Kirsten and Ryan’s wedding day with just their family and a few friends was in the beautiful Overland Park Arboretum. And it was such a stunning wedding venue. Highly recommend it to my Kansas City Brides!

Following their wedding they had an intimate dinner at Wandering Vine at the Castle. They road in a vintage getaway car they borrowed from their dad to the reception dinner! How cool is it to have all those special details on the day? This wedding was full of them and I am always a fan of that.

We made sure to make time for a first look separate from their ceremony to have a few moments to themselves too. You’ll see lots of private, meaningful moments in this day and it was so sweet to capture those moments for these two.

Kristen also has great taste in florals and her dream bouquet came to life that day. Make sure you scroll down to see it!! It was full of happy color which is so fitting for them! They are two of the most genuine people ever and deserved this day to be perfect. I was so honored to see all these special memories being made.

I loved being able to share my wedding experience with them for their Overland Park Arboretum wedding day on the blog. Kristen and Ryan, I wish you both the best life together! Thank you for letting me share this day with you!

Engagement band and the wedding dress on bride at Overland Park Arboretum in Kansas City
Mother of bride and mother of the groom share special moments before wedding ceremony
Bride and groom share first look with one another on bridge at Overland Park Arboretum
Bride and groom in white wedding dress and blue tie with suit at Overland Park Arboretum
bride holding blush pink and maroon florals in wedding bouquet kissing newly married husband
Bride and groom walk pathway at Overland Park Arboretum holding wedding bouquet
Bride wears long wedding dress with train and veil holding blush pink and maroon wedding bouquet
Bride and groom during first look walking pathway at Overland Park Arboretum in Kansas City
Bride uses long vail with Kansas City wedding photographer
Father of bride walks daughter down the aisle during wedding ceremony at Overland Park Arboretum
Bride and groom exchange vows from vow books and hold hands during wedding ceremony
Bride and groom exchange first kiss at wedding ceremony and walk up aisle through friends and family
Bride and groom have just married ring bearer in wagon at wedding ceremony
Bride and groom wearing new wedding bands after wedding ceremony at Overland Park Arboretum
Old vintage getaway car with just married sign on the back
Bride and groom pose with old vintage getaway car on wedding day
Groom twirling bride while holding wedding bouquet after ceremony at Overland Park Arboretum
Wedding cake with name topper and white and green florals to accent dessert table
Floral table scapes from wedding bouquet and reception cake cutting
Bride and groom cut wedding cake at wedding reception with friends and family

Overland Park Arboretum | Kansas City Wedding Photographer

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I know it’s hard to imagine now (in the heat of July!) but Kansas City winters are COLD. As a Kansas City photographer I’m shooting weddings year round, so I’ve seen my fair share of winter weddings. If you’re planning a winter wedding this blog is for YOU.

If your dream is to have a wedding ceremony with white snowflakes floating through the air, wearing the ice queen dress of your dreams, with snow frosting the trees, as your guests bask in the beautiful oasis of your love, I get it. 

Here are 5 tips to planning a winter wonderland wedding sucessfully.

1. Provide warmth for your guests

Be crystal clear on your wedding invites that the ceremony will be outside so that everyone can dress accordingly. I’ve seen some couples offer blankets as wedding favors. I’ve also been to a couple weddings where they set out space heaters! I promise your guests will appreciate the forethought. 

2. Plan a short wedding ceremony

Work with your officiant to plan a wedding ceremony that doesn’t last more than 30 minutes or so. Everyone is excited about your big day and wants to focus on that without the distraction of numb fingers or toes!!

3. Rent a tent

This is a cute way to get the outside vibe while providing coverage from any inclement Kansas City weather. Make sure to ask if the tent rental company needs insurance! Also ask if they’ll set it up for you. If not, plan accordingly to have some friends set it up the morning of or the day before. You can use cute lights to decorate the ceiling, or hang lanterns around to add to the ambiance. 

4. Work with your wedding vendor team on a backup plan

I definitely recommend an indoor wedding reception venue so your guests can be comfortable while they eat, mingle, dance, & hang out. If your dream has always been a beautiful outdoor ceremony, ask your wedding venue what their backup plan is in case of inclement weather.

