Category Archives: Engagements

Event // All About Weddings Happy Hour

So now that you’re engaged and we want to do our best to help you plan your wedding, you’re officially invited to join us at the All About Weddings Happy Hour — happening this Thursday, February 27th at the Millard Plaza Ballroom at 5:00 p.m. This casual, stress-free affair is to help you get to know the All About Weddings Partners and maybe win a prize or something awesome like that. Enjoy some free food, free drinks and engaged conversation.

Prize drawing will be at 7:00 p.m.
Event ends at 7:30 p.m.

And if you’re wondering who’s going to be there besides us, you can check out this page or the list below. But don’t forget to RSVP! See you there, friends!

Access 66 Catering
All Season Floral
Cherry on Top Events by Jen
Concierge Travel of Omaha
dSy Invitations
Gentleman’s Choice
Hampton Inn & Suites — LaVista
Inclusive Life Wedding Officiants
Jaime Eschliman, musician
Lane Weddings
Millard Plaza Ballroom
Omaha Lace Cleaners
Sublime Couture
The Omaha Photo Booth Company
Wedding Essentials


Miss Sparkler // A picture perfect engagement session

We wanted our engagement pictures to describe us, really be a reflection of our relationship and how we interact. I know probably every engaged couple says this…but seriously isn’t that the point?

View More: View More: View More: View More: View More: View More: View More:

To accomplish this feel we brainstormed with McKenzie, our photographer, places that were unique to us as a couple. We decided that Creighton’s campus would be a fabulous place to start because this is where we met and it is a special place for us.

After having the location nailed down we had to pick outfits, which would coordinate, but not be too matchy, matchy, stay true to our personalities, and also photograph well. This task was easier said than done and a true challenge, as Mr. Sparkle “didn’t care” what he wore and thought anything looked good. (Engaged girls out there, I am sure you know where I am coming from.) We decided to go with three outfits: a casual, dressy and one that was somewhere in the middle. This gave us three different looks all in one session.

We were a little nervous… ok A LOT nervous. It took us a while to warm up to the situation and our photographer prodding us to “just hang out” but we finally got the hang of it. We joked and giggled through out the whole session, which is pretty true to who we are and how we hang out.

McKenzie figured us out pretty quickly and helped us to relax and enjoy the moment. We could not be any happier with how the pictures turned out.

Tips for Brides Planning an Engagement Session:

-Really communicate with your photographer the feel you are after:

Think about if you want props, certain poses, outfit changes, certain season…etc.

Pick a location that is special to both of you as a couple, this will help make your pictures that much more meaningful.

Take our photographer’s advice and “just hang out” during your session. When looking back you will be happy you did, the pictures will express you as a couple for many years to come!

Photos: Janine McClintock Studios 

The Wedding I Paid for and The Decisions I Didn’t Make

 As a Father of the Bride, I went into this whole thing with very little wedding knowledge. In the end, I learned that weddings are something a father pays for without getting any say in the decision making process. Planning a wedding was an eye-opening experience to say the least. My daughter has been married four months now, so at least we can say we made it. But we had our fair share of bumps and bruises along the way. Now I hope to pass along some advice to daughters whose fathers are just as clueless as I was and fathers who want to give their daughters the world.

A father’s first question will always be “Who is paying for all this?” Things got tricky when it was brought to my attention that the bride’s family traditionally pays for the entire wedding. Let’s just say I did not share in that belief. In fact, I remembered hearing somewhere that the groom’s parents are expected to pay for the whole thing, and I wasn’t going to argue. But in the end we settled on sharing the costs between all of us.

My daughter tried to counsel me on how much to give to the “wedding fund” base on the average cost of a wedding in Nebraska. Each time we spoke it seemed the average had gone up, leading me to believe the U.S. inflation rate is much higher than 3%. I tried to explain to my daughter that the only reason the average is so high is because of the fathers who spoil their daughters and give them whatever they ask for. It’s not that I didn’t want to give her what she wanted, but that since I have a son that is about to go to college, a house payment, retirement on the horizon, and the desire to eat, I thought it best to control costs. Then again, I can always sell plasma, right? And in a pinch, I only need one kidney.

I learned that weddings are full of unexpected expenses. Sure, we budgeted for flowers, food, and the dress (that, just in case you didn’t know, is only worn once). Turns out there is a lot more to a wedding than that. A few months before the wedding, the bride and groom came looking for me to cash in that kidney. This got a bit ugly between my wife and me, with my wife saying ‘no more’, and me wanting to do all that I could. After all, it was my only daughter and I wanted to give her what she wanted. The official answer ended up being ‘no more’, although I cut a deal behind the scenes with the bride and groom.

