Find your wedding items close to home

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN
It’s not quite one-stop shopping, but couples planning their wedding in the near future can find almost everything they need for the special event-except maybe the wedding gown itself-right here in Marion County.

Flowers & accessories

One Hillsboro business, Prairie Flower & Garden, has greatly expanded its wedding services and accessories just within the last year.

Carmon Jones, co-owner, said flowers and floral arrangements are still central to what they offer, but they’ve expanded into a variety of other wedding-related items as well.

“I can do almost everything but dress the bride,” Jones said.

The business recently added the Lillian Rose line of products, including pens, guestbooks, ringbearer pillows, handkerchiefs, garters, toasting glasses, candles, unity candles and more.

Prairie Flowers also offers cake tops and will rent tuxedos, candelabras and even cake pans “for do-it-yourself wedding-cake decorating people,” Jones said.

Of course, flowers are still a key item, and Jones invites wedding planners to come to the store and look up the latest in floral styles.

“We have very good designers on hand,” Jones said. “We have trained designers in all areas of wedding work.”

She said even though they’re relatively new in the wedding-accessories business, their clientele is growing.

“We’ve done a few weddings in the last year and hopefully they’ve spoken well for us, so we’ve gotten quite a few more coming up,” she said. “Our experience is getting more intense.”

A second source for flowers in the county is Main Street Flowers in Marion. Owner Julie Jantz said one of her most common tasks is helping a future bride sort through the many floral options.

“They’ll come in with some ideas, but often they really don’t know what they want to do,” Jantz said.

Main Street Flowers focuses primarily on the flowers rather than the accessories that go with a ceremony. Jantz said she has found that most churches offer a lot of the accessories a wedding may require.

Tuxes and alterations

In addition to Prairie Flowers in Hillsboro, Custom Threads in Marion also offers tuxedo rental.

Owner Audrey McLinden has been offering the service for some 10 years. She can order from a variety of styles and is experienced in getting the proper measurements so the tuxes fit properly.

A unique service McLinden offers is dress alterations. She said she’s been sewing “forever” and enjoys working on dresses for the bride and wedding party to ensure the most flattering fit possible.

Photographers

Lynn Hagaman of Lynn’s Classic Photography in Hillsboro is one of two professional photographers in Marion County who focus on weddings. His first bit of advice to wedding planners: pick your photographer before you set the date of the ceremony.

“Otherwise, Uncle George might have to do it because they won’t find anybody else who’s available,” he said with a smile. “I’ve had people come in and say they’ve got a wedding coming in June-and I’m already spoken for on that date.”

He also recommends that planners-particularly the bride-to-be-consider three factors when selecting a photographer: price, style and personality.

“The bride and the photographer need to get along,” he said. “If a bride and photographer clash for six or seven hours, it can really ruin a wedding.”

Dan Bergen, owner of Schmidt Studios in Goessel, agrees. He said one of his goal is to eliminate stress at a wedding by carefully scheduling photos in advance.

“My philosophy about a wedding is that it ought to be one of the most enjoyable days of their lives,” Bergen said. “We want to get out of the way of the wedding by doing the pictures ahead of time and then let things just unfold as they want them to. We don’t want to be taking time away from couples greeting their guests or away from the reception.”

Bergen bought Schmidt Studios in 1979, but had 10 years professional experience in Wichita before that. He feels he has developed an efficient system for helping couples.

“The first information we send out includes our packages and prices, so they know what that is up front,” he said. “The first thing we do, then, is make sure we’re available on the date they want.”

He feels it’s important for him to meet with the couple before they make a final decision.

“I try not to book any weddings without people coming to the studio,” he said.

He said he usually begins shooting photos about two-and-one-half hours before the wedding is to start, and aims to be done an hour before the ceremony begins.

“It’s a people-management situation as much as anything,” Bergen said. “What we want to do is plan it so there’s no stress to it. We set times in advance so people know what’s happening. You can eliminate a lot of problems at a wedding if you do that.”

