First comes love, then comes marriage … or is it mortgage?
In an upcoming Netflix series, couples will be forced to decide between saying yes to the dress or to the nest. Premiering on March 10, “Marriage or Mortgage” follows real estate agent Nichole Holmes and wedding planner Sarah Miller as they convince 10 couples in Nashville to make only one dream come true.
Coming from a third-generation construction family in Marion, Illinois, Holmes has over 13 years of experience in real estate. Raised in Atlanta, Miller is a wedding planner and the owner of Southern Vine & Co. Miller’s mission is to advise couples to invest in the fairy-tale wedding of a lifetime.
“I'm more of a traditionalist,” Miller told TODAY. “I really do believe that marriage is a big deal. It should come first. I was offered the same thing when I got married 10 years ago and I chose the wedding. We've taken the steps from then to purchase a house and have kids. Houses come and go, but a wedding is supposed to be one time.”
While the white picket fence fantasy came true for Miller, not everyone can say the same. Twice-divorced, Holmes wants couples to make what she believes is the smarter choice for their long-term finances.
“Well, isn't that sweet for her!” Holmes told TODAY, laughing. “I’m not anti-marriage, anti-relationship or anti-love. Given the state of affairs these days — no pun intended with the affairs — 60% of marriages end in divorce. You can't make money on a wedding; it's barely 12 hours of a party. Invest in your future. You can always have a smaller wedding later.”
The two experts bring couples into their respective offices and ask questions, inquiring about their wants, wishes, and budgets. Then, Holmes takes it upon herself to find the perfect properties around the city, while Miller persuades them to create their utopian wedding.
Miller said, “We get to wine and dine them basically on both ends and have fun. But at the end of the day, they ultimately have to make a huge decision. One cool thing is, some of them chose differently than we really thought they were going to.”
Holmes followed, “We had a really good, diverse group of 10 different couples. You see biracial couples, same-sex couples, old, young, all across the board. We're really happy about that, and I think that there's something that everyone can enjoy when they tune in.”
As conversations regarding student loan forgiveness and social mobility surface, opinions vary on whether the all-American dream is actually attainable for everyone. Due to the United States’ history of financial discrimination and racial bias in lending, Black applicants are rejected by mortgage lenders at higher rates than white applicants (at 17.4% and 7.9%, respectively, according to a 2019 LendingTree report).
While this unscripted reality series may seem entertaining from afar, a recent Buzzfeed article said the show will appeal to viewers' “sense of millennial dread” as it indicates the severity of the national debt crisis. Holmes said that choosing between a wedding and a house isn’t a new phenomenon and “nothing is getting any less expensive” in the city.
‘“I don't think that it's that different than how it's always been. People have to make the decision. Do you have enough money to have both? Many people don't.” Holmes said. “Nashville home prices are skyrocketing. Nashville weddings are skyrocketing. (Real estate’s) never slowed down in Nashville, even back during the recession in ‘08 or ‘09.”
Rather than instilling fear into viewers, Holmes & Miller want to impart wisdom to young couples and teach them about managing expectations. While Holmes guides couples on how to get their credit in order, qualify for loans, and more, Miller teaches them how to maximize their budgets and most importantly, keep an open mind.
Miller said, “There was one couple that didn't even think that they could afford flowers at all during their wedding. We actually showed them that if you're smart and you put your money in certain areas that we can afford that for you.”
Although they may disagree on whether #TeamMortgage or #TeamMarriage is best, the two hosts say that the foundation for a stable relationship requires being transparent about both your feelings and your finances. Despite the squabbles between couples or in-laws, Miller and Holmes loved connecting with every contestant, learning about their different family dynamics and personal narratives.
They hope viewers will be able to do the same — and a season 2 will come out of it. Check out “Marriage or Mortgage” on Netflix when it premieres on Wednesday, March 10, and watch the season one trailer above.