Modern Love

Weddings with romantic swoon-ability.
Marco Simonelli & Chuck Arlund

It begins with a desire, a ring, a question and a kiss. It ends with a vow, a dance, a slice of cake, a toast and the first steps—hand-in-hand—down life’s path.

And in between planning that happily-ever-after-moment, there’s a whole lot of romance going on.

A wedding is a carefully curated tableau reflecting a couple’s personal style, an intimate expression shared with friends and family. A modern wedding is composed of tiny vignettes filled with defined tastes, soul connections and individual touches that speak volumes about a relationship—its origin, its personality, its dreams. Today’s brides and grooms approach their nuptials with a modern sensibility that shouts, “Stay true to yourself.”

Megan Thum and Chris Paone and Kristin Hayes and Josh Owens are two couples who took their decidedly modern love affairs and spun them into romantic and memorable weddings. Borrowing cues from favorite flowers, colors, food, music, venues and fashion they surrounded themselves with the things they absolutely love—besides their intended.

Engaging the help of such five-star Kansas City wedding vendors as Diane Boone, owner of Arcadian Events & Design; Dan Meiners, owner and principal designer of

Studio Dan Meiners and Pennway Place; and Karyn Brooke, AIFD, of Sidelines Custom Floral Designs, Inc. to help architect the framework for a perfect celebration, the betrothed couples looked for inspiration no further than elements of their own lives.

Here’s a glimpse into modern love—and two sweet and spectacular weddings that sparkle with romantic swoon-ability.

July 23, 2011
Ceremony: Visitation Church
Reception: Pennway Place at Studio Dan Meiners

Diane Boone, owner of Arcadian Events & Design, used a simple platform for achieving the visions that 31-year-old Megan Thum and Chris Paone had for their wedding.

“The first time I met Megan and Chris, who dated for nine years, I was struck by the obvious love for one another that had been nurtured by and evolved over time,” says Boone, who was hired as the wedding coordinator. “Their love grew patiently, and it really showed in the way they interacted with one another. I was inspired by the respect they showed for each other’s style and personality.”

Chris’ proposal to Megan at The Capital Grille on the Country Club Plaza was symbolic of their synchronicity as a couple. She had been house hunting for months, and found a place in Brookside that captured her imagination. “I was going to put an offer on that house,” says Megan, “totally unaware that Chris, who had asked my parents and my sister for my hand the week prior, was going to propose.”

Megan says her family didn’t betray the secret, and on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2010, Chris pulled out a ring over pre-movie cocktails at the restaurant and popped the question. But it wasn’t the exact scenario he had imagined—Megan was getting impatient, concerned that they would miss the beginning of the movie, so she kept urging Chris to finish his drink.

“He finally said, ‘Well, I didn’t want this to be cheesy, so here goes: Will you marry me?’” says Megan. “He caught me off guard. I wasn’t sure he was serious.”

The song that was playing the exact moment Chris asked for Megan’s hand? The famous Leiber and Stoller song, “Kansas City.” Serendipity—a word that could easily be the theme for the Thum/Paone wedding.

Chris had e-mailed their friends earlier in the day—including the mutual friend that introduced the couple—and told everyone his plan. His strategy: if Megan said yes, he would text them and have them join the party at Harry’s Bar & Tables in Westport.

“If I said no, he had a plan, too,” laughs Megan, a social worker at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. “He was going to text them anyway just to have people to commiserate with.”

Following the impromptu engagement party, the planning process began for the very Kansas City-oriented wedding. It was a family affair—Megan, Chris, her mother, sister, Lindsay (her maid of honor) and even her father, Denny, former president of the Kansas City Chiefs organization. There were some ironclad must-haves: a traditional Catholic mass; a dinner with action stations and a cannoli groom’s cake from Jasper’s Restaurant, a family favorite for decades; and Lebanese food to pay homage to Megan’s heritage.

“My mom, aunt, friends and I spent an entire week hand-rolling more than 1,000 grape leaves and other traditional foods,” says Megan. “It was important to Chris and me to have our wedding be unique to us.”

The bridesmaids’ luncheon was at Starker’s and the glittering rehearsal dinner was at The American. Out-of-town guests received gift bags brimming with iconic KC products from The Roasterie coffee to barbecue sauce.

A symbolic chalice that was an intricate part of all Thum family events was part of the ceremony. Designed and sculpted by Megan’s great uncle and uncle, the hammered silver cup was inlaid with her grandmother’s ring. The sentimental artifact became the design inspiration for Megan’s stunning and sophisticated custom wedding gown, which in turn captured cake artist Rama Sola’s fancy. The monogrammed, tiered lemon, chocolate and vanilla confection mimicked the elaborate lace of Megan’s dress, and won over the bride.

