I had the bestttt time photographing Courtney + Mitchell Martinez’s June wedding at Stony Point Hall!! This day was the epitome of finding the silver lining even when it rains. These two + their loved ones were great at rolling with the punches as their day went on.
Courtney wore a trash bag to get from the bridal suite to the venue, we popped champagne, and ended the night with a rainbow. It might not have been the day they imagined but it was perfect!
Their original date was pushed back because of COVID, so this wedding reception was on the one year anniversary of their small backyard wedding. They finallyyyy got to throw the big party they had always dreamt of!!
Courtney + Mitchell got married at Stony Point Hall, a gorgeous wedding venue in Baldwin City, Kansas. With 14 acres of rustic land filled with beautiful green trees, various flowers, and rolling hills, this venue is to die for. It’s the perfect romantic getaway, especially since you’ll have the whole property to yourself!
Even though the venue is basically a rustic barn, Courtney + Mitchell told me they’re not really a “country vibe” type of couple. They were drawn to the beautiful land and the great staff at Stony Point Hall. And I’ve gotta agree that it was the perfect venue for their big party!!
Since Courtney + Mitchell weren’t able to get the wedding party pictures they wanted last year at their micro wedding, we made sure to have a blast capturing them getting ready!
One of Courtney’s favorite parts of the day was getting all dressed and ready just to have it pour. Her bridesmaids had to put her in a trash bag so her dress wouldn’t get messed up! It was hilarious and definitely memorable. Courtney looked like a cute pink burrito!
We found a small overhang to grab some wedding party photos. I know Courtney + Mitchell were both sooo ready to celebrate with the people closest to them!
I can honestly say that Courtney + Mitchell’s wedding reception was soooo much fun. They had the super unique idea of playing trivia with all their family + friends!! They had a music round, a miscellaneous round, and a third round of questions about themselves!
When I asked about their fave part of the day, they both said they loved seeing their friends + family for the first time in forever. They also said that playing trivia was such a blast!
The newlyweds were so happy to be surrounded by all their favorite people. As they mingled with their guests, it was so obvious that they were just thrilled to be there.
After tacos + trivia, everyone hit the dance floor.
They also had a super cute photo area for all their guests to jump into. This is something I always recommend to my Kansas City couples – a photobooth or photo backdrop is a great way to provide entertainment for your guests AND to capture everyone who came!
During the reception, we grabbed a big group photo. I looove this idea! It helps us ensure everyone at your wedding is captured. It doesn’t need to be a big formal thing, because that could easily get crazyyyy. We can make it fun, like Courtney + Mitchell did here!!
With a cute umbrella, Mitchell helped his blushing bride across the grounds where we grabbed some pics under a gazebo. Kissing + dancing in the rain is always iconic and these two made it even more romantic!
Both of them told me that their favorite images from the whole day are the ones we captured with this surprise rainbow! It was honestly so cool to have this little reminder that despite the COVID delay and then the rain, everything turned out perfectly.
What is some advice you’d share with a future couple that is planning their wedding day?
Research every vendor. Do not be afraid to ask questions to make sure the service you want is what you are going to get. Also, book Natalie, you will not regret it.
What was your biggest concern/pain point throughout wedding planning?
Covid-19 pandemic. We couldn’t wait any longer so we had a small backyard wedding. But we were so grateful to celebrate at a later date with everyone else!
What was most important to you when looking for a Kansas City wedding photographer?
Quality of images and staying true to what the day actually looked like. Also, we wanted someone to click with, Natalie was a no-brainer for us!
Courtney + Mitchell were such a joy to work with. I was so thankful to be a part of their wedding at Stony Point Hall. I loved how their priority was getting photos that genuinely looked exactly like their day. They helped me remember that no pandemic, no weather, NOTHING can stop you from making the most out of your day. After the storm, there’s always a rainbow. 🙂 Congrats again to the Martinez’s!
