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

Purple Floral Burst by Plush Floral & Ardent Photography

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We love to share beautiful work by the talented people that work with us, and we have TWO talented vendors to showcase in this blog… Both Plush Floral, based in Casper, and Ardent Photography, based in Laramie – but these two businesses are known to go ALL OVER Wyoming with their fabulous work! You can meet Ardent at our upcoming Cheyenne (January 18) and Laramie (February 15) expos!

Be sure to click on either of these two expo ad images to connect with our pre-registration page – thanks to Ardent Photography for the use of their beautiful image in the Cheyenne Bridal Expo ad, and to Blushing Crow Studio of Pinedale for their use of their beautiful image in the Sweetwater County Wedding Expo ad!



A Little Bling…

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Click the image above to register to attend the 23rd Annual Cheyenne Bridal Expo January 18, 2015! Registrants are entered to win a HONEYMOON or a FLAT SCREEN TV!
Click the image above to register to attend the 23rd Annual Cheyenne Bridal Expo January 18, 2015! Registrants are entered to win a HONEYMOON or a FLAT SCREEN TV!

We LOVE bling & rings! A little beauty from many of the photographers we’re blessed to work with around our great, square state…

Click on the images to visit these photographers... Ardent Photography
Click on the images to visit these photographers… Ardent Photography
Click on the images to connect with these photographers... Beartooth Photography
Click on the images to connect with these photographers… Beartooth Photography
Click on the image to connect with this photographer… BHP Imaging
Blushing Crow
Click on the image to connect with this photographer… Blushing Crow Studio
Caiti Jackson
Click on the image to connect with this photographer… Caiti Jackson Photography
Click on the image to connect with this photographer... Jenny Lee's Photography
Click on the image to connect with this photographer… Jenny Lee’s Photography
Click on the image to connect with this photographer... Julianna Photography
Click on the image to connect with this photographer… Julianna Photography
Click on the image to connect with this photographer... Janelle Rose
Click on the image to connect with this photographer… Janelle Rose
Click on the image to connect with this photographer... Photography from the Hart
Click on the image to connect with this photographer… Photography from the Hart



Eye Candy by Brandi — Sun-Kissed Skin

We greatly appreciated Brandi Nash of Eye Candy by Brandi in Cheyenne for teaching us (me too!) about the art of making yourself look your very best. Read on for more of Brandi’s wisdom…

Bibbity Bobbity YOU!

Sun-kissed Skin

Sunless tanning, spray tanning, fake ‘n bake….whatever you like to call it, it all means the same thing, a safer alternative to tanning in the sun or tanning bed.  Now, I am no one to judge and since we live in a free country I do believe it is everyone’s own personal decision to tan via UV rays or not.  In fact, I used to manage and work in tanning salons before I became an Esthetician.  Due to my background, however, I think I have some great insight for you to consider when it comes to preparing for your wedding and honeymoon vacation if you are trying to achieve a beautiful bronzed tan.

“Indoor tanning” is one way to get darker.  There are some things you should think about though before you decide to purchase a tanning package and invest your time in a tanning bed and/or tanning booth.  Tanning indoors is in fact, not safer than tanning in the sun.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, indoor tanning has been linked with skin cancers including melanoma (the deadliest type of skin cancer), squamous cell carcinoma, and cancers of the eye (ocular melanoma).  Additionally, you can still get a burn from tanning in a tanning bed.  What’s that you say? “But I NEED my Vitamin D!!” Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say that!  There is a safer way to give your body Vitamin D such as consuming fatty fish, mushrooms, fortified dairy, and of course Vitamin D supplements.  If you get nothing else from reading this I want you to remember the following: Nothing ages your skin more than sun damage.  Sun damage (this also includes exposure in tanning beds) is irreversible; it causes wrinkles and age spots.  While it may not be apparent now, sun damage appears on the skin later in life.  Prevention is key.  Using a good quality sunscreen while in the sun as well as wearing protective clothing, will help prevent sun damage.  No one wants wrinkles and it is no wonder that the anti-aging products global industry is valued at an estimated $261.9 billion!

So, you still want to be tan….

Well, lucky for you, sunless tanning options have come a long way since they first hit the scene in the 1960s.  There are now countless numbers of self-tanning lotions, creams, gels and foams that once applied, will darken your skin over a period of a few hours or in some cases are instant.  Should you decide to experiment with these products, do your research to see what would best suit your needs and then practice with it well before your wedding or special event.  I have found that if I mix equal parts regular body lotion with a self-tanning lotion and then apply it to my body, I get a smooth, streak free application.  Test out how the product will rub off on clothing (hopefully not) by wearing an old t-shirt.  You don’t want to discover how a product will wear the day of your nuptials while wearing your beautiful wedding gown.  If using a product on your face, consider how you may have to adjust your makeup and foundation colors.  Don’t forget to wear a pair of disposable gloves while working with these products!

Spray tanning is another great alternative.   Again, do your research and ask around to those you know if they can recommend a great place in your area.  Some places have spray tan booths.  This option does not involve a spray tan technician.  You move into different positions according to a diagram or instructional video and while you are inside the booth it sprays the product on a set timer.  Spray tanning, where a certified technician applies the product with a spray gun, is another option.  They control the color level and application.  Spray tans last between 7 and 10 days depending on how you prepare and maintain the spray tan with recommended products. Consult with your technician on how to prepare your skin and get the most out of your spray tan.  I recommend that people have a spray tan now and see how they like it before booking an appointment two days before their wedding or vacation.  Typically, spray tans can cost between $25-$35.  Sometimes a bronzer or gold shimmer can be added.  Self tanning products do not protect your skin from UVA/ UVB rays and should not be used as a substitute for broad spectrum sunscreen.  Self-tanning products contain DHA (Dihydroxyacetone), the main coloring agent.  DHA works with the amino acids in the skin to produce a natural looking tan with no orange discoloration.  DHA is often derived from plant sources such as sugar beets and sugar cane and by the fermentation of glycerin.  DHA is the only such agent approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration and has been used in cosmetics for years.  Products with DHA are safe when applied topically.  There have not been any reported side effects from the use of DHA.  If you have ever had an allergic reaction to self tanners, however, do not get a spray tan.  It is also important to discuss any existing medical/health conditions you have with your spray tan technician prior to making an appointment.

