On average, it takes about a year to plan a wedding. Timelines vary depending on the size, location, and theme of your wedding, but overall, it is a beautiful process that takes a lot of careful planning. In order to help you on your journey to a perfect “I do,” we did some research and talked to a few experts.
Twelve Months Out
One of the most important steps in planning a wedding is setting a budget. While setting a budget, you should prioritize which aspects of your wedding are the most important to you. Consider all the different parts that go into a wedding—bachelor/bachelorette party, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, ceremony, reception, honeymoon—and decide how you want to allocate your money. Would you rather go all out for your bachelorette party or your honeymoon? Would you be okay with cutting down on the guest list to afford a more extravagant venue? These are some of the type of questions you’ll need to ask yourself as you make your wedding plans.
Details that you’ll need to nail down based on your budget are wedding size and, from that, venue and reception locations. Those should be booked as soon as possible since venues get booked quickly! The best way to get your top choice of venue is by giving them a variety of dates you can work with rather than just one day. If you are flexible, you’ll have a higher chance of getting married at the venue of your dreams.
A beautiful venue for wedding activities in the Omaha area is Bellevue Berry & Pumpkin Ranch. Across the 80 acres on their property, they can set up outdoor weddings anywhere, and there four different indoor facilities of varying sizes and motifs that also have outdoor areas with fire pits. Bellevue Berry can accommodate most wedding sizes from small, intimate affairs to large gatherings with guest lists in the hundreds. Some of their spaces are fully decorated in a western theme decked out with antiques and all, while others are less decorated to give you that freedom. All of the spaces are customizable. Overall, this venue is considered an ideal destination for those who are envisioning a rustic feel, but the spaces can be transformed based on your vision—whether that’s country western or elegant and sophisticated. Bellevue Berry has a very talented in-house decorator that can lend her services if you like and are always happy to recommend other vendors too.
In terms of food, they offer a buffet-style spread with selection of two entrees and four sides, and it’s all you can eat. There’s quite a bit of range as far as their fare goes, and you can expect a quality meal no matter what you choose. They take pride in their team’s culinary talent and use fresh ingredients, many of which are grown and raised on the farm. As far as the bar, they also have that completely covered for clients.
The most requested offerings at Bellevue Berry, above and beyond the venue, catering, bar services, and decorating, are the special touches that really make it a memorable affair. Campfires for an engagement party or after the rehearsal dinner or wedding, and hayrack rides to picturesque locations on the property for the immediate family and bridal party photo session, are the most popular. It’s also a plus for many that Bellevue Berry is kid friendly, complete with play areas that are lit up at night. They also welcome pets!
With packages that cover the essentials and the opportunity to add what you like past that, planning a wedding can be done without being too terribly time-consuming or overwhelming and you’ll get exactly what you want.
Eight Months Out
Now is the time to start planning some of the big picture aspects of your wedding. For one, the dresses! Wedding dresses and bridesmaids gowns often need alterations, so the sooner you get these picked out the better. It’s common to select a color scheme and overall vibe/theme based on the dresses. This is why picking out the dresses is one of the first things brides do after picking the date and venue. You’ll also want to send out “Save the Date!” cards and create a registry at some of your favorite stores so your guests know where to shop for wedding gifts.
Once you choose your theme, you should start thinking about decorations. Elegant or fun? Tropical or rustic? To rent or to buy? Depending on what your event space offers, you may have to look into renting tables, chairs, colored linens, plates, glasses, etc. Lucky for you, all these things can be found locally at Honeyman Rent-All. Since 1968, Honeyman Rent-All has been a leader in party and event rentals in the Omaha area. Honeyman Rent-All can save you a lot of money by providing you with everything you need at an affordable rate, and the best way to really grasp all that Honeyman Rent-All has to offer is to go to their website.
This is also the perfect time to organize your catering for the reception. Food plays an important role in the rehearsal dinner and reception. Coming together over a meal is the ultimate staple of a celebration. That is why it’s important to use caterers that have experience and credibility. If you want your guests to make it through your wedding and tear up the dance floor after, you’ll want to give them some good fuel!
We recommend mixing up the dinner plate and breaking away the typical wedding meals we are all familiar with. We spoke to Dan O’Brien from Acadian Grille about how to do just that. “Acadian Grille (now popularly referred to as “Cajuns”) is a Cajun-themed grill and scratch kitchen,” said Dan. “We have a variety of dishes full of flavor, like gator bites, crab cakes, po boys, traditional gumbo, sautéed pasta, and many more bayou favorites. Your wedding guests will more than likely appreciate an authentic Cajun meal for a change.”
Dan shared some additional advice with us for reserving your catering package: “The best thing a client wanting catering can do is to be specific! Tell us an approximate number of how many people we’re feeding, and what you want to feed them. Seems simple, but sometimes couples have no clue how many guests they’re inviting or even an idea of the menu. Be specific with your needs and expectations, and we’ll meet them. Do your research and be prepared to have some information to give your caterer, or you may end up without enough food or way too much.”
