Emily Lay & Stephen Finkbiner’s Wedding

At the end of the wedding celebration of Emily Lay and Stephen Finkbiner, a smiling 91-year-old grandmother looked out over the happy crowd. Claudine Knaus is normally in bed between 7 and 8 p.m., but she was having such a wonderful time helping her granddaughter and new grandson celebrate that at 11 p.m., she was still sitting comfortably on her daughter’s deck and watching the fun.

Seeing her there, Emily and Stephen knew they had made the right decision in choosing to have their wedding at Emily’s parents’ place in Columbia, rather than on a beach somewhere.

“She’s done a whole lot for me and my brother,” Emily says. “After my grandpa passed away, she took us all on vacation once a year, us and her other children. We’re a small family, only nine people, so we’re close.”

Emily and Stephen had been together 4½ years when they were married. Their relationship began in college and had survived the challenge of living two hours apart for two years while Emily worked in Kansas City and Stephen worked in Columbia. Stephen proposed on an after-dinner stroll on a boardwalk overlooking a Kansas City fountain.

Their wedding took place on Sept. 22, 2012, outside Emily’s parents’ house. It was an intimate, meaningful celebration of love, friends and family.

The invitations introduced the event’s country chic theme, as well as a bird motif that carried throughout the event with bird silhouettes, birdhouses, bird nests and ceramic birds. The invitation colors — poppy red, robin’s egg blue and mint green — also appeared in the ceremony and throughout the reception.

As guests arrived, they were welcomed to a mingling area in the front yard where they could drop off gifts, look over a display of family wedding photos (with a few baby pictures of the bride and groom), sign the guestbook and enjoy a glass of lemonade, tea or water. The area was decorated with a variety of vintage furniture pieces and potted plants, and over the guestbook table, a 16-by-20 framed engagement photo hung on a rope between two trees. There were two cocktail tables, as well as a seating area for visiting.

Guests “entered” the ceremony area between two long white double shutters surrounded by potted plants and birdhouses. Wooden seats complemented the outdoor setting, while a mix of family chairs set off the front row for immediate family.

Befitting the vintage feel of the wedding, Emily wore a lace-covered, trumpet-fit gown with cap sleeves, a keyhole back and chapel-length train. The dramatic neckline showed off a family heirloom necklace, appearing in its third generation of family weddings. Emily wore ballet flats with rhinestone embellishments during the ceremony and then changed to cowboy boots sporting white lace-like stitching. Her bouquet was a hand-tied bouquet of white, cream, green and blue flowers, with long sprigs of grass lending it a wildflower look. Burlap and lace wrapped the stems.

Emily’s bridesmaids wore varying styles of chiffon knee-length dresses in various shades of blue. They accented with poppy red jewelry. Their bouquets were similar to the bride’s but smaller; coral and poppy colors replaced the white elements of Emily’s bouquet.

Stephen wore a gray suit, ivory shirt, pewter tie and black cowboy boots. His boutonniere featured scabiosa pods, bunny grass and cream hypericum, with a burlap-wrapped stem. The groomsmen wore the same attire except with black, patterned ties.

Open acres dotted with trees and a picturesque pond created a beautiful country backdrop for the ceremony, which was led by the Rev. Bryce Atkins. Emily and Stephen had not seen each other prior to the ceremony, but they had exchanged letters. Those letters became a special part of the ceremony as Emily and Stephen placed them in a wooden box along with a bottle of port and two glasses. Atkins instructed them to save the box, and if ever their marriage faced a problem for which there seemed to be no resolution, to open the box, drink the wine, re-read the letters and talk. Should they never need the box, they could make its opening a part of their 25th anniversary celebration.

After the wedding, guests collected on the home’s stone patio and front deck for a cocktail hour and then moved inside a white tent for dinner. Beer was available in old-fashioned standing tin coolers on the patio and in the tent, as well as in an ice-filled canoe near the rock patio. The deck also held a wine bar.

Inside the tent, ivory table cloths were topped with square fabric overlays, each in a unique pattern. Each centerpiece was unique, bringing together flowers in antique bottles, vases and mason jars and meaningful family items, such as knick-knacks, books and special doilies. Framed engagement photos and candles finished off the vintage arrangements.

The three-tiered round wedding cake was covered top-to-bottom with narrow bands of soft white ruffles. Two fondant flowers with the same ruffle texture added a blush of color; a figurine of two white lovebirds sat atop the cake.

After dinner, most guests returned to the stone patio to witness the traditional dances and to dance themselves. Others found quieter seating areas to visit.

Emily and Stephen honeymooned for six days in Cabo, Mexico. Emily, the daughter of Chuck and Roma Lay of Columbia, is a financial analyst at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, and Stephen, the son of Bob and Kara Finkbiner of Blue Springs, is an engineer with Enercon Services in Overland Park, Kan. The couple lives in Gladstone.

The Businesses That Helped Make The Day Special

Bridal Gown:
Victoria’s Bridal, Jefferson City

Bridesmaids’ Gowns:
Victoria’s Bridal, Jefferson City

Hairstyling & Makeup:
The Clip Joint

L. Frisch Photography, Kansas City

Guest Shuttle:
Adventures in Travel

Men’s Wearhouse

Kent’s Floral Gallery & Gifts

Electrified Entertainment

Dolce Cakery

Bride: Meierotto Jewelers, Kansas City;
Groom: Kay Jewelers, Overland Park, Kan.

Tallulah’s; Macy’s; Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond

Wedding Coordinator:
Event Solutions

Lutz’s BBQ

U.S. Rents It

Photo Booth:
A-1 Party and Event Rental

Portable Restrooms:
Apollo Portable Toilets, Mexico

Bottle Koozie Favors:
Elite Promotions, Springfield