Cost-Conscious Couple Has a Gorgeous Wedding With Just a $500 Budget

Kiara and Joel Brokenbrough Wedding Photos

The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is $28,000. That amount is staggering—especially when you consider the event is likely to last no longer than a day. And beyond that, more than two-thirds of couples go over their budget while planning. Joel and Kiara Brokenbrough were determined to have a beautiful wedding and not break the bank while doing it. In fact, they were able to pull off their big day for under $500. That even includes Kiara’s wedding dress, which was just $47.

Most weddings take a year or more of planning, from finding the location to coordinating with vendors to inviting guests. The Brokenbroughs got engaged on December 21, 2021, and were married less than two months later on February 12, 2022. One way they were able to do that was the venue. They selected a scenic backdrop that was a turnoff of the Angeles Crest Highway northeast of Los Angeles. The gorgeous mountain view required no permit (or reservation) and was free.

Generous friends and family also helped bring the wedding to life. Loved ones donated flowers, a runner, and a cake. Another important part of the event was managing guests’ expectations. Joel and Kiara made it clear that they were trying to keep costs low, so things like food and drink would be the responsibility of the attendee. “It felt so good to be around people who genuinely supported us and weren’t looking to be entertained,” Kiara wrote about the day.

There can be a lot of pressure—from family, friends, and our greater culture—to have massive celebrations. “I am proudest of Joel and I’s decision to be brave and take a leap of faith and get married without having all that we wanted or desired,” Kiara tells My Modern Met, “and having our family and close friends support us the way they did made it all the better.”

Kiara created vlogs about her wedding, and she has advice for budget-conscious couples. “My tip to couples to keep the cost down would be to remember the goal which is marriage, not to impress or be pressured to have a luxury wedding if you cannot afford it,” she says. “This is a one-day event for a few hours. Do not fall into the pressures of the world or try to have a celebrity-like wedding without the celebrity financial funds. You will feel so much better not having to make payments for the next year or so on a one-day event.”

The average wedding in the U.S. costs $28,000, but Joel and Kiara Brokenbrough were determined to have a beautiful wedding and not break the bank.

Kiara and Joel Brokenbrough Wedding Photos

They pulled off a wedding for $500—including Kiara's wedding dress, which cost just $47.

Kiara and Joel Brokenbrough Wedding Photos

So, how did they do it?

Kiara and Joel Brokenbrough Wedding Photos

They selected a scenic venue that had gorgeous mountain views, but it didn't require a permit or registration. It was free.

Kiara and Joel Brokenbrough Wedding Photos

Generous loved ones donated flowers, a runner, and a cake.

Kiara and Joel Brokenbrough Wedding Photos

The couple also managed expectations and made it clear that they were trying to keep costs low.

Kiara and Joel Brokenbrough Wedding PhotosKiara and Joel Brokenbrough Wedding Photos

Kiara filmed videos leading up to the wedding and the big day itself.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kiara Brokenbrough (@kiarabrk)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kiara Brokenbrough (@kiarabrk)

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kiara Brokenbrough (@kiarabrk)

Kiara Brokenbrough: YouTube | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Kiara Brokenbrough.

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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