reception halls and hotel rooms in advance, but they may not think about party buses until later in the game. There are a limited number of party buses in our area, and they go fast! We are already booking well into 2021.”

Party buses are an increasingly popular experience that combine transportation, great music, and a mobile party scene all in one. Tailored Dreams offers a custom, luxury party bus experience at economical prices. Wedding parties that book one of their buses for both their wedding and bachelor/bachelorette party get a discount. With Tailored Dreams, your wedding party can relax and have a good time while jamming to music and enjoying drinks on the way to their destination.

“At Tailored Dreams, we have an unmatched wedding package,” DeeDee informed us. “Our fleet includes five decked out limousine-style party buses accommodating up to 45 people in our largest bus. Two of our buses are even handicap accessible—the only ones in the region!

Each bus has Bluetooth stereo systems that really thump, air conditioning to keep your party cool, and colorful LED lights for an ultimate clubbing experience.”

Determine Your Style

Whether your style is one that calls for a lively time on a party bus or something more formal and tranquil, there is no shortage of available options to plan out your wedding experience. With the myriad of choices and approaches available, it is essential for couples to narrow their list of options by determining their particular style and eliminating elements that don’t fit into it. Does your style lend itself to a backyard wedding and barefoot bride? A high-end reception hall and crystal chandeliers?

Knowing your style can really streamline the planning process and share the special essence of the bride and groom with everyone around them. This is one of the funnest parts of the celebration for guests! Style is important, and nothing speaks to a bride’s style more profoundly than her wedding gown, which can often make the selection process challenging and overwhelming.

Emmy Gorman
Blush Bridal Boutique

Emmy Gorman, owner of Blush Bridal Boutique, understands very well the challenges this pressure presents to brides-to-be, which is why she has crafted a relaxed and enjoyable experience for finding the picture-perfect gown.

“You know exactly how you want to feel on your wedding day, but you may not be quite sure what you’ll wear to invoke the feeling of confidence or how to blow your partner’s socks off!” she said. “You’re not supposed to have it all figured out— that’s what your fairy godmothers at Blush Bridal are here for!

Blush Bridal stylists travel the world, individually selecting and designing our bridal gowns and accessories so we can offer our brides a perfectly curated experience. To work through endless options, many Blush Brides have loved our Signature Appointment at Blush Bridal. This includes an after-hours try-on session, private for up to 10 guests, and plenty of light bites and bubbly!”

As important as finding the perfect dress and figuring out wedding details can be, Emmy offers an encouraging reminder to maintain perspective and focus.

“Though couples are planning for their wedding, in reality they are planning the beginning of their life together as a married couple,” she said. “It is sometimes hard to see the importance of your life beyond the wedding when you are focused on the initial celebration and details. Embrace the beauty of it all, and remember why you’re getting married!”

Focus on the Big Picture

Matthew Rogge
Talon Room

Matthew Rogge with Talon Room shared his thoughts on keeping the most important things in focus throughout the wedding.

“The most important aspect of your wedding should be enjoying the time you spend with your partner and family as the big day draws near,” he said. “Once your wedding day is upon you, you should be left with a happy heart and a great feeling. Don’t let stress of the perfect day cloud what is most important—you and your partner starting a new chapter in life together.”

Matthew and all the staff at the Talon Room work extra hard to make the big day for the newlyweds special. They can accommodate any budget and any size party up to 300 guests.

“We have two different suites: Suite 1 serves up to 250 guests, and Suite 100 serves up to 85 guests,” Matthew said. “We provide bar service, catering, wedding planning, scheduling, vendor assistance, and basic wedding décor options. Start the process as soon as you feel comfortable. We book weddings anywhere from two months to two years out. The process can be stressful, but if you book with the Talon Room, we make the planning of a wedding as easy as possible. Couples work directly with the owner/manager from start to finish. Start with a maximum spend budget to help you eliminate decisions that will not fit your spending plan. Weddings can be overly expensive, but with a little effort you can have the wedding of your dreams for far less than the average $16,000.”

