The Reception Experience — WOW Your Guests!

By Sabrina Spears, Wedding/Events Planner & Designer

Sabrina Spears Events –


Ever attended a wedding and were completely bored out of your mind (not to mention the food was horrible?!) I’m certain the thought, “When are they going to cut the cake so we can leave?!” crossed your mind. The reality is the blissful newlyweds probably didn’t share the same sentiment as you did — they had an amazing time!

The experience a bride & groom have during their wedding is very different from their guests. I often remind my couples that while the marriage and ceremony is all about them, the reception should be designed with the guest’s experience in mind.

Here are a few ways you can transform your wedding reception into an experience….


What’s the first thing that catches the eyes of your guests as they enter the room:  is it the welcome sign, seating chart or the lush floral designs, menu cards, cloth napkins on each table? Every bride wants their guests to say that her wedding was the most beautiful one they have ever been to. Having a well-decorated reception space will make your guest feel valued. There is one area that is often forgotten:  the bathrooms. Adding a small vase of flowers and an air freshener can easily transform that space — but you don’t have to stop there! Add a care basket filled with some essentials like mouthwash and floss (especially if you plan and serving brisket!), hand lotion, etc. Your guests will feel special!


I have seen couples skimp on the quality food for their reception because it’s just not a priority for them. Well, I’m here shouting from the mountain top that it is and should be.  

This isn’t the time for the “I found someone cheaper” move. You don’t want your guests leaving your wedding early because the only thing on their minds is, “How do we get to the nearest fast food joint?!” Good food makes people happy. Great food makes people dance. Consider including a late night s’mores bar or nacho bar in your catering, especially if you plan on partying all night long. All that fun can leave you and your guests craving a late night snack. And — let’s not forget about cake! Include a gluten free option for guests with dietary restrictions; this gesture will be greatly appreciated.


Whether you opt for a DJ, band or the audio hookup at your space, music is an easy way to get your guests out of their seats. Schedule all your special dances, like first dance, mother/son, during dinner service. This will keep your guests entertained while they eat.

Keep the toasts and speeches to a minimum. Your second cousin Bill’s son doesn’t need to make a speech, neither does every person in the wedding party. Remember it’s not open mic night.

Guest Experience…

Your wedding is probably the biggest party you will ever throw. When I think party, I think fun. Instead of party favors, give your guests the memories of a great time. Make your event interactive! Two words: Corn. Hole. Although I haven’t mastered the art of the game, that hasn’t stopped me from loving it. The inclusion of games at wedding receptions has taken on a life of its own over the years.

Some other fun ideas to make your reception interactive include hiring a caricature artist, a slow motion photo booth, poker station and — my absolute favorite — an adult bounce house. 

The Cliff Notes …

Imagine that you’re a guest at your own wedding and it’s the wedding day:  now take a walk in your guests’ shoes!

Alibi Wood Fire Pizzaria & Bakery — Fantastic Food, Tunes & Catering in Laramie

Laramie’s Alibi Wood Fire Pizzaria & Bakery has been open & cranking out delicious food & live music events while undergoing an impressive renovation this year. Laramigoes have been heading to “the Alibi” for years for food, libation & frivolity — and we were thrilled to feature their catering in our Cheyenne & Laramie bridal expos in 2019! If you’ve got an event coming up, wedding or otherwise, give them a buzz at 307.745.9738, find them on Facebook, or visit their website. OR! Even better yet, when you’re in Laramie go grab a bite for yourself and see what the buzz is about — head to 404 S. 4th Street and save us a slice …

p.s. Congrats to the Alibi on being a 2019 local’s choice winner from The Laramie Boomerang!

New & Awesome Wood Oven
New Pastry Oven & Deck Oven (above & below)
The perfect place for a little r&r and something delicious (above & below)
Margherita Pizza … I think they mean Mmmmmargherita … <3
The Great White has garlic olive oil, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, feta, goat cheese & Parmesan … Dude. For real.

