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HomeJob RetirementMarriage or mortgage: Which is the better investment?

Marriage or mortgage: Which is the better investment?

Both weddings and home purchases can both cause people to think or spend irrationally—especially amid the rush to “get in the real estate market” while mortgage rates are higher than they have been in 15 years. How can a couple decide which is the better use of their hard-earned savings?

How much does it cost to get married these days?

Let’s start with weddings. The costs associated with their big day can range drastically from couple to couple, depending on their wedding plans and the size of their family. The dollars differ widely among industry estimates, as well. According to The Knot Worldwide’s 2023 Global Wedding Report, the average Canadian wedding costs USD$19,000—about $25,000 Canadian at the current exchange rate.Meanwhile, the consumer data company Statista pegged the average Canadian wedding at a much higher $42,401, back in 2017. (Read more about the average cost of a wedding in Canada.)

Given the national average home price in May 2023 of $729,044, a 5% minimum down payment for a house would be $36,452—or about the average cost of a wedding. 

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Marriage or mortgage

This begs the question: are young people making their marriages more difficult by making their wedding budgets too high? Are they trading in a home down payment for a half-day party with their friends and family?

The rational choice for a couple in the long term is probably to forgo an expensive wedding. But many brides, grooms, and their families celebrate traditional wedding ceremonies and receptions and feel the desire or the pressure to do so.

COVID-19 precautions have prevented many couples from throwing big weddings. This is bad on just about every level, but a modest wedding could be good financially for a couple. 

If a 30-year-old couple invests $35,000 at a 5% annual rate of return, it could turn into over $193,000 by retirement at age 65. Granted, $193,000 would not buy them nearly as much in the future due to a rising cost of living over time, but it is the same as about $97,000 in today’s dollars, assuming 2% annual inflation. That is the equivalent of about $140,000 of salary net of tax (varies by province). Could forgoing a wedding allow you to retire a year or two earlier as a result? Absolutely. It is romantic to elope at city hall? Absolutely not. 


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