On a personal note, I am not just a spray tan technician, but I’m also a client!

Now that you have this information, achieving that sun-kissed glow you desire in a safe way is possible.

About the author: Brandi Lea Nash is a licensed esthetician, professional makeup artist and a certified South Seas Skincare Spray Tan Technician.  She owns her own business, Eye Candy by Brandi.  Visit her facebook page and website





Shopping for a DJ – Words of Advice from a Pro

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Bill Spencer of Bill’s DJ Service in Cheyenne has LOTS of years of experience in the entertainment industry – and he’s compiled his list of tips for how to pick your perfect wedding DJ. Lots of good ideas follow – this is one to bookmark and refer back to often as you process your choices!

How to Choose a Disc Jockey

By Bill Spencer,

In this era of Disc Jockey entertainment, internet music downloads and IPods, chances are you’ve heard horror stories about “a terrible DJ” that performed for a party or reception. Now that it’s your turn to hire a DJ, you can avoid making the wrong decision. Hiring a mediocre or bad DJ can be avoided if you ask the right questions and take the correct steps. Read this article all the way through; then go back and take notes on the points most important to you.

From East to West, ALL DJs come in 3 varieties: bad, average, and outstanding. For every 10 Disc Jockeys – 4 are bad – 5 are average – and 1 is outstanding. These statistics show why the Disc Jockey field is proliferated by hundreds of horror stories. There are simply more average and mediocre DJs than outstanding ones. They may seem great to certain people who don’t get out and party much, but when compared to the performance of an outstanding DJ, the differences are very obvious.

MUSIC CAN MAKE OR BREAK YOUR WEDDING! Surveys have consistently shown for the past 30 years that 2 out of 3 guests agree that music can make or break a wedding or party. Everyone’s heard that famous saying before, but when it comes down to decision time, why do some brides still throw common sense out the window to save a few hundred bucks? The dirty little secret is that most brides seldom hear complaints about the terrible or “cheap DJ” they hired…simply because her friends and relatives don’t want to embarrass her by giving her HONEST feedback. After all, that may be considered rude.

So, now that you’re ready to DJ shop, you need to define your situation: Do you want to really IMPRESS your guests, or, just give them a human jukebox that spits out songs and requests? In most cases, YOU WILL GET EXACTLY WHAT YOU PAY FOR. Never look at your purchase of a DJ like the purchase of a tangible item like catering costs or the rental of a hall. When any of your guests look back on your wedding reception six months from now, are they going to talk about the food, the cake, the photographer…OR are they going to talk about HOW MUCH FUN THEY HAD!! And this is where quality DJ entertainment comes in. Bargain shoppers always seem to get the disappointing results they pay for.

Some DJs stay in business not because they are talented but simply because they are born salesmen. You see, Bad DJs can impress you with slick telemarketing tactics and “sweet talk” you into paying a premium rate. They are ready to take full advantage of you by setting up a face-to-face appointment because they know all the pressure tactics to use in “closing the deal.” They may have even paid for and attended special Disc Jockey seminars that specialize on training DJs to extract the maximum payment they can get out of a bride’s wedding budget.

On the other hand, not all good DJs are the best salesmen. The average cost for DJs for prime time Saturdays in larger population areas is about $900 to $1,750 for a four-hour period (overtime going for $150-$250 per hour.) In smaller population centers or rural areas, like Cheyenne, Wyoming, this price range will be more like $600 to $1,000. The popularity of some good DJs commands a higher fee, whereas less experienced or more average DJs fall in the lower levels. Test question: how good is a DJ if he is the cheapest rate out of a market area of 100 advertised DJs?

HINT: It doesn’t hurt to ask for a discount if your event is on any other day other than Friday or Saturday. Most entertainers’ calendars are more flexible during other days of the week, therefore, they are more willing to discount their rates.

Don’t get sidetracked into a discussion of hourly rates. This is a trick most often used by shady DJ agencies with multiple DJs up for grabs. Or it’s a common ploy used by the newer DJs who are greener when it comes to price quotes and packages. DJs should be booked as a package… just like live bands. EXAMPLE: Plumbers charge by the hour because they can easily fill their day with appointments making quick house calls. They grab a toolbox, jump in the truck and off they go! DJs don’t have this flexibility with all the equipment they have to lug around and the lengthy time requirement for set-up. If a DJ charges for only two hours, then how will they make up the three hour difference in income for that same day? Most brides book weddings for at least four hours. DJs know they can base their overhead costs and profit on this average.

So, unlike a plumber making a quick service call, the DJ faces a much higher level of equipment logistics. And while considering this fact, smart DJs know it just isn’t feasible to discount loading time, labor costs and other operating costs since those costs are always fixed. Most good quality DJs have an overhead expense obligation of about 25-45% before they earn their first dollar of profit! If you get a price quote that seems extremely low, then this tells you how little value that DJ places on his operation overall.

Now…with all this information how do I find the best DJ?

Use the guide below when interviewing DJs. Be careful not to come off sounding like an interrogator. Instead, ask the following questions in a friendly and relaxed, easy-going manner… Remember he or she can decide not to take the job.

HOW IS YOUR DJ VOICE! How do you make announcements?

