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
If you want your wedding to really stand out from the crowd you must think of a theme that’s a little more non traditional. EvanLee and Brad have always been huge fans of Halloween so when October 31st was going to be on a Saturday they had to take the opportunity to have a Halloween wedding in Lawrence Kansas.
EvanLee and Brad went ALL OUT for their wedding. They dreamt up amazing ideas and DIY-ed for months to make their vision a reality. Brad hand built a beautiful ceremony half moon arch out of wood, twigs, and branches. EvanLee had seen an inspiration photo of a hanging upside down cake in a coffin cake stand so they built that too!
For a wedding this nontraditional and alternative they needed a venue that would fit the theme. A black barn in the middle of Lawrence Kansas with a giant silo. Absolutely beautiful in the golden hour sunset, and completely fitting for a Halloween wedding.
Their wedding was all about having fun with their family and friends, since they wanted more of an alternative wedding they wanted to have a unique wedding reception. Since it was a Halloween wedding they figured the night wouldn’t be complete without a costume contest for all of the guests.
There were different categories guests could compete in; best kid costume, best couple costume, best group costume, most unique costume, and much more. Brad’s grandmother won for best solo costume!!
At the end of the night the sky was clear expect for the bright full moon. I photographed EvanLee and Brad in the moonlight for a couple spooky husband and wife portraits. It was the perfect ending to their amazing Halloween wedding in Lawrence Kansas.
Destiny and Ross were planning their wedding during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. They opted for a Kansas City wedding with a backyard reception. Celebrating with their friends and family while also keeping everyone safe and comfortable was their main priority.
When I first spoke with Destiny I was eager to hear all about their wedding day plans. She told me how excited they were to just be married already. They wanted to keep their wedding on the smaller side but still throw an awesome party. Destiny and I connected instantly. She told me they wanted their photographer to be someone that was easy to talk to, shared their vision, and that they could trust to capture all of their most important memories from their day.
After our first conversation Destiny was sure I was the photographer for them. I always stay well connected to my couples in the months leading up to their wedding, especially during such an uncertain year of 2020. I kept them informed on any new guidelines or restrictions that were put in place for Kansas City and the Independence Area. My couples know they have my support 100% and that I am here to help make their experience stress free from the minute they inquire to the end of wedding day, gallery delivery day, and beyond.
Finally wedding day was here!! It was a beautiful summer day in early September. Destiny and Ross had their ceremony outdoors at Stoney Creek Hotel in Independence Missouri. The lush trees and pond were a gorgeous setting for their intimate ceremony.
We then headed to their family backyard for their reception. Great weather, good drinks, and upbeat music was all this couple needed celebrate their new marriage with their friends and family.
I was so happy I was able to be a part of Destiny and Ross’ big day. They were able to completely be themselves while I was there to capture photos that were authentic to them. Photographing important moments form their Kansas City wedding with a backyard reception that they’ll remember for years to come.
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.
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.
James got ready in the groom’s room with his best man and groomsmen by his side.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Anna and James have been together for many years. It’s clear how much love they share for each other.
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.
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.
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.
Members of the wedding party gave thoughtful toasts to the couple. Wishing them years of happiness and love.
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.
After the traditional dances the party really got started! The DJ turned on his colorful lights and guests hit the dance floor.
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
Venue: The Hawthorne House
Dress: Stephanie’s Bridal
Suit: Tip Top Tux
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
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
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.
Before you pick your first dance, make sure your wedding day timeline is set- here’s how to plan the perfect wedding day timeline