Engagement: Paige & Aleric by Virginia Ruth Photography

Veterans Day was celebrated this week, and I thought this was a fabulous time to share this beautiful engagement shoot by Virginia Ruth Photography. (Make sure you click that link to check out more of Ginny’s beautiful work!) <3

Thank you Aleric for your service, and Paige for your sacrifices as well on behalf of our family here in Laramie. <3

The Reception Experience — WOW Your Guests!

By Sabrina Spears, Wedding/Events Planner & Designer

Sabrina Spears Events – sabrinaspearsevents.net

307.333.4676

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….

Sight…

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!

Taste… 

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.

Sound…

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, https://alyssamcelwain.weebly.com/

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 macycarterphotography.com 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

editor@wyolifestyle.com

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.

 

Heather & Dustin’s Wedding in the Snowies — part 1

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Plush Limos 2015 WW

Dustin & Heather’s Wedding in the Snowies

Captured by Ardent Photography, Laramie, Wyoming

Thanks to Ardent Photography of Laramie for sharing this beautiful wedding with us! Heather & Dustin were married in a beautiful and sunny summer ceremony at Snowy Range Livestock & Ranch. Their bridal party and wedding attire came from Laramie’s Mountain Valley Bridal, Laramie’s Party Pros Entertainment provided their rocking party afterward, and their cakes & cupcakes were made by Dustin’s sister, Christy … Congratulations Heather & Dustin!

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ardent-6ardent0158ardent1503ardent1520-2ardent1695 ardent4726 ardent7196 ardent7205ardent7253 ardent7282-2 ardent7295-2 ardent7324-2ardent7360-2 ardent7416 ardent7554-2 ardent7590ardent7608ardent7634ardent7655-2ardent7716ardent7721 ardent7827 ardent7857-2ardent8075-2 ardent8107-2ardent8159 ardent8435 ardent8449If you’d like to see your wedding or engagement (or both!) on our blog, it’s easy to submit – email editor@wyolifestyle.com or message our Wyoming Weddings Facebook page. We do require the OK of your photographer!

Congrats on your Beautiful Wyoming Wedding!

Kati Hime, Editor

editor@wyolifestyle.com

307-755-6896 

Valentine’s Day Goodies from Sweets Cakes & Pastry of Laramie!

2016 Sweetwater County Expo poster

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It’s Valentine’s Day, and Sweets Cakes & Pastry in Downtown Laramie has a GREAT Special Pre-Order Menu! Order by February 9th to take advantage of these yummy treats & deals … Place your order in their shop at 211 E. Grand Avenue, or call 307.223.2147!

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Chocolate Dipped Strawberries — $15/Dozen :  Strawberries dipped in chocolate. Available by the dozen.

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies — $20/Dozen & $10/Half-Dozen :  Heart shapes bite-sized red velvet whoopie pies with cream cheese filling. Orders by the half dozen and dozen.

— Cakes for Two — $20/Each : Cake flavors available in vanilla bean, lemon chiffon or chocolate. Iced with white or chocolate buttercream or whipped cream. Add fresh strawberries or raspberries on top for $5 extra.

— Brownies — $25/Dozen : Heart shaped and dusted with powdered sugar. By the dozen.

Sugar Cookies — $20/Dozen : Heart shaped cookies, frosted and decorated with sprinkles. Orders are by the dozen.

 

If you forgot to pre-order, stop by Sweets Cakes & Pastry and choose from the current selection of sweets for your sweetheart. We would love to get to know you!

Kodi Davis, New Owner, Sweets Cakes & Pastry

 

 

WYOMING WEDDING: Desarae & Justin’s Ranch Wedding

 


Congrats to Desarae & Justin on their June 7 wedding, captured by Y-Cross Photography of Hulett, WY! The Wedding was located on the Starck Cattle Ranch in Lusk, Wyoming. “We had the ceremony looking out to one of my favorite spots on the ranch not far from the horse barn where the reception was held,” Desarae says. “The ranch is such a special place to us, we knew we wouldn’t want to confess our love for one another at any other location.” Justin’s parents had tossed around the idea of building a new horse barn. “When we expressed to them we wanted to get married on the ranch they thought there wasn’t a better time to start making the new horse barn a reality!” Desarae adds. “We spent nine months building the horse barn from his parents’ vision.” Most of the wood used was cut down and even saw milled by the couple from the ranch. “It was so special putting all that time and energy into something that when it was finished was just as amazing as you dreamed it would be. Plus it held a very special place in our hearts knowing our family pulled together and was able to build something so beautiful.”



Another big part of the wedding was the Annual Starck Cattle Branding:

“Before I met Justin, I was just a Colorado girl who had some horses, pigs, and chickens. I never had the opportunity to experience the ranching lifestyle. Once I got the opportunity through his family’s cattle ranch it didn’t take long for me to truly respect and love the ranching way of life. I believe brandings are one of the best times — there is such a great western camaraderie, always with lots of family and friends, oh and you can’t forget the delicious food after the work is done! I truly enjoy brandings and I wanted my wedding guests who never had the opportunity to see what a cattle branding was all about, to be able to experience it — so we decided to give an open invite for all our wedding guests to join us the day before the wedding for the Annual Starck Cattle Branding. It was an amazing time full of family and friends – we couldn’t have been more blessed! The next day with those same family and friends we shared our vows in their presence and confessed our love – it was a beautiful day, and one that we will never forget!”

Thanks Desarae for sharing, and to Y-Cross Photography of Hulett for the beautiful images! CONGRATS to Desarae & Justin!

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FASHION: Lovely Lace!

 I am in love with lace, one of the hot bridal gown trends that we saw in this year’s fashion shows! Whether they’re sleek & vintage, or full skirts with delicate detail, there are some incredible options … We have just a few bits of inspiration for you!

Check out these Wyoming bridal salons for their excellent selection, customer service & best of all – located RIGHT here in Wyoming …

Laramie – Mountain Valley Bridal

Gillette – Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow Bridal & Formal Wear (YTT Bridal & Formal Wear)

Casper – Hart’s by LaNeige

Jackson – Tuxedo Rentals at Briar Rose – the ONLY Tuxedo Rental Location in Jackson!

Cheyenne – Tuxedo Rentals at Dan D Party Corner!

 

 

Laramie Train Depot Elegance by Ardent Photog, Fresh Flower Fantasy & Mtn Valley Bridal

We greatly appreciate the incredibly talented photographers across the state who share their work with us – like Ardent Photography of Laramie, who shared this recent photo shoot at the Laramie Train Depot in Historic Downtown Laramie with us… This was part of a course that they host, called Ardentology, and it’s a super popular one! The lovely model is Alisha Ann, who’s also Mrs. Laramie 2015, who has appeared in the fashion shows in our Cheyenne & Laramie expos! Her beautiful dress is from Mountain Valley Bridal (also in Downtown Laramie), and the flowers are by Fresh Flower Fantasy!

Always love the opportunity to promote many great Wyoming vendors in one place!