Habits for a Healthy Relationship – by Alyssa McElwain, PhD Univ. WY

Alyssa McElwain, PhD, CFLE, Asst. Professor Dept of Family & Consumer Sciences, UWyo

Are you ready for what happens after the rings and reception? As you look forward to a lifelong commitment, it’s easy to feel a mixture of excitement and nerves.  You have probably heard the odds about divorce and you’ve probably heard that relationships take work. Love isn’t always enough to sustain a marriage.

What do people do in healthy, long-lasting relationships? To answer that, I have to share the knowledge and wisdom of my go-to guru on healthy relationships & marriage. Dr. John Gottman is a therapist and researcher who has studied couple relationships for decades. This man can actually predict divorce. He doesn’t have a crystal ball; he has identified the destructive habits that cause marital demise. Most importantly, he figured out the key habits people engage in on a regular basis to do work in their relationship. These habits are effective–we have decades of research to prove it. The great thing is these habits are things you can do right now, on a daily basis, to help your relationship thrive over the years.

So, what’s the secret? Put simply, couples in happy long-lasting relationships are best friends and treat each other accordingly. That foundation of friendship means that partners know about each other’s current lives. Here’s the key with this one: the person you marry will change. Perhaps in small ways, but maybe in major ways. For instance, if you become parents together, that role will change your worlds in big ways. It’s important to keep yourself updated on your partner’s life of which you share a large part. Dr. Gottman calls this concept “Love Maps.” He stresses the importance of knowing your partner’s inner world by having regular conversations about their life. What is their favorite way to spend their time? What is their biggest fear? What personal improvements are they trying to make? What’s going on with their friendships? Answers to these questions give you a mental picture of your partner’s world. We’ve all probably heard a person regretfully say, “we just grew apart,” or, “I just don’t know who they are anymore, they’re not the person I married.” Keeping up-to-date on your “Love Map” is just one way to prevent that from happening and keep a strong foundation of friendship.

Best friends listen to one another and deal with conflict in a generally respectful way. Part of listening to one another involves including your partner in big decisions. Dr. Gottman found that partners (men especially) who accept influence from their partner have greater satisfaction in their relationships. Accepting influence means including your partner in major decisions, valuing their opinion, and listening to their ideas. Want to buy a new car? Thinking about applying for a new job in another town? Talk about the decision with your partner.

Now, on to that sticky subject of conflict — in any discussion about healthy relationships, it’s bound to get some attention. Did you know that happy couples fight as much as unhappy couples? Yes, you read that right. Research shows that it’s not how much you fight, it’s how you fight that counts. Contempt, criticism, and explosive anger will all eat away at that foundation of friendship. Unfortunately, our biology works against us when we face conflict. When you become angry or emotionally aroused, your brain is actually flooded with chemicals that render you useless in solving problems and seeing your partner’s point of view. It’s easier said than done, but the best thing to do when you’re emotional or angry is to take a break and come back to the conversation when you are both calm and have a clear mind.

Happy, long-lasting couples don’t just deal with conflict when it arises, they do so much more to express appreciation and affection. John Gottman found that stable, happy couples had a ratio of five positive interactions to every one negative interaction. That is, these couples still argue, say snarky things, or snap at one another. But, they also share inside jokes, hug, laugh, listen, and compliment each other more than they fight. It’s like filling up your love bank account with positive experiences so that when you take a withdrawal, you’ll be okay.

Like many things in life, you get out of marriage what you put into it. The hard work that goes into a lasting marriage pays off. Satisfied couples are happier, mentally and physically better off, and (especially men) are likely to live longer. Happy couples also make better parents. Notice that the key word in those statements is happy. Unhappy couples don’t fare so well. It’s not simply being married that is beneficial–it’s being in a satisfied, emotionally connected relationship. So, as you look forward to a lifetime together, keep in mind these habits for a healthy, happy relationship.

