Let's Get This Conversation Started!

By: Samantha Hirschman, Okoboji Wedding Team Member


This is the last thing you want to see at your wedding reception. 

Keep things interesting – have fun questions on the back of the table number card (silly questions like “What Netflix series do you watch?” or “What’s your favorite thing to do here at the lakes?”).


TheKnot.com offers the idea of drink tickets with prompts. For example, find someone wearing purple and ask them where they went for their last vacation. Or have tags on the glasses!


WeddingBee.com gives the idea of a treasure hunt – or something like the Amazing Race. Someone wrote, “At our wedding, the groomsmen kidnaped me in the middle of a toast. The DJ took over after receiving a list of demands from the groomsmen to get me back.” She explained how one clue was to get kisses from grandmothers. To Okoboji-ify this idea, have clues be about different parts of the lakes and the people searching has to answer. 

There is also a company that is specific to this type of thing – Table Topics. There are multiple editions and I’m sure there is something for your wedding!




Wedding Playlist

By: Samantha Hirschman, Okoboji Weddings Team Member

Did you realize that some of the most popular wedding first dance songs are from the 60s and 70s?! Frank Sinatra with “The Way You Look Tonight” and Etta James with “At Last” are the top 3 and 4 songs. The top two are “All of Me” by John Legend and “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton. 

WEDJ.com has the list here! 

Rank Song Title Song Artist Year Genre

Most Requested Wedding First Dance Songs is instantly updated by Gigbuilder - The world's most popular Event Management System.

1 All Of Me                               John Legend                                  2013 Popular

2 Wonderful Tonight                Eric Clapton                                  1978 Ballad

3 The Way You Look Tonight Frank Sinatra                                  1964 Ballad

4 At Last                                 Etta James                                   1961 Oldies

5 Marry Me                                 Train                                                  2010 Popular

6 Marry You                         Bruno Mars                                   2011 Popular

7 What A Wonderful World Louis Armstrong                           1967 Ballad

8 Can't Help Falling In Love Elvis Presley With The Jordanaires  1961 Ballad

9 A Thousand Years                 Christina Perri                                   2011 Ballad

10 I'm Yours                                 Jason Mraz                                   2008 Popular

11 God Gave Me You                 Blake Shelton                                    2011 None

12 I Don't Want To Miss A Thing  Aerosmith                                     1998 Ballad

13 Just The Way You Are          Bruno Mars                                      2010 Popular

14 Everything                          Michael Buble                                2007 Ballad

15 Amazed                                  Lonestar                                               1999 Ballad


The website has the top 200 first dance songs ever. Was your first dance song one of these? 


Lake Wedding Emergency Kit

By: Samantha Hirschman, Okoboji Wedding Team Member

There are a lot of bridal emergency kits out there. Every list always has tampons, Kleenex, medical kit, sewing kit, but there are a few things that you’ll definitely want if you’re having an Okoboji wedding! 

If it’s summer, you’ll definitely want to make sure to have deodorant and a light perfume. 
You’ll also want to probably have sunscreen and bug spray. Being near the water with the hot summer sun can easily burn your face or arms right up, so make sure to keep a bottle in your emergency kit. And in case you get burnt, keep Aloe Vera in your kit too. Depending on where you’re having your ceremony or reception, the bugs could be bad. Gull Point State Park or other locations with a lot of trees could have a lot of mosquitoes of flies. 

If you’ll be around sand, maybe keep an extra pair of socks for your husband-to-be. It may also be good to keep a bottle of water and a quick snack, like a granola bar, just in case you don’t have time to run somewhere. 

Iowa weather can be somewhat unpredictable. As much as no one wants it to rain on their wedding day, it’s always possible. Keep an umbrella ready if rain is in the forecast.

Don’t forget the sunglasses! 


Lake Okoboji Photo Opps and Stops

Photo Ops and Stops

By Samantha Hirschman, Okoboji Weddings Team Member

No matter where you are hosting your Big Day, there are plenty of photo opportunities. There are a few places, though, that you’ll want to make sure to get a picture. 

1. On a Dock

There are so many different shots a photographer can get when you are standing on a dock – especially with the perfect sunset. 


2. On the Beach

If you’re not already getting married on the beach, get pictures on the sand. 



3. Key Landmarks

You won’t want to miss getting a picture with the Arnolds Park Amusement Park Ferris wheel or the tipsy house


Online Wedding

By Samantha Hirschman, Okoboji Weddings Team Member

Families often end up all over the country as they grow bigger. If someone is not near the Lakes area, they may not be able to come to your wedding. Invite them online! 

