It’s one of the most amazing times of your life: you’ve become engaged to the love of your life and are planning the rest of your lives together.  To begin this journey, you will have the wedding of your dreams, all of your family and friends will be in attendance, and it will be a night you and your new spouse will be able to look back on for years to come.  Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  Unfortunately, to attain this fairy tale, you need to put in a ton of planning to make sure your day is exactly how you want it.  The stress can often outweigh the joy during this time, which is something that no newly engaged couple needs.  Fortunately, there are plenty of professionals in the area that can help you plan your perfect day and take some of the work (and most importantly, stress!) off your shoulders.  Here are a few tips from the expert on planning the wedding of your dreams!
Stay Organized
Staying organized is probably the most important tip when it comes to planning your wedding.  “There are so many things to consider and coordinate when planning a wedding,” points out Chelsie Kennedy with Country Inn & Suites by Carlson-Omaha Airport.  “From location to food to beverages and more, there is a lot to keep track of.  I recommend buying a planning book.  It reminds you of little details that you may have overlooked with all of the commotion and allows you to keep accurate notes about the services you have booked along with receipts for deposits, etc.”  Curt Edic with Scottish Rite suggests, “Make a to-do list, put them in priority order, then check them off one by one.  Before you know it, the list is complete and the pressure is gone.”

If you’re having someone help you plan your wedding (either a friend or family member or a professional wedding planner), split up the duties so you know what each person is working on and so you don’t do double the work.  For example, maybe your mother is helping with the planning, so you want to put her in charge of catering and the rehearsal dinner.  Once you delegate, you can take it off your to-do list, but make sure you check in with the person you’ve delegated to on a regular basis so you know the work is getting done and so you can give your feedback.

Of course, one of the keys to staying organized is to start early!  It’s difficult to organize anything if you’re doing it in the frenzy of the last minute.  Laura Lessmann with the Strategic Air and Space Museum says,

“Make sure you start early so you don’t get bombarded with details. Starting early helps couples handle things that come up and allow them to stay flexible. Couples need to roll with what they get handed.”
Determine a Budget
If you’re not sure how much you can spend on your wedding, you’re setting yourself up for failure.  You’ll either get your heart set on feature or destinations and then find you cannot fit them into your budget and have to settle for second or third choices, or you’ll getting yourself into a financial hole you’ll be digging out of for years to come (not the best way to start your new life together!).  It’s best to have two separate budgets: one for the wedding as a whole, then one that is split up into the different portions.  For example, have a budget for the location, one for the flowers, one for the formalwear, etc.  This will allow you to prioritize on what is most important to you.  Has the crowing jewel of your wedding dreams always been the dress?  If so, you might want to budget a little more in this area and take away from something that isn’t as important to you.

Lori Miller with Lincoln Tent adds, “Think outside the general budget, too.  Money for clothes for the honeymoon for instance.  Who wants to go to Aruba in the same old swimsuit?  But that could be money you don’t have after a wedding.  Even if your parents are fronting the bill, those types of things will fall on you.  Budget for thing YOU need to pay for, too.  Think outside the box!”  Lori stresses that the bigger the budget does not necessarily mean the better the event.  “I’ve seen lots of weddings done right.  We’ve had some with a budget of $15,000 or budgets of $80,000 and the $80,000 one is not automatically better.  If the money is spent in the right places and the wedding is done right, a wedding with almost any budget can be made to look amazing!”

Decide What Needs Planned
“Location is definitely one of the harder decisions to make,” points out Chelsie Kennedy with Country Inn.  “You want something convenient for out-of-town guests to find, and one that is large enough to accommodate your ceremonies. As far as hotels are concerned, something rather close to the reception is ideal, as it is convenient and eliminates the need for additional transportation.”
“Couples need to try and always make their destination memorable,” Laura Lessman with Strategic Air and Space Museum adds. “The site they pick must be unique to the couple and work best for both of their styles and tastes. Their location also needs to be compatible for both of them.  The Strategic Air and Space Museum is located between Lincoln and Omaha, so it’s convenient if you have people coming from both cities, and we can hold the ceremony inside or out.  The glass dome in the museum is also great for receptions and has an unbelievable feel and then you don’t have to worry about the weather.  In addition, all of your guests can tour the museum in the downtime of the wedding, so that’s a special added touch.”