Somewhere along the line, people often forget one of the most important requirement to ask the DJ: Do they have a trained announcer’s voice? While speaking to your DJ on the phone or in person, do you feel confident that your guests will be impressed with your choice of DJ? Remember, he or she will be your official representative when making announcements! Is their VOICE rich and resonate …enunciating clearly and commanding attention? Or, does their voice sound average…like any other person who does not entertain. Try a flash quiz on your DJ candidate: “Can we hear a sample of how you will ask guests to be seated for dinner?” Or ask them, “How will you announce our grand entrance coming into the reception hall?”

Will you be the DJ who performs, or will it be someone else?

Always talk directly to the actual DJ you are contracting. An agent or sales rep is okay for paperwork details and contracts, but don’t sign anything until you have talked to your actual DJ. Be wary of major “bluff” tactics or stalling techniques that many larger DJ companies use to change the subject at this point. If the DJ you originally wanted is not available to see, meet, or at least speak to on the phone, then BEWARE! And watch out for this famous tactic: A “great DJ” you had hoped to hire might not be available for your event date. Sometimes, even Great DJs can refer a bad DJ if the booking commission or “finder’s fee kick-back” is the right price.

How many shows have you performed and for how many years?

If you are dubious of the DJs answer, politely request if the DJ has documentation to back up his claims. You can explain that you hear from DJs all the time that claim they are established veterans with hundreds or thousands of shows on their resume. So to get more information, you might say, “How can I tell who is telling the truth”? If the DJ balks at your request for evidence – or puts up a smoke screen… pass. There are other DJs out there with more integrity and experience.

Do you have references that I can talk to?

Check out former clients who have hired the DJ: catering managers, hotels, resorts, booking agents, photographers and videographers. These businesses see hundreds of DJs every year and know who the good and bad ones are. But even here, you must be careful. Unfortunately, there is a growing trend of professional event vendors who get paid “finder’s fees” or kick-back commissions for referrals.

Or, another popular trend is for a collective group of event vendors to form their own little Wedding Associations where they try to establish credibility for their group by designing a logo and clever catch phrase, and then they give each other glorious awards and trophies every year so they can all have bragging rights in their advertising that they are “award-winning” wedding professionals! In reality, they are a closely-knit clique of a limited number of vendors in each category, such as DJs, photographers, cake makers, videographers, wedding coordinators, caterers, etc.

Any event professional who is being paid a kick-back will have no objectivity. Move on to another vendor or reference. For example: the chances are slim that one DJ will have “sweetheart kick-back deals” with EVERY photographer in town! And don’t forget to call three or four former customers the DJ has performed for and review thank you notes that have been sent to the DJ. Fake actors pretending to be brides are usually obvious during a phone call if you ask the right questions. There will always be sneaky people who try to use their wife, sister or friend to pose as a former bride and client of a DJ. Especially if they have a bad reputation from other sources!

DJ’s business manner:

Any DJ you hire should have a positive, nice personality. He should also be prompt in returning emails, phone messages and showing up on time for meetings and appointments. And finally, does the DJ exude a confident, professional attitude? Or, is he or she arrogant and stand-offish? Ego-maniacs will really turn off your guests! Also, peculiar personal hygiene will be noticed by your guests and will reflect directly on you and your tastes in hiring your musical representative.

What does your equipment consist of? What does it look like?

Basics should include: (1) digital music players such as computers, laptops or compact disc players that operate like open turntables. (Plain old home-styled CD players are very limited in functions, and will prevent the DJ from doing beat mixes with other songs.) (2) high-quality professional amplifier(s), (3) a professional mixer for microphone inputs and music source inputs, (4) at least two speakers capable of filling a dance floor with a clean sound without distorting, (5) at least two microphones (one should be a high-quality wireless mic for toasts, etc.).

TURNTABLES: Any DJ that uses turntables and records in today’s world is either too cheap to buy contemporary digital equipment and music, OR they primarily focus on vinyl records that are still made for rap, hip-hop, techno, rave, house or alternative music. Not many brides want their wedding receptions to be turned into a single style of music. If you hire a DJ that has mostly records and likes these styles – then that is what you will mostly hear, regardless of him saying he plays “a variety.”

Can you send us a song list so we can view your overall music selection? Can we make requests? How many? Can we specify what you SHOULD NOT play?

Ask to review the DJ’s library – again without sounding testy or like an interrogator. Contemporary DJs have computerized lists of their song library. With the access of digital music in today’s world, 20,000 songs is a good starting point for a DJ music inventory – as long as this includes the variety of ALL MUSIC STYLES. Better music inventories will extend up to 100,000 or more. If the DJ has no way to show you their song library in a print out or on a computer screen, then this is not a good sign they have an adequate music library. And if their song lists are disorganized or confusing, then this is also bad omen, so steer clear of that DJ, no matter what their excuse is.

Smart DJs categorize their music by decades, then the style of music within each of those decades. Inexperienced or Dumb DJs only alphabetize their music by song or artist which does not help at all when mixing music during a frantically paced dance party! Some DJs are in business for only one primary reason: they try to force their musical tastes onto their audiences. This is like the typical dork who loves to play loud, thumping rap music on their car stereo while you and he are waiting at the same traffic light. Imagine that same guy’s ego and attitude forcing their favorite brand of music on guests at your wedding reception or party.

Can I control the volume?

No DJ should ever have any problems with this minor request.

Do you mind if I ask…what is your age?

No legal violations here…you’re not hiring a Government employee. You are simply renting a contractor for a few hours. Age affects music bias. We all know the difference between growing up with certain music as opposed to learning about music styles from the internet, TV or the MOVIES. Note: younger DJs lean more towards rap, hip-hop, progressive rock, hard rock, techno and alternative. Older DJs are less knowledgeable about the latest song releases for these newer styles, but they are usually more experienced with the balance of all other music from popular charts in the last several decades.  If you’re hiring a company who has several DJ ask who will be my DJ and how old is he.

