Save for the home or the wedding?
5 MIN READ
Buy a home first or have the wedding? More and more couples are familiar with the dilemma.
Both are expensive.
Should they save up the deposit to buy a home first then get married later? Or save up to get married first then buy a home?
For Sarah and Claire, the priorities were clear – home then wedding.
Well, what it comes down to, as Claire puts it, is, ‘a wedding is a party for a day, a home is forever.’
The only issue they haven’t quite decided upon yet is quite how big or small the wedding is going to be when it happens.
Sarah is from Donabate in Dublin and works as a process technician at Intel in Leixlip while Claire is from Bangor in County Down and works as an actuary in central Dublin.
Sarah admits that she finds it tricky to explain what a process technician at a chip manufacturer does.
‘I tried to explain to you one time and I was like…’ she says to Claire.
‘It’s like Chandler from Friends where no one actually knows what he does,’ Claire says.
‘My mom still doesn’t know,’ Sarah jokes. ‘She knows it’s to do with chips. I worry that she thinks I work for McCain’s.’
They met in ‘The George’
Sarah and Claire met through mutual friends in ‘The George’ pub in Dublin.
‘You never hear stories of people meeting in ‘The George’,’ Claire says, then adds, laughing, ‘and lasting!’
A couple of weeks later, they met up again at a New Year’s Eve party.
‘That was three and a half years ago, and we’ve been together ever since that night,’ Sarah says.
A surprise engagement in New York
Claire did not see it coming.
They went to New York, last July, for Sarah’s 30th and Claire had the day of her birthday all arranged in advance.
‘We were going to go to Central Park,’ she says. ‘I thought, we’ll go on a little rowboat around the lake and then we’ll have a picnic.”
And at the end of the picnic, when she turned around, Sarah was sitting on the picnic blanket with a ring – something that definitely wasn’t on Claire’s schedule.
Sarah: ‘It was my birthday so I thought, ‘she’s never going to guess’.’
Claire: ‘Not in the slightest.’
Sarah: ‘But I got a promise ring because Claire is…’
Claire: ‘…a little bit picky…’
Sarah: ‘…when it comes to things.’
Claire: ‘I think it’s the safe bet.’
Sarah: ‘And I didn’t want to try and hide something really expensive in the luggage.’
Claire: ‘And I would’ve found it because I would’ve repacked the suitcase after she packed.’
Claire admits that she likes to be thorough.
Big, white wedding versus ‘intimate’ gathering
Because weddings cost a lot and they also wanted to buy a home, they decided to delay the big day and buy the home first.
‘Sarah is definitely more of the big, white, wedding person,’ Claire says, ‘and I’m more like, ‘well, let’s just keep it small’.’
When describing their future wedding, Sarah says Claire has been using the word ‘intimate’ a lot.
‘She means just me and her,’ Sarah says, laughing.
‘It would break my mother’s heart, I couldn’t do it,’ Claire says.
First they had to find a home.
They didn’t have mortgage ‘approval in principle’ when they found the house
The couple were renting in Leixlip (just a few minutes’ walk to work at Intel for Sarah and a commute into Dublin for Claire) when they noticed a new estate being built nearby.
In February, they went to view the second phase of development with Sarah’s parents.
‘My mom and dad loved the house straight away so we said, ‘we’ll just go see what the price is.’
The only thing was they didn’t have ‘approval in principle’.
In fact, they hadn’t even been to see a bank at that stage and they hadn’t got a solicitor.
But they had saved up enough for the deposit.
Meeting the mobile mortgage manager
Sarah first spoke to the bank she had been with all her life but they couldn’t offer them a mortgage as the couple needed an ‘exception’ to the Central Bank’s rule on income.
‘I think my nerves were so frayed at that stage,’ Claire says, ‘that I anticipated her saying to us, ‘no! What are you thinking? Catch yourselves on! But she couldn’t have been lovelier, to be honest.’
Claire’s biggest worry was that she had changed careers and was now a trainee actuary.