If you’re still worried about rain on your wedding day check out my blog post here on how to prepare for rain! Or for another example of a beautiful rainy ceremony check out Kala + Cooper’s wedding at Bliss Plaza.
Planning a COVID-safe wedding reception might look different, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be difficult or any less fun. You can still have the day of your dreams with all the people you love! Keep reading to see ideas on how to entertain your guests while still keeping them safe.
For crowds that aren’t big into dancing, or to follow COVID-19 safety protocols, yard games are super popular. You can get cornhole, ladder toss, or giant Jenga to set outside for your guests to play. I’ve even seen some couples use trash cans or buckets to make giant beer pong!
If you anticipate bad weather, or if you don’t want to risk it, you can plan to set up the games inside. If you want people to stay at their assigned tables but want entertainment, here’s an idea that is sure to blow your guests away.
I seriously recommend Felix and Fingers. Your wedding will be the talk of the town for years, if not DECADES to come. They took song suggestions from the crowd, sang things from all genres, and even brought their own colored lights. They encouraged people to sing along, so it was not only a great show, but super interactive! This is perfect for a socially distanced wedding.
Alicen & Brenton got married in November at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, so their guests’ safety was their number one priority. The dueling pianos entertained the guests after dinner at the Arterra Event Gallery in Lawrence.
Instead of the traditional buffet-style dinner, consider having pre-portioned food at various stations throughout the room. This prevents people from all touching the same serving utensils, and your ushers can direct a couple of tables at a time to prevent crowding.
Ask your caterer if they have servers that will bring plates to each guest at their tables.
Food trucks are gaining popularity in the wedding industry as well! This makes it easier for the caterer to distance from the guests.
If your venue has an outdoor option, see if you can make a few campfires. Set out a table with marshmallows, chocolate bars, & graham crackers. I’ve seen S’mores at a couple of weddings and they’re always a big hit.
You’ll definitely want assigned seats at a COVID-safe wedding reception. To avoid awkward silences or restlessness, offer some table games! I’ve seen tic-tac-toe, decks of cards or even question starters to spark conversation. If you’ll have lots of kids at your wedding, print out coloring pages!
Check out more Covid safe weddings here on the blog Dakota + Jake; How They Went From a Large Wedding to Intimate an Elopement or How to Downsize Your Wedding
The plan originally started with a big wedding in downtown Kansas City on the most popular wedding date of the year; October 10, 2020 (10/10/2020). As the coronavirus quickly made its way around the world Dakota and Jake decided to change plans; they went from a large wedding to an intimate elopement in their neighborhood.
The uncertainty of the pandemic definitely made for an interesting challenge when it came to trying to make wedding plans. On top of that Dakota and Jake found out they were pregnant with a beautiful baby girl due close to the end of the year.
They thought about keep all of their original plans of a big wedding the same but moving the date up earlier in the summer, but because COVID effected rates were starting to skyrocket they thought it would best to keep their original date but downsize their wedding as much as they could.
Dakota, Jake, and their boys moved into a new house in the most beautiful neighborhood surrounding a gorgeous lake. They knew outside by the water would be the perfect spot for their intimate fall elopement.
They downsized their wedding by cutting their guest list, only hiring the necessary vendors (me their wedding photographer, a videographer, and catering from Jack Stack BBQ). Everything else they did completely on their own. Their families helped with decor, ceremony seating, a beautiful cross as their backdrop, Dakota even made her own bouquet with flowers from Trader Joes.
They invited only their dearest friends and family to witness their sunset ceremony right by the water. Dakota and Jake promised to love each other, their boys, and their, soon to arrive, baby girl for all the years to come as the sun cast a golden light across the lake.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd as they read their vows to each other. The joy was contagious as they shared stories of their favorite memories and joked with one another.
Their day was everything they hoped for; full of love, great weather, and an abundance of happiness. Dakota and Jack loved their decision of switching from a large wedding to an intimate elopement. It gave them the chance to focus on what was most important to them, their family.
