More than three-quarters of couples living in London are choosing to postpone planning a wedding in order to get on to the capital's ultra-competitive housing ladder first.
A survey, carried out by Chestertons, shows that for 76% of couples, buying a home is their top financial priority. With average house prices reaching well over the half-a-million-pound mark in London, and monthly price rises hitting double-figures in the final few months of 2015, saving for a deposit means and meeting the mortgage payments mean most couples have little or no spare income to set aside to pay for a wedding. In the UK as a whole the average age to tie the knot has risen to 32 for men and 30 for women, compared to 28 and 26 in 2001, and there are now more than 10 million more people still living at home with parents than there were 20 years ago, according to recent data from the Office for National Statistics.
With house prices rising in London faster than anywhere else in the UK, there's little hope for would-be homeowners when it comes to having their nuptials paid for outright by a parent – a separate survey commissioned by Chestertons last year showed the tradition of the bride's parents paying for her big day has all but died out, with just 6% of couples lucky enough to have their wedding paid for this way. This compares to 40% of fathers who paid for their daughter's wedding in the 1950s.
The latest Chestertons survey also indicates that only half of those who did buy a home together felt they would EVER be able to afford to get married. Having saved for a deposit and under the burden of monthly mortgage repayments, just 50% of those surveyed said they thought they would be able to pay for a wedding too.
Jess Davies, 29 and living in Norbiton, South West London, chose to buy a house with her boyfriend Mike before getting married: "We bought a house together in 2014, got engaged in 2015 and are getting married this August. At the time of buying a house we had been together eight years, but still wanted to buy somewhere before getting married. We couldn't afford both so, and getting on the property ladder was just a higher priority. We felt we were wasting money renting and really wanted a place that was truly our own. Our attitude was, we've been together so long, what's another couple of years of waiting to get married?"
Nimish Patel, Sales Manager of the Greenwich & Blackheath office of Chestertons, says: "We advise first-time buyers to put down at least a 10% deposit on a property. We find that most couples would rather invest this money in buying a property over paying for a wedding.
"The London Help to Buy scheme does offer some assistance to hard-pressed couples. The Government this month increased the upper limit for the interest-free equity loan it offers new homebuyers in Greater London from 20% to 40%, however the scheme only applies to new-build homes up to a maximum value of £600,000, so buyers will still need to work hard to get best value."