Last minute weather situations are why I always suggest hiring a wedding planner as well! They can work with the staff & the team of vendors on the backup plan. Planning ahead and delegating jobs means you can enjoy your winter wonderland wedding day worry free. 

5. Hot chocolate bar

You could even have this available before the wedding ceremony! This is a fun way to keep everyone warm and to really make it a winter themed wedding. Offer toppings like whipped cream, marshmallows, or candy canes. It’s a cozy and memorable treat everyone will love.

 You deserve to have the wedding of your dreams. No matter the season, your wedding will be beautiful and your love will be everlasting. For more wedding planning tips check out these blogs; How to Prepare for Rain on your wedding day, How to choose your wedding photographer, Wedding Planning Advice from real brides, and much more!

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Planning a Winter Wedding in Kansas City

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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.

Outdoor Wedding Reception Games

outdoor seating at a covid safe wedding reception

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.

dueling pianos at a covid safe wedding reception
dueling pianos at a covid safe wedding reception

Dueling pianos.

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.

dancing guests at a covid safe wedding reception
dancing guests at a covid safe wedding reception

Serving Food at a Socially-Distanced Wedding

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.

smores at a covid safe wedding reception
smores at a covid safe wedding reception

At the Table of a COVID-Safe Wedding Reception

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!

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assigned seating at a covid safe wedding reception
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Include These in Your COVID-Safe Wedding Reception

  1. Get personalized masks for your guests as party favors – you could even make them themed to match the decor!
  2. Set up hand sanitizer stations throughout the area.
  3. Make cute signs that encourage social distancing.
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COVID-Safe Wedding Ceremony

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covid safe wedding ceremony
covid safe wedding ceremony
covid safe wedding ceremony
covid safe wedding ceremony
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Congrats to the Hilbigs!

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

Covid-19 Safe Wedding Reception Ideas

Choosing Your Getting Ready Space: Tips From a KC Wedding Photographer,

You’ve found the perfect wedding venue for your ceremony and reception but don’t forget about the morning of your wedding! The getting ready space for the morning of your wedding is a fun place to spend your last moments as a single gal preparing for the day of your dreams. Choosing your getting ready space is easy once you know what to look for.

You want cute pictures with your best friends PLUS you need a practical space to do your hair and make-up. Don’t stress or wonder about what to look for. Here’s a simple guide on choosing the PERFECT getting ready space for the morning of your wedding.

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Features in a Perfect Getting Ready Space

Look for a space with natural light: big windows & lots of open space for the inevitable pre-ceremony dance party with your girls. A good photographer can shoot in any light but natural is always best!

Look for a house that has big counter space, lots of plugs, and lots of mirrors. You might need to bring some mirrors from home, depending on how big your party is! Bonus points if there’s a full-length mirror.

My brides always love to find a big couch or bed to take cute pictures on with them and their bridesmaids in their robes or matching shirts. Plus this is a cozy place to relax if someone needs a minute to sit down.

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A space with plenty of chairs or tables to sit down at is helpful if you have any moms or grandmas getting ready with you – and for a sweet spot to write your vows or a letter to the love of your life. This is also helpful to sit down and put your shoes on.

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For an iconic wedding dress picture, find a place to hang your wedding dress. Some brides find a place outside, in a closet, or in a room somewhere. While this makes for a gorgeous and memorable photo, it’s also important to have a designated spot for your dress so it doesn’t get in the way.

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Choose a place with neutral backgrounds – no tacky art on the walls, nothing distracting, and no crazy or bright wallpaper. We don’t want anything in the back of your photos to take away from the moment.

Wedding Morning Tips From a Kansas City Wedding Photographer


Another way to prevent distracting photos is to keep your area clean. I always suggest keeping all your stuff on one side of the room so there’s space for everyone to move around. Doing this also means there’s less clutter in the back of your photos.

If the weather is nice, take the party outside for a few shots with a different background.

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Find a place that is close to your wedding venue to save time and gas money.

Look on Air BNB or VRBO for houses that have the features you want. If your wedding party needs a place to stay for the weekend, book the house for an extra night!

It’s actually pretty common for venues to have a bridal suite for getting ready the morning of your wedding. Check with your Kansas City venue to see if their space works for your group and unique needs!

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You don’t need to spend more money than you need to. If any of your friends offer, get ready at their house!

