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