Other tips on how to downsize you wedding here.
Planning a wedding throughout this past year has been so difficult for many couples. With the future of the pandemic still unknown it’s likely that most couples are having to choose between having a smaller wedding, postponing, or cancelling their wedding all together. I’ll share with you my best tips on how to downsize your wedding and still have an amazing celebration.
As a wedding photographer in Kansas City I had many couples in 2020 struggle with decisions on what to do with their wedding in the middle of a pandemic. Brides would turn to me for advice and we would brainstorm together the best way for them to still have the wedding day they always dreamed of, but still keeping all of their loved ones safe.
My biggest tip for downsizing your wedding is to cut your guest list. I know it can be hard to try to narrow it down but once you start it only gets easier. The simplest way to do it is to choose a deciding point – for example only inviting family, or cut it even more by only inviting immediate family. It stinks having to not invite some friends or people from work but they will all understand. Set up a zoom or facebook live so they can all tune in from the safety of their own home. You can always host a giant party later and invite EVERYONE!
Once you have a smaller guest list you can switch to a smaller venue. You can even host your wedding at a park or somewhere outside. Another great option for downsized weddings is renting an air b&b. These venue options help you save all the money you’d spend on a big wedding venue.
Intimate weddings are always just as special as big weddings. Smaller, micro weddings, give you the chance to actually spend time with all of your guests. It’s a more relaxed day focused only on you and your partner. You’ll be surrounded by the most important people in your lives and there wont be a million moving parts to keep track of.
If you’re faced with the hard decision of needing to have a smaller wedding, postponing your wedding, or cancelling I hope you choose to move forward with your wedding but just make it a little more intimate.
I hope these tips helped you decide on how to downsize your wedding, for more information on having a simple wedding check out my blog posts “How to have a simple wedding in Kansas City”, “Kansas City Courthouse Weddings”, and find more gorgeous photos at Loren and Dimitri’s elopement in “How to elope in Kansas City”
This blog features Randi + Ryan’s intimate wedding with their families.
How they felt on their wedding day:
“So many emotions! So excited and happy, but also relieved that the people that we love were able to safely make it to our wedding.”
We all know the importance of continuing to “date” your partner, no matter how long you’ve been together. It helps keep the spark alive and strengthen your bond as a couple. 2020 has been one hell of a year and the need for connection is even greater now. Now that it is getting colder outside it’s becoming more difficult to find safe and socially distanced activities so here are 7 Winter date ideas for you to try out over these next few months.
You can NEVER go wrong with a movie marathon. Grab some blankets, put on your slippers, cuddle up, and relax.
I hadn’t built a ginger bread house in YEARS, but this year we got a kit from target and worked together to build it. It ended up falling apart at the end but we had a blast putting it together and the candy was pretty tasty too. Next year we’ll have a little more of a plan. (The key is once you put together the foundation let it fully dry before putting on the roof)
Have a cozy night in but sweeten it up a little. Put together a build-your-own hot chocolate bar. Marshmallows, Candy Canes, Caramel, you name it! If you want to step it up a notch you could even make some hot chocolate bombs that are trending on tiktok.
Head out to your favorite liquor store or grocery store (don’t forget to wear your mask) and both of you pick out a few new drinks you’ve never had before. Return home, pour yourself each a little tasting and compare. You may even find a new favorite drink.
Find a new recipe and start cooking. Trey and I love to cook together, it’s so fun putting in a little work and then sitting down to enjoy our meal together.
Get some hot chocolate to-go, crank up the Christmas tunes, and head out on a tour of the best Christmas lights in town. Drive through your neighborhood or a decorated park.
If you’re local to Kansas City check out
Sar Ko Par Trails Park- Sar Ko Aglow
If you really need to get out of your house for some fresh air, bundle up and hit the rink. You won’t even mind wearing a mask when you’re skating because it’ll help keep your nose warm.