Every family has their tech guy, so ask them if they would set up a webcam to stream the wedding ceremony and reception. All your distant family and friends will be able to feel included and you will feel better about them not being able to come! 

Another new technology that could be interesting to use is a GoPro. I’ve seen a concert before where the lead singer wore one and recorded the audience during the concert. 

Maybe have different people wear the GoPro throughout the day. During the ceremony, suggest someone who is not in the ceremony would be willing to wear it as they watch. The Flower Girl or Ring Bearer could strap it to their head during the reception as they run around dancing. 

Or strap the GoPro to a dog. 

It’d be a fun way to relive the special night! 


Unique Guest Books

By: Samantha Hirschman, Okoboji Weddings Team Member

When it comes to having a guest book, there are so many different ways to create one.

Do you let guests write messages? Do you get their address?

Here are just a few different ideas for couples who have a passion for something special.


For a couple who met their friends all over the United States or the world, maybe think about having your guests sign a globe or map. Give them a sharpie and have them sign either where you all met or where they are from.


For a couple who loves wine, have your guests sign corks. Then they will also have a little room to write a message! After the special day, you can arrange the corks into a letter, word, or date.



Or maybe you are a couple who spends a lot of time outdoors? Have your guests sign a piece of a tree trunk or a wooden bench.

 Maybe even a boat paddle if you love the water! After all, you are having your wedding at the Lakes.

Maybe you really want to be practical, so when it comes time for Thank You cards, it’s easier.

An Okoboji wedding, though. Maybe you want everyone to sign sea glass that you found on the beach of the Iowa Great Lakes. 

Maybe you both are book lovers!

Board game lovers?

And maybe you’re just a happy couple and just want a little creativity in your guest book.        


Easy Way to "Round Up" Those Reservations into Tables

Dealing with all the RSVPs can sometimes be a hassle to keep organized, especially if you have to ask chicken or beef, vegetarian, vegan, etc. 
Chelsey, an Okoboji bride, found the most perfect website for tracking RSVPs and guests’ preferences. RSVPify.com helps you create your own website -- open to anyone… or closed to only those invited. 
What is even better is that you can create a seating chart on this website too! Once you start having responses to the RSVPs, you can arrange everyone into groups for your tables. Watch this video to learn more about it. 
On top of being able to do a seating chart, the website will also ask your guests which meal they want if you’re having a plated dinner. 
Definitely put this website on your list. It’s definitely helpful. Just ask Chelsey!

Tina Edwards, OkobojiWeddings.com Team Member


Faux Pas That Could Sabotage Your Wedding Weekend - and How to Avoid Them

Originally written by: Sharon Naylor

Edited by: Samantha Hirschman, Okoboji Weddings Team Member 

Extending your wedding day to an entire weekend where you spend time in Okoboji with loved ones makes getting married even more magical. Okoboji brides hosting out-of-town guests usually plan relaxing get-togethers and catch-up dinners for up to three days (if not more). But before you schedule that agenda, steer clear of the following hostess pitfalls.

Wedding Weekend Mistake #1: Not planning a welcome to Okoboji cocktail party.
As guests arrive in town after long car rides or flights, they’ll be hungry, thirsty and looking for you. If you skip this essential get-together in an effort to save money, you're setting guests up for potential disappointment.
Your Solution: Okoboji brides on a budget can still find ways to plan a casual welcome party without breaking the bank; even light fare will do the trick. If you've booked a fair amount of hotel rooms in your block, talk to the special events manager at the hotel about arranging a modest buffet at a discount. Or, try hosting a pizza party at your parents' lake house instead (send driving directions well in advance). If either of those options are still out of your price range, arrange to have welcome baskets with treats and beverages delivered to guests' hotel rooms shortly after they arrive.

An awesome welcome party for the Lakes area may be simply meeting on the beach for a day in the sun. Another idea may be going to one of the many places with free music like Boji Bay Fun House and Pavilion or Arnold’s Park Amusement Park. 

Wedding Weekend Mistake #2: Planning too many wedding weekend events in Okoboji.
Guests' jaws will drop (and not in a good way) if you book every morning, noon and night of their weekend itinerary, barely alloting enough time for them to change outfits in between events. Although you might have the best intentions and want to treat guests to lots of enjoyable lake activities, they will only see an exhausting schedule ahead of them.
Your Solution: Limit yourself to a few, well-chosen events (perhaps one per day). Give guests what they truly want: Time to spend as they wish catching up with friends they haven't seen in a long time, relaxing at the beach, or enjoying some R&R with their spouse. Downtime is essential—both for them and for you.