Does your price include lighting? What kind?

Conservative is better for weddings. There are finally newer type computerized lighting effects available that are considered in good taste for wedding receptions. Wild crazy lights and extreme effects are better for certain types of parties and themes. It’s all according to your taste.

Do you arrive self-contained, or do we need to provide anything?

Pros arrive self-contained and don’t need a thing except a space to set up and at least one (1) 115-volt, 20 amp electrical outlet (2 separate 115 volt circuits are better if using more lighting effects). For extreme lighting shows and audio visual set-ups, a separate power “drop box” may be required which involves discussions with the maintenance staff at your venue.

What does your equipment set-up look like?

Note the cosmetic appearance of the DJ’s equipment. Some DJs are tasteful and creative and have a clean, modern look. Amateur DJs still make the caterer or banquet hall provide a six or eight foot folding table to set equipment on. You should not be hiring this type of amateur, but if you do…then you are stuck making arrangements for the DJ’s personal equipment table. Most DJ folding table set-ups do not look professional, but are sloppy with twisted, rats nests of electrical cords hanging everywhere off the edges of the table. Remember that big banquet tables eat up more space.

Do we have to pay for your driving time or set-up time?

30-60 minutes’ drive time is the average for most DJ gigs. You should not have to pay them for travel time to any venue that takes a half-hour to drive to! But, for hour-long trips, there might be a fee of an additional $25 to $75 for gas, bridge toll and driving time reimbursement. EXAMPLE: Do you charge your boss for the time it takes you to prepare for work in the morning? OR, do you get paid for driving to work every day? Enough said! I don’t care how good your DJ might be: he is not a movie star or the President. By the way: you should not be charged labor for the time a DJ sets up their equipment. The exception to this is when you are paying for more equipment upgrades, such as bigger speakers, AV equipment, or additional sound reinforcement for wedding ceremonies in the same or other locations. Average set-up time for most DJs is one hour for load-in and set-up. It will be longer for large hotels with elevators and multiple events going on simultaneously.

Do you use an assistant(s)?

Some DJs use an assistant to help out. If so, verify who this assistant is by name, and what they will wear and what they will do during the reception. Do you want the assistant to eat food as well as the DJ? Or what if the assistant dances with your guests? A pretty female assistant may be good to get men to dance, but often this can backfire as wives and girlfriends get jealous or offended. The same is true if a male assistant asks female wedding guests to dance. Single men in attendance might be offended that they don’t have a shot at asking that nice single lady to dance. So be sure to clarify with the DJ exactly what the assistant’s role will be throughout the reception.

Can you go overtime if everything is going well?

Discuss this in advance. If so, how much is the cost and who gives the official “OKAY” at what time to keep the dance music going. When does the overtime money get paid, by whom and in what form (cash, check, travelers check, charge, etc)?

Will you let us use an extra microphone?

Normally microphones are provided for toasts, singers, or announcements. DJs do not allow random grabs of their live microphone by guests. They know they are personally responsible for every word being said through the sound system. The only exception is for the bride and groom to give approval of any such comments from guests over a microphone in advance (but within reason – not for silly drunks or fools that can tend to be rude, obnoxious, or ruin the fun mood on the dance floor).

What type of background music do you play for cocktails or dinner?

Make sure it’s not all the same type or style of music. No one wants to hear all jazz, all classical, or too much Kenny G, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, or Barry Manilow. Avoid single music style marathons, please! You will bore your guests otherwise.

Besides announcements, how much do you talk? What type of things do you say?

Your DJ needs to know when to talk and when to SHUT UP!

Can you give me some examples of how your experience helped you “ad-lib” when an emergency arose?

Try him or her out on this one: It will tell you how experienced and professional they are.

What will you wear? A tuxedo?

Happy hunting! I hope all of this information helps you on your “Disc Jockey Quest”!


Bill Spencer






Copyright 2014 Bill’s DJ Service

5401 Walker Road Suite B

Cheyenne WY, 82009

Phone: 307-514-0955

INSPIRATION: Bring on the Bubbly!

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Thanks to Kara Sweet of The Sweet Sommelier in Newcastle for sending this informative piece on how to pick the best bubbly for your first toast as husband & wife! Find Kara on Facebook for lots of vino inspiration…

Bring on the Bubbly!

The beautiful bride has walked down the aisle.  The handsome groom has said his vows.  The newly married couple has shared their first kiss.  Now the celebration begins!  And it wouldn’t be a true wedding celebration without breaking out the bubbles to toast the Mr. and Mrs.  Sparkling wines are a must at wedding celebrations.  Though bubbles come in many different kinds and styles, a great celebratory wine must be refreshing and graceful, just like the happy couple.

When most people think of sparkling wine, they think of Champagne.  However, true Champagne is the sparkling wine made in the French wine-making region called Champagne.  Champagne is made from a blend of red and white grapes that actually go through a second fermentation process while in the bottle.  This fermentation creates carbon dioxide that is reabsorbed into the wine, thus creating the bubbles.  This is called “Methode Champenoise” or “Methode Traditionnelle,” so even though only wines from this particular region of France are true Champagnes, many other wines around the world go through this same process.  Drinking real Champagne at a wedding is a wonderful gesture, but when most Champagnes cost $35 a bottle or more, it may not always fit into a wedding budget for all the guests to toast the newlyweds with Champagne.  If Champagne is on the menu, there are some amazing producers that make breath-taking wines.  Of course, everyone has heard of Dom Perignon and Cristal, both retailing for just under or well over $200 per bottle.  Other Champagnes with fewer zeros in the price are produced by Moet and Chandon and Veuve Clicquot.  Of course, if producer is not an issue, just look for the word “Champagne” on a bottle, and you will be enjoying one of the world’s most renowned sparkling wines.

