Couple Pulls Off SoCal Wedding for $500 – NBC Los Angeles

A Southern California couple didn’t break the bank for a priceless moment.

Joel and Kiara Brokenbrough managed to keep wedding costs down with a ceremony on a roadside turnoff in the mountains northeast of Los Angeles. It was a spectacular and relatively affordable celebration that was years in the making.

“I knew I wanted to be with him,” said Kiara, a social media manager. “It took him two years.”

“As men, we tend to wait for the perfect time, and there’s no perfect time,” said Joel, a high school basketball and physical education coach.

The perfect place, however, was a turnoff on Angeles Crest Highway that offered a scenic natural backdrop without the hefty price of a wedding venue. The vast expanse of Los Angeles and the surrounding area can be seen from the location off the mountain road known for its sweeping turns and majestic views — all of which are free.

“We didn’t want to go into debt,” Kiara said. “We needed to be smart about this.”

When I got out of the car, I just ran because I was just so excited. I’m like, I’m ready to do this.

Kiara Brokenbrough

A significant part of the savings was accomplished by inviting guests who understood what the day was about and making sure they knew what to expect, said Kiara.

“Having people who truly understand the true meaning of a wedding, they were so excited just about our union,” Kiara said.

She said guests were not looking to be entertained, and the bride and groom were not looking to entertain anyone. Guests, some from as far away as the East Coast, knew they would need to pay for food and drinks.

Kiara’s backless slip gown cost under $50. Joel’s suit came to $100. Click here to watch the bride on a budget’s account of finding her wedding dress.

Kiara’s sister bought the couple a drone to capture breath-taking video of the ceremony.

“The energy was great, and people were just there to truly celebrate us,” said Kiara. “When I got out of the car, I just ran because I was just so excited. I’m like, I’m ready to do this.”

Online wedding publication The Knot estimates the average cost of a wedding in 2021 at about $28,000. In 2020, pandemic limitations helped push that cost down to $19,000.

“Right now, consumers are feeling the impact of inflation across every industry, the weddings industry included,” Emily Forrest Skurnik, director of communications for weddings company Zola, told NBC News.

Prices for men’s suits, sport coats and outerwear climbed 14.5 percent in March, year-on-year on a seasonally unadjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said last week. Women’s dresses climbed 10.1 percent.

The Knot also noted that demand for wedding services as the pandemic eases also is pushing up prices. Guests were spending an average of $160 for wedding gifts last year, and the overall cost for a guest to attend a wedding jumped to $460.