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Photo Credit: Hoffer Photography

Wedding Weekend Mistake #3: Not planning enough wedding weekend events in Okoboji.
On the flip side, you'll regret it later if you plan absolutely nothing during your wedding weekend. Guests will assume you're ultra-busy with wedding tasks and plan day trips of their own. With no scheduled events, you might have a hard time tracking down loved ones when you do want to spend time with them.
Your Solution: Again, plan one optional get-together for each day. Also feel free to encourage your parents to host their own events for relatives and their friends. There’s no rule saying everyone has to always be together as one big group—parents can plan their own soirée while you take your entourage out on the town.
There is so much to do in the Lakes area and your guests will want to see the places on their own. Let them be explorers and see the small shops themselves! 

Wedding Weekend Mistake #4: Taking on too many DIY tasks that have to be done at the last minute.
DIY projects might save you money, but some (e.g. baking and making your own floral arrangements) must be done the night before—or worse, the day of the actual wedding. Trust us: You won't want to waste an entire weekend slaving over homemade cupcakes while everyone else is out having fun! Some brides may even resort to asking wedding guests to help them pull off these DIY projects.
Your Solution: Don't take on any do-it-yourself tasks that are too time-sensitive or beyond your experience. It's worth it to hire a professional in order to give yourself that priceless time with friends and family. And don't let relatives take on any DIY tasks that close to the event, either—let them enjoy the celebrations as well.

Photo Credit: Evin Photography  You can purchase amazing cupcakes for your guests at    Playful Cupcaketion  s  in Okoboji!

Photo Credit: Evin Photography  You can purchase amazing cupcakes for your guests at Playful Cupcaketions in Okoboji!

Wedding Weekend Mistake #5: Participating in dangerous Okoboji weekend activities.
Jet Skiing might sound like fun for your group, but you could scrape up your arms. Paintball outings may lead to big, ugly welts and bruises on your face, neck, and other body parts (even if you wear protective padding). Playing beach volleyball game could cause someone to twist an ankle, sending you—or your groom—down the aisle limping.
Your Solution: Sit out during any adrenaline-inducing activities, even seemingly-harmless ones like Ultimate Frisbee. You never know if a freak collision will blacken your eye or break your tooth! Be ultra-cautious at all of your Okoboji weekend events (no matter what they may be), to keep yourself in perfect condition for your wedding day and, later, your honeymoon.

Wedding Weekend Mistake #6: Skipping sunscreen.
Even on an overcast Okoboji day, you might get a terrible sunburn, which could spell disaster. Imagine the imprint of your tank top ruining the effect of your gorgeous gown or wincing in pain every time you break out a dance move or hug friends and family. Not worth it!
Your Solution: Make SPF a high priority. Slather yourself (and your groom) everywhere from ears to the tops of your feet, and reapply often. Don’t get distracted by the Okoboji fun you’re having and accidentally become lobster-red on your big day.

Wedding Weekend Mistake #7: Munching on bloating foods.
Potential nightmare scenario: While out with your friends, you can't help but indulge in a big, salty nachos platter. The next day your dress doesn’t fit, nor do your rings over your swollen fingers.
Your Solution: Swear off anything salty, including surprising culprits such as tomato sauce and salad dressings. Choose water-based foods like watermelon and celery as party pickings instead. And stay away from carbonated beverages as well—they can cause tummy bloating.

Photo Credit: Amanda Marie Photography

Photo Credit: Amanda Marie Photography

Wedding Weekend Mistake #8: Staying out all night with friends.
Yes, you haven’t seen your girls in forever and you want to take them out to the best Okoboji bars. But slacking on sleep will show (hello, under-eye bags and less-than-rosy complexion!) and you’ll be exhausted and grumpy for the remainder of the weekend.
Your Solution: The night before your wedding, think like Cinderella and make it home before midnight for optimal rest. Also avoid overdoing it with cocktails and late-night munchies.

Photo Credit: Ashley Gillett Photography

Photo Credit: Ashley Gillett Photography

Wedding Weekend Mistake #9: Not communicating last-minute news to guests.
If you’re having an outdoor beach wedding and an unexpected weather disaster hits, like a heavy rain or tornado, you need to let all of your guests know to go to your Plan B location. If you don’t have an organized plan in place, it’ll create utter chaos.
Your Solution: A few days before the wedding, tell guests that you will post a Plan B notification, if necessary, on your wedding website three hours before the ceremony is scheduled to begin. If an emergency occurs and you need to go with Plan B sooner than that, arrange to have a member of your bridal party call or text them the news. Don’t just send an email, since some people don’t check emails every hour (or even every day).