These are just some tips to choosing your getting-ready space for the morning of your wedding. As a Kansas City wedding photographer, I’ve seen it all. Feel free to DM me on Instagram or shoot me an email if you have any questions!

At the end of the day, you’ll be married to your best friend and the love of your life, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Enjoy your morning preparing for the most romantic day ever. Let yourself be spoiled by your loved ones! The photos from the morning of your wedding will be authentic and take you right back to the moment before the best day of your life.

Check out these blog posts for more inspo on great getting ready spaces: Summer Wedding at The Hawthorne House, How to Elope in Kansas City -Advice from a Real Couple, and Wedding Photos at the Museum at Prairie Fire Overland Park, Kansas.

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Choosing Your Getting Ready Space: Tips From a KC Wedding Photographer

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Once you begin planning your dream wedding you’ll start reaching out to various vendors. The vendor most couples are looking forward to hiring the most is their photographer. You want to make sure your day is documented from start to finish and captured authentically. These images will be your looking glass back to your wedding day, photos you’ll share with generations (no pressure) but how do you know how to choose your wedding photographer?

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Here are the top 3 things to look for when hiring your wedding photographer:

Style

Does their style of work align with what you’re looking for?

Look through their portfolio and take note of how they use light throughout different times of day and different types of weather. Light can not be fully controlled during an entire wedding day so it’s important your photographer knows how to get the best images possible with what they have to work with! Request to see full wedding galleries not just the favorite instagram worthy pics.

Do you like how they edit the images? I suggest imagine you’re looking back on your photos 20 years from now, will they still look amazing because they are natural and timeless? or will it be like when your mom shows you clothes from the 80’s – trendy then but outdated now.

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Professionalism

I can not stress this enough- make sure you hire a professional photographer for your wedding. There are no re-dos for wedding day photos. I have heard so many horror stories of couples wanting to save money so they hire a cheap photographer or someone that’s never photographed a wedding before then sure enough the photos don’t turn out well or worse…. the photographer bails at the last minute with no solution or replacement.

I would hate for that to happen to anyone. Stay on the safe side and hire a professional. Someone that has a portfolio of work, experience with weddings, and knows how to run their business. A true professional will have a contract, back up gear, and will be prepared for any sort of situation that could happen on your day.

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Personality

This may be the most important element when searching through photographers. Choose a photographer that you genuinely get along with. You will be spending so much time with them during the planning process and even more time with them on the day of. Depending on the schedule of your day you might even spend more time with your photographer than your partner! Pick someone that makes you feel comfortable, understand your vision, and has your back on your wedding day.

Once you’ve read these tips on how to choose your wedding photographer check out what questions to ask your wedding photographer.

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How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer

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This year I asked my past brides to share their advice for future brides. All of the lovely ladies planning their weddings can take tips from brides that recently planned their own weddings. They all learned what is most important when it comes to wedding planning and making sure you enjoy your day of. Whether you’re planning a big wedding or an elopement these words of wisdom will be useful for you.

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Advice from Hannah

“I think my day went so perfectly because I didn’t freak out about small things. I didn’t even freak out about big things. I kept thinking, at the end of the day I will be married to my best friend, and whatever happens today is what was meant to be! I think having an easy going attitude during the whole thing helped a lot.”

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Loren’s advice on eloping

“Do what you want and do not plan too much! You should have a simple idea and schedule of the day, but planning it to the T takes away the fun of it! What worked for us was the simplicity of it all. We stayed at our hotel to prepare, the hotel was extremely close to the elopement location, we allowed the scenery and skyline to be our decorations, trusted in our pastor for the vows and ceremony, and focused on us. This was a decision that we would absolutely choose again and would recommend others to do as well!”

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McKenna’s Suggestion

“It [the wedding day] really does go by so quickly and it’s over and done before you know it. Hire a day-of coordinator so you can leave all the details and worries to them and really soak in every moment of the day!”

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Ann Marie’s tip

“There are so many things to figure out, but if you can find the right vendors, who you feel you work well with and whose vision meshes with yours, it is a game changer.  Don’t be afraid to ask vendors for advice on other aspects of your big day.  Keep in mind they have typically done this many times and have likely seen things go right or not so right.  A little professional advice never hurts.”