“The Country Inn and Suites offers a great family atmosphere for wedding attendees,” Chelsie says. “We are truly family-oriented. For our bride and groom, we always upgrade to one of our suites: either our whirlpool or executive. We allow you to use our meeting space as a prep or staging area to get ready for the events of the big day and our indoor pool/whirlpool and fitness center are a great way to unwind with family and friends, or even outside on our patio/grill area.

Our location is conveniently located between downtown Omaha and the Eppley Airfield and we offer complimentary shuttle service to both areas. With complimentary hot breakfast, we truly incorporate an added touch of home. For our wedding guests, we always wish you the best on your big day! We will create a private online page for convenient bookings at your special rate and our staff is committed to providing you exceptional service and if there is anything you require to make your stay more pleasurable, we are more than happy to accommodate.”

When choosing a location, also make sure to check into what they provide with the cost of rental and their policies on outside décor, catering, etc.  “We furnish tables and chairs, pop in the lounge, choice of catering and volunteer host for guests and a very helpful staff,” says Curt Edic with Scottish Rite.  “We don’t have a liquor license, so you can furnish your own refreshments.  In my opinion, our place is elegant and helps keep decoration costs down.

Flexibility is always a good thing to look for in a location.  Lied Lodge, for example, offers you the flexibility to customize and personalize all the details of your wedding from rehearsal dinners, farewell brunches, gift openings to golf outings or group hikes for the wedding party.  Whether you prefer the rustic charm of Steinhart Lodge, the spacious elegance of their ballrooms or the outdoor Historic Barns, Lied Lodge offers outstanding venues for the wedding reception of your dreams.  In addition, Lied Lodge’s on-site wedding specialist helps you design the perfect wedding with such special touches as historic trolley rides, unique menus tailored to suit your theme, tastes and budget, signature drinks, in-room gift baskets for your guests, specialty linens, personalized tree seedling wedding favors and comfortable guest room accommodations.

Nothing says flexibility like a tent!  “A tent wedding is a perfect way to fit all of your guests and have a blank canvas to decorate your wedding,” says Lori Miller with Lincoln Tent.  “It allows the family to have it wherever they’d like, so a family home, lake, country clubs or golf courses are all options.  We have a wide array of looks and couples can look on our website and find a look they like and then we can walk them through the products we have.”

“Once you have identified your catering budget, you can narrow down your choices and then talk to your top choices about what they can do with your budget,” says Laurie Wolford with Spirit World.  “We work within a wide variety of budgets and have a lot of creative options for getting the most out of whatever budget we’re working with.  After getting some feedback from caterers, you may have to make adjustments to either your budget or your catering options, but ultimately it is important to feel comfortable with what you are spending.  Catering is generally one of the bigger wedding expenses, and you want to be able to plan the rest of your wedding with your bigger expense items budgeted.”

When choosing your catering, keep in mind that times have changed and you no longer need to have a traditional sit down, four course meal.  “We’re seeing people moving away from the sit-down or buffet dinners to heavy hors d’oeuvres.  It provides more variety and allows for more interesting menu items at a reduced cost.  Plus, it more seamlessly incorporates options that accommodate special dietary needs.  Every single event we cater is unique and we do a custom catering plan for each client.  Our catering options are essentially limitless.  We can do anything from basic hors d’oeuvres to sit-down dinners.  However, our strength and specialty is heavy hors d’oeuvres.  Being a wine and spirits retailer as well, we have limitless options for bar catering and we’ve found heavy hors d’oeuvres events are a great format for doing wine and food pairings.”

