Our $8.5K Family-Focused Backyard Wedding in Durham

Married at home on a weekday

Brandon, IT Specialist + Natalia, Donor Engagement Officer
One sentence sum up of the wedding vibe: Love and partnership was crucial for our family focused, small-2020 COVID-affected wedding.
Planned Budget: 10,000
Actual Budget: 8,500
Number of Guests: 20 (22 including us)
Location: Durham, NC
Photographer: John Branch IV Photography

Where we allocated the most funds: Photography! From the beginning we knew that we wanted to work with a photographer who could capture all the beautiful melanin that would be at our wedding. We met with over ten photographers and were most excited about the work of John Branch IV—his photos are vibrant, inclusive, and you can feel the movement in all of this work. He was the only original vendor from our pre-COVID plans that we made sure to incorporate into our new wedding and we actually chose a weekday to make sure that he could work our wedding day.

Where we allocated the least funds: The venue. Because of COVID we wanted to find a place that could ensure a gathering that was under the state gathering limitations and would still be open come our wedding date. While we originally were planning to work with a local restaurant, we decided to use the yard in our newly rented home to host. We still had to do rentals of tent/chairs/tables/linens/lighting BUT not having to pay a baseline price to rent a space was incredibly helpful.

What was totally worth it: Getting married during a global pandemic was terrifying but ultimately the best thing for our lives. We had been together for almost six years when we got engaged in 2019 and planned for a fall 2021 wedding. When COVID hit we decided to pause all wedding planning; over that summer we realized there’d be no guarantee that we could celebrate with everyone as we had originally wanted and decided that it was important for us to be married and face the unknowns of 2020 together.

What was totally not worth it: REGRET! Our plans changed greatly and while we’re sad that we didn’t have an opportunity to dance the night away with all of our friends and family, we have no regrets about making the decision to be married on our own terms in the middle of what felt like absolute chaos. We allowed ourselves to grieve our original dream and then dove headfirst into making the new event something that would be a moment of color and joy during a tumultuous and anxious time in the world.

A few things that helped us along the way: Therapy! Supportive parents/family/friends/networks who did not pressure us to do anything other than what made us happy. Parents in the medical field gave us great advice for COVID-safety precautions. Wine. Partners who made sure we walked away from the google sheets when planning got overwhelming. A community of COVID brides and grooms, both virtual and friends in the same boat.

My best practical advice for my planning self: Organization is absolutely key to any event. Make sure you keep things in order with timelines, calendar invites, create an email address for wedding-specific communications, and anticipate everything to be about 20% more expensive and longer than you originally thought.

Favorite thing about the wedding: It was a true celebration of our relationship: the colors, the vibe, the Spotify playlist we created (unfortunately no dancing but great love songs), family who was there to help pitch in and clean up with us, laughter in the middle of great loss.

Anything else: The song we walked down the aisle to was “La Vie En Rose” by Louis Armstrong, and the song we danced down the aisle to after the ceremony was “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” by Sylvester. Both of these are a real insight into our love story, and the exuberance that our relationship has brought into our lives since 2014.


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