LYVONNE, yOUTH AND ADULT PASTOR & BRANDON, ACCOUNT MANAGER
SUM-UP OF THE WEDDING VIBE: A string of thoughtful and reflective moments shared with our closest family and friends.
PLANNED BUDGET: $2,000
ACTUAL BUDGET: $4,000
NUMBER OF GUESTS: 18
LOCATION: Oakland, California
Where we allocated the most funds:
Our venue! We had an intimate wedding (an “elopement” in the wedding industry’s eyes!), so we were able to craft an intricately detailed and personalized experience for each guest. Also, because just about everyone was from out of town (and we got married at the height of rush hour on a Thursday), we wanted to have the ceremony and the reception in the same location. Our photographer was the second largest part of our budget: Andria = the best, though, so that was a no-brainer.
Where we allocated the least funds:
We spent the least amount on decor. The industrially rustic space was chic and didn’t need much to make it shine. We lit votive candles, used my bouquet as the table centerpiece, and called it a day!
What was totally worth it:
Sticking to a small guest list! We got to spend time with each and every person who was there. Also, our day was never stressful because everyone present was already considered family. Our wedding, from start to finish, was a communal endeavor.
What was totally not worth it:
Excess food. There was nothing we could really do about that because our caterer had a twenty-person minimum, but there was SO much food leftover!
A few things that helped us along the way:
The biggest thing was prioritizing our budget over people’s feelings. We focused on staying committed to our vision for what we wanted for our wedding and not being swayed by industry standards. We knew early on that we were not doing a white dress and tuxedo. We made the wedding what we wanted, rather than what the traditional blogs and outlets told us we should want, and ultimately keeping what really matters—the incredibly sacred and tender commitment to building a life together—in the center.
My best practical advice for my planning self:
Be willing to sacrifice some of your wants and be creative to stay within your budget. Don’t let your emotions cause you to overspend… or over plan!
Favorite thing about the wedding:
We were enamored with the farm family-style table. Seeing our friends and family become friends and family during dinner was exciting and oh-so satisfying.
Other things I’d like to share:
When I thought about my dress, I wanted something regal and sexy, but something that also honored my heritage as a woman of African descent. Nigerian weddings are wildly elaborate and I wanted to add some of that flair to my gown. Maryam Garba is a Nigerian fashion designer I met in grad school (she left finance to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams).
For the design process, email and WhatsApp were our best friends! I would send Maryam photos of fabric and dress styles I liked. When she or her assistant would visit the fabric store in Nigeria, they would send me photos and videos of different fabrics until we settled on this gorgeous gilded dream.
I had a local dry cleaner take my rough measurements and sent them to Maryam. She made the dress based on those and mailed the dress to me. My Nigerian sorority sister, Eruke, then referred me to a Nigerian seamstress (Ms. Kim in Antioch) who did my alterations. She really knew my African-shaped body and got that dress hugging in all the right places!
My parents are from the West Indies and Brandon’s parents are African-American, so we wanted to honor our heritage by engaging in a ritual that many of our ancestors did. Enslaved Africans were not allowed to legally marry, but enamored couples found a way to signify their eternal bond by, quite literally, jumping over a broom. A dear friend decorated a broom in our wedding colors (merlot and gold) and we jumped the broom in honor of this tradition!
Lastly, friends showered us with love during a money dance (also known as a “money spray”). This Nigerian tradition is commonly performed by those from the Yoruba and Igbo tribes and is a way for the family and friends to dance and celebrate the new couple while wishing them financial wealth and prosperity. We had to dance for those dollars!