meet the couples who postponed their dream wedding to buy their first home

The average wedding now costs £18,000 (ES)

The average wedding now costs £18,000 (ES)

Victoria and James Moy originally planned a big wedding in Edinburgh, after moving there from London so that James, a pilot, could take a new job at Flybe.

“We would have 200 people, bespoke cocktails, an outside caterer and a live folk band,” says Victoria, 31, who is a helpful event planner. “I wanted it to be the day of my life and to me the flowers were just as important as the location, so they cost a lot of money, between £3,000 and £5,000.” Then the pandemic hit. “We were in a pub watching Sky News and saw that Flybe had folded overnight.”

After this, the couple decided to move back south where they rented a house in Sussex where James retrained as a firefighter to have a steady income.

“We then faced a difficult decision: do we have this huge wedding that I meticulously planned and saved £15,000 for, or use that money for a down payment? With the cost of living crisis, we no longer felt like the wedding was viable, so we started looking at flats.

'The Stability We Craved': Victoria and James Moy chose to use their wedding savings for a down payment and instead had a quiet service (handout)

‘The Stability We Craved’: Victoria and James Moy chose to use their wedding savings for a down payment and instead had a quiet service (handout)

The couple still wanted to make it official, so wed in November 2021 at a registry office for less than £1,000. “We did it on a small budget. I got my dress for £90 and we only had two mutual witnesses. It was very difficult to explain this to our original guests as the invitations for the first wedding had been sent out. We had to say “no” to everyone: our parents, grandparents, and siblings. It was a really tough decision.” The couple, who also had a baby shortly after their wedding, are planning a major five-year vow renewal instead. “We wanted something simple and it was the right choice for us,” says Victoria. “That moment has passed.”

With the money saved from the wedding, the couple bought a two-bedroom apartment in Lewes and moved in last December. Victoria commutes to her London office, but they love where they live: “I feel buying this property has taken away a lot of anxiety and given us the stability we so craved after many years of (expensive) uncertainty on the rental market. We’ve run into many problems with rental properties before, including black mold and flooding due to failed renovations, and a landlord wanting to turn a property back into their family home. Owning a house gives a huge sense of relief.”

Victoria and James are not alone. With the average deposit for a new buyer in the capital exceeding £115,000 and the cost of a wedding averaging £18,000, it’s no surprise that many Londoners are having smaller weddings or putting it off to prioritize buying their wedding. home. It may not be the devil-may-care attitude of our most romantic Valentine’s Day dreams, but buying property with a partner is certainly a sign of commitment, and one more suited to the current economic climate than expensive set menus and extravagant flower arrangements.

According to Halifax, three in five engaged couples spend their wedding budget on a home deposit and two-thirds say owning their home is a higher priority than getting married.

Commitment: Paul Blakeley and Victoria Sampson said buying together felt like 'the right start to a new chapter' (Handout)

Commitment: Paul Blakeley and Victoria Sampson said buying together felt like ‘the right start to a new chapter’ (Handout)

Rising mortgage rates and tighter affordability criteria mean the bigger your deposit, the better, as Paul Blakeley knows. The 34-year-old life science policy officer proposed to his wife, Victoria Sampson, who works for the NHS, on the day they were handed the keys to their four-bedroom town house in Upton Park. Despite having been together for two years, they lived separately in shared, private rental housing. “It felt like the right start to a new chapter,” says Blakeley. “Buying a house together is even more of a commitment than getting married.”

He had been saving for a down payment for 10 years and the couple also received a little help from family. The developer of their home then helped Blakeley set the tone for a grand proposal, letting him into the house five hours earlier than Sampson, 33, thought they’d get the keys. “I bought champagne and put rose petals in the bedroom. It was a nice surprise for her when she came in,” he says.

The couple is now married. “We have friends who hold ceremonies outside or in marquees instead of a venue to keep costs down so they have more money for a down payment. We didn’t cut back on our wedding because we bought a house, but we were wise.”

Blakeley noted that there are more restrictions when it comes to buying a house, for example where you work, while getting married is something that can happen anywhere, anytime. “In modern society it doesn’t matter if you’re married or not, but it’s good to have something that you can feel like it’s yours. It is becoming increasingly difficult to buy, so owning a home is more important for economic security and your life together. Getting married is always possible.”

Indeed, the number of couples getting married has declined significantly over the past 50 years. There were more than 480,000 marriages in 1971, compared to 270,000 in 2017, and the cost-of-living crisis is likely to reduce this further. But even couples who still want a wedding prioritize being first on the property ladder.

Architect Anna Tyszkiewicz, 40, and project manager Jiannis Georgiadis, 42, chose head over heels when they bought a one-bedroom apartment near Canning Town in 2020 after seven years of saving and five years of renting together. “It made financial sense to own something and it’s a great investment,” they explain. Unlike Blakeley, who thinks that buying a house together is the bigger commitment, Tyszkiewicz says: “[It] was a small commitment that we wanted to spend more time together, before making a bigger commitment that we want to spend our lives together.

The couple got engaged last year and plan to hold a smaller wedding in June with only close family on a Greek island. They do not regret making their own home their main goal. “We both traveled around Europe for years and wanted our own space,” says Tyszkiewicz. “Owning a house makes you feel more independent because you can arrange the space however you want — we couldn’t do this for years because we were renting.”

Kizzie Budd, 22, and Charlie Moss, 26, had a strict budget for their wedding, so they were able to put more money into the down payment on the three-bedroom semi-detached house they bought in East Sussex for Christmas.

“We would always have put more money into a bigger house and a better venue than a big, expensive wedding,” says Budd, who is training to be a perfumer. She and fiancée Moss, who works for the Environment Agency in London and the South East, have been saving for a home deposit for over three years. The couple got engaged last summer after five years together and will be getting married near their new home at the end of May.

“We did a lot of calculations of what to set aside for the wedding and what we could afford for the house security deposit.” In order to get the best property possible, the couple decided to get married on a Thursday out of high season. “We thought the people very close to us wouldn’t mind taking a day off and it means paying £10,000 for our wedding instead of £30,000 even though we still have 90 people.”

They’ve smartly cut back on weddings in other areas too: “My dress is off the rails and one of my mom’s friends is trying it on for free, the cake is made by a friend and instead we have pots of cut flowers on the tables. ” of a bouquet,” says Budd, who has no regrets about prioritizing a house over her wedding day. “It’s great to have your own home. We lived with my fiancé’s parents while we were saving and although we get on well with them, it’s nice to have your own independence.” They also discover that many of their rental friends take a similar approach and hold off on getting married until they buy a house.

In today’s world, it seems that the greatest show of commitment a couple can make isn’t hosting a huge white wedding, but signing up for a joint mortgage together. While this may be less romantic, with rents rising and property remaining a smart investment in the medium and long term, it’s a wise choice. As Budd puts it, “It’s one day instead of years and years.”

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