This Couple's $500 Wedding Is Going Viral, And It's Inspiring Others Who Don't Want To Go Into Debt Over Their Nuptials

Internet, meet Kiara and Joel Brokenbrough, a newlywed couple who recently got some unsolicited opinions after sharing how they pulled off a $500 wedding.
It all started when over 1.3 million people watched a now-viral video of Kiara trying on wedding dresses before finally landing on a $47 gown. Now, the 28-year-old is sharing the ins and outs of her two-month wedding planning process in a series of TikToks that have garnered hundreds of thousands of views.
You can watch the full video here.
TikTok: @kiarabrk / Via tiktok.com
For the full guide, BuzzFeed reached out to Kiara, who shared that the couple — who met in Vegas in 2016 before their friendship blossomed into a relationship in 2020 — hadn't broken up with the intention of having the wedding go under $500 to keep. "It just happened that way," she said. "Our goal [was] not to get into debt and to use the resources we had so we didn't have to come out of pocket [for] a lot of money."
"We kept our wedding unconventional and simple and only bought things that were necessary."
TikTok: @kiarabrk / Via tiktok.com
Those necessities included Kiara's $47 wedding dress from Shein and Joel's $100 suit from Boohoo's men's department...
YouTube: Kiara BRK / Via youtube.com
...plus a $230 decorative arch and $67 in loan chairs.
YouTube: Kiara BRK / Via youtube.com
For jewelry, Kiara bought a few pieces at a local dollar store, while Joel bought a $50 pair of shoes from Amazon.
YouTube: Kiara BRK / Via youtube.com
To save on joint wedding expenses, the couple got creative. First was the venue, which can cost newlyweds about $6,000 on average. However, Kiara and Joel chose a scenic vantage point in Los Angeles known as View Point, which is free to the public. "If it's a public place, be sure to call and make sure it's okay," Kiara warns others interested in booking their own favorite local destination. "Get the rules of the city, the state, and just make sure you abide by those rules to avoid a ticket."
When choosing the vantage point, Kiara said choosing a beautiful location was key as they allowed them to avoid other decorations that can be expensive.
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Similarly expensive, a bridal bouquet alone can cost around $250—not counting all the other flowers romantically sprinkled around the big day. But since Kiara and Joel's wedding was an event for family and friends, others helped the couple meet their savings goals, and Kiara's godmother created the bouquet for free.
YouTube: Kiara BRK / Via youtube.com
Kiara also saved on hair and makeup by doing it herself and restyling a wig she already had — saving her from a typical $300 price tag.
YouTube: Kiara BRK / Via youtube.com
Other money-saving measures included opting out of live music and creating your own wedding playlist, paying a photographer friend to take photos with Kiara's camera instead of outsourcing them, and creating invitations with a free template and sending them out E-mails via SMS instead of sending them. All together, the average pair would have cost around $7,450.
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Arguably one of the most influential money-saving decisions, however, was the forgoing of a traditional reception, which can cost couples around $22,500 with food, decorations, drinks and everything else. Instead, Kiara and Joel kept the party going in a lounge, and their friends and family each paid for their own food — and even the couple's plates.
YouTube: Kiara BRK / Via tiktok.com
Wedding expenses aside, the then-fiancé also opted for non-traditional rings. Kiara's ring has a beautiful stone instead of a diamond, and Joel's band is metal. Both rings cost less than $300.
Unsurprisingly to many at the moment, with inflation rising and everything seems to be getting more expensive, the comments section of Kiara's video is filled with responses from people striving to throw dream weddings that don't also start their marriages in debt.
"Exactly why we're eloping," one person told Kiara.
TikTok: @kiarabrk / Via tiktok.com
"Judge me please!" commented another.
TikTok: @kiarabrk / Via tiktok.com
But not everyone is thrilled with Kiara and Joel's ceremony. Although the couple said their friends and family in attendance had no complaints, some said it was "sticky" to have people pay for their own food at a wedding and suggested that weddings costing less than US$500 Dollar are organized, not worthwhile.
TikTok: @kiarabrk / Via tiktok.com
Another person compared the price of a wedding to the value couples place on their marriage, saying: "Divorce is more expensive than marriage.
TikTok: @kiarabrk / Via tiktok.com
After seeing the comments, Kiara said, "I think there was this cultural pressure to have a certain type of wedding and to entertain and please others. ... If you have thousands of dollars to spend on your wedding, great. I personally don't mind because it doesn't affect me at all. If you have the budget for a thousand dollar wedding, by all means have one. Do what is best for you financially.
YouTube: Kiara BRK / Via youtube.com
"But... [I want to] inspire those who are on a smaller budget," Kiara said. "I think a lot of couples are reluctant to get married because they don't have the money to get married, so I hope our wedding will encourage those couples."
“You don't need a lot of money; you can even go to court or have an elopement style wedding like we did to get married. Above all, do what makes sense to you.”
To find out more about Kiara and Joel's big day, you can follow Kiara on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.

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