wedding
Finance, Lifestyle

You Have $20K: Dream Wedding Or Home Down Payment?

Inspired by Netflix’s “Marriage or Mortgage,” we asked couples how they’d spend $20,000… on a dream wedding or a home down payment. Here’s what we found!

If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you’ve probably heard something like:  “For that price, you could buy a house!” And it’s not a wrong thought: the projected cost per couple for a 2021 wedding is a whopping $22,500. Compare that to the average home down payment of 6% — with a national median home price of $346,800, that comes out to just shy of $21,000! 

Have you ever stopped to think what you’d do if YOU had that choice? 

That’s exactly what the new Netflix series Marriage or Mortgage aims to find out. Each episode focuses on one Nashville-area couple as real estate professional Nichole Holmes shows them listings that fit their budgets, while wedding planner Sarah Miller takes them all over the city to help plan their dream day. At the end of each episode, couples have to decide…marriage, or mortgage?

At Homes.com, we know the smart response, but is that what folks would actually choose? To help answer that question, we surveyed 1,200 people to find out. 

Let’s Cut to the Chase: Marriage or Mortgage?

We asked our survey respondents what they’d do if they had a $20,000 savings pot if given the choice between their dream wedding or a down payment for a home. Surprisingly, our survey found that over 81% of couples would choose the down payment. We say surprisingly, because if you’ve seen the Netflix series, an overwhelming majority of couples actually choose their dream wedding instead. 

wedding

When we included all respondents (singles and those already married), the numbers didn’t change much: just over 79% in favor of a down payment, and just shy of 21% for a dream wedding.

If you’ve followed any of our past surveys, you know we always try to dig a little deeper and find out the “why’s.” So…what did we find out here?

Big Dreams + Family Expectations Drive Weddings Over Homes

When we asked those in favor of a dream wedding over a home down payment, over 53% pointed to either themselves or their partners having always dreamed of a big wedding. Ok, so not entirely groundbreaking…

What we didn’t expect was the second most-popular answer: that their families would lose their marbles if they didn’t throw a big party!

(For a decision so personal and often requiring intense amounts of resources, we truly feel for you if you’re feeling that kind of pressure.)

Here’s the whole ranking breakdown of how our respondents answered:

  • Always dreamed of a big wedding (53.4%)
  • Family members would go crazy if we didn’t have a big party (39.8%)
  • You know what they say — you only live once! (38.3%)
  • We’re huge romantics (36.7%)
  • No concern about paying for a home when the time comes (32%)
  • We’re moving around a lot, so there’s no point in using it for a home right now (23.5%)
  • Not interested in homeownership (19.1%)
  • We already own a home (17%)

Financial Responsibility + Rental Exhaustion Drive Homes Over Weddings

As our name might suggest, we here at Homes.com were happy to see that, for those who chose home down payments over weddings, almost 77% of them believe it’s a better financial investment than a wedding. Coming in a distant second at 27%, our respondents said they’re simply tired of renting. Rounding out the top three choices was the need for space — a trend we’ve understandably seen more of since the onset of the pandemic. 

Here’s how all the answers stacked up:

  • It’s a better financial investment (76.6%)
  • We’re tired of renting (27.2%)
  • We need a bigger space (23.8%)
  • We don’t want a big wedding
  • We want roots in our community (14.5%)

Is There Potential Trouble in Paradise for Our Couples?

We asked our coupled respondents whether their partner would agree with their decision to choose one option over another. For those who prioritized a wedding, only 50% said their partner would approve; 33% said they didn’t know, while 17% said their partner would not agree. Those who prioritized home down payments indicated much more agreement; over 81% said their partner would agree; just shy of 12% said they weren’t sure, while only 7% said their partner would not agree.  

But we didn’t stop there….for those who indicated their partner may not agree with their decision, we asked them what they’d do if they couldn’t get them on their side: would they break up or stay together?

Just over 65% of our wedding aficionados said if their partner disagreed with their decision to prioritize a wedding over a down payment, they’d side with their partner’s decision and simply move on. This echoed another Homes.com survey that found most people in relationships felt either neutral or positive about making compromises when buying a home with their partner. 

In a nod to the adage, “Happy wife, happy life,” the vast majority of the respondents who answered this way were men — 68%, compared to 32% women.

Just over 21% said they weren’t sure what they’d do, while over 13% said they’d break up with them.

Our down payment group struggled a bit more with what they’d do. While 50% said they’d side with their partner’s priority and move on, a robust 36% said they weren’t sure whether they’d stay together or split. We can’t blame them; finances are one of the most commonly cited reasons for divorce in the US each year, so having both partners on the same page helps provide married life with a strong foundation! On the other hand, we always want to give our partners their dreams, right? Decisions, decisions!

In the End, It’s Up to You!

Whether it’s a dream wedding or dream home, the decision looms large all the same. We can’t help much as far as nuptials go, but we can help you find the home of your dreams and everything that goes with it. If you’re looking to buy, visit our “How to Buy” guide for all the details you need to know. Happy house hunting!

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Audrey is the Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Homes.com, with a master's degree in strategic communication. A lifelong arts aficionado, she's also a part-time dance teacher in Virginia Beach. Wife to aerospace engineer Ryan and fur-mom to rescue pup Lucy, she's the self-declared World's Greatest Pizza Lover who lives for chocolate and a sunshine-filled day at the beach.

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