If Champagne is not in the budget or on the wish list of the wedding planners, there are other sparklers from around the world that are equally amazing for a wedding toast…and most are a bit more budget-friendly.  Cava is the sparkling wine made in the northeast region of Spain near Catalonia.  Cavas are produced using the same classic method of Champagne, so these wines make a great alternative for toasting at less than half the price per bottle.  Producers to look for if choosing Cava are Codorniu and Freixenet (in the black bottle).


Yet another option for a sparkling wine toast is to purchase Prosecco from Italy.  These wines are known for having slightly larger bubbles and being less crisp than Champagnes or Cavas, yet make for a great wine for wedding receptions.  Again, the price is going to be less than half the cost of Champagnes while still drinking a quality product.  Look for Prosecco on the bottle or these reputable producers:  Bisol and Masottina.

Though Europe has been producing sparkling wines for centuries, you can also find wonderful bubbly in the United States.  If you are looking for a higher-quality sparkling from the U.S., make sure to look for the terms “Methode Champenoise” or “Methode Traditionnelle” on the bottle.  Due to American wine laws, these are the only terms to tell how the wine was made.  Of course, California makes some amazing sparklers.  Look for the producers Gloria Ferrer, Domaine Carneros, Schramsberg, and Roederer.  New York State is also moving toward making quality sparkling wines; Dr. Konstantin Frank is leading the way.  Gruet, from New Mexico, is also a great bet.

These are not the only sparkling wines made around the world.  All countries make some sort of bubbly.  Other terms to look for on wine bottles that may help find a sparkler include cremant, sekt, frizzante, spumante, Blanquette de Limoux, and Franciacorta.  These words either mean the wines are a sparkling style or are produced in a region that, by law, are required to make sparkling wines.  Bubbles also come in many dryness/sweetness levels, anywhere from very dry to very sweet.  However, these levels can be confusing; when the term “dry” is used, it does not actually refer to the driest wines.  The driest sparklers are called Brut Zero (though these are not as common in the U.S.).  Brut means dry.  Extra Dry actually means not as dry as a Brut but off-dry.  Sec is semi-sweet, Demi-Sec is sweet, and Doux is very sweet.  Though these are the French terms, they are used fairly universally for other European and American sparklers.  Of course some bubbly wines, like Moscato d’ Asti, will always be sweet, even if they don’t have any of the above terms on the label.

With so many options, it can be hard to decide.  However, like most wedding decisions, budget might play a part in the celebratory toast.  If budget is no issue, treat your guests to true Champagne or a quality sparkling from one of the great producers mentioned earlier. When trying to stay within a budget, wedding planners can have a special (more expensive) bottle of sparkling for the bride, groom, and bridal party to toast with, and then have a quality—yet less expensive—option for all of the guests.  Of course, like with any product, cheap options can be found.  These might be wines that are made from a method other than the classic method to make them sparkling…and that’s okay.  The most important part of this special day is not the brand of sparkling wine, but the bride and groom that are being toasted with that wine!

The final, and absolutely most important, note on sparkling wines, however, is the serving temperature of these wines.  Sparkling wines MUST be served COLD, as cold as the wine can get!  Even the most expensive bubbly will not taste its best if it is served at room temperature or warm.  In fact, for many years, I believed I didn’t like sparkling wines because of too many wedding receptions where I had hot bubbly.  Make sure to keep the sparklers in a restaurant-grade, very cold refrigerator just until it is time to pop the top.  Ask for volunteers or have the event-location staff help to open and pour the bottles just before time to toast.  If there are still bottles with wine in them, make sure to put these bottles on ice so they can be consumed cold during the remainder of the wedding reception.

After the bride has lifted her veil and the groom has professed his love, it is time to celebrate this beautiful new union!  These celebrations include special speeches, loving dances, and festive toasts.  Sparkling wine is an important part of this tradition.  No wedding day is complete without the pop of a cork followed by a joyful “Cheers” to the newlyweds!  Congratulations!

Thanks again to Kara Sweet of The Sweet Sommelier in Newcastle for the tips on picking that great bubbly for your first toast as husband & wife! Find Kara on Facebook for lots of vino inspiration!


INSPIRATION: The Bride’s Assistant


OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS:  Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Wyovore WYO XY The Wyoming Woman

I have so many brides ask me this question: “Is there one thing I should make sure that I have on our wedding day?” While I can’t easily narrow it down to ONE thing, I can definitely name one thing that I would not have a wedding day without — a bride’s assistant. This is someone that is NOT in the wedding party. I know your knee-jerk reaction is to name your maid/matron of honor to this position, and she does have a position like this to a degree…but I still argue that a separate, independent bride’s assistant that is party-tie free is essential. This is the person who needs to be aware of all the ins and outs of your day — when the flowers, cake, catering, etc. will arrive – when the DJ will set up — where the musicians are supposed to be located in the ceremony space (for when they show up and are unsure)… and so on.

Why should this person NOT be your maid/matron of honor, or one of your parents or your groom’s parents/family members? Because. OK, just kidding — there is a reason, and it’s a doozy. Because they’re going to be busy enjoying your day. Your parents have waited your entire life (+9 mos) for this moment, so please don’t bog them down with worrying about details. They’re going to do that anyway. Let them know that you have someone responsible who is in charge of this, so that they can watch you as you get ready and walk down the aisle and let the tears of happiness flow unabashed. (OK, that was poetic. But you know what I mean.) Same with your groom’s family, and your wedding party — they’ll all want to join in your day without the stress of minute details.

