Kate and Justin opted for an intimate wedding on her family’s elderberry farm in Missouri with only 60 guests. What makes their wedding unique is that the guests who attended didn’t know they were going to a wedding.

“We invited everyone to an ‘engagement party’,” explains Kate.”We didn’t want color schemes, monograms, chair covers, bridal showers or pre-wedding parties. We decided the best way to keep the wedding small was to make it a surprise wedding.”

By the looks of it, the element of surprise didn’t detract from the charming and casual ambiance of this lovely DIY wedding.

Kudos to Cindy Lee Photography for capturing this fun event so beautifully!

Kate, 35 & Justin, 34

Location: Silver Acres Elderberry Farm, Cedar Hill, MO

Wedding Date: Aug 20, 2016

Number of Guests: 60

Wedding Cost: $6,000

Wedding Ceremony Location: Bride’s family’s elderberry farm

Wedding Reception Location: Bride’s family’s elderberry farm

Why did you have an intimate wedding?

We didn’t want the day to get lost in the details and drama of a big wedding.  We feel so lucky to have found each other and just wanted to spend the day celebrating with those closest to us.

What are some the challenges that you faced planning an intimate wedding?

It is so easy for a wedding to spiral out of control and become something bigger than the couple wished. Justin has a huge extended family; inviting extended family, parents’ friends, etc. would have put the guest list at 200 people. The farm could never host that many people, so we would have ended up at venue that wasn’t “us.” We invited everyone to an engagement party … We didn’t want color schemes, monograms, chair covers, bridal showers or pre-wedding parties. We decided the best way to keep the wedding small was to make it a surprise wedding. I was still able to involve my mom in the planning of a party, but we didn’t tell my parents until about two weeks before the wedding when we couldn’t come up with an excuse to mow an aisle into the field. Justin didn’t tell his family until the night before. Some of our family and friends suspected something was up, but the surprise factor allowed us to stay true to our vision of the day.

Was it difficult to pare down the guest list?

We didn’t set a limit on guests; we only invited the people who had helped us along our paths to meeting each other. We decided not to invite any extended family because inviting a few would mean we would have to invite them all.


Did you have any ‘issues’ with the small guest list from friends and family? If so, how did you address them?

We were worried there might be some negative response from our extended families, but afterwards we explained that it was the only way to keep the wedding small. They seemed to understand.

 What were the highlights of the ceremony?

We enjoyed greeting our guests with a sign reading: “Surprise! Welcome to our wedding!” I wore a casual dress to greet guests so there was still a “reveal” of the wedding dress when I walked down the aisle. My best friend flew in from Paris and was ordained online so that she could be our officiant. She delivered the best ceremony I’ve ever heard – personal, poignant, and funny!

What were the highlights of the reception?

It was very picturesque.  Justin had spent hours hanging lanterns from a tree over the dance floor and they were beautiful. After everyone left, we turned off all the lights except for the lanterns and sat together reviewing our favorite parts of the day. Oh. And the cake. I still think about that cake.

What was the best thing about having an intimate wedding?

The day was really about us. It allowed us and our guests to focus on the beauty of the day.

What advice do you have for couples who are considering an intimate wedding?

You’ll appreciate the day more without worrying about the tiny details and huge guest list. We had no negative feedback. Upon hearing about our small, surprise wedding, everyone says they wish they had done it that way.

cedar hill missouri rustic wedding


Photography: Cindy Lee Photography

Catering: Salt + Smoke (our favorite restaurant)

Cake: Pint Size Bakery (our Saturday morning ritual)

Dresses:modcloth and bhldn

Hair and makeup: Stephanie Livingston

Tables: Ezekiel and Stearns

Flowers: Bouquet and boutonniere by Flowers to the People