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Destiney’s Adivce

“Don’t stress it will all work out in the end. Just go with the flow and expect little bumps in the road.”

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Amanda’s tips if you have to change your wedding plans

“If anything, wedding planning during a pandemic taught me to be much more go with the flow and embrace everything with a sense of humor. It allowed me to just say “whatever happens, happens.” I know it sounds cliche but what they say is true. Once you are up there with the love of your life, nothing else matters. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and just lean on each other, your families, and if you luck out like us, your amazing vendors. Take in every single moment standing up there. This is it, it’s here, you made it.”

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These brides wanted to share their advice to soon-to-be brides to inspire them and give them the opportunity to learn from their experiences. Overall they all express the importance of not stressing over things you can’t control. Let whatever happens, happen. Just focus on enjoying your day to the fullest.

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For more wedding inspo check out other wedding day blog posts.

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6 Past Brides Share Their Advice for New Brides

questions to ask your wedding photographer

There are tons of things to consider when you start looking for your wedding photographer. As a Kansas City wedding photographer here are the essential questions to ask your wedding photographer.

questions to ask your wedding photographer

How would you describe your photography style?

I personally describe my editing style as “true to color”. I want your images to be a reflection of what your wedding day actually looked like. When you open up your gallery the photos should inspire you to relive your day all over again.

My shooting style is a mix between poses, promts, and candids. I love to be a fly on the wall during intimate moments to capture your emotions without even noticing I’m there, but I also know how important traditional posed photographs are (everyones Grandma cherishes a pic of their grandkids facing the camera and smiling for their refrigerator!) Let’s get the best of both worlds and mix it all together. This will give you a wide range of photos to choose from and a variety throughout your wedding gallery.

How long have you been working as a professional photographer?

This year (2020) will be my second official year as a professional wedding photographer. I’ve started taking pictures and learning how to use a camera back in high school. Right before college I realized how big of a passion it was for me so I decided to study the art of photography at Missouri State University. In 2019 I graduated from Missouri State with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography and a minor in art history. Throughout all those years I had been photographing all sorts of things until my heart found weddings early on in 2019.

What type of equipment do you use?

Currently I’m using two canon 5D Mark IV bodies.

What if you have an issue with your gear?

This is the advantage of shooting with two camera bodies because I already have a backup on hand ready to go!

If both my cameras are having issues I typically bring my older camera a canon 70D as an additional backup.

What’s your backup system?

Right when I leave a wedding, (sometimes at the reception before I leave a wedding) I immediately upload all my images to an external hard drive. Then as I’m edited the images are constantly backed up to my cloud storage system, I use Backblaze. The final images are then kept on the external drives, backed up to cloud storage, and stored on your personal online gallery.

  1. Original files on SD/CF cards
  2. Original files backed up on external drive
  3. Original files backed up to cloud storage
  4. Final images on external drive
  5. Final images backed up to cloud storage
  6. Final images uploaded to online gallery

Have you ever shot at our wedding venue?

If I haven’t shot at your venue before I will gladly go on a tour with you for any venues in the Kansas City area! If your venue is further away and we aren’t able to tour ahead of time, I can assure you that I am fully capable of all lighting situations and will come fully prepared! I’ll also arrive early the day of and explore all our options and locations within the venue.

How do you handle difficult lighting situations?

There are so many ways to work around difficult light! Between school and my education from additional lighting courses I have learned many tips to work with light. I have an understanding of how light works and how to work with what we have! Sometimes it’s as simple as twisting one way or another to find the most flattering light. Trust me! -I got your back. You’ll look good I promise.

Do you have a portfolio we can review?

YES!! There are images on my website and my blog. I would also love to send you some full wedding galleries so you can get an idea of a full day! -Just send me a quick email and I’ll get those galleries to your inbox ASAP.

Do you offer different packages?

Absolutely. Every wedding day is unique which means your photography needs will be different. To take care of each of my couples I create custom packages for them. You guys will get to enjoy your day stress-free, knowing that I have the photography part covered!

How long until I get my final images back? How many images will be included?

First thing you’ll receive from me after your wedding day will be a sneak peek of images within 48 hours! A little taste of the day. Then you’ll receive your final gallery within 3-6 weeks after your wedding. The size of your gallery will depend on the amount of coverage you booked- typically it averages about 100 images an hour. BUT! I never withhold amazing images. You’ll receive edits of everything besides blinks, blurrys, and duplicates.

