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Anna and James planned the most gorgeous summer wedding at The Hawthorne House. Being surrounded by their closest friends, celebrating with their families, and a beautiful golden hour made for the perfect day.

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Anna and her bridesmaids started the morning off right with a toast of champagne. They then got ready in Hawthorne House’s newly renovated bridal suite.

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James got ready in the groom’s room with his best man and groomsmen by his side.

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A really special moment that is often overlooked is a bride’s first look with her bridesmaids. The women she grew up with, her sisters, and her closest friends are always so thrilled to see her all dressed up on her wedding day.

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First looks never fail to bring this photographer to tears. Whether it’s a bride with her dad, a mother and son, or two partners seeing each other for the first time it is always incredibly meaningful.

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Hawthorne House is a stunning wedding venue in Parkville, Missouri. It has tall, lush trees surrounding the grounds, a lovely reception hall with a wrap around deck, a cute gazebo, and a quaint chapel for a ceremony.

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The chapel is the perfect location for a traditional wedding ceremony. Anna’s father walked her down the aisle where James was waiting. After Anna gave her dad a hug she was ready to officially marry James – the moment they had been waiting for was finally here.

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The chapel was filled with close friends and family all there to show their support for this newly married couple. There is something so magical about being in a room full of only people that love you.

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Anna and James have been together for many years. It’s clear how much love they share for each other.

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A summer wedding at the Hawthorne House means a sunset that can’t be beat. The golden light shines over the vast lawn peaking through the trees.

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A few more husband and wife portraits after the ceremony gave Anna and James some time to let the whole day fully sink in. The were able to bask in the setting sun and their love for one another.

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Anna and James kept their reception decor classic and elegant. The open space of the reception hall welcomed guests for the happy hour and then the DJ got the party going when the wedding party made their grand entrance.

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Members of the wedding party gave thoughtful toasts to the couple. Wishing them years of happiness and love.

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Anna and James shared their first dance as husband and wife. As the music started, the room fell silent. Guests watched from their seats, some holding tissues to dab their watering eyes.

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After the traditional dances the party really got started! The DJ turned on his colorful lights and guests hit the dance floor.

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Anna and James were now officially Mr. and Mrs. Taylor. They danced the night away with their friends and family. The happiest night of their lives after an amazing day.

Check out another gorgeous summer wedding on the blog here

Featured Vendors

Venue: The Hawthorne House
Dress: Stephanie’s Bridal
Suit: Tip Top Tux
Rings: Helzberg
Bridesmaids Dresses: Davids Bridal
Flowers: Hitched Floral
Wooden Ceremony Cross: Belle Journee
Paper Goods: Vista Print
DJ: Complete Weddings and Events (Ryan)
Caterer: Jack Stack
Desserts: The Mad Batter KC

Summer Wedding at The Hawthorne House

You can choose any music genre for your first dance song. It doesn’t matter if it’s an old school classic, a new pop song, some homegrown country, or a little alternative. What matters most is that you feel a special connection to the song. If you close your eyes while the song is playing you immediately see your partner. The rhythm should bind your hearts together, the lyrics should remind you of each other.

Here are my top picks of perfect songs from every genre for your first dance

couple dances their first dance at wedding

Classic

  1. Can’t Help Falling In Love With You – Elvis Presley (sooooo many good remakes of this song as well!)
  2. This Will Be [An Everlasting Love] – Natalie Cole
  3. At Last – Etta James
  4. My Girl – The Temptations
  5. This Magic Moment – The Drifters

Pop

  1. Perfect – Ed Sheeran
  2. All of Me – John Legend
  3. How Long Will I Love You – Ellie Goulding
  4. Give Me All Your Love – Brighton
  5. I Am Yours – Andy Grammer

Country

  1. Holding On to You – Miranda Lambert
  2. You Had Me at Hello – A Day To Remember
  3. Amazed – Lonestar
  4. My Best Friend – Tim McGraw
  5. I Want to Dance with You – George Strait

Indie/Alternative

  1. Love You For A Long Time – Maggie Roger
  2. Nothing Matters When We Dance – The Magnetic Fields
  3. All My Love – George Ezra
  4. I’m With You – Vance Joy
  5. Someone To You – BANNERS
choose any genre for your first dance at your wedding

Honorable Mentions

  1. Aquaman – Walk The Moon
  2. Overwhelmed – Tim McMorris
  3. Dreams – The Cranberries
  4. Yours to Keep – Jordan Mackampa
  5. Incredible – James TW
  6. Hooked On A Feeling – Blue Swede

