A soft, niche guide for a micro wedding in Kansas City and what I’ve learned as a wedding vendor getting married (so far).

So in the year of 2024 I have received the title of wedding photographer and BRIDE. I got engaged to my love, Sean, in August of 2023, overlooking a small villa called Rocamadour in Southern France right around my 30th birthday. Sean and I have been together since we were both 18; as Taylor Swift would say: “it’s been a long time coming”.

You might be asking yourself what is a microwedding? A micro-wedding is a smaller shorter wedding day than the usual all-day affair of a larger wedding. How do you know if your wedding is considered a micro-wedding? Well, normally the main details of a micro wedding involve your guest count. If you have a guest count that is smaller than 60 people you might have a micro-wedding. Or maybe you don’t have a wedding party of bridesmaids or groomsmen, or maybe you plan on being home by 9:00pm that day. In general, it’s a wedding that doesn’t have ALL of the bells and whistles heavily attached.

Sean and I both agreed that we didn’t want to start wedding planning until 2024. I thoroughly encourage you to take some time being engaged. Enjoy these next few weeks or months as each other’s fiance. You’ll spend so much of it wedding planning, just take the time to enjoy this moment.

Sean and I started planning two weeks within January. 4 months after we got engaged. Since then, there has been a plethora of things I have learned that I have never learned in my 7 years as a wedding photographer. It has opened my eyes to how to better operate as a business and what my couples go through when planning their own wedding. Also, getting married to my best friend is an added plus. 

Kelsey from Kelsey diane photography's proposal photo with her fiance Sean.

Disclaimer: the advice I’m going to give applies to couples, wedding vendors, or both. Please understand that I do have a very specific viewpoint, since I am a wedding vendor, my view may not apply to your own vision of your wedding day. My goal is to discuss and explain the intricacies of the wedding industry and to encourage you, as a couple, to think about what is truly important to you. This guide will be helpful to those who just got engaged and have no idea where to start.

wedding photographer photographs two brides on their wedding day at the Pavillion in Kansas City Missouri.

I’ve witnessed over 140 weddings, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that the magic of a wedding day is over for me. I told Sean I wasn’t sure if I wanted a wedding, fearing I would feel like I was at work. So, we started brainstorming ways to avoid that feeling. However, I quickly fell into the usual rhythms of how a wedding day works. It’s hard to break out of this pattern that I am consistently put in every weekend. Once we figured out what we wanted to do, we had to break that same pattern with every wedding vendor we came across, even vendors I’ve been working with for years. And that’s not anyone’s fault. After seeing extremely similar timelines for wedding days for YEARS, it’s to be expected that wedding vendors will just assume you want all the amenities of a wedding that is constantly fed to you through social media, your family, and even friends and their own wedding experience. Just remember: your wedding is yours. And no one should sway you one way or the other on how you want your wedding to be. Instead of falling into the “normal”, we wanted our day to flow differently. And we made sure everyone, our guests, wedding vendors, knew it. So, do not be afraid to voice what you want to your wedding day team. It’s their job to make it happen for you!

A wedding officiant holding out the two wedding bands to the bride and groom.

The start of planning

Back to Sean and I planning our wedding. We asked ourselves these questions (and I encourage you to do the same): You wake up on your wedding day, what are you most looking forward to? What is the priority? What can we do to make it feel like us? Do you want a wedding? Or do you feel obligated to want a wedding? What aspects of traditional weddings are important to you?

This is what we concluded:

  • Eating good food
  • Spending time with the guests we invite
  • Ceremony and vows
  • Live music
  • First Dance

We agreed we did not want a buffet and we did not want to cater food somewhere. The closer we are to the source of the food, the better it will be. So, we knew we wanted to just reserve a restaurant for a private dining experience. Which then, sets how big our guest list can be. 

Spending time with our guests, especially with a smaller guest count than average, means that we wanted to set aside time to spend with our guests specifically. 

Live music was essential to us. Sean and I’s relationship had music in the middle since we’ve been together. It was the first thing that connected us.

Now, I want you to note things that were deemed unimportant:

  • Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
  • Alcohol
  • Partying and dancing
  • Flowers

There’s nothing wrong with wanting these things. In fact, I come across them in my couples weddings 90% of the time. The above items were not high enough on the priority list for us. I’m just trying to show that not every wedding has to be painted the same. The flowers one really cuts me deep because I LOVE flowers, but Sean would guarantee get a nosebleed if we were to have real flowers. Neither one of us drinks so we opted to give our guests a really nice dinner versus a buffet with free alcohol. 

A wedding party photo at the Kauffman Center of Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri.

What I’ve learned (so far)

So, now that we had a base plan, we started to reach out to lovely wedding vendors in the Kansas City metro. Immediately I noticed a few things. It’s hard to keep track of emails. The wedding vendors you reach out to will start to blend. I encourage you to get a wedding email that is FOR your wedding.

That being said, and maybe it’s because I’ve been in this business for so long, but I was able to tell when a wedding vendor took the time to email me back. I could tell if things were copied and pasted and sent off, versus the wedding vendors who took the time to respond to my specific inquiry, which was a major turn-on for me. I operate my own business with personal communication with each one of my couples so I felt required to receive that in return. Those wedding vendors caught my attention and stayed in my brain long after they sent the email.