Recommended Resources:

Check out the Gottman Institute and their “Card Deck” app

“The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” by John Gottman

For new parents: “And Baby Makes Three” by John Gottman

About Alyssa McElwain …

Alyssa McElwain, PhD, CFLE is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family & Consumer Sciences at the University of Wyoming. Dr. McElwain received her M.S. in Marriage & Family Therapy from Purdue University in 2008, and her Ph.D in Human Development & Family Studies from Auburn University in 2015. Her approach to teaching her classes at UW includes active student participation & discussion, including role playing activities and critical case analyses. “Step into one of my classes and you will clearly see that teaching is my passion,” Dr. McElwain writes. “I strive to provide an engaging educational environment where students actively participate in their learning. My belief is that learning can and should be fun. I also believe the best learning occurs when people work hard and practice using the information they are learning.” To learn more about Dr. McElwain’s professional & personal pursuits, visit her website,

Wedding Spotlight: Rachel & Dyllon by Ardent Photography

Congrats to Rachel & Dyllon on their beautiful Casper wedding that was held June 10, 2018. Thank you to Ardent Photography’s Rick & Stephanie for sharing this wedding full of special details … I’m in love with that backdrop to their ceremony, the musical tie and the bouquet …

WEDDING: Deanna & Nicholas’s Fabulous Wedding Adventure

Deanna & Nicholas’s Fabulous Wedding Adventure

captured by Macy Carter Photography

Thank you to Deanna & Nicholas and their photographer, Macy Carter of Macy Carter Photography (website at and IG handle @wanderingambition) — for sharing this beautiful day with us! Deanna and Nicholas were married May 4, 2018 at Schwabacher’s Landing in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson. “We were going to get married at Mormon Barn, but Schwabacher’s Landing was a last minute change, and totally worth it,” Deanna says. “The first time I went to Grand Teton National Park was with my family in 2013 and I immediately fell in love with it. I was determined to get Nicholas there and for him to enjoy it as much as I did!”

I’ll let Deanna tell you about the adventure that was their big day …

“In 2016 we graduated college with our bachelor’s degrees and decided to treat ourselves. So as a graduation gift we designed a national park oriented road trip. 

We drove for three months, over 15,000 miles and visited 23 National Parks and hiked over 67 miles. Wyoming was our number one most memorable state. The landscape, wildlife, and untamed magic in the air made us want to go back. So on June 6th, 2017 Nicholas proposed to me in Havana, Cuba and my first vision for the wedding was with the Teton mountains behind us.

Starting on April 19, 2018 we drove from FL to WY in our tiny 2017 Chevy Cruze with my brother in the back seat and everything needed for us to relive our last journey. On May 4th we were joined by my mom, dad, brother, uncle, aunt and cousin. The officiant was a childhood friend of my mother’s and his wife came too. The photographer, Macy, and her now fiance, were there as well.” 

Deanna and Nicholas were married at 5 pm, just before the sun set. Deanna steals my heart as a DIY bride, making all of their boutonnieres, bouquets and invitations. The couple also added a special, unique touch to their unity ceremony. “Our unity ceremony was our vows in a wooden box that contains a bottle of wine which we will drink on our one year and reread our vows and then replace the wine,” Deanna explains. “The box has our name and the date of our wedding engraved in it.” (LOVE! And have I said yet how much I LOVE Deanna’s dress?!)

The couple resides in Seattle now, and we wish them the very best for a life full of love and continued adventure… Thanks to Deanna, Nicholas and Macy for sharing these beautiful images with us!

–Kati Hime

Bryce & Ceira Lander Engagement — Virginia Ruth Photography


Captured by Virginia Ruth Photography

Perhaps it’s because Ceira (the bride) was one of our former dance teachers at our Laramie Dance & Arts Center that we also own … perhaps it’s the historical flare she and Bryce chose when they selected their engagement shoot venue to be the Pioneer Museum in Lander … perhaps it’s the emotion Virginia Ruth captured in this beautiful shoot … or yeah, maybe it’s just all of that. Whatever it is, I LOVE these images … I can’t wait to see their wedding pics!!

Congrats to these two lovebirds, and thanks to Ginny of Virginia Ruth Photography for sharing!


Congrats to Jenelle & Clay!

Congrats to Jenelle and Clay, who were married May 27, 2017 in Douglas at the Wyoming State Fairgrounds! Thanks so much to Lacey Dale Photography in Lusk, who shared this gorgeous wedding with us. She had a lot of fun with Jenelle’s desire for black & white photography (although she threw in some color too for us, which I LOVE!), and she loved the emotion in their day. “Clay was the cutest groom ever!” Lacey exclaimed. “He was like a little kid when he saw her for the first time by the river.” (Say it with me — awwww!) 🙂 “They were so family oriented throughout the whole entire day,” Lacey added. “Their friends and family meant everything to them.” LOVE!