Even though it’s colder and darker outside you can still find ways to have fun with your significant over even during a pandemic. I hope these Winter date ideas help inspire you to get creative and bring in a little winter cheer.
If winter and the weight of the pandemic is getting you down here are some self care ideas while you’re quarantining Self Care During Self Quarantine.
My top recommendations for shows to watch while you’re stuck at home during quarantine. If the coronavirus is making us stay at home we might as well catch up on our binge watching.
My number one recommendation! It’s the show Trey and I are currently watching and are LOVING. It was created in Spain but has been re-voiced over in English. Money Heist is all about this group of thieves breaking into the Mint of Spain to make their own money. It’s exciting and different! It’s only 3 seasons (with rumors of a 4th set to air soon) but each episode is full of action and always ends on a cliff hanger. (Netflix)
An absolute classic!! Ever since Disney+ came out I’ve been making my way through all the memorable shows of my childhood. When all the COVID-19 stuff got announced I started with season 1. I’m already to season 7 now and it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. An awesome coming of age story full of love, friendship, and life situations. (Disney+
If you haven’t watched Schitt’s Creek yet you are missing out!! It’s a hilarious story about a family that loses all of their money and is forced to move to a teeny tiny town that they had purchased years ago as a joke. Schitt’s Creek is a full family production because it was created and produced by Dan Levy who also stars in the show, his father Eugene Levy, plays the dad, and his sister also has a role in the show! (Netflix)
One of my favorite shows! If you need a good laugh with a little bit of drama WATCH THIS!! You’ll laugh and be at the edge of your seat at the same time! (Netflix)
If you’re wanting more a reality show style you have to watch Next in Fashion! It’s hosted by Tan France (from Queer Eye) and designers are given challenges each episode. It’s like Project Runway but everyone is really nice and supportive. (Netflix)
Other great recommendations of shows to watch while you’re stuck at home- How I Met Your Mother, Queer Eye, Friends, The Office (Just watched the episode where Michael proposes to Holly and cried like a baby… true love just brings on the water works for me).
If you’re sick of watching tv check out these tips for self care during self quarantine
In the midst of COVID-19, cities are quickly changing regulations in order to slow down the spread of coronavirus. Kansas City made it mandatory that all nonessential businesses close their doors and urged people to not leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. If you are doing your part and staying inside your house as much as possible it’s important to practice self care during self quarantine.
Social distancing or staying inside your home for a long period of time can become pretty lonely, pretty fast. Be sure to meet your own needs and emotions everyday to keep your spirits up. Here are a few ways to practice self care during self quarantine:
Start (or continue) a gratitude journal. It’s a simple thing that can make all the difference in your day. Start off each morning by writing down five (5) things you are grateful for or excited to do that day. This will get your mind in a positive space before your day fully begins. At the end of the day make another list of five (5) more things that made you happy throughout the day. Beginning and ending each day positively will keep you thankful and happy. Gratitude journals are a great thing to have even when you aren’t experiencing a pandemic.
It’s easy to get sucked into our phones when we are bored. DON’T FALL INTO THIS TRAP! Reading too much about coronavirus will add way more stress to your life. Stay updated on new updates but don’t fall down the rabbit hole. Social media is a blessing and curse in todays society, it gives us information but sometimes it’s too much. Give yourself a specific amount of time you’re allowed to browse the internet.
If you start to feel lonely invite your friends that are also self quarantining to a virtual coffee date or wine night. There are tons of ways to video chat nowadays. Get together on the google hangout, the houseparty app, skype, facetime, or zoom.
Now it the PERFECT time to start that thing that you’ve been wanting to do but have been putting off because you “don’t have a enough time”, yea that thing- do that! Or brainstorm something completely new you want to try. I ordered a cross-stitching kit off amazon, I going to learn how to cross-stitch/ embroider.
