Cleveland, where the average wedding costs $22,000 and the typical down payment is $34,000, is the most affordable place to get married and buy a new home.
Engaged couples in Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh can have their wedding cake and eat it too–in their new home, that is. That’s because these three Midwestern metros are the most affordable places to throw a wedding and cover a down payment on a home. In all three metro areas, the average combined cost of a wedding and a down payment is less than $65,000, compared with the national average of more than $109,000.
Of course, wedding and down payment costs vary widely. For every budget wedding or modest home, a million dollar affair and lavish mansion can skew numbers. And wedding costs are highly dependent on whether you’re planning a traditional or destination wedding; eloping or throwing a ballroom bash; and don’t forget the costs of a photographer, flowers, music, decor and more.
To determine how much cash couples in different parts of the country would need on hand to throw a wedding and buy their first home, Redfin calculated down payment amounts in 25 metro areas, assuming a 20 percent down payment on the median list price as of April 2019. We paired it with metro-level and national data on wedding costs from WeddingWire, which found the average cost of a wedding, including an engagement ring, ceremony and reception, and honeymoon to be $38,700 in 2018.
Here’s the full ranking of the most affordable cities to have both a wedding, and purchase a home, leading up to the most expensive:
|Rank||Metropolitan Divisions||Average Wedding Cost (weddingwire.com)||Median List Price||Down Payment (20% of Median List Price)||Wedding + Down Payment|
|22||San Diego, CA||$27,000||$639,000||$127,800||$154,800|
|23||New York, NY metro||$50,000||$535,000||$107,000||$157,000|
|24||Los Angeles, CA||$33,000||$679,000||$135,800||$168,800|
|25||San Francisco, CA||$40,000||$1,425,000||$285,000||$325,000|
|National/Combined Markets Average||$38,700||$308,000||$79,619||$109,939|
In expensive coastal metros including Seattle, Boston and San Diego, a down payment alone costs over $100,000, without factoring in a wedding. For couples in these places with visions of a dream wedding, it might be worth spending the bucks on the party, considering it is roughly half the cost of a down payment, which may be far less attainable.
I would know. Priced out of my home of New York City and most of the tri-state area, where WeddingWire reports the average to be $50,000 (my personal research showed much higher!), I’ll be inviting close friends and family to Palm Springs, California later this year for a destination wedding. My fiance and I chose this option as we love to travel and wanted to go somewhere special, but couldn’t imagine celebrating without friends and family. By opting for a destination, we’re able to work within our budget, expect fewer guests, and have the wedding we’ve always wanted. As homes in New York are quite expensive, our wedding costs don’t come close to what we would need for a down payment, either. And while, sure, we could have put that budget towards a home instead, a wedding surrounded by loved ones wasn’t a memory I was willing to trade. Plus, we’ve registered for few gifts, opting for a cash fund instead to help jump start our future together.
However even in relatively affordable housing markets like Phoenix, Minneapolis or Atlanta, a typical down payment is more than twice as much as an average wedding. If skipping the big day in order to save for a home is something you’re seriously considering, eloping to city hall might be a worthwhile strategy.
But everyone’s reasons for getting married and motivation to spend that money are wildly different. Just look at the Redfin communications team, where four of us got engaged in January of this year (what’s in the water, right?).
Data Journalist Dana Olsen, chose to elope immediately. “I chose to elope for a lot of reasons, but finances were definitely the main driver,” she said. “Holding a big wedding for all of our family and friends in the Seattle area easily could have cost $50,000, a substantial sum of money we thought would be put to better use elsewhere. A month after we got married, we used what would have been spent on a wedding as part of a down payment on a house in Seattle.”
Data Analyst Ben Walzer and his wife held a small ceremony right after getting engaged, but are planning on throwing a party for family and friends this fall. “My wife and I got engaged in the first week of January and we quickly planned a small civil ceremony later that month. We had been together for four years and were eager to get started with the next phase of our lives. We’re in the process of planning a full ceremony with our family and friends in September, thanks to assistance from our families. Without our family’s help, it’s likely we would’ve been satisfied with the small civil ceremony and saved our money.”
Content Specialist Bailey Chauner and her fiance have decided to take their time in planning a wedding while weighing all the options. “My fiance and I are constantly tugged between planning a dream wedding and saving for the dream home. It’s tough to justify paying for a picture perfect wedding when our ultimate goal is owning a home. The cost of living in the Seattle area, where our first home will likely cost more than half a million dollars, makes it even harder.”
However, you can’t put a monetary value on the memory of a day spent celebrating love. And whether your budget is $1,000 or $1,000,000, if your dream is a wedding, it’s guaranteed to be money well spent.