How to save for a wedding and a house: the young couple’s dilemma

The first thing most couples think about when that engagement ring slides into place is what kind of wedding they’d like to have and how to save up for their big day. If you’re lucky enough to already own your own home, saving for a wedding might not be too daunting a prospect, but what happens when it’s not just your big day you’re saving for, but a deposit on a marital home as well?

“Financial difficulties are reported to be one of the major causes of marital discord and divorce these days,” says Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group. “That makes it incredibly important for couples to take a long-term view of their future, rather than setting their sights no further than their big day.”
The average cost of a wedding in South Africa is pegged at around R80 000, but can easily run as high as R250 000 depending on how many guests you invite and how elaborate your ceremony and reception are. That kind of money could foot the bill for a 10% deposit on a new home valued from R800 000 to R2.5 million, but most couples aren’t willing to give up their big day altogether in favour of a smart – yet far less romantic – financial investment. 

So, how can you do both without going completely broke in the meanwhile?

“Saving up for two, large expenses is always going to require compromise,” says Rawson, “which means you need to work out what you’re willing to sacrifice and what your non-negotiables are.”

For some couples, a bigger or better home might be more important than an elaborate reception, while others may be willing to live in an apartment for a few years in order to have the wedding of their dreams. Whatever your priorities area, it’s vital that you define budgets for both your future home and your wedding, and work out exactly how much you need to save each month to reach those financial goals.

“A lot of couples choose to have a long engagement in order to buy a home before they marry,” says Rawson, “particularly when it’s a buyers’ market or when property prices look likely to increase soon. This allows them to focus on one expense at a time, and reduces the stress after the wedding when they would otherwise have had to start searching for a property from scratch.”

For couples choosing to wait until they’re married to buy a home, the wedding can actually be a great opportunity to get a little bit of help filling up the piggy bank for a future deposit.

“Instead of registering at a homeware store, or asking guests to contribute to your honeymoon, why not request contributions towards your future house as wedding gifts?” suggests Rawson. “After all, an expensive blender and classy crockery aren’t much good without a kitchen to call home, and a house will last longer and provide more joy than any pot or pan.”

Wedding costs can also be cut dramatically if you’re willing to make a few compromises to save money for your new home. Things like booking a mid-week date, having a morning ceremony, or providing cheese and wine instead of a sit-down meal can make a big difference to the price tag. Keeping the guest list to close friends and family is also a good way to save.

One thing that is certain is that all these decisions need to be made as a team, and whatever you decide to prioritise, the financial strain should never be more than you and your future spouse can comfortably handle.

“The last thing you need as newlyweds is to be worrying about paying off unmanageable debt,” says Rawson, “so be realistic about your prospects and try to avoid biting off more than you can chew.” 

To find out more about the costs of home-ownership, or to start the search for a new home, contact your nearest Rawson Property Group franchise and get some down-to-earth, friendly and experienced advice.

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