For my fellow How I Met Your Mother fans: I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) – The Proclaimers

check out my full playlist of first dance songs here I’ll be adding to it constantly so go ahead and “follow” if you’d like.

genre for first dance
outdoors first dance at wedding

Before you pick your first dance, make sure your wedding day timeline is set- here’s how to plan the perfect wedding day timeline

The Perfect Songs from Every Genre for your First Dance

a simple wedding in kansas city

If a big wedding ceremony isn’t your thing, you might consider having a smaller ceremony or an intimate elopement. Here is how to have a simple wedding in Kansas City.

a simple wedding in kansas city

The key to making your marriage legal – Your Marriage License

In the state of Kansas (Johnson County)

You’ll have to go to the County Clerk’s office twice. Remember your IDs

Clerk of the District Court:
100 N Kansas Ave
Olathe, KS 66061
Hours: Monday- Friday 8am-5pm

-Apply for your marriage license

The application portion is a sworn affidavit. You’ll give basic info about both of you; name, age, city you live in. Then you’ll go under oath that you’re not related to each other, neither of you are currently already married, and that you don’t know of any other reason you shouldn’t get married.

-Wait three days

The state of Kansas requires applicants to wait three days for their marriage license to be processed.

-Return to pick up your license

Hot Tip: Technically only one of you needs to go to the Clerk’s office to apply, but going to get your marriage license together is a memorable moment I recommend you share together.

In the state of Missouri (Jackson County)

You can go to the Jackson County Courthouse, Historic Truman Courthouse, or you can apply online. If you go in person be sure to remember your IDs.

Jackson County Courthouse- Recorder of Deeds Department
415 East 12th Street
Room 104
Kansas City, Missouri 64106

Historic Truman Courthouse
112 W Lexington
Suite 30
Independence, Missouri 64050

apply for your marriage license

You’ll give basic info about both of you; name, age, city you live in.

-Pick up your marriage license

If you apply in person you can get it right then but if you apply online you’ll need to both go to pick it up.

a simple wedding in kansas city

The Fun Part -Your Ceremony

Both Johnson County and Jackson County will happily give you a list of judges that can perform your ceremony, you will need to reach out them and decide on a location. Your officiant can also be a religious official; a minister, a priest, a rabbi, etc. Nowadays you can have a friend or relative become a temporary officiant or become ordained which can add a personal touch to your ceremony.

Location Ideas:
Possibly in the court house (they don’t seem to be offering this very much)
Your backyard
A local park (check with each park about their fees and required permits)

Kansas (Johnson County)

Your ceremony will have to take place within 6 months after you receive your marriage license. All you will need for a ceremony is someone to officiant and two witnesses. Your officiant must turn in the license within 10 days of the ceremony.

Missouri (Jackson County)

Your ceremony will have to take place within 30 days. You’ll need an officiant and two witnesses. Your officiant must turn in the license to the Jackson County Recorder of Deeds Department within 15 days of the ceremony.

Hot Tip: Your wedding ceremony must take place in the State that you got your marriage license.

courthouse wedding

How much will it cost to have a simple wedding in Kansas City?

-License
Kansas $85.50 (additional $4.95 if you pay with a card)
Missouri $50.00

-officiant most likely between $100-200 (maybe free if your friend or relative is offering!)

-Venue will depend on where you choose! There are plenty of free options

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How much will it cost to have a photographer at our simple wedding?

*quotes for Natalie Nichole Photography for a simple ceremony within 20 miles of Kansas City*

Week Day ceremonies = $500
-an hour of coverage
-sneak peek photos the same day
-50+ final images delivered 3-5 weeks after your wedding

Weekend ceremonies (Nov-Feb) =$700
-two hours of coverage
-sneak peek photos the same day
-50+ final images delivered 3-5 weeks after your wedding

Additional hours can be added to packages

a simple wedding in kansas city

Love KC? Have a simple wedding in Kansas City on a rooftop. The skyline makes for the perfect backdrop.

How To Have A Simple Wedding In Kansas City

Natalie Nichole Photography, Kansas City Wedding Photographer, engagement photos

The date is set, the details are in order, now it’s time to make sure everything runs smoothly. Plan the perfect wedding day timeline to keep everything on track.

Before you create your timeline you’ll need to decide if you want to have a first look. If you chose to have a first look you’ll have plenty of flexibility in your timeline. If you chose to not have a first look, that’s ok, but you’ll want to make sure your ceremony is early enough in the day that you’ll have enough time before your reception (and sunset) to take care of all of your photos.

