Engaged? Congratulations! Planning a wedding is a daunting task, and it can be crazy-stressful — but it doesn’t have to be. To help you throw the perfect party, we’ve found the best advice in Kansas City.
Read on for tips from recently married couples, wedding guests and local businesses. They’ll tell you how to avoid (some) stress, make your wedding unusual and save some dollars.
Follow this advice for a kick-ass wedding, and save us a glass of champagne!
Kelly Lynch-Stange and Evan Stange
Wedding day: July 3, 2011
Venue: River Market Event Place
Best moment of the day: A moment before the ceremony where Kelly and Evan could see all the guests, but the guests could not see them. “I could really feel that we were going into this together,” Kelly said.
Hardest planning challenge: Convincing family that their out-of-the-box ceremony would still feel like a “wedding.”
Do: Spend money on what really matters. Kelly and Evan splurged on the DJ, Craig Loftis from Elite Sounds. “He was our favorite vendor,” Kelly said. “It was more expensive than we wanted, but music was a place where we didn’t want to cut corners. We love to dance; that’s a big part of our relationship.”
Don’t: Don’t follow traditions for tradition’s sake. “No one says you have to follow traditions, people just do it because it’s what has always been done,” Kelly said. “If you plan based on what you love, surrounded by the people you love … that’s more closely tied to what your marriage will be like than hundred-year-old traditions.”
When Kelly Lynch-Stange and Evan Stange, 32 and 30, respectively, got engaged, they immediately knew that a traditional wedding ceremony wouldn’t work. Their mantra when planning their intimate ceremony and reception was “we want something out of the box, but not foreign.” Kelly and Evan opted to have their closest friends and Kelly’s young daughter stand near them during the ceremony. The couple also chose to incorporate handfasting, where the married couple’s hands are tied together to symbolize the unbreakable nature of their new bond.
Kelly said the wedding never felt like “her” day, since she and Evan shared planning duties, including many DIY projects to save money on décor. For example, Evan made “K” and “E” initials out of plywood and Kelly arranged all of the flowers herself (with some help from family).
Because Kelly ordered the flowers wholesale, the couple spent only about $250 on floral arrangements. “We didn’t want to go broke planning a wedding, and we didn’t see the need to go broke,” Kelly said. Other money-saving tactics: having guests RSVP online, choosing an off-the-rack bridal gown from Lord & Taylor and eschewing a traditional cake in favor of a frozen yogurt bar.
Kelly’s last words of advice for couples planning their wedding is to “stop freaking out and have some damn fun.” She said she has seen too many couples stress over their “perfect” wedding day, and she didn’t want that stress for herself. “At the end of the day,” she said, “we’ll be married, and it will be fun. Nothing else really matters.”
Lauren and Jeff Aleshire
Wedding day: April 20, 2013
Venue: event space at Boulevard Brewery (“a little bit unique, a little bit Kansas City”)
Best moment of wedding day: First Look
Hardest planning challenge: Finding the perfect location. “Not only are you trying to plan your wedding, you’re also being a host to all these people that are visiting you. You want things to be convenient, but it’s really hard to find a church and a rehearsal dinner site and a reception site in a three-block radius. It’s basically impossible,” Lauren said.
Do: “Do what you want to do. Honestly, we went over budget, and a lot of it was because I was trying to … make other people happy. … Pick what’s important to you, whether it’s food or location or whatever, make sure that’s clear to people and then plan accordingly,” she said.
Don’t: “Don’t worry about every little detail thing that Pinterest tells you to do,” she said. Lauren and her husband did framed “meet the wedding party” crafts to hang in the reception area and said that they weren’t really noticed. Guests were too busy eating, dancing and having a great time.
When Lauren and Jeff Aleshire, 27 and 31, respectively, got married a few months ago, they had to balance their personal style with the requests of Lauren’s mother, since Lauren’s parents were paying for much of the wedding.
Jeff envisioned a minimalist wedding to match his style, Lauren’s mother wanted the ceremony and reception to be formal and elaborate, and Lauren found herself somewhere in between.
Lauren made compromises with her mother, but she let herself be persuaded only when the change wouldn’t be too costly. “It was sort of a wash,” Lauren said. “If it was something I felt strongly about, I stood my ground, but if it was something that could be acquiesced with not a ton of money or a lot of effort, I let her win.”
Lauren’s mother pushed for chair covers, for example, but Lauren said no. “No one is going to remember if there are chair covers or not — that is not going to affect anyone’s experience,” she said.
Lauren did allow her mother to select more formal and traditional bridesmaids dresses from a bridal store, instead of the off-the-rack dresses Lauren envisioned from J. Crew or Banana Republic. Because the general style of the dresses was the same, it was an area where she could compromise.
Danielle and Jason Knoll
Wedding day : March 10, 2012
Venue: Sporting Kansas City Park
Best moment of the day: “The reception,” Jason said. “Everybody that’s important in your life makes it there.… You’re not going to have that group of people together again.”
“Having my [14-year-old] son as a part of the ceremony,” Danielle said. “He was Jason’s best man and was part of the ceremony. It was us becoming a family together.”
Hardest planning challenge: Agreeing on a budget. “Weddings are expensive,” Jason said. “To get exactly what you want, wedding vendors make sure you pay for it.” Danielle and Jason each made a list of their top priorities, and the couple did not compromise on these priorities when planning. To save money, they compromised on things that didn’t matter to them as much.
Do: Make the most of your rehearsal dinner. “It was the most amazing experience of both of our lives,” Danielle said. “Our closest friends and family, that intimate group, they’re only together for that one time in our whole life. Relish that moment, because the wedding day goes by so fast.”
Don’t: Don’t fight over wedding planning. “It’s not worth it,” Danielle said. “Communicate and make decisions with your partner.” Jason agreed, saying, “Don’t go rogue.”
Jason and Danielle Knoll, 36 and 35, respectively, knew they wanted to get married at a Kansas City sports venue. When Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums didn’t work out, they turned to Sporting Kansas City Park. The soccer stadium ended up being a perfect fit. “We were really passionate about finding a venue that represented who we are,” Danielle said.
Both bride and groom have played soccer most of their lives, Danielle’s teenage son is an avid soccer player and Danielle’s late father was a soccer coach, so SKC seemed to be made for their wedding. The Knolls got married while the stadium was still affiliated with Livestrong, which was significant because Jason’s father had recently died of cancer.
Their ceremony and reception took place in the pub-like executive lounge. The space overlooks the racetrack and the Legends, which was beautiful as the sun set. Danielle and Jason had a Guinness keg for their guests to match the theme of the venue. A cocktail hour between ceremony and reception was in the owner’s suite, a two-story space with huge glass windows overlooking the field.
Jason and Danielle’s wedding was the first at Sporting Kansas City, which had upsides and downsides. “We were their guinea pigs,” Jason said. The marketing team at SKC were eager to please the first couple to use the venue, which allowed the Knolls to get most of what they asked for.
A downside to being the first wedding at the venue, Jason said, was that SKC didn’t always know what a bride and groom might expect. Jason remembers really pushing for a food tasting, as one was not offered. He said, when planning a wedding at a new venue, “You have to make sure you know what you want, since they may not know.”