A couple from Los Angeles, California, is going viral for keeping the cost of their wedding at just $500.
Joel, 30, and Kiara Brokenbrough, 28, first met in 2016 in Vegas and kept in touch via social media. The pair reconnected in 2018 and started dating shortly afterward.
Connecting over their spirituality, Joel and Kiara got engaged in December last year before tying the knot on February 12, 2022.
Joel, a high school basketball coach and P.E. teacher, said their wedding was a “dream come true.” The event marked their official union as husband and wife, and it went exactly as they had hoped.
“You have a wedding, with witnesses there to witness you, vowing to your spouse, vowing to God that you guys are going to stay together for life,” Kiara told Good Morning America. “And then you celebrate with food, drinks and dance. And that’s exactly what we did.”
They initially opted to have a courthouse wedding with little time to plan, but Kiara wanted something different.
Kiara, a social media manager and content creator, had driven through the Angeles Crest Highway area years before while on her way to a concert with friends. She remembered it as a place she wanted to get married, so she made it happen.
Kiara and Joel got married in the roadside location for free, and they didn’t need to purchase a public permit because they had less than 75 guests. The couple only invited 30 to 40 family members and close friends.
Many of those loved ones chipped in to make their wedding happen. Kiara’s god-mom gifted her flowers, her sister gave her a runner, and her god-sister provided the cake.
After the wedding, they headed to a dance club in Ontario called Misty’s Lounge for the reception, where they “ate, drank and danced.” They didn’t have a reservation, but the group went there as soon as it opened. Guests had no problem paying for their food and drinks.
“Our village is strong. People paid to fly out here to come to a wedding, and they knew if they wanted food and drinks, it’s available for purchase, and they knew that,” said the budget-savvy bride. “I didn’t hear anyone complain.”
Their biggest expense was an arch for the background, which cost around $200.
Kiara first went shopping for her wedding dress in January and tried on different gowns that cost up to $1,500. However, she ended up scoring a $47 bridal gown from pocket-friendly fashion retailer Shein.
“I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a dress because I had the mindset I’m gonna wear this one time for a few hours,” she explained in a TikTok video documenting her dress-shopping experience.
Joel also opted for something affordable for his wardrobe, only spending about $100 for his suit from Boohoo online.
With that, the pair managed to keep their wedding costs at just $500.
“Couples need to realize that the wedding is about the bride and the groom, first and foremost,” Joel said. “It’s not about the people who attend or who is invited.”
The bride and groom wanted to keep their wedding expenses “as minimal as possible” because they didn’t want to start this new chapter in their lives in debt—an idea that they hoped other couples would glean from their now-viral story.
“Don’t let a budget stop you from marrying that person. If you feel like you need to get married, let our wedding be a sign to you that it doesn’t take all that and it can definitely happen,” Kiara said.
The newlyweds documented their low-cost wedding journey on social media, which you can find on Kiara’s Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.
Watch Joel and Kiara’s wedding video below.