In this blog post I will teach you how to plan the perfect wedding day timeline (with or without a first look). For the sake of this post we will say we are planning a summer wedding in the midwest (sunset beginning at 7, fully set by 8pm)

Dreamy Barn Wedding - Natalie Nichole Photography

The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline- with a First Look

My biggest tip for creating your timeline is to start with your ceremony time and build off of it. If you choose to have a first look you’ll be able to have your ceremony later in the evening (say around an hour or two before sunset? HELLO GOLDEN HOUR, golden light, and amazing photos!!) For our beautiful imaginary summer wedding we will have our ceremony begin at 5pm.

TIP: non-religious ceremonies typically last 10-30 minutes and religious ceremonies tend to last 30-60 minutes.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Before the Ceremony

Once you know when your ceremony will be you’ll plan your timeline backwards for everything that needs to happen before your ceremony.

For example you’ll want to be hidden away at least 30 minutes prior to your ceremony because guests will be arriving and you won’t want to spoil the surprise of your beautiful dress.

Wedding Party Photos

Before you hide away you’ll want to be done with all of your wedding party photos (bridesmaids, bridesmen, groomsmen, groomswomen, guests of honor, flower girls, ring bearers, or anyone that is standing up with you during the ceremony- your wedding party/ wedding crew) Depending on the size of your wedding party I suggest having at least 30 minutes to an hour for these photos. If you have a large party and you know you specifically want multiple photos with each of them individually, you might need more time. For a majority of my couples up to an hour is plenty!

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Couples Portraits

You’ll also need 30 minutes to 45 minutes for couples portraits, because you two are what this entire day is about. This can be before or after photos with the rest of your wedding party, but you’ll want a little extra time alone together.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

The First Look

Of course before you can take any photos together you’ll need to have your first look! Such an intimate moment between the two of you, I usually suggest planning for a first look to take 15-ish minutes, but if you know one or both of you will cry… you might want to allow for a little extra time.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Getting Ready

Now it’s time for you to make a big decision and be honest with yourself, you know yourself wayyyy better than I do… how long will it realistically take you to get ready? For some it’ll be an hour for others it’s four. It all depends on how much effort and time goes into all aspects of your getting ready process. If you’ve hired a make up artist or a hair stylist I recommend reaching out to them and asking them how much time it normally takes them to complete the look you’re wanting.

After the Ceremony

Since you’ll be having a first look, you won’t have too much to do after the cermeony, you’ll be able to make it to your cocktail hour or reception earlier and get to spend more time with your guests.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Family Formal Photos

Most likely the only photos you’ll have to complete after your ceremony will be your Family Formal photos, I like to plan for 45 minutes to an hour in order to make sure every grouping on all sides of the family are taken care of. I’d rather add more time into our timeline than have to rush.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Sunset Couples Portraits

After Family Formal photos are finished is a great time to send the family into the reception for cocktail hour while you and your spouse take a few more photos, just the two of you, during sunset (perfect time for you to soak in the moment as a newly married couple!) This typically takes only about 10-20 minutes.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Reception Time

Then it’s time to get you to your party!!! Enjoy your first dances, eat your delicious meal, cut your cake, and celebrate with your closest friends and family.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Sample Timeline (with a First Look)

Getting Ready!!

2:30pm- First Look

3:00pm Couples Portraits

3:30pm- Wedding Party Photos

4:30pm- Hide away while Guests Arrive

5:00pm- Ceremony

6:00pm- Family Formal Photos

7:00pm Sunset couples portraits

7:20pm Reception Time!

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline- without a First Look

Whether you have a first look or not I still suggest starting with your ceremony when you plan the perfect wedding day timeline.

If you are not having a first look you will need to have your ceremony earlier in the day to guarantee you’ll have enough day light for allllllllllll of your photos after the ceremony. Depending on the time of year this is no big deal but for fall/winter weddings it becomes a little more difficult because the sunsets extremely early. For our lovely imaginary summer wedding let’s plan on our ceremony beginning at 3pm.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

TIP: For a ceremony earlier in the day, consider choosing a location indoors or a shaded area outdoors. The closer to noon the harsher the sun. Not only will the shade or indoor setting help with lighting for photos, but your guests will appreciate not having to squint into the sun.

Dreamy Barn Wedding - Natalie Nichole Photography

Before the Ceremony

Without a first look there is less that can be done before the ceremony. You’ll still want to be hidden away no matter what at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony.

