Savvy couple with 12 wedding guests put cash towards buying a home

The upside to pandemic weddings! Couple reveal they’ve been able to buy a £465,000 flat after ditching plans to spend £20,000 on TWO big days with 200 guests for an intimate ceremony with 12 attendees

  • Timi Merriman-Johnson, 31, and Jenni Hagan, 30, from London, met in 2015
  • Couple quickly fell in love and got engaged in September 2020 amid pandemic
  • Originally planned to spend £20,000 on two lavish ceremonies with 200 guests
  • Instead they decided to have a small wedding with 12 guests costing £4,000
  • Put money they saved towards buying their dream home for £465,000 

A savvy couple who were forced to miss out on a big wedding day because of Covid have revealed how they put the cash they saved towards buying their first home.

Timi Merriman-Johnson, 31, and Jenni Hagan, 30, from London, had originally planned to spend around £20,000 on a grand celebration with two ceremonies, two parties and more than 200 guests. 

But amid the coronavirus crisis, they have instead decided to have a small affair at a Chelsea registry office, with just 12 of their nearest and dearest, in August, costing around £4,000.

The cash they saved was put towards helping them buy the third-floor, two-bedroom flat they already shared in Southwark, south London, for £465,000, with Jenni revealing: ‘Buying our flat instead of having a big wedding was much more about us making the right decisions for ourselves at the right time.’

Timi Merriman-Johnson, 31, and Jenni Hagan, 30, from London, have revealed how they put the cash they saved from ditching their lavish wedding plans towards buying their first home

The couple first crossed paths at their friends’ wedding in Camberwell, London, in August 2015, where Timi was one of the groomsmen and Jenni knew the couple through work.

‘Our friends were trying to hook us up for the whole next year,’ laughed Timi.

‘At the wedding, we said hello briefly but I was running around trying to sort the seating out – as an entire table had been forgotten about!’

Meeting properly in December 2016, on a night out at a bar and restaurant with mutual pals, the pair hit it off instantly.

The couple had originally planned to spend around £20,000 on a grand celebration with two ceremonies, two parties and more than 200 guests

Timi said: ‘We went on our first date a couple of weeks later – dinner and a walk around the South Bank.

‘I thought Jenni was very kind, very mature and very easy to speak to, and she found me hilarious!

‘It didn’t feel like a date, just two people who’d known each other for a long time going for dinner.’

The two quickly became serious, exploring different bits of the city as they got to know each other.

‘Due to the sorts of people we are, we wouldn’t have gone into it if we didn’t think it would be serious,’ Timi added.

Moving in together in 2017 was a milestone for the besotted couple.

Amid the coronavirus crisis, they have instead decided to have a small affair at a Chelsea registry office, with just 12 of their nearest and dearest, in August, costing around £4,000

When Jenni’s lease expired, they began looking for a rented home together in south London, settling first on a ground-floor flat in Vauxhall before moving to their Southwark flat a year later.

Having put aside money every month, when their then-landlady had the property valued in early 2020, they decided to approach her about buying their home.

Timi said: ‘We first spoke to our landlady in February and told her we were a young couple trying to get on the property ladder, meaning we weren’t in a chain.’

Discussions went well until Covid hit in March – when, with the county put in lockdown, they came to a halt.

‘There was that really scary period where there was no toilet paper and no eggs,’ Timi remembered.

The couple first crossed paths at their friends’ wedding in Camberwell, London, in August 2015, before moving in with each other in 2019 

‘She retreated, understandably, and banks started to pull products as well. But, in the summer, things were getting slightly better and she came back to us and asked if we were still interested.’

Alongside their plans to buy, Timi and Jenni had discussed marriage – and carried out an unconventional proposal in September 2020.

Timi said: ‘We knew quite early on that we wanted to be in a long-term relationship with each other. We’d regularly check in about how we felt about marriage and the rest of life’s milestones.

‘But I didn’t propose to Jenni and she didn’t propose to me. We actually proposed to each other’s parents!’

Both on the same page, the couple decided to make a family event out of the decision.

In 2020, the couple spoke to their landlady about potentially buying the rental property they lived in, before deciding to marry one another  

‘We went to visit my mum and asked for her blessing to be married and visited Jenni’s parents in Scotland and asked them,’ Timi said.

‘My mum was really happy and Jenni’s parents were too, and said they were really looking forward to welcoming me to the family.’

Both coming from big, tight-knit families, their first instinct was to turn their marriage celebration into a huge party, with multiple celebrations.

Timi said: ‘I am from a British Nigerian background and Jenni is Scottish, so we come from two cultures that love to party and dance.

‘We created a spreadsheet and a conservative guest list was 200. It easily could have been 300!

After deciding they were going to marry, Timi and Jenni travelled to Scotland to ‘propose’ to her parents and ask them for their blessing 

‘We would have had a traditional Nigerian and a Scottish ceremony – so 200 people at two events.’

But aware of the fluctuating pandemic restrictions, they then decided on a single smaller do, planned for August 14, 2021, with 12 of their closest loved ones gathering at a registry office, followed by a restaurant meal and drinks at a hotel.

‘We wanted the simplest possible plans so we knew they could go ahead no matter what happened with Covid – whether we’re green, amber, red or Tier One, Tier Two,’ Timi explained.

Discussions continued with their landlady and in October 2020, they agreed the sale and were able to pay a 10 per cent deposit on the property’s £465,000 value.

Jenni said: ‘We had decided to buy a house first before planning a wedding of any kind. We felt the house was more important to us than having a big expensive wedding.’

They have now ditched their 200 person guest list and decided to buy their flat in Southwark instead 

‘It felt like coming to the end of an eight-month marathon,’ Timi laughed. ‘Everyone was tired – it had taken a long time!’ 

Now the couple are busy making their new home their own and have just bought a new sofa, to add to the contents given to them as part of the sale.

Timi said: ‘It all happened in the middle of lockdown, so we haven’t had a housewarming party yet.

‘The wedding, even though it’s small, will be a celebration of us and the house as well. At some point in the future, we’ll be able to look back over the past year and pop that bottle of champagne.’

While Jenny said: ‘Covid didn’t go away when it was supposed to, and we didn’t want to keep rearranging our wedding plans. Buying our home felt like security to me.’

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