Wedding Planning

Getting married is a pillar life moment, which is what makes the wedding celebration so exciting and memorable. Whether you are the person who has been wishfully planning all of the details since a young age or you are the person who is newly engaged and about to embark on the wedding planning journey with little to nothing in mind aside from the “I Do’s”, there are experienced professionals in all areas of the wedding industry right here in Lincoln that are able to provide or connect you with the necessary resources, help you to evaluate the wide variety of options that are available to find what best represents you as a couple, and guide you through all of the decisions (and deadlines) involved in making that special day perfect.

For any future bride looking for inspiration, Pinterest is a great social media outlet that is well-known as an online hub for sharing all sorts of wedding ideas. According to a recent poll citing Pinterest, the key components of the wedding festivities are food, venue, attire and most importantly, the experience for both the wedding party and the guests. These factors are pivotal to the ceremony, as well as shaping it with the events leading up to and after the actual wedding itself.

Preparing for the Big Day

While the couple and their guests will likely remember the wedding day events as absolute perfection, it is not without some hard work and preparation beforehand to get to that point. Weddings are special in and of themselves, but as are proposals, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and engagement parties.

For contemporary weddings and related events, it’s become common to blend timeless and traditional elements with trends and touches of originality. In fact, many are looking to incorporate things that they have never seen done before–or at least something that has not been overdone to the point of being cliché.

Headshot - Abby Bartholomew - Escape Lincoln

Abby Bartholomew
Escape Lincoln

There are many attractions in town that you might not think of when it comes to wedding, but might be just the thing to incorporate for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. For example, while you might not initially consider an entertainment venue such as an escape room to be in any way related to nuptials, the element of surprise is definitely romantic and it is perfect for couples who are all about the challenge, having fun together, and the excitement of the unknown. In fact, Escape Lincoln offers a unique bachelorette and/or bachelor party experience. Abby Bartholomew of Escape Lincoln explains, “We’ve hosted all types of groups since opening, including those doing wedding-related events, and can block off a time that works best with the rest of the itinerary to ensure your group participates together. Past parties have had so much fun! It is a great way to encourage bonding between party members or as an icebreaker for those who do not know each other well, along with a test run as to how your wedding party communicates and handles unforeseen challenges. We are conveniently located in the Apothecary Building, which has lofts on the highest floor that can be rented for rehearsals and events.”

In addition to being the host of an awesome party, Escape Lincoln has also the setting for some great proposals. For an individual who is looking to make it official with their significant other and get the wedding “ball” rolling, the team at Escape Lincoln has experience in merging an escape game into a proposal.

“Earlier this year, someone reached out to us with a great idea of doing an escape game as part of his proposal,” she tells. “At the time, we had a room that had a secret room (you opened a cabinet and it went into a second room), so we helped to set up a surprise with dessert, wine, and memories from their past in this room. She was very surprised! They enjoyed their time, finished their escape, and went on to the next step of their big night.”

When planning a proposal, Bartholomew also expressed Escape Lincoln’s openness to creating custom clues for each step of the room that involve the couple, and even possibly hiding the ring in the final box. There are many ways that Escape Lincoln is able to help make a proposal special and they are more than happy to make it perfect and cater it towards your relationship.

Another part of the wedding day experience that’s a big part of the itinerary is group transportation, but it’s also commonly utilized for bachelor and bachelorette parties–even for popping the question!

“We’ve had lots of gentlemen propose using our 6-passenger limo,” says Lori Hiebner of Leisure Limousine & Sedan. “One of the most unique proposals we participated in was a six-hour scavenger hunt, where the groom had highlighted places of interest in their relationship and then proposed at the end of the hunt. Later, they arrived at a designated destination to celebrate with family and friends. It took a lot of planning on his part, but she was thrilled!”

Having recently added a 34-passenger limo bus to their fleet, which includes a wide array of sedans, SUVs, and several different sizes of limousines, Leisure Limousine & Sedan can now accommodate both small and large groups!

After the proposal, you are then able to begin planning for the wedding and this is the exact point when you have to get down to business–especially with your appearance! Physicians WEIGHT LOSS Centers in south Lincoln is a great local resource to utilize so that there is no doubt that you will be looking sharp on your wedding day. With 32 years of development having gone into perfecting their six specialized diet programs, Physicians WEIGHT LOSS Centers assists clients in maximizing weight loss results through proper nutrition, the application of advanced technology, and continued support. With the help of their counselors, they will match you up with the program that works best for you.