Wedding Rentals – Make Sure You Have All the Needed Items!

Thanks to Carol Thomas of A-One Weddings & Events in Cheyenne for providing us with this handy little checklist!

Wedding Rentals – Make sure you have all the needed items!

Having an outdoor event or using a venue that doesn’t provide every item needed (or the
items that they provide don’t meet your style)? Well let’s talk rentals!

The starting point:
● Check which vendor provides what –
○ venue to see what they include in the price.
○ caterer to review what they include in their price. If you need to provide rentals for them, what do they need and will they unpack and repack the rentals?
● Contact a rental company with your total guest count, the budget you would like to work within (be realistic and honest, as a truly professional company will guide you to the best options), and if you have examples of styles that you like, provide those too!

Some items you may want to consider and discuss with your wedding rental company:
● Outdoor wedding:
○ Do you need a tent? Is it the main venue or will it just be your backup plan if the weather is unpleasant?
■ Will you want fabric draping, chandeliers, or other specialty decor?
■ You may also want to consider heating or A/C depending on the season and weather forecast.
○ Will you need power? Will you need generators to provide electricity for the DJ, band, caterer, and lighting? (These are a few suggestions that will need power, it’s not an exhaustive list!)
○ Restrooms? If you’re outdoors will you have adequate restroom facilities? Estimate around 4 stalls for women and 3 stalls for men per 150 guests.

● All venues:
○ Tables and chairs:  You will also want to check if they are provided and meet your expectations at any venue you choose. Remember to include ceremony seating and any special situations like musicians that need seated while playing. In addition to tables for your guests you may need
tables for buffets, cake, and gifts.
○ Dance floor. If you are outdoors this may be a necessity, and if your
venue doesn’t have one or you dislike the one they have you will want to
make sure you have this in your list of rental items.
○ Linens and napkins. There are an array of fabrics, patterns, and colors to choose from, and linens are a wonderful way to customize your wedding and showcase your style! Renting linens ensures that they arrive clean and pressed and that you won’t have to deal with the hassle of cleaning/storing/selling them after the wedding.
○ Dinnerware, flatware, and barware. The best way to figure out what you need here is to start with the venue, caterer, and bartenders to see what they provide and any recommendations they will provide. Your wedding rental professional will answer any questions and assist you with
recommendations and suggestions.

— There are other rentals that may appeal to you depending on the look and atmosphere you would like to create from lounge furniture to ceremony decor like archways. Check with your local wedding professionals to learn about the options you have available.

● If your caterer is placing an order with the rental company, see if they will add your items to their order so that the wedding rentals are all delivered at the same time. This will keep you from having to pay multiple delivery fees, and if all rental items are from the same company you won’t have to keep the orders separate to make sure that they are returned to the correct rental company.
● Inquire if the company charges damage waiver fees and what these fees cover and, just as importantly, what is not covered.
● Review cancellation policies, deposits, retaining fees, and payment arrangements.

Written by & images provided by:
Carol Thomas, Professional Wedding Planner with A-One Weddings & Events event
rental specialist providing rentals throughout Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado

VENDOR SPOTLIGHT: Casper’s Pump House Events at the Tate Pumphouse

Casper’s Pump House Events Combines Ease + Beauty + Breathtaking Views!

Wedding images by Alison Brady Portraits

(click for more info on Alison Brady)

Tate Pump House text & image courtesy Pump House Events


Walking the Platte River Trail along the White Water Park in Casper is a great way to discover a beautiful wedding venue.

Pump House Events is located at The Tate Pump House in Casper, and is an ideal venue for brides who wish to have their wedding ceremony and reception in the same place.

The Tate Pump House is a lovely historic brick building with an adjoining patio mere steps from the North Platte River with Casper Mountain as a majestic backdrop. The Pump House boasts manicured lawn areas with a pedestrian bridge that spans the river and offers perfect views for exquisite and romantic wedding photos.