Do I get a print release? How can I order prints/albums?

Yes you have printing rights for personal use! You’ll also be able to order professional quality prints directly through your personal online gallery. If you are interested in an album please let me know, I will help you with choosing your album and designing it.

If our event lasts longer than expected, will you stay? Is there an additional charge?

If the event goes longer than expected I can definitely stay! I won’t leave before all the magic is over. If we need to add on additional coverage time it will be an additional $200 an hour for just me to stay or $250 for me and a second photographer to stay. You will be invoiced a few days after your wedding, you will not receive your final gallery until it has been paid.

Will you be photographing other events on the same day as our wedding?

Nope! Your wedding will be the only event that day!

What happens if you are ill, or there is an emergency?

Ugghh hopefully this never never ever happens… but if something happens and I can not cover your wedding my second photographer will take over as the lead or I will find another trusted photographer in the Kansas City area (I have a lovely network of amazing photographers that I trust completely!) They will cover your day, deliver the images to me and I will edit them and deliver your final gallery as planned.

Do you have liability insurance?

Yes! My business is insured by State Farm. I have up to 1,000,000 in liability insurance.

Can you share some recent testimonials?

Of course! Please check out My google business page for the most current reviews.

If you have any other questions I am happy to answer! Contact me here

questions to ask your wedding photographer

Questions To Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Courthouse wedding

If you opt in for a elopement at the courthouse this blog post is for you! Plan with these Kansas City courthouse wedding pro-tips in mind.

Courthouse wedding

Make Your Appointment

Be sure to call your local courthouse to make your appointment. My KC people; I went ahead and found the phone numbers for you for both sides of the state line – Jackson County (MO) (816-881-3191) and Johnson County (KS) (913-715-3428).

courthouse wedding pro-tips

Get Your Marriage License

Depending on which courthouse you go to you might need to apply for your marriage license ahead of time. Double check all the requirments on the county government websites – Jackson County (MO) and Johnson County (KS)

couple on green couch

Decide Who Will Officiate

When getting married at a courthouse you have the option of having a Justice of the Peace or a Judge preform the ceremony, but you also have the option of bringing in your own private officiant.

Pro-Tip: If you bring in your own private officiant choose someone that is special to you and your soon to be spouse. Possibly an official from your church or a close friend that can become an officiant for the day.

unique wedding ring

Hire Your Photographer

Even if your wedding will be on the more simple side your photos can still be EPIC.

PRO-TIP: You don’t have to only stick around the courthouse for your photos! There might be some hidden gems a couple blocks away or hire your photographer for some additional hours and somewhere with a breathtaking view.

courthouse wedding

to hire Natalie Nichole Photography please fill out my contact form here or at the bottom of this page.

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 on to any package.

courthouse wedding pro-tips
courthouse wedding pro-tips

Hire Professional Hair and Make Up

Hiring professional hair and makeup is a great way to pamper yourself before your ceremony. You’ll be able to look your best without all the stress of having to do it yourself.

Pro-Tip: Make sure you have a hair and make up trial with your beauty team, you want to make sure the look still feels like you and sometimes the best way to know is to take it for a test run!

courthouse wedding pro-tips
courthouse wedding pro-tips

Flowers are Always a Good Idea

If you love flowers don’t forget to bring some for your special day! You can get a gorgeous bouquet from a local florist with all your favorites.

Pro-Tip: If you don’t feel like carrying around a bouquet as a florist for some little blooms to add to your hair. All the flowers with less hassle.

boho couple

Add a Personal Touch to the Day

Add a little something that truly reflects you two as a couple. Some ideas; bring a special getaway car or motorcycle for after the ceremony, grab something to eat afterwards at your favorite restaurant, or have your closest friends and family waiting at the next location ready to celebrate your new marriage with you!

bride and groom on motorcycle
boho bride and groom on motorcycle

Pro-Tip: Keep your photographer around for the special events- you’ll want to look back on those memories.

Keep these Kansas City courthouse wedding pro-tips in the back of your mind while you plan your special day.

Not wanting to elope at the courthouse but still want to keep it low key? – here’s how to plan a simple wedding

Kansas City Courthouse Wedding Pro-Tips