July 15, 2019 /

Rivas Weddings Founding Story


So. How did you get into wedding photography???

10 Year Celebration! | A grainy photograph of a printed photography of the owners of Rivas at the very first wedding they photographed together.
PS – This gem? It’s from the very first wedding we photographed together. 🙂

Well, the honest answer, is by accident, actually. I can honestly say that neither Kyle nor I would have ever even fathomed that we would wind up wedding photographers. Ever. And the fact that this is almost our 12th year in business?

If you would have told us that 15 years ago we would have laughed in your face. Kyle would have probably said you were crazy.

In fact, that’s probably one of the complete opposite things that Kyle ever thought that he would do. His life dream and goal? It was to be a sports and newspaper photographer. True story. And me? Well, my dream was to always move to Chicago to work in marketing. I guess you can say it’s funny how life works sometimes.

So how did we wind up here all these year later?

Really, just by chance. And it all started (as so many photographers’ stories start), when a friend asked Kyle if he would be willing to take some photos for her. You see in college, Kyle worked with his best friend from high school for another wedding photographer, doing some second shooting and editing. It wasn’t a well-known thing at all. In fact, everyone knew him because he worked for our college newspaper, photographed alllll the events on campus, and interned for the local paper. This guy wanted to be a newspaper photographer.

And then 2008 happened. The recession hit and newspapers started closing. The other thing that happened in 2008? We both graduated from college. And because of everything happening in the photography world, Kyle had to come up with a new plan.

So, when Sarah asked him the summer after graduation if he wanted to photograph her wedding, he said yes. And when he asked his new girlfriend to go along for moral support, she said yes.

You know, because there was wedding cake involved.

One random wedding turned into four the next year, then seven, and then 9 the year after that. This little “hobby” of ours turned out to be something that we were pretty good at. Quickly enough we were figuring out how to market and advertise, building up our client experience, and really creating something different for our clients. And while it wasn’t our full time job until four and five years ago, it turned out to be something that we both fell in love with for multiple reasons.

All of the emotions. The once in a lifetime event. All of the people coming together to celebrate two people. Admittedly, the pressure of only having once chance to get it right. And  of course the wedding cake. 🙂

Until we realized we weren’t happy with what we were creating for our couples.

Yep. We’re fully admitting it. Because there came a point in our lives and business that we were busting our butts all day long, just for 30 minutes of “perfect portrait” time. And not really paying much attention to the rest of the wedding day.

It’s horrible to admit. But sometimes admitting where you screwed up is half the battle in moving forward.

And you know what? Our clients loved the work we were creating. People sought us out and hired us for our portraits. And we hated it. It was all so staged and fake and lacked any emotion. You know, the thing that caused us to fall in love with weddings to begin with.

So what did we do? In 2018 we rebranded. Built our business, and the Rivas Weddings that you now know from the ground up. We did a whole lot of soul searching and cried more than we care to admit. But you know what happened?

We fell in love with our business and with weddings and our work all over again.

Friday Introductions | Kansas City Wedding Photographers | A portrait of Rivas owners Kyle Rivas and Melissa Rich in Kansas City's Power and Light District.

For the first time ever, we came up with a vision and mission statement for our little business. And we built everything else up around these two things.

Rivas Weddings Vision: “To inspire and empower communities one experience at a time.

Rivas Weddings Mission: “To photographically preserve unforgettable experiences during life’s biggest moments in unique locations around the world resulting in custom art and albums.”

As corny as it sounds these two phrases power our business. They dictate and inspire our client experience from the very first time our clients emails us, until that final album delivery after their wedding. They impact how we speak about ourselves, the images that we put out into the world, and how we treat each other. If something feels like it pulls against one of them? Then we instantly drop it and move on to something else.

Because really, who doesn’t want inspiring wedding photographs? Who doesn’t want to look at their wedding photos and see themselves. And to really feel your photos? To have them gut-punch you back to that exact moment and all the things you were feeling on that day in that moment?

That’s what it’s all about for us, friends.

So have things changed on wedding days for us? Abso-freaking-lutely.

Instead of being only present for 30 minutes on a wedding day, we focus and are present and in the moment for the entire day. As our mentors so easily put it, we “keep our sticks on the ice all day.” We’re focused on capturing how it feels to be present in those moments, and not just what it looks like. We care a whole lot less about the “perfection” of a moment, and care a whole lot more about documenting how it actually feels and what is happening, whether it’s picture perfect or not.

And the greatest thing of all?

Our amazing clients still seek us out, but this time, it’s for these reasons instead. And by the time wedding day rolls around, we arrive as friends with cameras. Not just as “the wedding photographers.” We’ve gotten to know our couples so well by wedding day that they’re 100% okay with us participating in their moments and being right there in the middle of them. Not just standing on the outside looking in.

Which makes all the difference in the images we create.

You guys. We’re so honored that you’ve stuck with us on this whole journey of growth and change. But most of all? That you still trust us with your most precious moments and memories and that you’re loving them more than ever. Because when it comes down to it, we don’t do everything that we do for us. We do it all for you.

Book us for your Wedding:

To book us for your upcoming engagement session or wedding, please visit our contact page to send us a message. We can't wait to hear about your big day! Having a destination wedding? We LOVE to travel and have the perfect wedding photography package for you. We would LOVE to hear about your adventure!

I'm So Excited!