Maggie + Joe


Wedding’s don’t have to be outrageously big to be beautiful. In fact keeping things intimate can make it that more special to the bride and groom. Des Moines native Maggie Kemp shares her reason why.

Why did you choose to have a small wedding?

There were several factors that went into the decision to have a small wedding; timing, finances, etc. When we got engaged Joe and I knew right away we did not want a long engagement. We were ready to be married and start our lives and wanted to do the damn thing! We knew that having a small event would give us more flexibility on venues and vendors so that was an easy choice. We also knew that we wanted our wedding to be focused on the act of us getting married. That sounds silly but I think that in today’s world of social media people get super focused on making everything LOOK amazing and between the amazing bridesmaid dresses and centerpieces and groomsmen gifts and all the other little details, the actual point of what a wedding is about can get a little lost. Lastly and probably biggest reason for a small wedding was the generous offer we got from my parents. They gave us the choice to have a big wedding or a down-payment on a house. We chose the house. We had a tight budget for the party and going smaller made it much more feasible to do things how we wanted to.

Tell us all things ceremony.

Joe and I got married on April 26th 2019 at Christ the King Catholic Church, the church I grew up in. We had a private ceremony and our guests were our parents, siblings and grandparents -12 people total. I wore an off the shoulder midi length white dress and a pillbox hat with a birdcage veil (I wanted major Jackie O vibes) and Joe wore a gorgeous navy sport coat. I carried a beautiful bouquet that Maya at Wildflower made me special for the ceremony full of white peonies and magnolia leaves - an ode to our engagement in Charleston, South Carolina.


At our ceremony Joe and I walked down the aisle together to Ave Maria. Our priest told us in our marriage preparation sessions that in the uber traditional Catholic wedding ceremony, the bride and groom walk down the aisle together instead of separately because it signifies that no one is giving the bride to the groom or vice versa, rather they are giving themselves to each other. We loved the symbolism and it was really special to walk down the aisle arm in arm.

After our I-Do’s we had a small reception dinner at 801 Chophouse. They let us use their private dining room and it was beautiful. Everyone went around the table and gave their high-lows (our dinner time family staple) where they told the best part of their day and the worst.

We were the last drop off in the sprinter van my stepdad had rented to haul everyone - because sprinter vans are the sexiest send-off vehicles obviously. We told the driver that we had just bought a house and he insisted on getting a picture of Joe carrying me across the threshold and I’m so grateful he did because it’s one of my favorite pictures ever.


Did you still have an after party?

I was still on cloud 9 from our ceremony when the countdown started to our cocktail party on May 17th. When we started discussing plans for our wedding we struggled with wanting to keep our ceremony intimate and private and our celebration relaxed and fun, but without all the traditional earmarks of a wedding reception. Enter Maya, our event planner from Plum Event who found the perfect solution - a cocktail party.

Maya helped me hone in a vibe that was swanky, sexy and southern -without the stuffiness. We held our party in the men’s locker room at Glen Oaks Country Club - the perfect size for our small party of 100 guests. I love the design contrast of masculine and feminine together and Maya captured it perfectly with black table linens and ghost chair seating, white floral arrangements in silver trophies and a neon sign reading “The O”Conners” flanked by old Hollywood style lights.

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Our beautiful signage done by Laura at By Invitation Only, was matte black with rose gold lettering that was stately and traditional. I didn’t give Maya much direction as to what I wanted things to look like as far as floral and tables and décor. I pretty much just showed her a mood board and she took it and ran with it. And it turned out better than I could have ever expected.

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I struggled with what I was going to wear as I wanted to look like a bride but didn’t feel a bridal gown was appropriate for the event (especially since I was already married!) One day while perusing Dillards with my mom we found a white off the shoulder full length dress on the sale rack and tried it on a whim. It fit like a glove and felt like the perfect in-between of a wedding dress and a cocktail dress - just like our party. When we were in Charleston the day after we got engaged I saw these gorgeous bow ties made out of feathers that were made locally in South Carolina. I ordered 3 for my stepdad, brother and Joe to wear with their classic black tuxes.

The day of our party I got ready at my parents’ house with my mom. We did our own hair and makeup and listened to one of our favorite podcasts, My Favorite Murder (to get us in the mood you know?) We took pictures in my parents’ house which was the most gorgeous backdrop. Similar to Maya, I gave our photographer Alyssa Leicht little direction on what I wanted, one of the only photos I showed her was the JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette wedding photo (I’m a super fun client). I actually gasped when I got our photos back of how well she captured the vibe that I struggled to explain. She just got it. They were perfect.

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At the cocktail party I got to chat with and hug every one of our guests and it was a huge relief knowing that I didn’t miss anyone and I could enjoy the party afterwards! My stepdad and mom gave amazing toasts and Joe and I had our first dance to “To Be Loved By You” by Kirby Joe gave a thank you to our guests that made me ugly cry and then we danced the night away.

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The rest was honestly a blur and I kept telling Joe that I felt like I was floating like a balloon (probably in part to the spicy margaritas we served). The love we felt from our family and friends was overwhelming and getting to watch everyone we loved eat, drink and dance the night away while celebrating us was more than we could have dreamed of.

All Photography: Alyssa Leicht

Planning: Plum Event + Design

Floral: Wildflower

Paper: By Invitation Only

Venue: Glen Oaks Country Club

intimate, AllLaura Biggins