Catering can also include the cake/desserts, though many couples budget for this separately and get it from a separate location.  Some couples still opt for the traditional tiered wedding cake, while others go a more contemporary route by having cupcakes (or individual cupcakes arranged in the shape of a traditional tiered wedding cake) or a dessert bar with a number of different options like individual cheesecakes, cookies, bars and other delicious choices.

Choosing formalwear is usually high on the list of priorities for the bride and the groom.  The attire of the couple and the wedding party will live on forever in the video and photos, so they are important choices and not ones that should be taken lightly.

A bride’s gown should be the crowning jewel of her wedding and something that makes her feel special and beautiful.

–Take someone with you.  You shouldn’t do your bridal gown shopping alone!  Many brides take their mothers with them, while others opt for their maid of honor or another good friend.  Try to go with someone who will be honest with you and not just tell you that you look beautiful in everything!  While this is certainly flattering, it doesn’t help much in narrowing down your choices.

–Think about your body type.  “If you have never liked your figure in a tight-fitting gown, this is not the time to buy one for the most important day of your life,” points out Lynne Rustad with Ellynne Bridal.  “Make notes about your favorite, most comfortable fit and go from there.  If you have larger hips, you might choose a gown that is A line or a gown with a fuller skirt.  Brides with a small bust could choose a gown with a modest sweetheart neckline.  Brides with a fuller figure would look beautiful in a soft sheath gown.

–Shop local!  Many brides think they need to go to a bigger city or shop online to find the gown of their dreams.  This simply isn’t true.  There are so many local options and, even if you can’t find the perfect dress there, it’s likely they can order it for you.  Give the local shops a chance and you’ll probably be surprised!

–Shop for the size you are.  We’ve all heard of brides talk about how they need to lose ten or fifteen pounds before they can fit into the dress they’ve picked out.  There are a few problems with this.  First, what happens if you don’t lose the weight?  Dresses can always be taken in, but it’s much more difficult to let them out!

–Rely on consultants.  “Have your consultant explain different fabrics and silhouettes to you,” says Lynne Rustad.  “She is the expert.  Silk fabrics are sensual and flow softly.  This season is showing more sleeve and strap, which is very elegant.  The most important thing is to remember that when you look in the mirror, you need to see the bride you dreamed to be.”

Men’s formalwear is also an important item on your wedding to-do list.  “This summer, charcoal and platinum have been really popular,” explains Lisa Solberg with Gentlemen’s Choice, “along with all the peacock colors for accessories.  For fall, we’re doing more of the charcoal tuxedos, however the platinum seems less popular.  Also popular for fall weddings are dark brown tuxedos.  As always, black tuxedos are still our best seller.”

Many couples will wonder when they should be choosing their formalwear.  “Most wedding planners will tell you to choose your tuxedos 4-6 months prior to the wedding,” says Lisa.  “If your wedding is in a really busy month (April-June), give yourself a little more time.  The groom should come in first and choose styles.  The next step is to send the guys in to be measured.  Out of town guys can usually go to the nearest tux shop for measurements and send them in.  All of the guys should be measured by 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding.  Of course, the little guys will grow, so ringbearers should wait until 3-4 weeks prior.  Pick them up and try them on the day before and have a great wedding!”

How are your guests going to get to and from the wedding and reception?  How is the wedding party going to get from the wedding to the reception?  Transportation is not something that should be left to the last minute, especially if you are thinking of renting a limo or limo bus for the occasion.  Especially during wedding season, limos can go quickly and you need to reserve yours as early as possible.

Transportation depends a lot on the logistics of your wedding.  If you are having your wedding and reception all at one location, you may not need any transportation at all (unless you want to provide rides for family coming from the airport or other special guests).  If you have your wedding in a separate location from the reception, you will probably want something to take your wedding party from one location to the other.

