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Down payment vs. down the aisle: Where a wedding costs more than a home

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Down payment vs. down the aisle: Where a wedding costs more than a home

A beautiful setting for a wedding in a garden at sunset.

When planning for a milestone like a wedding or buying a home, many couples find that they have to choose between the two. Paying for a wedding can be a very big expense, but putting a down payment on a home is also a substantial financial commitment.

Nationally, the average down payment (13%) on the median home sales price was $39,973 in 2021, which is substantially higher than the average wedding cost of $27,063 in the same year. This means that, in most places, having a wedding takes far less cash than buying a home. But that isn’t the case everywhere.

SmartAsset crunched the numbers to identify and rank the cities where getting married is more expensive than buying a home in 2023. This study compared data from 150 of the largest metro areas in the U.S. across two metrics: the average wedding cost and a 13% down payment on the median-priced home. For more details on how we sourced and analyzed our data, read the Data and Methodology section below.

This is SmartAsset’s second study on where getting married is more expensive than buying a home. Check out the 2022 edition here.


Key findings

A chart showing the 10 states where weddings are more expensive than a house down payment.

– In 23 cities, weddings are the more expensive option. In Peoria, Illinois, a wedding exceeds the cost of a 13% down payment by nearly 41%. But if you were to bump that down payment to the suggested 20%, no cities have average weddings that exceed the cost.

– California will cost you big time. California residents will have the hardest time making both a wedding and a home purchase happen. Metro areas in the Golden State take the top four spots when it comes to the average wedding expenses and the top eight for average home sale price.

Here’s a list of where a walk down the aisle will cost more than the average down payment for a home:

1. Peoria, IL

Peoria county is known for its Grandview Drive, which is two and a half miles of scenic road that Theodore Roosevelt once called “the world’s most beautiful drive.” And this view comes at a price. A wedding in the Peoria metro area costs almost 41% more than a 13% home down payment. And if couples opted to pay for both a wedding and a home in the same year, they would have to foot a bill of at least $41,254.

2. Syracuse, NY

The average price of a wedding in Syracuse is $31,304, which is 31.44% more than a 13% home down payment ($23,816). This metro area is home to rich architectural landmarks and historic buildings, which likely makes it a popular wedding destination. But with home prices among the lowest in our study, putting a 13% home down payment in Syracuse could be more affordable than a wedding.

3. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA

With a limited number of vendors and expensive venues in the area, weddings in Youngstown-Warren-Boardman (commonly referred to by locals as “the Valley”) are almost 25% higher than a 13% home down payment. While it ranks No. 3 on our list, weddings here are still on the less expensive side at $22,373, which lands at No. 26 out of the 150 cities we studied.

4. Cleveland-Elyria, OH

If you wander about 70 miles southeast of “the Valley” you’ll run into Cleveland-Elyria, where the gap between a wedding and a home down payment is only slightly less than its northern relative. Here, there’s a 24.62% difference between the average wedding ($30,919) and a 13% down payment on the average home ($24,811).

5. Rochester, NY

At $31,340, the average cost of a wedding in Rochester, New York, was higher in 2021 than the average wedding cost for the entire top 10, which was $27,919. Rochester weddings tend to be about 24.56% higher than a 13% down payment on the average home in the area, which typically costs $193,544.

6. York-Hanover, PA

York-Hanover residents have the highest home prices of our top 10 with an average home sale price of $224,374. This also means the 13% down payment is on the higher end at $29,169. Even with the bigger price tag, this home down payment was still 16.8% less expensive than the average wedding, which stood at $34,069 (the highest price in our top 10).

7. Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA

Fans of the cult classic television show “The Office” will easily recognize the familiar Scranton name, but may be unaware that weddings are actually pricier than home down payments in the area. Making a 13% down payment on a median-priced home in the Scranton–Wilkes-Barre area will set you back by $22,936. This is 16.76% cheaper than the average wedding at $26,780.

8. Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY

Buffalo-Cheektowaga is the third metro area from New York to rank in our top 10. A wedding here will cost you on average $32,394. This places it at 15.95% higher than a 13% home down payment of $27,938. Buffalo-Cheektowaga is roughly $1,675 cheaper than York-Hanover in Pennsylvania, which is the most expensive average wedding in our top 10.

9. Toledo, OH

Toledo offers a great variety of wedding factors and is also home to a vibrant culinary scene, which can contribute to their average wedding cost of $22,975. The housing market in this metro area is also relatively inexpensive with an average home sales price of $155,663. But with a 13% home down payment sitting at $20,236, a Toledo wedding will cost 13.53% more.

10. Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, IA-IL

In the Davenport-Moline-Rock Island metro area, residents have the lowest average wedding cost in the top 10 ($22,908). This is still relatively high, however, considering that it’s 12.91% more than a 13% down payment for a home in the area.


Data and methodology

A wooden sign reading “Welcome to our wedding.”

To find the places where average wedding costs are more than the typical down payment associated with a home mortgage, we analyzed data for 150 of the largest metro areas in the country. For each area, we considered three metrics:

– Average wedding cost. Data comes from and is for 2021.

– Median home sales price. Data comes from Zillow and is for October 2021 and October 2022.

– 13% down payment. The typical down payment for all buyers is 13%, according to the National Association of Realtors. We calculated this by taking 13% of the median home sales price in each metro area.

For each metro area, SmartAsset divided the down payment figure by the average cost of a wedding there. The analysis then ranked the metro areas based on how much more an average wedding costs compared to a 13% down payment on a median-priced home.

This story originally appeared on SmartAsset and has been independently reviewed to meet journalistic standards.

Article Topic Follows: Life

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