116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Getting married and buying a house are life-changing events. Years of reality television have shown brides trying on designer dresses and couples bringing exacting specifications to home buying. These shows have created unrealistic expectations. They tell us weddings are extravagant and expensive and houses have notable features and never-ending potential.
The Netflix show 'Marriage or Mortgage” asks couples to choose to spend their savings on a wedding celebration or a house. I find this idea distressing. Yes, they are big investments but not substitutions for each other.
I understand couples want to have a fun and memorable wedding celebration. To hear a man say, 'I want our wedding to be the best wedding of all the ones we've been to” in the show's trailer was unsettling. That comment set off sirens and red flags flying. Competition and bragging rights should not be the basis for wedding plans.
No celebration is worth wiping out a savings account.
Just as couples should focus on life beyond the party, they should anticipate their expenses beyond the actual home price, such as taxes, insurance and utilities. There should be money budgeted for furnishings, updates and the inevitable broken appliance. The larger the home the more expensive it will be all around.
Having just bought four exterior walls and a roof, the couple face the task of furnishing the home. Chances are a young couple will bring hand-me-down or college furniture to a first home. They may be disappointed by its appearance compared with newer surroundings. Depending on quality, items needed, and size of the room, expect to budget $15,000 to $30,000 per bedroom or space.
Unless it's a new house, chances are the couple will want to make some changes. Paint is one of the least expensive though it can take a lot of time and energy. Two coats of paint plus drying time can take around five to six hours. Tearing out old carpet and removing wallpaper are tiring, messy projects. Even if someone else is doing the work, it can be time consuming arranging estimates and meeting contractors.
There is never a lack of ways to spend money on a home.
Beyond the extra expenses, couples also must allow for flexibility with their expectations. Not all projects can be completed in quick succession. It may take years to finish. Life gets busy, the weather doesn't cooperate, unexpected expenses arise - something is bound cause a delay. Sometimes it means accepting the house as it is.
Maintaining a home can be demanding. Yard work, cleaning and organizing eat into free time. Possessions start to pile up in basements, garages and closets. Having ample storage is wonderful, but it also means collecting and saving more than necessary.
A wedding or a home doesn't have to be an either-or choice. They may not happen at the same time. We bought our home first and married three years later. It was nice to have an established home to start our life as a married couple. We incorporated silk flowers and an arbor from the wedding in our home.
No one path will work for everyone. Be cautious though about replicating what happens on TV.
Erin Owen graduated from the interior design program at Kirkwood Community College. She has worked as a commercial and residential interior designer. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org