The quickest way to fell stuck in your house, is by making yourself stuck in your house. Get your body moving with some in home workouts. Since so many gyms had to close their doors during this time there are a ton of online fitness options. Aside from all of the workout videos on youtube you can also sign up for 30 days of yoga or follow LÜM Health Studio on social media for their IGTV or insta-story workouts. Stay active. Stay healthy.
My ideal night is a long hot bath with a candle burning and a great bath bomb. Give yourself a little spa day with all the works; face mask, essential oils, candles, and of course a bubble bath. Da Bomb Bath Bombs are my absolute favorite (they always come with a cute little surprise!)
Since you’ll be cutting down your screen time trade it in for some face to face time with a great book.
Currently reading: How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Next up: You Are A Badass
As of right now it’s completely ok to go outside! You actually need to go outside to get some fresh air. Just continue to do your social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from other people. Take a quick (or a looooong) walk around the block or ride you bike. Fresh air and sunshine will make all the difference.
During times of such uncertainty remember to take care of yourself. These are just a few ways to keep yourself happy and entertained all while staying healthy.
Ready to watch some tv? Let’s Netflix + Chill
If you’re like a majority of the country right now, or let’s get real – if you’re like a majority of the world right now, you’re probably somewhere between slightly nervous to full blown panic. If amidst all of the coronavirus drama you’re also engaged, you’re probably wondering “will the coronavirus affect your wedding”?
Regardless if the media is just trying to create hysteria, there still is a lot of panic going around.
If your wedding is coming up within the next few months it is important to think about your options.
As of right now in the midst of every major sport cancelling their seasons, schools closing for the rest of the semester, and large companies encouraging employees to work from home…. I think the main risk you’d face for your wedding would be creating too much of a “crowd”. Italy has officially banned people from gathering. The governor of Kansas has declared no groups larger than 100 people. BUT there are solutions to this problem.
I know, I know easier said then done. Your family and friends will completely understand if you change your huge party into an intimate gathering. You can does this easily by only inviting your immediate family. If you’re immediate families still make a group larger than the size restrictions consider eloping! Just you, your partner, your officiant, and your photographer. Keep the ceremony incredibly small and host a large party for everyone once the world is healthy again.
Hold your wedding exactly as you planned but have your guests celebrate with you from the comfort of their own homes. With todays technology you can live stream any event just at your finger tips. You can set up a Zoom call or Facebook Live right into a fb group. Everyone will get to share in the day in real time.
Now to everyone’s least favorite option. If your wedding is scheduled in an area that’s high risk the best option might be to push back your date. (I truly think this is only a worst case scenario option). BUT we never know so let’s prepare ourselves just incase. If none of the other options work for you, consider choosing a date that falls on a weekday. That will be the easiest way for you to reschedule with all of your vendors at an earlier date instead of having to wait until 2021 or even 2022.
Hopefully in a couple weeks the coronavirus and all it’s drama will blow over. Once the world can start turning again everything will go back to normal. For most couples the coronavirus won’t affect your wedding but it’s never a bad idea to be prepared.
I have to admit, I was one of the people at the grocery stores buying an extra pack of toilet paper (only 1 though!), some more hand soap, and a couple cans of soup. I might have let the panic get to me ever so slightly. Even though I took a little precaution I am still 110% prepared to cover your wedding day. Even if plans have to be adjusted I am here to help. Wether we keep the big party or switch to an intimate ceremony I will be there. I can even help set up a live stream for you and your guests! I am here for you, to serve you, and to help alleviate some stress – let me know what you need.
The most important thing to remember is – virus or no virus the wedding will still happen one way or another! You two will get married and spend the rest of your lives together. We won’t let the coronavirus affect your wedding day.
What a crazy story to tell in the future though, right?!
p.s. please wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds (happy birthday 2x – that’s all it takes!)
Interested in having an intimate ceremony – here’s how to plan a simple wedding in Kansas City