To wrap things up, Dan told us that it’s better to not worry about “food fads.” Sometimes modern, elegant food will just break your bank, and your guests won’t even notice. “Food doesn’t have to be covered in gold flakes to be delicious,” Dan said.
Six Months Out
A fun aspect of the wedding you get to decide on at about six months before the big day is your look! Once you’ve picked your bridal gown, you’ll want to select a hairstyle to match it. Not just you but the whole bridal party too! We spoke to Lisa Jensen, salon manager at Creative Hair Design Salon & Spa, to tell us a little more.
“Once you’ve set a date for your wedding, it’s smart to also book a salon or stylist for that day.” Lisa noted. “Brides should also schedule their trial hair run and any nail services that they would want before the big day. Definitely tell us the size of the bridal party so we can make sure everyone is comfortable and helped efficiently. Three months prior, brides should confirm all their appointments and schedule spa and/or waxing services. Then, one month before the wedding, brides should come in for a trial hair run. Brides can bring their veil and should definitely come in with pictures of their inspiration or wants. On the big day, we’ll take care of everything and make sure you’re ready to shine on your special day.”
Creative Hair Design Salon & Spa started out as a 1,200-square-foot salon in 1982. Since then, it has grown to become a 18,000-square-foot luxury salon and spa…plenty of room to comfortably accommodate any size of bridal party! Plus, with over 55 stylists, they have the space and staff to provide for several large wedding parties all at once. Their stylists are all very talented and up-to-date on trends, as well as the classic looks; yet, they know how to make each individual look and feel their best on such a special day. Creative Hair Design is truly a place where you can indulge in luxury services while enjoying the necessities.
At six months, you should also be making some decisions about the cake! Tall or short? Classic or modern? Whatever you choose, make sure to order your wedding cake three to six months in advance, and earlier if your baker is in high demand.
Whatever your style of desert is, you’ll need to find a baker who is willing to work with you and flexible with your wants and needs as the big day approaches. We spoke to Michelle Kaiser, founder and owner of The Omaha Bakery, to see how she works to fulfill people’s wedding pastry needs. “The Omaha Bakery is a full-service bakery, deli, and tasting experience for all occasions. I love baking wedding cakes because it means I get to work with a bride to make her vision come to life.”
Michelle’s cakes are so good that they’re even available per slice on UberEats! Her bakery has become locally famous from all her Keto sweet treats that are healthy yet still yummy. Michelle ran a successful bakery in New York City after graduating from New York Culinary School, and she brought that success with her to the heartland.
Michelle noted that there are some popular alternatives to the traditional wedding cake; dessert bars being one of them! From rustic homemade tarts to elegant French macarons, these desserts not only satisfy guests’ sugar cravings, but they also add personality to the overall wedding.
Four Months Out
Another aspect you need to plan a few months out is the entertainment. Nothing kills the vibe of an otherwise perfect reception than bad music. This is one thing you’ll definitely have to do your research on. Do you prefer DJs or live performances? What genre of music do you (and your guests of course) enjoy? Pick entertainment that will help you have the best time, and that means having a DJ/band who knows what they are doing.
Don’t forget about securing transportation, either. Make sure everyone in the wedding party, including parents and grandparents of the bride and groom, have rides to and from the ceremony, the reception, and wherever they are lodging that night. Also, if your wedding party wants to do a party bus from the ceremony to the reception, this is something you’ll want to book way in advance.
Six Weeks Out
Your special day is right around the corner, so you need to make sure all your ducks are in a row. This is the time to confirm details with everyone—wedding party, attendants, vendors, stylists, photographers, etc. Make sure they all know the game plan. It’s time to finalize all details of the ceremony, like vows, entrances, and everything else. Lastly, make sure to get your marriage license! Sometimes, couples get so caught up in the fairy tale that they forget the legally binding part. Make sure to get your license a head of time, and do your state’s research for waiting periods and expiration dates.
Nebraska has no waiting period to get married or blood/residency requirements. Some Nebraska court offices require appointments and only provide marriage licenses if both parties are present. Always call ahead of time, so you don’t waste the gas and time to drive all the way to the DMV for nothing.
As a good reminder, things are definitely going to get more exciting the closer you get to your wedding and likely more stressful as well. Make sure to implement de-stressing strategies to make sure you’re still having fun throughout this time of planning, details, phone calls, and payments. Try to plan one day a week when you don’t dedicate any time to wedding planning. Use this opportunity to look at the big picture or to just give your mind a chance to reset so you can come back with a fresh approach.
Three Weeks Out
Now is the time to wrap up all loose ends. Get a final headcount for vendors, have your final dress fitting, and finalize the seating chart. It’s crunch time, but it will only be overwhelming if you’ve procrastinated or haven’t stuck to your budget. If you planned smart, this will be a time of mani/pedis, spray tans, facials, laughter, and butterflies about getting to spend the rest of your life with your perfect match!
When planning a wedding, it’s easy to get flooded with emotions and overwhelmed by all the small details that go into it. Don’t worry though! There are plenty of experts right here in Omaha that know all the tips and tricks, and they want to help you make your wedding as magical as possible!