In addition, remember that the rehearsal and wedding days are full of hair appointments, keeping track of tux pieces, saying hello to friends and family and being there to give you a hug in the moment. Having someone who doesn’t have to be sitting in a salon chair while frantically calling the caterer or someone to check on the cake is a HUGE benefit to the stress and flow of your day.

So we’ve defined this person, we’ve argued the reasons why they’re essential — now what should this person do? And how should you go about informing them of all that happens? I was blessed to serve in this role for a dear friend of mine — she’s one of the most organized people I know. We kept in contact every now and then over a series of months beforehand, then the week beforehand she really gave me the whole skinny on the day. Here’s what she gave me:

Ceremony outline

Reception outline

Reception table and decoration schematic

Where items of decorations would be located, who would be bringing them, and who would be setting them up on the wedding day

When the cake, catering, flowers, band, DJ, etc. would arrive, and where they would set up

Whether everyone had been paid, and if not, who would be expecting payment and where to find it (make sure you have those checks prepared and made out for the appropriate amount! Then it’s easy-peasy for your assistant.)

Names of people in wedding party (an added way super organized you’re a rock star bride bonus might be pictures of each member of the wedding party and their name!)

Who has the wedding rings — let your assistant know if this is someone they should regularly check in with, make sure they still have them (you never know who might enjoy the pre-wedding celebrations a little too much…)

The time that you want everyone lined up for the ceremony

When everyone should arrive for the reception; when bar & hors d’oeuvres should begin (keep in mind that everything is approximate, and remind your assistant of that too)

Now — when I filled in this role for my friend, I showed up at the decorating time, expecting I’d be orchestrating everyone. The friends of the mom were expecting they’d be orchestrating everyone — and to keep from causing a ruckus, I backed off a little bit and let them have that show. I figured that was important to them because they were close to her mother. I did make sure that nothing was left undone, but quietly and in an unobtrusive way. Be sure your assistant understands how to work with personalities and not cause tension — sometimes these things just happen. Everyone wants the best for your wedding day and those that they love — so no one does this to be unkind — they just simply all have their own ideas on how these things happen. Just remember that, remind your assistant and tell her/him to be flexible. All will be well in the end!

Can’t I just hire someone? YES! You absolutely can, and that is one of the great things about our awesome wedding planners who serve Wyoming! Many offer a day-of-the-wedding package. OR, you can hire them to help you coordinate AND serve in this role, and you get twice the benefits. Check our vendor page for planners for Wyoming!

Questions? I know we’ve left points unanswered here — so please email ( or post on our Facebook page and we’ll be happy to expand upon this topic!

‘Til Next Time…stay inspired and keep going! It’ll be a beautiful day just for you!

Kati Hime, Editor


OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS:  Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Wyovore WYO XY The Wyoming Woman

INSPIRATION: Wyoming Sophistication Bridal


OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS:  Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Wyovore WYO XY The Wyoming Woman

Thanks to Ludwig Photography in Laramie for sharing their look at Wyoming Sophistication and a beautiful bridal shoot! Mountain Valley Bridal in Laramie provided the attire, Fresh Flower Fantasy in Laramie the flowers, and Alexander’s Fine Jewelry in Laramie the beautiful ring. Here’s what Anne of Ludwig Photography had to say about this shoot…

“One of the biggest reasons we love Wyoming -incredible beauty and savoir faire. Brides are falling in love with simple, sophisticated, and elegant attire.  There is a trend of less is more and our setting: the new University of Wyoming Art Building  was perfect to highlight Max and Sean .Their  incredible bridal assemble (gown, jewelry and tuxedo) was provided by Mountain Valley Bridal. Flowers were the artistry of Fresh Flower Fantasy and their amazing ring from Alexander’s Fine Jewelry.

“Our 2013 brides are drawing inspiration from old world glamour with cinematic and literary influences .We had a wonderful time exploring the fun and flirtation between Max and Sean at the Historic Laramie Train Depot. This trend is already being reflected on red carpets and runways around the world.”

Thanks again to Ludwig Photography in Laramie for sharing this spotlight with us — beautiful ideas and images!

‘Til Next Time…

Kati Hime, Editor

INSPIRATION: Rock the Dress!


OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS:  Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Wyovore WYO XY The Wyoming Woman

image by Christine Kronz Photography, Cheyenne


Want to rock that dress? Strapless or non, every woman wants to look her best on her day. One element that puts your best foot forward is your upper body. Shoulders,biceps, triceps…these are easy muscles to tone in the months ahead of your day, and they create a stunning profile whether photographed at a distance or up close.

TWO PEOPLE that deserve a call first before you begin ANY exercise workout: #1 and MOST IMPORTANTLY — your physician. Always get your physician’s A-OK before you begin an exercise regimen. #2 — Work with your bridal shop and let them know that you plan on doing some working out in the months ahead. Ask them pointed questions about how the fit of your gown can change, how they handle alterations, and what time frame that will require. Believe me, this 30 minute session with your bridal shop will pay off in HUGE stress reliefs down the road when you plan ahead!

While we’re at it, we want to give a shout out to our awesome Wyoming friends in the bridal attire industry:  Mountain Valley Bridal in Laramie; Hart’s Tux & Gown in Casper; Special Occasions in Sheridan; and Dan D Party Corner in Cheyenne for tux rentals. All of these shops are not only professionals in bridal attire, but also the time frame and commitments it takes to creating the look of your dreams.