‘That’s it, I thought, ‘we’re not going to be able to buy a house and it’s all because I went back to college at 25!’
They both laugh at this.
‘But Lisa was with us every step of the way,’ Sarah says. ‘And when we got mortgage approval, she sounded just as happy as we did.’
Saving every penny for the home and then the wedding
The couple are planning to move into the house in September: ‘That’s the latest date from the builder.’
‘So that gives us a couple of months to finish off things Sarah wants in the house, and then I’ll have a solid year of saving before the wedding,’ Claire says, returning to have the wedding or buy a home first theme.
The two of them are off to see a tiler on the evening of the day that I meet them.
‘I think that should work if I get my intimate wedding as opposed to the big white wedding,’ Claire teases.
Sarah: ‘That’s the actuary in her talking.’
Claire: ‘I have everything planned.’ She pretends to scold Sarah, ‘you can live in those clothes for another month and you can stop going out.’
‘I haven’t been to a shopping centre in a very long time,’ Sarah says.
‘That’s a lie! That’s brand new on her!’ Claire points at Sarah’s outfit.
‘It’s H&M!’ Sarah protests.
Deciding on a location that suits them both
Like many couples, when they were buying their house they had to decide on a location that worked for both on them.
In their case, the biggest factor was that Sarah works a month of days and then a month of nights.
Working 12-hour shifts meant that they needed a home close to Intel to minimise her commute home.
Beyond that, the couple also wanted to consider the future.
‘We wanted to make sure we’re happy for the long term not just for now,’ Sarah says.
‘And it’s so much money,’ Claire adds, ‘that you want to be sure on what you’re doing.’
One thing that Claire mentions that she really likes is that the attic is floored.
‘Sarah is very good at the guitar so I can throw her up into the attic whenever she’s being noisy, just close the door after her, and I’ll sit and read a novel or something!’
‘We have three bedrooms,’ Sarah protests. ‘I don’t need to go to the attic!’
Claire: ‘But I’ll hear the noise.’
They laugh then the talk turns to starting a family perhaps because of the mention of those bedrooms.
‘I don’t envisage us ever having three kids,’ Claire says.
‘But if we did by some miracle, there’d be room for growth,’ Claire says then adds, ‘or for people visiting or anything.’
‘Yes,’ says Sarah.
The house has the approval of both sets of parents
Claire’s going to be in the middle of her next set of actuarial exams just when they expect to move in so she started packing several months in advance.
‘I’ve labelled every box in anticipation of Sarah having to do the unpacking,’ Claire says.
‘I’ll unpack and then you’ll reorganize everything afterwards,’ adds Sarah, smiling.
The couple are living with Sarah’s parents before they move in September so they can save a bit more money and they frequently mention support they get from both sets of parents.
Claire: ‘We are both quite close with our parents.’
‘And as a collective, we’re all very close now because of buying the house,’ Sarah adds.
Sarah’s mother, in particular, is also highly praised particularly for her ironing skills.
‘She irons everything. My dad, everything! ‘ Sarah jokes. ‘I haven’t ironed anything in years!’
‘God love her,’ Claire says. ‘She’s great.’
Claire’s parents came down from Bangor for the weekend to see the house and give it the once-over after Sarah’s parents had also checked it out.
‘So we got sign-off from both parents,’ they both laugh.
Claire: ‘It’s such a big thing.’
Sarah: ‘The seal of approval.’
‘We’re finally buying a house’
But despite their new home getting the approval of both sets of parents, they say they still can’t quite believe they are doing this.
‘Despite us both feeling mature and having careers and all the rest of it,’ Claire says, ‘it’s still like, ‘oh, my God, we’re finally buying a house!’
And then all thoughts will turn to planning the wedding and Sarah and Claire will have to agree exactly how many guests they are going to invite.
Find out more
You can find out more about a Bank of Ireland mortgage here.
If you are saving to build up a deposit for a home you might be interested in our Mortgagesaver regular saving account.