A Different First Look

Even though you don’t want to have a first look with your soon to be spouse you might be interested in having a different type of first look. Have a special moment with a parent, a grandparent, or anyone that has made a significant impact on your life (even your dog!) I’d plan about 15-30 minutes for each person you’d like to do a first look with.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Getting Ready

Without having a ton to do before your ceremony you’ll have plenty of time to get ready- you might even have enough time to sleep in a little! Take this time to bond with your wedding party, relax, and get pampered.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

After the Ceremony

Without a first look after the ceremony will be when all of the wedding party, family, and couples photos will be taken.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Family Formal Photos

I recommend starting your family formal photos right after the ceremony, before any relatives have the chance to wander off (can’t start without dear old aunt sue). Plan for 45 minutes to an hour in order to make sure every grouping on all sides of the family are taken care of. I’d rather add more time into our timeline than have to rush.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Wedding Party Photos

Gather up your wedding day crew and all the special guests that stood with you on your special day. Time to take photos with your closest friends! Depending on the size of your group I’d plan for around an hour. A smaller party can get by with less time, but the general rule of thumb is the more people the longer it can take!

Couples Portraits

FINALLY!!! Time for you two to have a moment for yourselves. Have a minute of peace and quite together as a married couple (OMG!!) Remind each other again just how much you love each other and spend your time sharing your love together and taking some amazing photos to relive these priceless moments.

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Reception Time!

After your couples photos have wrapped up it’s time to head to your party! Chit chat with guests, grab a bite to eat, hit the dance floor, and make it a night you’ll never forget!

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography
Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Sample Timeline (without a first look)

Getting Ready!!

3:00pm- Ceremony

4:00pm- Family Formal Photos

5:00pm- Wedding Party Photos

6:00pm Couples Portraits

7:00pm Reception Time!

Plan The Perfect Wedding Day Timeline - Natalie Nichole Photography

Now that you know how to plan the perfect wedding day timeline (with or without a first look) check out my other blog post about the Benefits of Having a first Look -it’s not just the timeline flexibility.

Photos in this post are from Makenzie and Cole’s dreamy wedding in the rolling hills of Omaha, Arkansas. Check out their venue The Barn at Cricket Creek

Dreamy Barn Wedding - Natalie Nichole Photography

Plan the PERFECT wedding day timeline

There are many benefits of a first look on your wedding day. If you’re planning your wedding, having a first look is definitely something to consider. But really, what are the benefits of a first look?!

More Time with Your Fiancé

One benefit of a first look is of course -more time with your fiancĂ©. If you are having an evening ceremony but not a first look, you won’t be able to see your partner for the entire day before you walk down the aisle. This isn’t just a regular day…. this is your wedding day. This day is one of the most important days of your relationship. Let’s fill your entire day with love instead of just a couple of hours.

Cure any butterflies

Wedding days are notorious for being a little chaotic. Wether you’re feeling nervous, excited, or overwhelmed there are a lot of emotions happening at once, but the best way to calm any butterflies is to look into your partner’s eyes. The minute you see the love of your life on your wedding day, your jitters float away. It’s a minute of calmness before the natural chaos of the day. Sometimes the first look is one of the only moments you’ll have alone throughout the entire day. A quiet moment all to yourselves to just be together.

Flexibility in Your Timeline

First looks give you the opportunity to slow the day down a little, you don’t have to rush everything in the short little window of time between the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the reception. First looks early on in the day allow most of your photos to be taken before the ceremony even starts. Then after the ceremony you’ll only need time for a few more family photos and a couple portraits of the two of you as the newly married couple but then it’s time for the reception! You’ll actually get to go to your cocktail hour and enjoy it. You’ll be excited to welcome guests and celebrate with everyone because you’ve been able to relax throughout the entire day and have had your love by your side.

Overall first looks benefit the day by taking a way some of the stress. They save a little time in the timeline because you can get so much done early on in the day without having to stay hidden from each other. They also give you an intimate moment alone to be yourselves without the feeling of being in front of a crowd.

garden, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bridal details, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
garden, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
groom details, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
Courtney and Mason’s intimate garden first look
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography
bride and groom garden first look, kansas city wedding, natalie nichole photography

regardless of if you choose to have a first look or not your wedding day is going to take your breath away. You’ll marry the love of your life and celebrate with allllllll of your friends and family that support you.

learn how to plan the perfect wedding day timeline (with or without a first look) here

Benefits of a First Look