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From wedding bells to doorbells.
Choosing between spending money on a wedding or on a home can be fraught — and the new Netflix reality show “Marriage or Mortgage” follows couples through that journey.
Premiering Wednesday on the streaming platform, each episode follows a different couple in the Nashville, Tennessee, area as they try to decide whether to drop cash (such as $20,000) toward their big day — or invest in a house.
On either side of the spectrum, wedding planner Sarah Miller tries to push the couples toward a blowout event, while real estate agent Nichole Holmes tries to entice them to choose the mortgage option.
“I get it. [Choosing the wedding option] is romantic, it’s adorable. I am not made of stone,” Holmes, 46, told The Post.
“However, what’s not romantic and adorable is paying rent for the first 12 years of your marriage. How romantic is it to write a check for someone else’s mortgage every month? Think about that. You could be investing in your own future, not the landlord’s.”
In the show, each couple meets with both Miller and Holmes to lay out their desires for a wedding and their budget and preferences for a home (such as the number of bedrooms). Miller then brings them to see venues, dresses and food and alcohol samplings that fit their wedding budget, while Holmes shows them homes in their price range.
The first episode sees Nicholas, 35, a firefighter, and Denise, 36, a cheerleader turned recruiter, as they try to decide whether to spend $25,000 on a wedding or on a house. Nicholas, who has been married before and has a 6-year-old daughter, wants a big day that’s Elvis-themed (since he and Denise have gone on many special dates to Graceland). On the other hand, Denise is partial to a house with room for his daughter and any future kids they might have.
Holmes said that the mortgage option is always the smart choice, no matter what your situation is.
“If they chose wedding, that’s the No. 1 mistake, because you cannot make money on a wedding,” she said. “A home is generally your largest asset that you’ll ever own. I just think if they have to make that decision, the smartest one is to set themselves up financially for the future.”
For those who do decide to invest in a house, the most important factor is to make sure you’re prepared, she said.
“A couple needs to be aware of what they can afford,” Holmes said. “They need to be pre-approved, especially when it’s a frenzy to get in at a certain price point. I found myself in a multiple-offer situation on several of the couples, and sometimes they won and sometimes they lost. It’s all part of it. They just need to have their ducks in a row — have their finances on point, their credit ratings up.”
And for couples who don’t automatically know all of this? Don’t sweat. That’s why it’s also important to get a real estate agent who knows what they’re doing.
Not all the couples are set in stone with one wanting a wedding and the other wanting a home, however. Another episode spotlights pastor Cynthia, 56, and MRI and X-ray technologist Karla, 50, a couple who dream of a “big fat gay wedding.” However, they also want to live in a brand-new home where no exes have lived before, and they both keep flip-flopping on the choice.
“We had some couples that would come in knowing what they wanted, and Sarah and I would go in with one last bargaining chip to sway them, and some of them totally went the opposite direction,” Holmes said, declining to spoil which direction Cynthia and Karla ended up going.
She’s also not unsympathetic to more sentimental types, she said. For instance, another episode sees a pair of high school sweethearts who have been living separately at each of their parents’ houses. Personal trainer Emily, 23, has been planning her wedding since she was a young girl and is fixated on the idea of having a lavish day, while basketball coach Braxton, 24, wants to use their money to get a jump-start on living independently in their own place.
While Braxton seems like the more practical member of the duo, Holmes said she understands Emily’s perspective.
“Every couple has such individual reasons for choosing one or the other. Did I disagree with them if they chose the wedding? Of course, yeah I did,” she said. “But I understand and see their side of it. Do I wish they were in a different position to make the investment? Of course I do. But do I begrudge them for choosing weddings? No, I get it.”
The real estate agent and lifelong Tennessean explained that she’s been married twice before, and the first wedding was “the big shebang.” That’s part of why she’s partial to the idea of using the money for practical purposes.
“My father said, ‘Are you sure you don’t want a down payment on a home? Really think about this.’ But I had to have my special day. Did I live to regret that? Absolutely!” she said. “So I’m coming from a place of experience here.”
Her one exception to always going for the mortgage option over “marriage”? If you’re loaded enough to afford both.
“If there’s a couple that comes to us that can afford an amazing house and a wedding, more power to them,” she said. “But if you do have to make that hard decision, I’m going to sway you toward real estate every time.”
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