Hagaman, meanwhile, has been actively pursuing his photography business the past five years, but actually started in the field in 1967, mostly on a part-time basis. After working in other fields through the years, he picked up the camera again to take candid shots at his own daughter’s wedding-and is now working full-time at it.

His operating philosophy is that the wedding is the couple’s event, not his.

“I think what sets me apart is that I’m easy to get along with,” he said. “I let the bride have her wedding. I record what happens rather than trying to dictate the things. I just let it happen.”

Hagaman does traditional portrait work, but his favorite part of the project is what he calls his “relaxed classic” style.

“People tend to like the pictures where they’re relating to each other,” he said. “If you have the bride and the bridesmaid, I can have them stand up there real formal, but it’s a whole lot better if they’re giving each other a little hug.”

Hagaman exhibits his work on the Internet at his business Web site: www.lynnsphoto.com. The Web site gives prospective customers samples of his work as well as his numerous pricing packages.

“I’ve had weddings book me over the phone just from looking at my Web site,” he said.

Another advantage of his Internet connection is the ease and economy of ordering prints-and doing it quickly. Through the lab service Hagaman uses, the couple and their friends and family can order prints right off the Internet within a week instead of waiting sometimes months to pass around the traditional preview album.

“That’s a big, big savings for the bride and groom,” Hagaman said. “If their parents are in two different places, they can get on the Internet, enter the appropriate password, and order right online. They don’t have to deal with (the time and hassle of a preview book).”

He also uses the Internet to stir his own creativity.

“I’ve gotten some pretty good ideas by looking at what others are doing,” he said.

Invitations & programs

“Basically, we can do anything from catalog (styles) to total custom design,” said Elaine Baker, co-owner of Baker Bros. in Hillsboro referring to their invitation options. “We have some new catalogs that are really contemporary and pretty far out.

“We also do a lot of wedding programs,” she said. “In fact, that’s what we do most of. Pretty much we can do almost anything having to do with a wedding, including napkins and other accessories.”

Baker Bros. has a professional design staff that can help move almost any idea from concept to final product.

“We do a lot of that,” Baker said.

As for advice, Baker said turnaround time depends to some degree on the kind of paper the couple wants to use.

“If they’re real particular about paper, and it takes us a while to secure the paper, that’s probably the biggest issue,” she said. “But to turn the job around, it would only take a couple of weeks once we have those things lined out.”

Gift ideas

Wedding gifts can be purchased from many area businesses, depending on the intent of the buyer. But Odds & Ends in Hillsboro offers a gift registry to make the process easier. What’s more, they carry a variety of gifts, from kitchenware to home decor, that would benefit a new couple.

Peni Ens, owner, said the store’s Mikasa china and stoneware are popular items for gift registries, as are the stemware and silverware sets they offer.

Ens said she stocks practical day-to-day items, too, like measuring spoons and measuring cups.

In the home-decor area, she said a popular item has been the Heritage Lace line of tablecloths, doilies, table runners and related products.

For the wedding ceremony itself, the store offers a variety of candles, including unity-candle ensembles.

“We always offer gift-wrapping, of course, and we’re happy to deliver, too, if that makes it easier for folks,” she said.

Lodging

If the wedding is going to be held in the area, the future bride and groom have several lodging options to choose from for family and friends who may be attending-or even for their own honeymoon, for that matter.

Hillsboro’s Country Haven Inn, the newest of the four motels in the county, offers one particularly special room, according to Sonya Fisher, manager. The room features a hot tub and king-sized bed in a spacious setting.

If a home-like environment is more likely to impress those future in-laws, the county has several unique bed-and-breakfasts to choose from.

Hillsboro offers the Carousel Bed & Breakfast and the Nostalgic Bed & Breakfast. In the Marion area, the Country Dreams Bed & Breakfast and White Oak Inn Bed & Breakfast are good choices. The unique Jones Sheep Farm Bed & Breakfast is located near Peabody and the Cousin’s Corner Bed & Breakfast is available in Ramona.

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