Areke’s bouquet featured canary yellow, one of the couple’s wedding colors. Steven Michael |

A happy guide’s bride to a lavish wedding on a budget

Bridesmaids helped Areke down the steps at Liberty Memorial. Steven Michael |
The Lathams met when Lindsey was a customer at Areke’s workplace. Steven Michael |
Areke’s gown featured floral details, layers of ruffles and a mermaid silhouette. Steven Michael |
Areke’s “something blue” was a piece of her dad’s dress shirt, which her maid of honor pinned to the bottom of her wedding dress. Steven Michael |
The couple took photos in downtown KC before traveling to their ceremony site in Lenexa. Steven Michael |
Lindsey and Areke dated for almost eight years before tying the knot in September 2016. Steven Michael |
In keeping with the simple, clean lines the couple envisioned, much of the signage at the Latham wedding was glass. Steven Michael |
The Lathams were married by the groom’s uncle and father-figure. Steven Michael |
The brand-new Lathams exited their ceremony to “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang. Steven Michael |
Areke’s princess-cut diamond engagement ring is from Kay Jewelers. Steven Michael |
Areke and her bridesmaids crafted the centerpieces. Steven Michael |
Simple decorations gave the Lathams a lot of bang for their buck. Steven Michael |
Canary yellow and gray piping carried the design theme onto the cake. Steven Michael |
The couple’s minimalist design aesthetic offset the striking warmth of reception space Thompson Barn. Steven Michael |
The couple made the backdrop for the head table. Steven Michael |
Handmade touches, including these embossed napkins at the self-stocked bar, personalized the space and saved money on decor. Steven Michael |
The newlyweds entered their reception dancing. Steven Michael |
The Lathams heated up the dance floor, surrounded by family and friends. Steven Michael |
The couple went old school with the traditionally flavored wedding cake — that’s white cake with almond extract. Steven Michael |
The bride posed with guests in the photo booth. Steven Michael |
The new husband and wife had their first marital disagreement during the shoe game. Steven Michael |
The bride danced during the reception with her bridesmaids. Steven Michael |
The bride and groom thanked family members during a traditional Ethiopian goodbye. Steven Michael |

Newlyweds Areke and Lindsey Latham met at an Eyemasters in Joplin, Mo. Lindsey sold a lovely stranger a pair of glasses and the customer wrote her number on the receipt. Areke’s brave move landed her a new boyfriend and, eventually, a husband.

The Lathams dated for nearly eight years before their big day. Both in their early 30s, they’re originally from the Kansas City area but now live in Columbia, Mo.

Getting started

Proposal: Lindsey proposed with a princess-cut diamond engagement ring during a Monday lunch break at Stephens Lake Park in Columbia.

Rings: Areke’s engagement ring is from Kay Jewelers, and the wedding bands are from Zales.

Inspiration: The couple chose the theme of simple and modern. They started with gray and canary yellow and planned around those colors. Areke is Ethiopian, so it was important to incorporate touches from that culture throughout the day.

Budget: Less than $20,000

Invitations: Areke designed them and had them printed via CatPrint.


Location: Thompson Barn in Lenexa. The ceremony was held outside of the historic house next to the barn.

Dress code: Semi-formal

Officiant: Lindsey’s uncle and father-figure, Edward Arter.

Wedding party: The bridal party, three bridesmaids and groomsmen each, included close friends, Lindsey’s brother and Areke’s sorority sisters.

Vows: Lindsey and Areke wrote personal vows that were a surprise to each other. Lindsey included the promise to watch at least one hour of reality shows with Areke per week.


Recessional: “Celebration,” by Kool & the Gang

DJ: The Dance Factory

First dance: Lindsey picked “Real Love,” by Eric Benet. The song choice was a surprise to the bride.

Processional: “A Thousand Years (Instrumental),” by Christina Perri

Dances with parents: “A Song for Mama,” by Boyz II Men and “Isn’t She Lovely,” by Stevie Wonder


Details: Clean lines and simple details were the primary decorative theme. Areke and Lindsey chose lots of glass — signs, baskets and the seating chart — to keep within that theme.

Handmade: The votive and floating candle centerpieces and the head table backdrop were handmade. The couple also made the A&L-stamped napkins and the dinner menus.

The dress: Mermaid with a sweetheart strapless bodice by designer Morilee. Areke paired the gown with a cathedral-length veil.


Party extras: Photo booth

Location: Thompson Barn, a historic venue at 11184 Lackman Road in Lenexa

Number of guests: About 130

Wedding cake: Three square tiers, decorated with white buttercream and fondant stripes in yellow and gray. The monogram metal topper was ordered from Etsy.

Food: Areke’s mother and family friends made Ethiopian food for the reception, which was paired with American food by Indulge I.

Booze: The venue allowed the couple to bring in liquor, so they stocked the bar at Sam’s Club and hired bartenders. Wine, beer, hard liquor and tej, an Ethiopian honey wine, were available.

Special traditions: The couple included an Ethiopian goodbye custom at the end of the reception. Close members of both families take a seat and the bride, groom and bridal party give each person a hug and kiss

to say thank you for their part in the couple’s upbringings.

Before and after

Bachelorette party and shower: The bridal party and a few close friends celebrated with Areke the night before the wedding by learning a few new dance moves and opening gifts.

Rehearsal dinner: Backyard of bride’s parents’ home in Overland Park

Honeymoon: The couple went to a cabin in Arkansas for a small honeymoon but plan to go on a bigger trip in the future.

Locally sourced

Day of planning and coordinating: Kathleen Spiking of Festively (formerly Shop Soiree)

Catering: Leanne Roebbeke of Indulge I

Makeup: Jessica Stevens

Photography: Steven Michael Photo

Photo booth: ACE’s Snap Shots

Florist: Lucy McNally of The Enchanting Florist

Videographer: A to Z Video

DJ: Bobby G from The Dance Factory

Bartending service: Diamond Girls

Cake: It’s a Sweet Treat Day Bakery

Advice from the couple

“Hire a wedding planner,” Areke says. “Worth every single penny.”

“Things will not go as planned, and the day will still be beautiful,” Areke says. “The unplanned parts will make the day that much more memorable. And, I promise, you’ll laugh about it all months later.”

The Lathams’ wedding day surprises included the limo leaving before the couple were done using it, the groom’s gift to the bride not arriving on time and the families sitting on the “wrong” sides of the aisle.

“Don’t think you can’t have an absolutely beautiful wedding (with all of the extras and booze) for a less-than-the-average budget,” Areke says. “It can be done; just watch for sales and do a little bit each week.”

“Set aside time to get to each table,” Areke says. “My biggest regret is not getting to spend enough time with our family and friends.”