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Would You Rather have a Down Payment On a House or a Nice Wedding?

By Erik Folgate

Before I begin, do not take me as being cynical when it comes to weddings or getting married.  I am married and I had a fairly large wedding in terms of guest size and cost. 

I was in Ohio this past weekend for my best friend’s wedding.  The wedding was smaller, low-key, and quaint.  It was actually a breath of fresh air to go to a wedding where the bride was not freaking out about the wedding favors that no one remembers after the wedding.  I am sure the wedding still cost a decent chunk of change even without all of the extra frills, large number of guests, and huge reception. 

Lately, weddings have made me think about the actual time and cost that go into them.  It makes me pose the question:  Would you rather have a down payment on a house or a wedding?  If your parents gave you the option of giving you $20,000 that they were going to pay for a wedding and give it to you to buy a house, would you do it?  When it was all said and done, I had a great time at my wedding and so did everyone else.  However, we could have probably had a wedding similar to my friend’s wedding and had just as great of a time.  There are so many extra costs and unnecessary expenses that go into putting on an extravagant wedding that I believe most middle-class people should weigh their options of spending the money elsewhere.  A wedding is a very important event and it should be celebrated, but it is only one day of celebration.  A couple could celebrate for years to come in a nice house, but many younger couples do not own property because they cannot attain the down payment on increasingly lower salaries. 

The bigges problem with my suggestion is that many parents deem paying for a wedding different than giving money for a wedding, eventhough it is essentially the same thing.  There may or may not be a good time to bring this up with your parents, but if the situation comes about, I would jump ALL OVER IT.  Think about what you would rather have:  a nice house that you use every day and is a great investment, or one day of memories.  You can still have the memories at a fraction of the cost. 

Erik Folgate
Erik and his wife, Lindzee, live in Orlando, Florida with a baby boy on the way. Erik works as an account manager for a marketing company, and considers counseling friends, family and the readers of Money Crashers his personal ministry to others. Erik became passionate about personal finance and helping others make wise financial decisions after racking up over $20k in credit card and student loan debt within the first two years of college.

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  • http://msminiducky.blogspot.com msminiducky

    Can’t have both, huh? =)
    Well if someone were to GIVE me the money, I would rather use it for a down payment. But that works for me because I figure that I’m paying for my wedding entirely anyway – bonus money should not go towards anything nonessential.

  • Mldclowry

    A seamstress who had sewn many wedding and bridesmaids’ dresses, once told me she knew of many such situations but never knew of a bride who took the down payment! (Although if a bride did opt out of the big wedding, she probably would not go to the seamstress.)

  • Red Vanity Now

    I’m getting my wedding and my new house. I suppose I’m one of the lucky few? I don’t know if I’m the best person to weigh in on this or not, but I don’t think I would trade my wedding day. It only happens once. You get multiple opportunities to have that first home (if you know what you’re doing financially).

    Like I said, we’re lucky enough to be moving in to our new home in two weeks and getting married next May (2013), so I didn’t have to make that choice, and we’re consolidating our two separate households. We each owned our own homes prior to this. And yes, we’re both still in our twenties.

  • CMM

    I am currently having this debate. My fiance and I are going to be paying for everything in regards to the house and wedding. Neither of our families has much to offer. However, my family is very keen on me having a HUGE wedding and inviting all of our very large extended family and my parents having their friends come (as their wealthier friends with small families invited them to their kids’ weddings). My parents who are pretty much broke are talking about borrowing out of their retirement (they’re 65 already and I loan them money for groceries from time to time) to pay for this extravagance. I think it is all very crazy, as we live in a high rent area and a tiny house is about $400K.

    On the other hand, my friends who are married all tell me that they don’t regret their weddings at all. Though I think these people didn’t pay for them! What are the thoughts on asking for down payment money as a wedding present? Is this a way to recoup some of the crazy wedding costs from our family and friends who seem entitled to attend?

    • Trina

      I think its your day and you should do what you want to do, not what your family wants. My fiance and I totally agree that we do not want an expensive wedding, even if someone gave us $30 K we would NOT spend it on a wedding and we currently have no debt except for our house. Most of our friends tell us although they enjoyed thier day, they wish they had not spent that much money and would have used it for a down payment for a house.
      My fiance has a very large family so we have made the decision to have our wedding in a different state, not too far but far enough that enough of the invited guests will not be willing to drive that far!

  • m

    That was the option given to me and my sister. I took the house down payment, she took the big wedding. Walking down the aisle was not something that appealed to me. I don’t either of us regrets our decisions, although I cannot understand her decision

  • For_the_pocket

    I know everyone always says that your wedding is only one day and a house is for life. However, a wedding is an important rite of passage and the traditions associated with it are rooted deep in western culture. Me and my fiancee discussed the costs and we both knew that if we went down to the courthouse and got married, we would always regret not having a traditional wedding. Maybe not right away but eventually. Yes its technically not necessary to have a wedding to get married but I couldn’t imagine not having those experiences. Walking down the aisle, going with my mom and sister to pick out a dress. The first dance, cutting the cake. My fiancee lifting my veil and us being pronounced man and wife. Its too important to me. You can always save more money, but you can’t buy those memories. That’s just my opinion though and I’m a very sentimental woman. ;)

  • Collette

    My boyfriend (29 years old) and I (24 years old) have specifically pushed back our wedding planning for a couple of years in order to purchase a house first. We see this as a long-term and steady investment that will allow us to breathe easier when the wedding payments come since we will be building equity and have a lower monthly cost of living than we currently have with renting.

    My traditional family is not terribly pleased with buying a house together before marriage but they also understand that this is our way of securing our future together before we even exchange rings. Sadly a joint mortgage is harder to dissolve than a marriage now-a-days so I’d say we are taking the bigger commitment first!

    I work in the hospitality/events industry and am very sentimental/memory focused I know I would always regret not having the elegant and fancy wedding of my dreams. I would also regret having those memories of our families coming together as one. I think it just takes smart (and strict) budgeting, partnership, and time to attain our goals as a couple.

  • Jax

    Thank you for your wisdom.

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