Photo Credit: Weddings by Chris Sherburne Photography

Photo Credit: Weddings by Chris Sherburne Photography

Wedding Weekend Mistake #10: Missing out on time with guests because of vendor meetings.
Several last-minute tasks have to be completed, and your wedding coordinator will surely want to connect with you. However, if you're booked up with vendor meetings, you’re either leaving fun parties early or missing them altogether.
Your Solution: Tell all of your vendors that the 48 hours before your wedding day is blocked off for your all-important family and friends time; meetings will have to take place before that cut-off point, which will help to put the planning behind you and unwind. If it's absolutely mandatory to meet the day prior to the wedding, make early-morning appointments so that you can get business done, then have the rest of the day to yourself.

Photo Credit: Casey Fatchett Photography

Photo Credit: Casey Fatchett Photography

In summary, Okoboji has a lot of activities to offer, be careful to select the right lake activities, wear sunscreen, spend time with guests and enjoy the natural ambiance Okoboji exudes!  

Everything You Need to Know About Destination Weddings

Let's Get Practical

Ah, it all sounds soooo delightfully dreamy. But a destination wedding still needs to be planned, in the everyday practical sense, same as any wedding. Okoboji may be home to some, but many of our brides come from all around Iowa and Minnesota. Planning this wedding as a destination wedding may need a little extra work! Here, three points you simply must consider:

Photo Credit: Brovado Weddings from Minneapolis, MN

Photo Credit: Brovado Weddings from Minneapolis, MN


1. Start early. You may think you have plenty of time, but when you start investigating your first choice locale, you may learn it’s a lot pricier than you thought, or getting there is too complicated for you and your guests. And speaking of guests, they need lots of time, too. While six to eight weeks ahead is fine for sending invites to a traditional wedding, you’ll need to give four months’ notice—minimum—to guests invited to a wedding away.

2. Stick to your budget. While it’s true that it’s easier to keep costs in check with destination weddings (it’s that all inclusive thing), it’s still wise to keep an upper limit firmly in mind. That way, if you happen to start tooling around online and see the ever so slightly ritzier resort just a few steps down the beach from the first place you loved, you’ll be far less inclined to spend more.

3. Be communicative. Send out save-the-date cards as soon as you know when and where you’ll be wed. It’s always a good idea to set up a wedding website to keep guests apprised of details. Let them know if you’ve set aside blocks of hotel rooms and how to book them, what to pack, what the itinerary of the event will be and so on. (Caveat: Keeping guests up to date is not the same thing as boring everyone to tears with details about the search for the perfect strappy sandal. Only give them the info they need.)

Originally written by: Denise Schipani from http://www.bridalguide.com/destination-weddings/destination-wedding-advice?page=1

 Edited by: Samantha Hirschman, Okoboji Weddings Team Member

Featured Bride: Kendra Peterson

Our Featured Okoboji Bride is Kendra Peterson.  She had a nautical theme and the Arnolds Park Majestic Pavilion fit her theme perfectly.  They took pictures on the roller coaster and had a photo booth for all the guests to participate in.  Some of Kendra's DIY's were the appetizer bar, photo booth and some decor.  

Tina Edwards, from Elelments Design Studio, helped plan the decor and was easy to work with.  She let Kendra have as many DIY decors as Kendra desired!  Tina also designed all the floral arrangements.

The Caterer was 5 Star.  Kendra had their food for numerous events and it never disappoints!  

Here are some other vendors Kendra chose for her special day:

Lodging: Fillenwarth Beach Resort

Music (DJ): Triple A Entertainment

Confections: Laura Dillehay Fiebig & Kim Jacobsma

Bachelor Venue: Air Venture in Oshkosh, WI

Rings: Spirit Lake Silver & Gold and Masbergen Jewelry in Sheldon 

Click on the video below to view her beautiful wedding day.  

Welcome OkobojiWeddings.com

Welcome OkobojiWeddings.com

Welcome to OkobojiWeddings.com, Okoboji’s premier wedding resource. 
If you are like many engaged couples, you have family ties to the area or have been visiting our lakes area for generations, only to return to this special place to celebrate one of the most thrilling events of your life – your wedding day.  This unique place, with its natural beauty, provides an incredible backdrop to enhance your special day and create memories you will cherish together for a lifetime.