Providing safe rides home from the reception is also on many couples’ lists.  Having a limo or cabs to take those home who cannot drive is a good idea.  If you have not reserved transportation, you can also have a couple of designated drivers at your wedding that can provide safe rides home.  Having your reception at a hotel or near a hotel and reserving blocks of rooms is also a great way to not only accommodate out of town guests, but also provide a safe place to stay for guests who may have indulged a bit too much.

–Treating your wedding party to a special day before the wedding is a great way to say ‘thank you’ for being in the wedding and supporting you and your fiancé in your future lives together!  A great idea for a bride is to treat her bridesmaids to a spa day or at least a couple of hours at the spa for a relaxing treatment.  Not only do you get to spend some time with those who mean the most to you, but you also get to relax and feel beautiful before your big day.

–Getting your hair done is also a nice way to take some stress off and make sure you look extra special for your big day.  Many brides plan to take their whole wedding party in and some salons will even close the shop down to others and let the party enjoy champagne, hors d’oeuvres or other treats while they prepare for the ceremony.

— Have little items that guests can take with them from the reception.  Personalized items with you and your spouse’s picture and date of your wedding are wonderful little memories that guests can take with them.  Colby Ridge can put your picture on individual sized bags of popcorn and even incorporate your wedding colors into the popcorn.  These are fun for family and especially kids and will help guests to remember what a great time they had at your event.

Trends for 2013
Most newly engaged couples are planning their weddings for 2013.  Though it may seem like a long way away, the time will go quickly and planning should start now!  Here are some trends the experts are seeing for next year’s wedding season:

Long sleeves and lace  Though strapless dresses will still be the most popular, more coverage is going to be a trend for winter 2012 and into the new year.  Think sheer backs and illusion sleeves and lots of lace.  Lace will also be incorporated into other areas of the wedding, such as the cake the décor.

The color mint  The color mint is gaining popularity, not just in the formalwear but also throughout the wedding.  Mint colored drinks, desserts, flowers and more are starting to pop up in a number of retailers’ choices and in many couples’ plans.

Woodsy flowers  The magical settings of recent (and upcoming) popular Hollywood movies are having an influence on weddings, especially on the flowers as many brides are opting for a more woodsy vibe.  This may include soft, decadent bouquets filled with flowers like cabbage roses, peonies and dinner plate dahlias.

Classic wedding portraits  Some photographers are steering away from overdone effects (like odd angles and added filters) and opting for turn-of-the-century inspired wedding portraits with a formal, classic approach.  One note-worthy idea is to have a panoramic wedding portrait where every single wedding guest is in the photo.

Unique wedding videos  Instead of making videos of the wedding and watching them afterward, couples are filming their love stories beforehand and then showing snippets of it in video e-save the dates and having it screened at the wedding—all while guests are filmed watching it.


Wedding Shows
Wedding shows are a great way to learn about a number of different vendors all in one place.  The Omaha Bridal Showcase is a wonderful example of an upcoming show and one that all brides should plan to attend:

The Omaha Bridal Showcase will take place Saturday, September 8th at CenturyLink Center in downtown Omaha.  Naty Palos will be the new OBS billboard bride and will appear on billboards citywide to promote the upcoming show.  The event will take place from 11:00 am-4:00 pm.

Everyone is invited to the show and brides are encouraged to bring their bridal party and groom. This is the best weekend to meet face to face with Omaha’s top wedding vendors.  See in person all they have to offer including samples of their designs, photos, and videos of reception locations, displays and new ideas to make your wedding special.

Brides are eligible for major prizes including honeymoons, tuxes, flowers and photography.  For more information, please visit

The most important part of a wedding is being able to share the day stress-free with your fiancé and those you love the most.  This is a very special occasion and one that should be enjoyed!  Work with the proper professionals, plan early and be prepared and you’ll be able to enjoy your special day as it comes off without a hitch!