If you’re looking for a place for your guests to stay so you can rest knowing they’re taken care of, the Graduate Lincoln, a boutique hotel and a favorite in downtown Lincoln, is a perfect place to unwind after a long day. The Graduate prides itself on its playful atmosphere and vintage vibe with the spirit of Nebraska as its core inspiration.

The Graduate has different ballroom sizes to accommodate large or small weddings. The Ardis Ballroom can accommodate up to 450 guests, the Scarlett Ballroom, 200 guests, and the Legends can fit up to 100 people. The Graduate also has a bridal suite for brides to minimize stress on their wedding day. It’s the perfect space to do hair and makeup for the bride and her party.

For the groom, the Graduate has a Topgolf Swing Suite that gives an immersive golf experience. Grooms and their groomsmen can enjoy relaxing before it’s time to get the show on the road.

Another event space we want to highlight is the Lincoln Firefighters’ Reception Hall. The Firefighters’ Hall is proud to have a dynamic entertainment space that can accommodate any style of event up to 300 people (seated). They offer modern conveniences and affordable elegance to create the perfect atmosphere for your special event!

Located within minutes of downtown Lincoln, the Firefighters’ Hall provides quick and easy access to lodging, restaurants, and shopping, without the inconvenience of parking downtown and having to pay. Featuring a full 90-stall parking lot that is paved, lit, and handicap accessible, guests will have no problem finding a place to park at the Firefighters’ Hall.

Their amenities include all-day access, table/chair set up, the ability to bring in your own catering or use our large commercial kitchen, a projector and screen, wireless mics, internet access, bar service with staff available, centerpiece items, decorating/lighting options, and much more!

You can take a virtual tour on their website to explore the space and see all that it offers. You can also go on the Lincoln Firefighter’ Reception Hall website ( and check out their online calendar for available dates!

Don’t Rush into Decisions

The nature of planning a wedding can be stressful and overwhelming with all its dates and details. It may be tempting at times to make quick decisions and get things over with, like going with the first venue you tour or the first caterer who returns your phone call.

Sara Reyes Sudman
Fields Floral

While you may find that you genuinely wish to move forward with these businesses and their services, stepping back and taking a deep breath to really gather your thoughts isn’t a bad idea. The last thing you want to do is commit to something you’ll regret and spoil the coming days with your disappointment. Sara Sudman, owner of Fields Floral, shared her thoughts on the importance of making decisions when you are good and ready in order to avoid regret later on.

“Don’t agree to services or purchases if you aren’t positive they’re what you want,” Sara advised. “It never hurts to get information and then take a day or two to think before making a decision. Make sure who you end up working with is in line with what you really want. Spend your money on what you value, and be realistic. Once you’ve decided what’s important to you, make it a priority and don’t look back!”

For couples planning wedding flowers, Sara offers similar advice and wisdom.

“Take your time to pick the flowers you want,” she said. “One thing you can do to narrow your list of options is to research wedding flowers that fit your overall theme and design and put together a quick list of flowers you are interested in. This will help guide you and your wedding florist in making final decisions.

The bride’s flowers are often larger and more detailed, setting them apart from the bridesmaid’s bouquets,” Sara told us. “The bridesmaid’s bouquets may also be composed of lighter colors, while the bride’s bouquet is more fresh and vibrant.

Typical flowers used for the groom’s and groomsmen’s boutonnieres may include carnations, roses, and orchids. For the ceremony and reception, I recommend freshly picked blooms such as roses and peonies. At Fields Floral, we can help you put together the perfect arrangements for your special day.”

Gary Tharnish
Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers

It’s important to choose a florist who you can trust. We spoke to Gary Tharnish, an expert with 40 years of experience in the wedding industry as a wedding planner and owner of Burton & Tyrrell’s Flowers, to give us an insight on how to plan the most beautiful wedding with the least amount of stress.

