KANSAS CITY, Mo — A Kansas City couple is making it their mission to provide free and affordable wedding options for engaged couples.
It was two years ago, when Aaron and Kelsie Kleinmeyer felt a tug at their heartstrings to serve budding couples.
“We had this space right here, this outdoor space, with these poles that are symbolic for the chapel and there’s a big story going on here,” Aaron Kleinmeyer said. “It was grassed, we had this beautiful isle and we were like, ‘How could we just not open this up?’”
In an industry that can quickly lose sight of its true meaning, the Kleinmeyers wanted to help couples invest in themselves.
They say over half of some 14,000 weddings in Kansas City each year are done in a courthouse, because couples cannot afford them.
“We wanted to give them a beautiful option that wasn’t just a courthouse or something that didn’t seem feasible for them,” Kelsie Kleinmeyer said.
The couple says strong marriages help families, kids and our community. They wanted to invest their time, money and efforts into focusing on bettering those relationships.
“When you sit down and you talk with people and you actually have these moments of like ‘Do you understand why your marriage matters?’ It’s still there,” Aaron Kleinmeyer said.
While COVID-19 brought struggles of its own, they always found a silver lining.
“Ideally you don’t start a business and get shut down immediately, but I feel like for us, it puts us in the prime spot to help people with what we had,” Kelsie Kleinmeyer said.
And they did just that. The couple wed 39 couples in 2020 and have 75 weddings planned for this year. One of them was Jonathan and Jenni Dine's wedding.
They met on a dating site when Jenni was matched with Jonathan’s friend.
“He’s talking to her and then goes, ‘Oh, I’m gonna go get this girl’s phone number over here’ and walks away," Jonathan Dine said recalling the moment he met Jenni. "I said, ‘Well that’s weird, you’re the prettiest girl in here. I don’t see why he’s not talking to you.’ So the rest is history and I swooped in.”
For this newlywed, they wanted to make sure not to start their marriage in debt.
They were not able to find other wedding venues in the Kansas City metro area that were offering competitive rates.
“During planning, I realized that there’s a lot of stuff that goes into it that’s meaningless,” Jenni Dine said.
Jonathan Dine recalls many businesses price gouging when they were told their services would be for a wedding.
“They are basically taking advantage of people at their time of need when they’re really trying to come together," Jonathan Dine said. "It’s nice to see a venue that is concerned with that.”
The couple’s biggest advice to newly engaged couples is to not get caught up in the little things that cost a lot of money.
“We didn’t have to get the rolling floors and the great big signs," Jonathan Dine said. "We just had a nice simple ordeal and it was beautiful."
For another couple Kelsey and Drake Kayser, they were just eager to tie the knot after postponing due to the pandemic and being bound by stay-at-home orders.
The two had plans to get married in April of 2020, when the pandemic hit. The reception was moved to August, but they hoped they could find a solution at The Brim.
“She [Kelsie Kleinmeyer] gave us the option to come down on Monday, which is like less than 48 hours away," Kelsey Kayser said. "Thankfully, I had just picked up my dress that week."
Her husband, Drake, recalls working just hours before his wedding that Monday morning. Obtaining a wedding license was a challenge as well with many area courthouses closing down due to the pandemic.
“Everything happened so fast, but again, we just kind of were ready to be married,” Kelsey Kayser said. “It was getting to the point where it wasn’t fun anymore. It was upsetting and I didn’t like being upset about anything to do with our wedding.”
A year later, they would not have wanted it any other way. With a baby on the way, they are grateful for the option The Brim provided.
“We’re due Aug. 20. We have a baby boy and we’re so excited," Kelsey Kayser said. "We saved a lot of money to start our family and laid a great foundation from the beginning. We were ready to get married and she made that dream come true for us."
For more information on The Brim and their rates, people can head to their website.