I’ve watched way more TV in the past year than I ever did, and with weddings and house hunting already being some of my favorite TV content anyway (Four Weddings, Say Yes to the Dress, House Hunters, and Love It or List It being some of my OG faves), there was no way I was going to pass up watching Marriage or Mortgage on Netflix. In summary, Marriage or Mortgage is a show where couples decide whether to invest the ~$30,000 they have on the wedding of their dreams or the down payment on a house. Every time Jonathan and I watch it together, he thinks the couple should do the wedding and I think they should buy a house. So I wanted to share some of my thoughts about what I’d recommend in case you have $30k lying around and are thinking about having a wedding or buying a home!
Jonathan and I decided to get married in New Jersey, where I was raised and where the bulk of my family and friends live. While the average cost of a wedding in the North Jersey/NYC metropolitan area is about $38,000 and the average number of guests at a wedding is 130, we had 220 people at our wedding and had a wedding budget of $80,000. We paid for about half ourselves and the rest was supported by family contributions, which is typical in both our Nigerian and Kenyan cultures. Our biggest expenses were the venue and catering, photography & videography, and attire.
Right now, a 20% down payment of $40,000 on a house would qualify you for a $200,000 home (or about 20 million Kenyan shillings), and the median cost of a home in the US is $220,000. Most loans don’t require a full 20% deposit especially with first-time homebuyer programs. But for the sake of comparison, let’s say that our $40k portion of our wedding would have been equivalent to a down payment of a moderate-sized home.
So if I were to get married again today, would I rather have the wedding or a house of our own?
As much as I LOVED our wedding — really truly — if I were to go back in time and do it again, I would opt for a much smaller, more intimate wedding, and saved much of that money to afford a house. Although guest lists of 200+ are very common for Nigerian weddings and parental/cultural pressure somewhat impacted our inflated guest list, it bothers me to this day that there are people who were at my wedding who I don’t talk to anymore and who were invited because I was kinda tight with them in college, had grown up with them as a kid, or had been to their wedding. So we definitely could have done a 100 person guest list and still had a fantastic wedding, which would have saved us a good chunk of money on catering and the venue.
Jonathan on the other hand firmly believes that the magic of a wedding is more important than the stability and financial investment of a home. He’s the kind of guy who wants to be the last person on the dancefloor at weddings (ya’ll, I promise he’s the extrovert while I’m the introvert. I’m just more talkative on camera!), and we once got into a huge argument when I made us leave a wedding at 2 am because I was sleepy and my feet hurt LOL.
Obviously, it’s a personal decision for everyone, but especially in the current US housing market where interest rates are super low, if you’re thinking about getting married or buying a house, I’d say buy the house now, go to the courthouse and have a small dinner with your loved ones. Then have the lavish, luxury, everybody flewed out wedding celebration when you’re 10 years into your marriage and have real money to splurge on the party of your dreams.