Now to clients! When you email a wedding vendor, GIVE THEM DETAILS. I know that not EVERY vendor will be a high priority for you but PLEASE give them something to go off of so they can connect with you. Telling them the vibe of your day will give them a good indication if they are the right fit. Even if it’s just your wedding website that has your story on it, that is better than 3-word sentences sent in an email. I also encourage being tactical with who you send out inquiries. For example: Make sure you’re looking at venues that match your vibe. Don’t look at a 400 person venue for a 50 person wedding. There are venues out there that operate for smaller micro weddings and ones that operate for an entire weekend! We scheduled our venue for our ceremony for four hours. We were honest in how we wanted to use the space and told them we wouldn’t be having a reception there. However, if you are looking for a venue with a similar hourly rate than I would expect to book them on a Friday or Sunday versus a Saturday. Be respectful of your vendors time and be honest with them.

A wedding reception dance floor at the Everly in Kansas City Missouri.

Don’t be afraid to break traditions!

Do NOT go through with traditional wedding events if they do not speak to you. Sean and I are not big partiers, nor like to dance it up to a DJ, so we aren’t providing a dance floor. But, we wanted to do a first dance right after our ceremony because the idea of dancing to a special song was important to us. We view the First Dance as a formal dance to celebrate becoming husband and wife.

We are not asking people to be our bridesmaids or groomsmen. There were a couple of reasons for this. We have a very small window for photos and we wanted to spend that time taking photos of us as a couple. We realized there were other ways to celebrate with the people who would have been our wedding party. You can still have a bachelor/bachelorette party without “official” wedding party members. 

A beautiful 4 tiered wedding cake with gorgeous flower accents.

Where I saved money 

I would encourage you to find a wedding planner first before you start venue shopping. I’ll be inserting a blog posts of some of my favorite wedding planners here soon.

Your wedding planner is a GREAT resource to help you find wedding vendors that fit your wedding day versus you doing all of the research yourself. They also can give you a more accurate representation of how much your day is going to cost. They should be your biggest support throughout this process. They should not be pressuring you to do one thing or another. Now, if you are thinking to yourself that a wedding planner is not worth it. Let me tell you that it is. It was a requirement for me because I did not want to be asked a “vendor question” on my wedding day from my friends and family. Also, in the long run, she will have SAVED me money. 

Other ways we saved money:

  • Little to no florals (due to Sean’s allergies)
  • Didn’t print invitations. – E-invites are significantly cheaper and more convenient. However; I do encourage you to get a preview invite to hand to your wedding photographer on the day of your wedding
  • Keeping our guest count low – We were very strategic with who we required to invite to our wedding. I encourage you to think about that too especially if you are the ones footing the majority of the bill.
  • Cash Bar. If you’re going to go this route then make an environment that doesn’t disappoint your guests. If you’re expecting a late-night party, then you should provide the alcohol! 
  • Consider booking a Friday or Sunday– this gives wedding vendors, not just your venues, to be more lenient with you versus if your wedding was on a Saturday. I view it as not taking away an opportunity from them to book a bigger wedding day that could make them a lot more money than my micro wedding. But hey, I am a wedding vendor and I like seeing my fellow vendors thriving. 
  • Tactical with how many hours were needed – a LOT of wedding photographers offer 8 hour packages. If you don’t see a micro wedding option from a photographer, ask them about it. See what they will say. My photographer is coming for 3.5 hours currently! I’m working on making micro weddings more prominent on my website because I just LOVE them. So reach out to me about your day and let’s make some magic. 🙂 . 
Wedding day head table at the Everly in Kansas City Missouri.

But Kelsey you haven’t even talked about photography until now. BOY WAS THAT A RIDE. I spent SO much time figuring out what to do for photography. What would work for both Sean and me.  Sean, even though the man is marrying a wedding photographer, did not want to spend a ton of time in front of a camera. And at the end of the day, I decided I didn’t want to either. Mostly going back to that “am I at work?” mentality. So, it was really important for me to find someone who is mostly hands-off, and partially hands on when it came to the “formal photos”. Searching for a wedding photographer for myself made me have an existential crisis about how I wanted to operate my own business. In the end, we did find someone. And I’m very excited about my choice. 🙂 

I will be sharing all my vendors in another blog post about our wedding once it happens. But for now: I just want to conclude that this is your wedding. Not anyone else’s. This entire process has made me want to scream on the rooftops to couples and vendors that YOUR WEDDING DAY IS NOT A PHOTOSHOOT. This is coming from a wedding photographer. I am SO excited to marry Sean. And what I’m most excited about is the ceremony and our private vows, seeing my friends and family under one roof, and marrying the love of my life. 

If this resonates with you, you’re planning a microwedding or you’re looking for a wedding photographer, then I’d love to chat. Connect with me here

Other advice blog posts to check out

Should I do a first look?

Engagement Session Tips

Engagement photos of Kelsey with Kelsey Diane Photography .