“It was gorgeous,” says Megan. “I don’t care for sweets, but Rama’s cake was beyond extraordinary.”

Floral guru Dan Meiners was tapped to design the flowers, which included a bright palette of yellow and pink and some of Chris’ favorite blooms. The reception for 400 guests was at Meiners’ sleek event space in midtown, with KC All Stars providing live music. Chris, who works at historic Kelly’s Westport Inn, recruited his friends to bartend; La Bodega’s house sangria was served as the signature drink.

Megan says the wedding was exactly what she and Chris envisioned for the day they promised to honor and cherish one another. From Jasper’s meatball sliders served to revelers at 11 p.m. to Chris’ much-ballyhooed black patent, limited edition Sebago shoes, the bride—or groom—wouldn’t have changed a thing.

“It was that perfect and emblematic of us as a couple,” says Megan. “It was fun.”


May 7, 2011
Ceremony/Reception: The Clubhouse on Baltimore

Kristin Hayes didn’t dream about what her wedding would be like when she was a little girl.

“It was an advantage when we visited with our vendors during the planning process,” says Kristin, a consultant with PRP Wine International. “They would ask, ‘What do you want? What do you imagine?’ I didn’t have a clue. So they all got to do what they were good at.”

When Kristin did her post-wedding analysis, she came back with an A+ for every single element of her Big Day.

“It was amazing,” says 27-year-old Kristin. “It had very personal touches of Josh and me, and it was memorable. That’s what we both wanted.”

Flashback to Thanksgiving morning 2009, and a moment when Kristin knew exactly what she wanted. She and her boyfriend of five years, Josh Owens, 31, were hosting their first holiday dinner, and Kristin wanted everything to be just so—including the turkey that went into the oven at 5 a.m.

“When Josh removed the turkey from the bag, some of the skin came off,” recalls Kristin, laughing at the memory of the argument that ensued between the two new homeowners. “I was convinced he had ruined it.”

Kristin, normally laid back, fretted that the day wouldn’t go well. As she says, “I was bouncing off the walls.”

Finally Josh, an engineer at Siemens, convinced her to calm down, and then dropped to one knee and asked the unexpected question: “Kristin, will you marry me?”

“I was completely shocked,” says Kristin, adding that the inaugural turkey turned out just fine.

Kristin and her mother, Linda, hired wedding consultant Cindy Patrick and started planning the springtime wedding. The Clubhouse on Baltimore was chosen for the event and floral designer extraordinaire, Karyn Brooke, AIFD, and owner of Sidelines Custom Floral Designs in Martin City, came onboard to help create the ambience and of course, the flowers.

The piece de resistance was the large box with cascading fresh flowers Brooke placed on the 14-foot-high mantel in the Tudor Room at The Clubhouse on Baltimore. Flanked by dramatic stained glass windows, the massive arrangement contained white hydrangeas, dendrobium orchids, peonies, butter yellow roses, eggshell ostrich feathers and crystals.

“The statement piece perfectly complemented Kristin and Josh’s modern traditional energy with a large dash of romance,” says Brooke, who has worked with the Hayes family for years, including the wedding for oldest daughter, Hayley.

Following the nuptials, guests retired to the lobby for cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while Brooke and her crew transformed the room into an intimate and magical setting for the buffet dinner by KC Catering, cake by Kay Benjamin and dancing to the KC All Stars.

“Kristin wanted people to be able to stay in the same place for both the ceremony and party,” says Brooke, who designed lush floral arrangements of alternating heights for the guest tables with peonies, orchids, roses, crystals and feathers. “The color palette she chose was lovely —soft coral, pale pink, butter yellow, lavender and ivory. There was a definite vintage flair juxtaposed by modern elements woven throughout the wedding.”

The biggest surprise of the evening was when a professional Michael Jackson impersonator popped onto the stage with the band. Arranged by Michael and Linda—and kept a secret for months from everyone except Sue Sanders, Kristin’s 87-year-old grandmother—the singer from Orlando, Fla., wowed the crowd with four songs.

“Kristin was a huge Michael Jackson fan growing up, and still is,” says Linda, who says the best part of her daughter’s wedding was seeing Kristin’s face when the impersonator started singing.

Kristin, in her grown-up tulle and lace gown from Bridal Extraordinaire, jumped onto the dance floor with her new husband, enjoying the unusual gift from her grandmother who was unable to be at her granddaughter’s wedding.

“I only had two records growing up—‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’—and I always requested Michael Jackson songs when my friends and I went out,” she says. “This was a dream come true.”

Perhaps the best punctuation mark on Kristin and Josh’s wedding was the Michael Jackson impersonator’s final song before the KC All Stars took charge of the boogying crowd.

“It was ‘Thriller,’” says Kristin. “That was more than perfect.”

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