I always thought you get married in a church, right? Unfortunately I was wrong (again). Our church wasn’t ‘pretty’ enough (their words, not mine). All the parents were invited to go along to look at the first potential venue. My daughter was sold from the moment she stepped on the property. Unfortunately everyone had their own opinion and the whole afternoon ended with tears thanks to my daughter. For whatever reason, the parents weren’t invited to look at any other venues after that.

The bride and groom found a “contemporary” reception venue. But it wouldn’t work for the ceremony so they had to find a second location. All I could think was “Won’t that add cost?!” But once again, my opinion didn’t matter and they signed on the dotted line.

With the wedding just a month away, I was finally asked to help. My daughter asked me to pick a song for the father/daughter dance. And so I did! In fact, I picked several since I knew that she would like choices. I spent hours reviewing lyrics to make sure the song was appropriate (you’d be amazed how many rock songs don’t have appropriate lyrics for a father/daughter dance). I narrowed it down to about 15 songs, ranked them in the order of my preference, and sent them to my daughter expecting her to choose one. Only problem was, my daughter didn’t inherit my great taste in music. She nixed all of my choices and gave me a list of her own. I argued for awhile, but ultimately chose not to make a battle out of this and let her have her way.

In the end my daughter got married. We all made it through and life is more or less back to normal (minus a few gray hairs). Father’s – Even if you are asked for your opinion, give it sparingly. Your daughter is probably just asking to be polite. Be prepared for those uncomfortable money discussions. No matter how you look at it, a wedding is expensive and costs add up quickly. Especially when you want to give your daughter everything and, as always, have a hard time telling her no.

To all the daughters out there – Know that in the end your wedding is great, people have fun, and you’ll be married by the end of the night. Find some ways to include your father in the planning if you can, because he really does want to be involved. Your dad would give you an endless budget for your wedding day if he could, and I promise that when he says “no” it hurts him as much as it hurts you.

Most importantly, enjoy the process. As we began the final countdown to the wedding day, my daughter was constantly calling and coming over. I pretended not to care one way or the other, and so did she. But really those moments are too good to pass up. Don’t focus on the fights (trust me, you will have plenty) and instead enjoy the amount of time you get to spend as father and daughter. Because before you know it that time will be gone, replaced by holidays with a son-in-law you still aren’t sure you like and plenty of nights wishing you could go back and do it all over again.

From Miss. to Mrs. // Part II

Sign your marriage license, mail it to the County Clerk, and live happily ever after as a Mrs., right? If only it were that easy! Unfortunately, signing your marriage license puts you in a sort of limbo that is a hassle if not handled properly. The switch from Miss. to Mrs. is a difficult process to navigate, even with the vague instructions that come with your certified marriage license. If I had to do it over again, there are many things I would do differently.

I would not return from my honeymoon, start a new job, and begin my last semester of college all in the same week. But more than that, I would carefully plan my steps to ensure a smooth, quick, and easy transition from Miss. to Mrs. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. That will only end with you in tears outside the DMV. Just follow 5 simple steps and you’ll have your name changed in no time!

1. Take a Day Off

Legally changing your last name is time consuming. Don’t try to squeez the DMV in on your way to work or worse yet, spread the process out over a week of extended lunch breaks.

2. Visit the Social Security Office First

Be at the Social Security office, ready to go at 9am. Make sure you have your ID, Social Security card, and certified copy of the marriage license on hand before you take a number. Surprisingly, Social Security has the shortest wait and least amount of paperwork out of any of the places you’ll need to go. Your Social Security card is also the master document when it comes to your identity, so it is the most important document to get changed.

3. Drive to the DMV Immediately Afterwards

With temporary Social Security card in hand, along with all the other documents, drive straight to the DMV and take a number. Without your married name on your driver’s license, you can’t really use it on any legal documents (tax forms, employee paperwork, and those things). Make sure you bring at least 2 documents for proof of address, but in reality I recommend 6 because something will inevitably be wrong with the first 3. (Hint: Your marriage license counts as one!)

4. Update All Bank Accounts

If you haven’t merged finances with your husband yet, do so over his lunch break. Update all checking and savings accounts with your new information. Don’t forget to order checks! (Your employer needs one with your married name for direct deposit).

5. Update All Other Accounts

With all the major changes crossed off your to-do list, you’re job seems to be done! But there are still things to change. Have you updated your credit cards? What about student loans? Airline accounts also have to be changed if you ever want to use those frequent flyer miles you’ve worked hard to earn. If you’re a student like me, update all your information with your school. Anything else that could affect taxes, graduation, or legal records should be changed to avoid problems later. All of these updates are painless compared to the lines, paperwork, and red tape that go along with everything else. Most of the time you won’t even need your marriage license to make the change.


Some brides wait months before they legally change their last name. But if you want the least amount of hassle, make the switch from Miss. to Mrs. as soon as you can. I promise you’ll thank me later. Plus, you haven’t been practicing your signature for nothing! Once you’ve completed these 5 steps, you can truly live happily ever after as a Mrs.