Nancy Hopkins Physicians WEIGHT LOSS Centers

Nancy Hopkins

As many of us are all-too-familiar, stubborn fat in awkward places leads to being self-conscious. As that is definitely not what you want to be focused on throughout your wedding day, or every time you look at your photos for the rest of your life, if you are not comfortable with how you look, taking action now is so much better than regretting it later. As part of a comprehensive weight loss program or utilized independently for those seeking a last-minute miracle of sorts, LipoGenics is a laser body contouring system that provides excellent results that oftentimes can be seen immediately after the treatment. According to Nancy Hopkins of Physicians WEIGHT LOSS Centers, “This procedure only lasts 30 minutes, every other day, and you are able to lose up to 10 inches off of your waist. That 10 inches is equivalent to three to five dress sizes or up to five pant sizes! It is permanent as long as you keep up a healthy diet and regular physical activity. If you take the weight off of your core, it will come back at the same rate as the rest of your body. So, once it is off, it will stay off as long as your take care of yourself. Utilizing LipoGenics is really a great way to target any problem areas, so that your wedding day attire fits perfectly.”

In the areas where the weight is lost, the lasers are also tightening to the skin. This existing stretch marks and scarring while also helping you to avoid areas of saggy, floppy skin that are common with significant weight loss.

Hopkins also suggests that the best way to go about losing weight and getting fit in general is to approach it with partners. “Continued motivation and support are critical factors that will influence your overall success in a big way. However, it needs to be someone who will hold you accountable through the difficult times just as much as they praise you during the high points. Sometimes friends, family, and others do not necessarily say the right things because they do not want to hurt your feelings, or will not call you out if you are not following your plan. We are honest with our clients because we want them to be healthy, happy, and reach their goals. Our programs are designed with a built-in support system and guaranteed results if followed as directed because we believe strongly in what we have to offer.”

As previously mentioned, each of the key events leading up to the big day presents its own special opportunity, and as such, you can incorporate any number of special touches.

Paint and Sip concepts like Pinot’s Palette, the newest in town, are perfect for hosting a private party. Any bride and her entourage are sure to have a blast at her bachelorette party while painting and sipping wine! What’s more, everyone leaves with a keepsake in the form of an original piece of art that they’ve created.

J. Christopher Cook of Pinot's Palette - headshot

J. Christopher Cook
Pinot’s Palette

As yet another benefit to add to the list, J. Christopher Cook of Pinot’s Palette also mentions that it’s neutral setting for all to meet. “This is an easy place where people who might not necessarily be acquainted can meet and be actively entertained while getting to know one another, which naturally makes for a great icebreaker. You’re able to chat with one another, but aren’t in a position where you have to keep the conversation going the whole time. It’s also a great activity for out-of-towners to do while here for a wedding. It is social, relaxing, and most importantly fun!”

Yet, if painting and sipping does not necessarily sound like your thing, peddling and sipping might be! Group Therapy Bike Tours create a social atmosphere that’s perfect for relaxed, casual interaction, and while the route can be planned to cover any area in town, the most popular are in the Haymarket, Railyard, and downtown Lincoln as local entertainment hot spots.


Katie Philippi
Group Therapy Bike Tours

“Group Therapy Bike Tours can be incorporated for a unique, memorable event that will make your bachelor/bachelorette party or wedding unforgettable!” says Katie Philippi of Group Therapy Bike Tours. “Bachelor and bachelorette parties are super fun on the bike with music, dancing and laughter, while booking for the wedding party creates your own little wedding parade celebration. Now that we offer a Conference Bike that fits groups of six or less, we can rent it in tandem with the Trolley Bike to accommodate even larger groups than before!”

Of course, you could also go straight to the source and host your pre-nuptial event at an award-winning local winery, James Arthur Vineyards. With a picturesque setting and the ability to accommodate groups of any size for private events, this would be the perfect place to host an engagement party, bridal shower, or rehearsal dinner. Alternatively, you could even take a quick road trip with your bridal party to talk wedding plans over a glass of wine, unless you need a break, in which case it’s a prime opportunity to get away from it all for an afternoon or evening to just relax and enjoy yourself!