Here are some good sites I found for targeting that upper body and finding some rockstar workouts at the same time:

Tricep exercises — Since my UW cheerleading days, I have learned the utter importance the tricep muscle has on our appearance, as well as our daily functioning. It may seem so little utilized, but once you work it out, you’ll discover how much our tricep really does do for you that you never even realized! My go-to exercises? Dips! You can do dips on the living room floor, or in a gym using parallel bars or gym bleachers. I do use closely stanced pushups, a medicine ball or free weights for some tricep extensions, but dips are still my fave (although not in the moment, I hate them in the moment…) Here’s a good site:

Shoulder & chest exercises — I’m a pushup girl. I vary the width on my stance and go until my shoulders are shaking. Military presses and lateral raises with free weights are also good, and when I was a cheerleader, old school bench press worked wonders for my shoulders and chest. Nowadays, I vary the pushups at home with the rowing machine at the gym. Set the tunes to cruise and let your mind drift…pure Heaven…  Here’s a good site:


Got a great go-to upper body workout? We’d love to hear about it! Post on our Facebook page or email us at and we’ll add your suggestion to this blog post — and if you have a great workout for another area of the body, shoot us a line as well — we’ll be talking about more fitness in blog posts to come!

‘Til next time…

Kati Hime, Editor



OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS:  Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Wyovore WYO XY The Wyoming Woman

INSPIRATION: Mountain Effortless – Ardent Photography, Poppy’s & Snowy Mtn Lodge


OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS:  Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Wyovore WYO XY The Wyoming Woman

Thanks to Ardent Photography in Laramie for sending in this intimate photo shoot that details the beauties of the Snowies, as well as the Snowy Mountain Lodge. The lodge is under new ownership, and is enthusiastic about their wedding facilities that they have to offer. Be sure to check out their website to learn more about them! I also love the unique headpiece made by Poppy’s Flowers in Laramie…talk about creative! Below is a little description of the shoot from Stephanie Osborne, 1/2 of the husband/wife ownership team at Ardent Photography

Rick and I LOVE styled shoots. Although we take the photos we try to be as ‘hands off’ as we can. We like to surround ourselves with vendors who are amazing, creative and full of ideas! We give them the general theme that we are going for, then challenge them to CREATE. Come up with something different, something amazing, something spectacular… Easy right?

When we heard that Snowy Mountain Lodge up in Centennial, WY was debuting a brand new wedding facility we just had to make a trip up the mountain. Featuring a gorgeous outdoor wedding amphitheater with natural log seating and a cozy and spacious authentic mountain lodge for receptions, it was a GORGEOUS setting for this shoot. Our models, Kaitlyn and Daniel, are wearing vintage inspired attire thoughtfully picked by the ladies at Mountain Valley Bridal and wedding rings hand picked by Kati Hime, editor of Wyoming Weddings. Rachel from Poppy’s asked us if it would be ok to ‘ditch the bouquet’ and go for something completely unique. We of course said YES and were so impressed with the floral headpiece that she created for this shoot!

It turned out beautifully and we are beyond thrilled with the images from this shoot. We want to take the time to thank each and every vendor that put their heart and effort into creating such a beautiful styled shoot!




















Thanks again to Ardent Photography in Laramie, Poppy’s Flowers and Snowy Mountain Lodge for this beautiful shoot!



OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS:  Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Wyovore WYO XY The Wyoming Woman



INSPIRATION: Boudoir is a Gift for Him & You


OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS:  Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Wyovore WYO XY The Wyoming Woman


















image by Honey Bee Photography, Laramie

In 2011, we launched our first boudoir e-mag — a place to celebrate the beauty of boudoir photography, and a gallery of Wyoming photographers who offer this service. The incredible positive response we received was exciting — and we are thrilled to be working on our next installment for 2012!

When we started this project, I was extremely nervous — what would people think? Would they think we were encouraging some kind of porn, or objectifying women? I expressed my worry to Stephanie Osborne of Ardent Photography in Laramie — and as you’ll read in her article below, her opinion is entirely otherwise. “It’s no different than swimsuits,” Stephanie said first, and then she added, “Plus, it’s done as a gift to yourself and your husband or fiance. It’s a beautiful thing.”

How right she was — and still is! Boudoir photography is an experience — a place for you to celebrate your inner sensuality and give that as a gift made just for your significant other. While the ladies in our e-mags have agreed to let us share their images, they are sharing the idea that women are beautiful, sexy and special just as they are — and we’re all so different. That’s why he fell in love with YOU — because you are special in his eyes (and he in yours!) With that in mind, I pushed forward with a clear conscience and discovered that the idea of boudoir photography as a celebration and gift of love is a universally accepted concept.

So with that said, I want to share the article that Stephanie wrote for our 2011 boudoir e-mag — and be sure to visit our last e-mag by clicking on this link…and stay tuned for our 2012 installment, including another great feature from Stephanie!

image by Ardent Photography, Laramie

THE BEAUTY OF BOUDOIR — by Stephanie Osborne of Ardent Photography, Laramie

Newly wed, I found myself, like countless other women, challenged with finding my husband the PERFECT Valentine’s Day gift. I wanted it to be fun, memorable, unique and something that would totally surprise him!

While searching for that something amazing, I remembered hearing about a new genre of photography called “boudoir.” Unfamiliar with what boudoir photography really was I jumped on the internet to do some research…

I found the definition of boudoir photography as a “set of sensual images for a woman in ‘boudoir style.’” My interest was immediately piqued by the definition alone, and I immediately started to look for photographs that embodied this mysterious new genre of photography. What I found was breathtaking; I wanted to BE one of those women in the photographs:  stunning, gorgeous, captivating. The way I saw them was exactly how I wanted my husband to see me! There was no doubt in my mind that this was the ultimate gift for my guy, so I summoned up all the courage I could and booked myself a session with a local photographer.

