Photos by Scott Myers Photography
Caitlin Kerber and Luke Whaley wed Nov. 5, 2016, in the Kimball Ballroom on the Stephens College campus. The two met through mutual friends at Mizzou, where Caitlin was a communications major and Luke was in the journalism school.
A party in the summer of 2014 set them on course for coupledom. Luke said Caitlin’s intelligence and sarcastic sense of humor attracted him. “She just seemed like a very good match with my personality.”
During the next year and half, they grew closer as a couple and started picking out rings. Caitlin expected a formal proposal on her birthday, Dec. 24, which they celebrated the night before with dinner and a trip to Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza.
“I thought he’d propose at dinner, but he didn’t. Then I thought he’d propose at the Plaza, but that didn’t happen either,” recalled Caitlin. “Then we got back to my dad’s house in Warrensburg and I was so tired I just wanted to put my pajamas on and go to bed. But Luke asked me to come look at the Christmas tree.”
Caitlin had seen Christmas trees before and grew impatient but reluctantly joined Luke in front of the tree, where she gasped at seeing 20 or 30 ornaments Luke had made from pictures of them together and as children.
“Then,” she said, “he got down on one knee and proposed. It was perfect.”
Luke had spent weeks collecting the photos and putting them in small silver frames. “We talked about what great memories we’ve had throughout our lives. I guess it was my way of expressing the idea that we would go on making great memories together,” he said.
He didn’t know it at the time, but Caitlin would also plot a surprise for him. Caitlin didn’t want a theme or a set palette to stifle her wedding day. “That seemed too stagnant. I wanted the flexibility to mold my wedding into what I envisioned as I found things that spoke to me,” she said. “I knew I wanted it to be simple and elegant, but I would also say that the vision really evolved throughout the planning process.”
Caitlin exemplified elegance in her trumpet-shaped dress with a chapel length train, covered in floral lace, featuring beading and pearl detail. The dress had a v-neckline, with a lace scallop detail. The scalloped lace was also along the bottom of the dress and train. She honored her mother, Barb, who died when Caitlin was 16, by wearing Barb’s veil and customizing the gown’s sleeves so they resembled her wedding dress.
Her hair was swept up on one side by a pearl and rhinestone hair comb, curls cascading down the other. She carried a mix of rose varietals, lisianthus andlilies, with astilbe, white aster, ruscus, eucalyptus and rosemary.
Her bridesmaids wore a black dress of their own choosing. “It would have been hard to settle on one style,” Caitlin said. “And anyway, I wanted them to be comfortable and wear something they liked.” They carried bouquets of rose varietals, lisianthus, white aster, with astilbe, ruscus, eucalyptus and nigella pods.
The groom wore a black tuxedo and black bow tie. His boutonniere was a blueberry rose framed by eucalyptus and rosemary. His groomsmen also wore black tuxedos and bow ties. Their boutonnieres were red spray roses with eucalyptus.
The ballroom was decorated with garlands of salal and ruscus greens along the aisle. An antique bench, covered in flowers, rosemary and a garland that matched the aisles, served as the altar, with gauzy white fabric suspended overhead between pillars to frame the ceremony.
The bride’s uncle, Father Joseph Kerber, officiated. At the couple’s request, he took time to acknowledge family loved ones who had passed away. The couple wrote their own vows independently, then marveled at how similar they turned out. The bride and groom also asked a family member to perform a reading during the exchange of vows.
During the hiatus between the ceremony and the reception, Caitlin sprung her surprise: The wedding photos were to be taken on Faurot Field.
“I had to play my Bridezilla card to keep it a secret,” Caitlin said. When Luke asked about plans for the photos, she feigned anger. “Don’t ask me now, I’m too stressed!” she replied. She rented the field for an hour, and presented Luke with a football signed by Drew Lock. “It was kind of hard to get the guys to focus on the photos. They just wanted to throw around the football.”
Back at Kimball Ballroom, helpers were transforming the scene from wedding ceremony to wedding reception. A mix of round and long tables were topped with white tablecloths, black napkins and red metallic chargers. The same fresh flowers and greenery used during the ceremony graced the tables. The long tables were decorated with garlands and candles in antique candlesticks, and the round tables had centerpieces featuring bouquets, candles, glass domes filled with greenery and fairy lights on antique trays. The sweetheart table was decorated with an antique vase holding fresh flowers, and the couple sat on the bench that had served as the altar.
One table held wedding photos of loved ones, and a traditional white, three-tier wedding cake occupied another. The flower girls had decorated the table and the cake with fresh flowers.
“Re-using the fresh flowers stuck to my plan to keep things simple and elegant,” Caitlin said. “It was more economical, and it allowed us to focus on hosting a fun time for our guests. We had good food, a great DJ and an open bar. It was fun for us to just relax after the hard work of planning the wedding.”
Guests got a good laugh when Caitlin’s father welcomed Luke to the family. “My family members are all Cardinals fans,” said Caitlin, “and Luke’s family are all Cubs fans. After my father gave his speech, he took off his shirt to reveal a Cubs t-shirt while the DJ played ‘Go Cubs Go!’”
Caitlin’s parents are father, Tom Kerber, and stepmom, Lourie Kerber, of Lee’s Summit, and Luke is the son of Heidi and Andy Whaley of Bloomington, Illinois.
Caitlin and Luke honeymooned in Costa Rica for nine days before returning to their Columbia home, where Luke works as a transaction coordinator for Veterans United and Caitlin is a legislative director for the Department of Social Services.