Wedding Day Essentials

Speaking from the perspective of wedding guests, the venue, fare and bar offerings are the major aspects of entertaining that ensure a pleasant and memorable time is had by all in attendance. With Lincoln being full of culinary talent, anticipating which caterer and food the bride and groom choose is always exciting. The surprises of the cake design and flavor and any other desserts definitely do not hurt either, along with any number of special touches with the presentation. The venue sets the stage for all of these and more, particularly when it comes to enjoying the beauty of your surroundings while you are dining and dancing the night away. While some venues provide catering and bar services for those who book the space, others may not, so it is important to secure your venue first in order to find out what is offered and/or allowed. Each caterer and venue is unique from the next, so you will want to make sure to meet and check everything out on-site before making the final decision, if at all possible.

Cherie Anderson Venue Restaurant & Lounge - headshot

Cherie Anderson
Venue Restaurant & Lounge

Guests will be paying special attention to the quality of the food, but the presentation is what will take it to the next level. “Guests eat with their eyes and how you present the food is crucial for overall guest satisfaction,” says Cherie Anderson of Venue Restaurant & Lounge. “Our team at Venue spends a lot of time and energy making sure guests’ first impressions are positive from the time they set eyes on either passed appetizers, a plated dinner, or a spread of food in a buffet set-up.”

Venue’s services do not simply stop at catering for wedding receptions; there are four private dining rooms on-site that are used frequently for bridal showers and wedding rehearsal dinners. Anderson shares feedback that guests’ favorite part of their experience at Venue is the personal service and attention to detail. “Our goal is to make planning an event stress-free from the beginning to the end of the process. We’ll work with your budget and ideas to create a memorable day for all involved.”

If you are looking for a bigger, unique space to share your special day with others, the Jasmine Room in downtown Lincoln, which is newly managed by Venue, is a great option. “Previously we’ve had many guests who want the Venue experience for their special day, but run into limited access to locations that can handle 300+ guests. We now have that ability with the addition of the Jasmine Room to our offerings. The space is exceptional for weddings, but also can be reserved for business conferences, tailgates, wine dinners, and even unique date night opportunities for couples.”

A newer trend in wedding catering, particularly for the backyard weddings or alternatively, weddings held in locations without kitchen facilities, is the food truck. Attitude on Food Catering offers its clients the option of this service style, which is a very convenient way to feed large groups and a fun treat for guests. Being that Attitude on Food’s first food truck event was a wedding reception, the food truck is sure to be popular for many weddings to come.

Caitlin Knopik Attitude on Food Catering headshot

Caitlin Knopik
Attitude on Food Catering

For any wedding-related event, the established catering professionals at Attitude on Food take great pride in delivering an experience that is both creative and professional. Caitlin Knopik of Attitude on Food Catering shares, “Our whole team is committed to executing a flawless and stress-free event for our clients and their guests. Attitude on Food has many years of experience coordinating a variety of events and service styles. People love our champagne chicken and short ribs! Our interactive macaroni and cheese station is another crowd pleaser, and on the lighter side, our hors d’oeuvres combine flavors both familiar and unique. We are a full-service catering company, and with the recent addition of our food truck, we have access to a mobile kitchen if needed. While catering is our passion, we are also event planners by nature. We are here to help you coordinate everything from rentals to service style and menu planning, and are dedicated to ensuring your event runs smoothly. As with any professional in the wedding industry, it’s important to work with an event planner you can trust. With years of experience, this is a person who will know what works, what doesn’t work, and what has the potential to be disastrous. By letting them guide you through all of the details and remaining open to suggestions, you’ll not only have the best possible results but will likely come across things that you hadn’t even considered.”

Planning and successful execution of weddings and wedding receptions can be stressful for brides, grooms, and even their families and friends. Choosing experienced vendors can help relieve so much of that stress, so everyone is able to relax and enjoy the festivities.

When evaluating venues for your wedding, you’ll want to be clear on the availability of your preferred date as well as the policy on catering for each. This will vary from those that require you utilize their in-house catering services to those where you are responsible for hiring an independent catering company, and then the middle ground, those that allow clients to decide between the two. You’ll also want to be aware of the other services provided in-house and the cost associated with each if it’s not included in a package; this will help you limit the supporting cast you’ll have to bring on for the event, saving you a lot of time and money.

Julie Medina - Lincoln Firefighter’s Reception Hall - Planning Your Wedding

Julie Medina
Lincoln Firefighter’s Reception Hall

“Often people aren’t aware of how far in advance our local venues are booking,” advises Julie Medina of Lincoln Firefighters’ Reception Hall. “For the popular months like May and June, we start booking as far as 18 months out!

