How We Kept Our $12K Virginia Wedding as Easy as Possible (With 125 Guests)

The best sound was hearing our friends and family cracking up

Cheleah, COLLEGE COUNSELOR & Raymond, city health department

sum-up of the wedding vibe: It was a great way for our families to end a hard year.

Planned budget: $10,000

Actual budget: $12,000

Number of guests: 125

Where we allocated the most funds

Food, wedding rings, dress, and wedding party.

Where we allocated the least funds

Flowers, invitations, reception utensils and decorations, and alcohol.

What was totally worth it

The food was amazing! They were a small, African American–owned catering company from the country. They were professional and the food had everyone wanting more!

What was totally not worth it

The stress of alcohol. We chose to do Whiskey with Ginger Ale or Coke; it’s our favorite choice and with this, we saved hundreds of dollars!

A few things that helped us along the way

Friends: They kept us sane. Talked us through things. Let us share our ideas, hopes, and dreams with them!
Family: They helped us stay grounded, and they really connected with each other. Our mothers are like BFFs now, and that’s been encouraging
Budgeting: Seriously. Our family supported us when they were able, but us setting a budget to stick to for our day-to-day lives and the wedding made things a lot easier.
Counseling: Pre-martial counseling is not a joke. They were asking us about our finances, relationship history, family upbringing, hurts, and all that stuff that you struggle to discuss. But it was so eye opening—and being on the same page, even though we are so different, was important for us.

My best practical advice for my planning self

Chill. As long as he’s there, it’s not that big a deal.

Favorite thing about the wedding

Having family and friends having fun together. When will that group of people ever be in the same room again? Crazy cousins and loud aunts and uncles—it was all amazing. Seriously the best sound is hearing someone cracking up.

Anything else

I, Chaleah, first came to Richmond in 2008 as a freshman at the University of Richmond where I met my husband, Ray. We did not date in college, but we started hanging out when we both ended up working at the same nonprofit organization in Church Hill (Richmond City) after graduating. We spent a lot of time taking drives, listening and introducing each other to music, and learning to cook together.

In January of 2015, he asked me to marry him with my grandmother’s ring and an amazing version of “You Are My Sunshine”—he was singing lead vocals (he has an amazing voice), and his friend’s band did background vocals and instruments! It was really sweet!


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