“One of the most important aspects that a bride and her family need to discuss before starting planning is setting an overall budget. Sometimes, girls come into the shop and have no idea what their flower budget is, which is an issue,” Gary told us.

“If you want to keep costs and stress down, don’t plan your wedding around Mother’s or Valentine’s Day. Your florist will be swamped and the flowers will be more expensive because of cost and demand.”

Gary also told us about some recent trends in wedding flowers: “Lots of greenery! A lot of people are leaning towards flowing greenery with only a pop of flowers as accents.

One common mistake that I want to warn brides about is bringing a picture in from Pinterest and expecting your florist to be able to copy that exactly within your budget. Remember that the photo says nothing about season or cost. The most gorgeous weddings I’ve done are those when a bride gives me general parameters and gives me the trust to make it perfect.”

Erika Jensen
The Chocolate Season

Founder and owner of The Chocolate Season, Erika Jensen, also shared her thoughts on letting vendors help take the stress out of all the work that needs to be done to prepare for the wedding.

“Just relax!” she said. “You have many vendors at your fingertips that have a passion for their craft. Find those businesses you connect with best, and suddenly planning all those details will no longer seem so daunting. And remember why you’re getting married!

At the end of the day, you’re throwing a fun party to celebrate your decision to spend the rest of your life with someone. That’s amazing. And that’s worth snacking on an extra cupcake or two!”

The Chocolate Season is a retail chocolate boutique and coffee café that has been named the Iowa SBDC’s small business of the month and featured on IPTV’s Iowa Ingredient and the Food Network’s Best Waffles in America list. All you have to do is taste of one of Erika’s chocolates to know why The Chocolate Season is so popular. A box of her specialty chocolates as a gift to a guest or bridesmaid is the perfect way to tell someone how much they are appreciated.

“We love creating custom chocolate favors for any wedding,” Erika said. “These chocolate pieces can act as tokens of appreciation for your guests as well as add an element of design for any reception. We can also enhance the wedding beyond party favors. Dessert bars or a favorite childhood sweet treat are fun additions to any wedding.”

Janel J. Faraci, founder and owner of The Rogers House Bed & Breakfast Inn, shared her advice for couples who are approaching their big day.

“Have fun and relax!” she said. “Some couples come in wound so tight and stressed about details, which is really sad to see because it’s so unnecessary. Don’t forget that this is one of the most special days of your life. You’re in good hands! Let your vendors, friends, and family help you. Don’t stress the small details. We’ll take care of it. Enjoy your day!

Usually couples want a few special things. Our forte is honing in on those details and helping them find their sweet spot. What is it that matters most to them? Is it the timing? Flowers? Music? Food? One thing that really sets us apart is how flexible we are and how much we tune into those details. Many vendors won’t let you bring in outside food or drinks, but we do. We also cater for you if you’d prefer. We really just want to make the day whatever you want it to be!

We have indoor and outdoor choices for events, depending on the season. You can choose a ceremony with or without a tent outside or an intimate indoor ceremony for up to 50 people. Many brides have come down our storied staircase just glowing with happiness. It’s a really beautiful setting for the magical day.”

Rogers House continues to go through extensive renovation to preserve its historical beauty and charm. Period light and bath fixtures have been restored, wood refinished, and antique furnishings brought in, and the kitchen is currently undergoing major updates. The Rogers House has the distinct honor of having been declared a local historic landmark.

Wherever a couple chooses to hold their wedding, they should never lose sight of what matters most. Every wedding is a unique celebration of life and the beginning of a new journey for two happy people. Any way a couple chooses to celebrate this is right if it expresses the joy they feel.

Lincoln is home to professionals who love creating the perfect romantic atmosphere for a beautiful wedding. Remember to take a deep breath to remind yourself what a wedding is really about—and don’t forget to stop and smell the roses!