Another thing I always stress to couples when they are comparing reception halls is to make sure they are asking about all of the additional (sometimes hidden) costs. Make sure to go over exactly what is included and what isn’t; common items that could potentially fall into either category are add-on services, taxes or gratuity.

With our venue, pricing is simple and straightforward—it’s clearly stated on the information sheet given to all potential renters. All tax and gratuity is included and there are only three things we charge extra for so it makes it very easy for people to figure out what they will spend with us without any surprises. We allow people to bring in their own caterer and also give them access to our large commercial kitchen, both at no additional charge. With many affordable caterers in Lincoln, and more people opting to do their own food, it’s a great way to save and put some money back into your wedding budget! Another feature that can make a big difference in terms of budget is our in-house decorating. About three years ago we started to offer affordable decorating options for our couples including ceiling décor, backdrops, and up lights. We have a great package deal or the option to pick and choose what features you want!”

Deborah Carroll Country Inn & Suites headshot

Deborah Carroll
Country Inn & Suites

Many approaching the wedding planning process believe that finding a “one-stop shop” is a myth; however, these places do exist in Lincoln! Deborah Carroll of Country Inn & Suites explains, “As a hotel and banquet center, we can provide many services that your guest will need all in one place. This includes a private room and meal for your rehearsal dinner, a ballroom for your reception, hotel rooms for out-of-town guests, and much more. Our facilities, on-site restaurant/caterer, and complimentary planning services allow us to provide assistance with so many details, from lighting packages, chair covers, linens and centerpieces to parking, and video display. The more of the details your venue can assist with, the less you have to be concerned during the actual day of your wedding ceremony and reception. We also offer discount packages for booking multiple wedding-related events and services.

When working with the professionals to plan for the wedding, Carroll urges brides to be assertive in order to get exactly what they want. “When working with your venue planner, never think you are being a pest and do not be afraid to ask questions, stay in touch, or be involved. As an event planner and venue salesperson, I never feel pestered in regards to speaking with my brides.”

Many would say the factor of the utmost importance to consider on your wedding day is the overall experience. There are many ways to ensure a great experience for yourselves as the bride and groom, but also the wedding party and wedding guests. Luckily for those in Lincoln, there are many professionals in the area that have made countless dreams come true by applying their talents and expertise to deliver fantastic, unforgettable experiences for all in attendance.  Aside from the venue and fare, there are plenty of other special touches that when incorporated are sure to have you, your wedding party, and your guests leaving your wedding and reception thinking that it is one of the best yet.

One of these that is a staple yet varies for each wedding is the live entertainment, whether it is a band, a select group of musicians, or a deejay. Harris Academy of the Arts is a perfect example of a local resource that provides a number of options when it comes to live music, all performed by professional musicians with years of experience.

The professionals at the Harris Academy of the Arts can provide music for your ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception. They even have a wedding coordinator on staff that will meet with you for a free wedding music consultation. This is the time where you are able to discuss which ensemble type and music style would be perfect for your event. As this decision is ultimately based on a number of factors, the coordinator will guide you through picking music for the different parts of the ceremony and will also get a sense of your musical taste and preferences. This might also include music for events outside of the big day, such as the rehearsal dinner, bridal showers, or a big proposal.

Vicki Harris Harris Academy of the Arts Headshot

Vicki Harris
Harris Academy of the Arts

Vicki Harris of Harris Academy of the Arts says that their personal favorites and most popular ensembles are the string quartet and violin/piano duets. “Both of these ensembles are able to perform a wide variety of genres, from classical music like ‘Canon in D’ to the music that you hear on the radio today. Some of our favorite pop songs performed by string quartet are ‘Best Day of My Life’, ‘Royals’, ‘Pompeii’, ‘Every Breath You Take’, and ‘Counting Stars’. Both ensemble types are elegant, fun, and affordable.”

If pop is not necessarily your genre of choice, the Harris Academy of the Arts also caters to other generations by incorporating favorites like “Moon River”, “Over the Rainbow”, and “All You Need is Love”. Couples truly are able to customize their ceremony music to express their musical tastes. The Harris Academy of the Arts loves working with couples to find just the right music for their ceremony, with the goal of providing them with the ambience that they desire.

Harris further advices, “I would recommend working with your music wedding coordinator to determine what songs are possible for the ensemble of your choice. For example, the song ‘At Last’ would not work very well with a violin and violin duet, but it sounds absolutely beautiful with a violin and piano duet.”