A Date at the Orchard

Heidi’s engagement story appeared on our blog last January when she joined the Wedding Essentials team as our intern. After waiting seven months for her fiance to get back from a deployment, graduating from college and getting her feet wet as our new designer, she finally got to have her engagement photos taken — so of course we couldn’t help but share!


Heidi’s idea of the perfect engagement session was to go on a date with Matt and have the photographer (Dan Thorson Photography) follow them around to document their day. Typically, their date nights consist of dinner and a movie, but after hearing about their nephew’s recent adventure at the apple orchard, Heidi’s inner child (and need to get outside) kicked in. They decided to take this date to Ditmars Apple Orchard in Council Bluffs.

Best. Decision. Ever.

ThorsonEngagement_006 copyThorsonEngagement_Collage02ThorsonEngagement_Collage03ThorsonEngagement_053 copy

After spending an hour picking apples and goofing around Heidi and Matt (and Dan) couldn’t resist the smell of fresh apple cider donuts — and what better to go with donuts than some old-fashioned root beer. They parked it on a bench outside the corn maze, ate their donuts and made a quick wardrobe change to go into the corn maze. (Tip: Walking through a corn maze in heels is easy. NOT.).

ThorsonEngagement_032 copyThorsonEngagement_015 copyThorsonEngagement_Collage05ThorsonEngagement_039 copy

Once they left the apple orchard, Heidi took Matt and Dan on their first visit to the Pedestrian Bridge to catch the sunset (and perfect light) before going to dinner.

It was one of the best dates the couple has ever had. They still talk about how much fun they had every time they look at their engagement photos.

ThorsonEngagement_Collage06ThorsonEngagement_051 copy

Photos by Dan Thorson Photography

Meet Miss Sparkler // He finally did it!

Mr. Sparkler and I have been together for about four and a half years, so I would not exactly say the engagement was a surprise. I knew it was coming — or at least I hoped it was coming! We had both talked a lot about it, looked at rings several times and at this point I was just waiting for him to “pull the trigger.” Of course my impatient demeanor eventually became comical to Mr. Sparkler, as little did I know he had the engagement planned for about three months prior to asking me.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Mr. Sparkler is a planner in everything he does. He thinks things through and through and makes sure to properly execute them. So it is not to my surprise that he had this event planned out with my parents, grandparents and his parents. I am just surprised everyone could keep it a secret from me!


The plan was we were going up to my family’s house in Okoboji for the weekend. Typically we have one “family week” where all my cousins, aunts and uncles are up there at once. Needless to say, this was the weekend we had a full house and were at capacity with 35 people. I always look forward to this week because it is like a giant family reunion where we all get together and catch up. Prior to leaving I joked with my friends that I hoped Mr. Sparkler would be able to survive my uncles, as they always tease him about putting a ring on it. Clearly I did not know what was in store for me.

We drove up on a Thursday night so we would be able to have the whole day by the lake on Friday. Friday morning we woke up and everything was just like a normal lake day, the sun was shining and everyone was able to be on the lake. My mom requested me to be cleaned up by 4:00 p.m. to help her with dinner, her needing an extra hand in the kitchen with that many people was not abnormal. I got cleaned up and walked out on the patio, which overlooks the lake, I thought it was strange that most everyone was already cleaned up because at the lake, no one is ready for dinner until about 7:00 p.m. or later. But I did not read into it much. Mr. Sparkler was on the patio with my grandparents and my brother’s girlfriend. When I came outside no one looked at me except Mr. Sparkler, which was odd but I went with it. He wanted to down to the patio that was positioned just over the lake, so we did. My mom was on that patio and immediately as we sat down she had to “go check on dinner.”

At this point, it was just Mr. Sparkler and I on the patio. I looked at him and asked what was going on, in my head I was in denial that this could be the moment I had wanted to come so bad. He stood me up and took my hands and mentioned that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me… I kept saying, “I know, but what is going on?” He got down on one knee, opened the ring box, I squealed and was in shock as to how beautiful it was and that he was asking me to marry him!


I don’t remember all his words in between “will you marry me?” but I do know he had to ask three times before I said, “Yes!” because I was in total shock. I looked up from the patio to see my entire family looking over clapping, including my soon-to-be in-laws. He had arranged for his parents to come to Okoboji and be there for that special moment.

Mr. Sparkler wanted to propose with our family surrounding us because he knows how much family means to me. I think it’s so neat that both my mom and his mom got to see him get down on one knee. I always imagined he would ask me with my family near, but I couldn’t quite figure out how he was going to do it. I am so glad that he did it the way he did, it was definitely worth the wait, just as he always told me it would be. Okoboji will forever be a special place for me!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...