Inside, the Pump House offers a stunning, refined event space perfect for dining and dancing the night away. Huge windows provide guests magnificent views throughout your reception.

The venue is equipped with a large catering kitchen to afford your event a full-service experience. All cleaning before and after your event is included in the rental, as well as tables and chairs, all set-up and tear down of the space and the services of a Certified Wedding Planner/Professional Event Coordinator onsite. The resident Wedding Planner is the first person to arrive and the last to leave. She remains on the property for the entirety of your event. Her job it is to make your function a memorable success, by doing everything from bussing tables and refilling beverages, to providing attentive service to each and every guest, and making sure the bride’s vision is achieved.

Asked what makes Pump House Events unique, their Professional Event Planner, Robyn Reynolds Fischer, zeroed in on three special qualities:  “First, our view. We are fortunate to be located in a dream location situated at the river’s edge, with stellar views of Casper Mountain, but also within walking distance of downtown Casper. That means our brides don’t have the additional expense of paying vendors to deliver tables, chairs, food, tents, etc. to a venue located miles from town.”

“Secondly, we offer the services of a Certified Wedding Planner.” Robyn Reynolds Fischer has been coordinating ceremonies and receptions for over two decades, and has an extensive background in food and beverage management. Before moving to Wyoming, she co-owned a restaurant with her husband in South Carolina and previously worked for the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Atlanta.

“Lastly, the Tate Pump House has an exceptional history. Originally, the Pump House was just what its name implies. It was a water pumping station that sent water to Midwest and the Salt Creek Field. After the Pump House was gifted to the Platte River Trails Trust in 2007, the facility was generously turned into a community gathering place, outfitted with public restrooms and seasonal kayak and float rentals, to foster recreation by the North Platte. Any profits made from renting the Event Space, are used to maintain the Pump House so it continues to be the ideal place for runners, walkers, cyclists, kayakers and others who want to enjoy the river and the trail system in Casper.”

If the Tate Pump House sounds like a venue that has everything you need for your ceremony and reception, or if you want more information about hosting your event, contact the Tate Pumphouse at 307.577.1206.

What People are Saying about Tate Pump House …

Amanda M.  — “We had our wedding reception here! It turned out completely beautiful. Not to mention how much help Robin was when it came to setting everything up from the vendors to the actual tables and chairs for the event! I couldn’t have done it without her! Thank you so much!”

Heidi Nicol — “As the owner of HQ Southern BBQ, we have had the pleasure of catering several events at The Pump House. Located right on the North Platte River, it is a stunning venue with great spaces inside and out. Working with Robyn, the events coordinator, has always been a joy. She is on top of every detail and makes sure every event is elegant and runs smoothly. Her southern charm is like none other. We are proud to be a partner with such a great venue. If you are looking for a great space for your next event, this is a must see!”

Alyssa J. — “We had our wedding at the Tate Pump House and I don’t know if we could have found a better fit for what we wanted. Robyn was amazing through the whole thing. She had great suggestions, answers, and was great at listening to what we wanted. She was wonderful to work with and made things so much easier! The wedding turned out beautiful and I don’t think we could have asked for better. I highly recommend the Tate Pump House for any event.”


WEDDING SPOTLIGHT: Jessica & Matt August 5, 2017

I am in love with this gorgeous Casper wedding, full of color & bling and captured by Riverton’s Virginia Ruth Photography! Jessica & Matt had a lot of elegant + colorful touches … totally digging the coral + navy combo, the Blessing Tree and the paper lanterns! Their ceremony was held at Casper Plant Company, with their reception at The Gaslight Social, flowers by Keefe’s Flowers and their DJ was Dynamic Sound & Light of Casper. Thanks Virginia Ruth Photography for sharing!





WEDDING SPOTLIGHT: British + American = One Lovely Wedding

Thanks to Mandy Carroll-Bell of MC Picture Company in Sheridan for sharing Mr. & Mrs. Caywood’s beautiful, July 16, 2017 wedding day! The lovely bride is from England, and I love the joining of their homelands in these images. The groom and his mother, Sonja Caywood, are both talented Wyoming artists from Dayton, Wyoming. It’s not surprising that these two had a beautiful wedding full of artistry and love.