Choosing a Down Payment Over a Fancy Wedding

Often, there’s a significant amount of money at stake, considering how expensive weddings are these days. At the start of this year, the average cost of a wedding in the United States was $25,961, according to a survey by the Wedding Report, a research company based in Tucson.

Pahini Lampart, 30, of Baltimore, put the $150,000 her parents had saved for her wedding toward a condominium in Washington’s trendy U Street neighborhood. She made that decision about four years ago after watching her older sister plan a lavish affair lasting several days in Atlantic City.

“She was amazing at planning her whole wedding, but that’s my sister,” said Ms. Lampart, a strategic operations manager for a nonprofit organization. “The idea of me having to do that was, ‘Oh, my God, no.’ I would hyperventilate at the thought of it.”

Ms. Graham says she’s still open to the possibility of getting married. “Buying the home wasn’t me saying, ‘I’m never going to get married or I am going to get married,’” she said. “My own home had way more than equity benefits. It was a real gift to have a home in an extremely desirable neighborhood in a city that I love. It’s brought me a lot of joy.”

Kimmie Greene, a consumer finance expert and spokeswoman for Mint, a financial planning website and app, said that for single women in their 30s, “It’s incredibly empowering to be smart with your money and do things for yourself and not just wait for the next milestone.”

But it’s not just singles who are diverting wedding money to other life goals. When Hannah Graham, 27, an assistant office manager from Thousand Oaks, Calif., got engaged last year, her parents revealed that they had $30,000 saved for her wedding. But even with that significant budget, she and her live-in fiancé, Jesse Davis 28, who runs a dog-grooming business, found that it likely wouldn’t be enough. “We looked at different venues and catering and it was adding up so quickly,” she said.

So the couple decided to fulfill another dream instead: visiting Italy. They booked a three-week trip last fall, traveled throughout the country, and included a stop in the medieval town of Montepulciano, where they were married. Their trip cost $15,000, and they put the other half of the wedding fund into a savings account.

“It was perfect, and I’m glad it went the way it went,” she said. “It was so stress-free, and we were able to not just…

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