As far as dates to have in mind for planning purposes, Harris Academy of the Arts asks that the pair have their music set in stone at least two months prior to the wedding itself. This way, there is adequate time to relay the music to the musicians playing for the event, giving them plenty of time to prepare. Practice makes perfect holds true here– the more time they have to practice, the better the music will be. Furthermore, it is no secret that outdoor weddings have been a big trend for quite some time now, and while they can be very beautiful, there are many factors that could potentially affect the musicians. The Harris Academy of the Arts requires that the musicians have a tent or a comparable shelter (they do have a tent that couples are able to use too), and that the temperature be between 65 and 90 degrees. Musicians will not play in the rain because instruments cost a few thousand dollars and rain damage could ruin a whole instrument. However, high humidity is also harmful towards instruments. High humidity causes the horsehair of stringed instrument bows to become so loose that they are not even playable. High winds are problematic as well, affecting the sheet music and the standing tent over the musicians.

It is important to keep in mind that bad weather conditions not only affect musicians and their instruments, but also your guests, so having a plan in place for those “what if” situation definitely does not hurt. Having an alternate location secured in the event of inclement weather has proved to be very beneficial, and a venue that can accommodate either is a big plus. This ensures the comfort of your guests, wedding party, family, and vendors no matter what the weather does on your wedding day.

After The Big Day

While the main focus of planning will be on the wedding and the reception, there are a few key things that will happen right after the fact that should also be at the forefront, and of course, the honeymoon!

A honeymoon, for many, is just as important as the wedding itself, so planning and packing in advance is pivotal and something you will not regret adding to your list of wedding to-do’s.

Many people have bucket lists and things that they want to get the chance to do that they have never done before. A wonderful and adventurous honeymoon is a great chance to experience that with your significant other. The world of travel has become so much easier; you pick the destination, anywhere is within reach. For many Americans, global travel is at the top of the list. You’ll want to set a travel budget in conjunction with your wedding budget, and then once you have that number, a travel agent can advise you in regards to your options based on everything that you outline regarding to what you want out of the trip. A travel agent can also put you on the list to alert you when deals come up for trips that fit your prerequisites, as many specials regularly come across their radar that aren’t necessarily made accessible to the public.

With everything happening so quickly and a lot to take in, it is to be expected that there are a few things that can fall to the wayside if you are not careful. Seeing as how the bride’s gown is one of the most memorable garments that she will wear in her lifetime, it is important to ensure it remains as beautiful as it was on the wedding day.

Starcrest Cleaners offers professional cleaning and preservation services, making it easy to check this off the list. As purchasing a nice suit as an investment to wear in the future has become just as popular as a suit or tuxedo rental for the gentlemen, Starcrest’s dependable dry cleaning services are also recommended for a much-needed post-wedding cleaning and pressing.


Quintin Yallaly
Starcrest Cleaners

Specifically regarding wedding gown preservation, Quintin Yallaly of Starcrest Cleaners elaborates, “Many people aren’t aware that certain items can also be included in the preservation box in addition to the gown and veil. Some examples include: the program, an invitation, photos, shoes, jewelry, letters, or a family heirloom. With your wedding gown, or any garment that is especially important to you, expect to receive special attention at the professional cleaners, whether in Lincoln or elsewhere. Emphasize that the garment is important to you and ask to speak to the owner, manager, or an individual that will be working with the garment. Once you have made contact with a knowledgeable person, they should be able to explain how the garment will be cleaned, anticipated outcomes of soiled areas, and possible risks associated with cleaning. When working with a local company, as opposed to boxing up the gown and sending it off to an unknown destination, you’re able to draw attention to any issues and address any concerns before the process begins as opposed to afterwards when it may be too late to correct.”

It’s important to note that Starcrest Cleaners also caters to the brides who are not as prepared, so if you’ve forgotten to make these arrangements, they are generally able to accommodate short notice and rush requests when needed.

Much like beauty, the perfect wedding is in the eye of the beholder. While there are set guidelines to follow throughout the planning process to ensure everything is booked and in line as it should be, many of the decisions are made based on the vision of the two people getting married, and that is generally going to be different for each couple. It is common to stress about the details, but too much worrying will make the planning process and execution far less enjoyable. Utilizing our local professionals for guidance as well as their services will ensure that your wedding is the happiest day of your life, but also that your engagement period and months spent wedding planning feel more like a dream as opposed to a nightmare. No matter where the help is needed– preparing is happily given to those who ask the professionals who specialize in the key components of weddings.