As soon as my session was booked and an official date set, I suddenly became very aware of exactly how long I had to ‘get in shape’ before being photographed. Long story short, the days flew by, and in no time, it was the week of my session and I had to face the fact that I was nowhere near where I wanted to be physically. The boudoir session I had been so excited for when I booked it? I was now dreading the idea. After spending a small fortune on new lingerie, I reluctantly decided to go through with the session anyway…fear, dread and all.

When my boudoir photos arrived a few weeks after the session, I felt a sense of dread come over me. Why I had not stuck to my super-unrealistic workout schedule, or, better yet, starved myself silly on another fad diet? I kept reminding myself that my husband loved me exactly the way I was, and in the photos, I would look like myself, and that was OK. Right?

The thing was, when I finally got the nerve to look at my boudoir photos, they weren’t of the ‘me’ I was expecting at all! Where were the love handles? The thunder thighs? What about that ever-present ghetto body that I learned to deal with over the years? And who was that confident, strong beauty staring back at me? As I looked through my photos, I was absolutely shocked, humbled, proud, and, most of all, intrigued. Having MY boudoir photos taken completely opened my eyes to the real me that I had been missing out on all these years, and I knew immediately that I wanted to be able to give this new gift to women everywhere!

As women, we just don’t see ourselves accurately. When we look in the mirror, we tend to focus on our faults, things we wish we could change, and areas of our body that we’re ‘working on.’ But boudoir photos don’t lie; as I learned, they often tell an entirely different story about what we’re seeing in the mirror each day! Whether you are a size four or a size fourteen, the goal of boudoir photography is to capture the essence of what makes each and every woman beautiful. Being photographed in this fun, sensual style will boost your self-esteem, build or increase your confidence as a woman, and bring you face to face with the gorgeous girl you really are.

Of course, as much as you will benefit from booking a session, the photos also make an amazing gift for that special someone in your life. That look in your eyes; the shy smile he has always loved; maybe even the sexy way you look in his favorite old t-shirt! Giving boudoir means giving a lasting memory of that special element of yours that he won’t want to ever forget. Spontaneous, bold and unique, giving your special someone an album of your boudoir images is sure to be a fantastic surprise!

Now that you know what boudoir photography is and what it can do, I bet you have all sorts of questions (I know I did!) Here are a few FAQs that we boudoir photographers get asked on a regular basis. If you do find yourself curious, needing further information, or, better yet, wanting to book a session, please feel free to contact me directly; having been on both sides of the lens for the beautiful style of photography, I’m well equipped to answer everything you’ll want to know!


What is a boudoir session? A boudoir session is your chance to capture your beauty, confidence and sensuality through photography. Sessions can be done purely as a gift for yourself but also make a great present for that special someone.

Who should do a boudoir session? Anyone and everyone should do a boudoir session at least once in their lives! Being photographed during a boudoir session is an incredible experience. It boosts your confidence, brings out your sexy side, and really captures the special beauty every woman possesses. The images from your session will be artistic, fine art shots that showcases you as you really are.

What should I expect from my session? Sessions are usually 1-2 hours long. Most photographers welcome you to bring along your own hairstylist and makeup artist if you’re not comfortable doing your hair & makeup on your own, or to choose a hairstylist and makeup artist from a list of their recommended vendors. Most boudoir sessions also include a limited number of outfit changes, but remember: the more time  you spend changing, the less time there is for taking photos. Posing is based on the look & feel you want from your photos; as a boudoir photographer, my ultimate goal is to capture you at your beautiful and most comfortable, so I keep my sessions laid back, spontaneous and fun!

Where do you shoot? Most photographers shoot in a studio or at a preferred hotel of their choosing. Some studios will even come to your home or another location of your choosing. When choosing a location, you want to be mindful of the ambiance, mood and, of course, backgrounds. All of the above contribute to a successful shoot and a stunning final product.

What should I wear? This entirely depends upon what kind of a feel you would like for your session. Whether you show up with sexy lingerie, your favorite collared shirt, or plans to be au natural, the most important thing is that you wear something in which you feel confident and beautiful. Feel free to bring in fun & flirty accessories too, like jewelry, shoes, hats & gloves, jackets, etc. If you’re going to be doing portraits in the nude, be sure to wear loose-fitting clothing to your session as well as during the day if your photos are later in the afternoon or evening; anything too restricting will often leave indentations in the skin.

Will my photos be retouched? Most photographers offer two types of retouching: basic & advanced. Basic retouching entails fixing minor blemishes, stray hairs, makeup smudges, etc. whereas advanced retouching includes all the basic retouching plus skin softening, body sculpting (within reason), and more intense acne/blemish removal. Regardless what level of retouching you choose, be sure to ask that all your photos be professionally processed to include vibrant color, rich contrast and a sharp, crisp final product.

What happens with the negatives or digital files? Client photos (the negative, files and prints) should be kept secure and handled only by your chosen studio. I recommend any prints that need to be made or products that need to be ordered be done through the same studio, as that is really the only way to make sure your privacy remains intact.

Stay tuned for more great information from Stephanie — as well as lots of beautiful boudoir images coming up in our 2012 edition!

‘Til Next Time…

Kati Hime, Editor


OUR SISTER PUBLICATIONS:  Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine Wyovore WYO XY The Wyoming Woman



SHOESDAY TUESDAY: Vans from Abbydell


Our Sister Publications:  Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine — Wyovore — WYO XY — Woman —

Check out these super FUN Shoesday Tuesday pics from Abbydell Photography — VANS, and purple ones at that! I also love the groom’s matching socks…



























Do you have a Shoesday Tuesday or engagement/wedding spotlight that we can share? Send us a line at — we’d love to feature YOU!

‘Til Next Time…

Kati Hime, Editor


Our Sister Publications:  Wyoming Lifestyle Magazine — Wyovore — WYO XY — Wyoming Woman —