The Hosts Of Netflix’s ‘Marriage or Mortgage’ On What Went Down Behind The Scenes

If you only had the funds for one, would you choose to spend your savings on your dream home or your dream wedding? That’s the exact dilemma 10 engaged couples face on Netflix’s newest reality show, Marriage or Mortgage, premiering on the streaming service on March 10.

Luckily, the lovebirds don’t have to go it alone. Each pair meets with Nashville-based real estate agent Nichole Holmes and wedding planner Sarah Miller to help them make just one of these dreams a reality.

Filmed at the end of 2019 and into 2020, every episode follows Nichole and Sarah as they dazzle couples with visions of what their futures might look like—from a three-bedroom home with a garage fit for a home gym to an elaborate altar designed to help them envision the moment they say “I do.” By the end of each 40-minute episode, every couple has to decide between their perfect wedding or their ideal home.

Of course, the Marriage or Mortgage hosts made sure it wasn’t an easy decision.

To sway the couples (and for a bit of fun competition), Nichole and Sarah typically sweetened the deals… right before decision time. “We made it difficult for them,” Nichole tells Women’s Health.

If the couple chose to work with Nichole, she’d throw in extra perks, like enlisting contractors to make home renovations at no cost or providing free appliances. And if they picked Sarah, she’d convince a bridal shop to slash the cost of the wedding gown by half and comp the veil, or got a vendor to throw in some freebies.

“Once you get a connection like that with a client, you just want to do anything for them,” the real estate agent says of her and Sarah’s determination to go all-out for their couples.

“Incorporating those moments that meant so much to them…was very key for us,” the wedding planner adds.

Of course, it helped that Nichole’s been a Nashville real estate agent for 10 years, and Sarah’s been a wedding planner for 2o years. Both are well-respected and trusted in their industries. Vendors, they say, were nearly always willing to offer these major discounts and free perks.

In fact, the hosts almost never knew which way a couple would go.

“It really was a surprise to us a lot of the time,” Nichole tells Women’s Health of their clients’ decisions. “I think there’s maybe two [couples] that I guessed correctly on which way they were going to go.”

Most couples, Sarah adds, would go back and forth for a while because one was all for investing in a home and the other in a wedding. They typically came to a final decision at the last minute.

Filming during the COVID-19 pandemic made for some changes.

“Whatever the couples decided, it ran back into 2020,” Sarah says. “So, if they chose wedding, of course we had to fulfill the wedding, and if they chose home, they moved into their homes.”

But even if guest lists had to be reduced and other safety precautions taken, Sarah says the couples who opted to have a wedding still saw a lot of their dreams come to life. “I mean, especially nowadays—which I think is amazing—there’s protocols that have to be taken to even have a larger wedding,” she notes. “…Every single vendor had to follow protocols—masks, sanitizing, all of that kind of stuff. Safety was first, 100 percent.”

On the real estate side, Nichole says buying homes stayed relevant throughout 2020. “Interest rates are still super low, so people are still very much interested in buying houses. In fact, we don’t have much inventory,” she explains. “We can’t keep up right now since we don’t have that inventory on the market.” But, when it came to how she showed homes, she had to switch things up: “We just had to do it much more carefully.”

“Buying a house or having a wedding is a super emotional process and the state of the world isn’t going to dampen their spirits one way or another on that,” Nichole adds. Since both decisions are major, whichever their clients chose, Nichole says she and Sarah were determined to be there and show their support.

The competition aspect is very real between the hosts…

And though there were never any hard feelings, the tension you see between Sarah and Nichole isn’t just for the cameras. Both hosts admitted it never hurt when clients chose to work with them because they’re strong believers in couples choosing whichever milestone moment fit their lives at the time. They’d even sometimes bet on which way a couple would go with wagers that ended in one host having to cook dinner for the other.

“There were instances where the people chose a wedding,” Nichole says. “And I mean, I could empathize; I could understand where they were coming from. Do I still think it was a sound financial decision? No. But I still respect their wishes and saw it was important to them at the time.”

…Because they had to make this same choice once upon a time.

After two marriages that ended in divorce, Nichole is a big advocate for couples investing in real estate rather than weddings. When she was first faced with the choice herself, she chose the big over-the-top wedding and, now when she reflects, she wishes she’d gone the other way. “That wasn’t a sound financial decision to spend all that money on maybe 12 hours of your life,” she says. “It was fun, it was pretty, but was it worth the money in the long run? No, it wasn’t. So, I just feel like I can impart a little bit of wisdom on people because I have been there.”

Unsurprisingly given her field, Sarah was—and still is—team wedding. “I mean, 10 years ago when I got married, I had the same [choice] in front of me, and I chose wedding, and I would never take that back,” she said.

“I just believe in certain steps,” Sarah adds. “Making a strong foundation in the beginning [with marriage] is super important.”

Sarah and Nichole still keep in touch with the couples.

The hosts always left the ultimate decision up to the clients, but that doesn’t mean they accepted defeat—far from it, actually. Not only has Nichole stayed connected to the couples who bought a home from her, but she also keeps in touch with those who chose to have a wedding. “I still want to sell them a house,” Nichole admits, laughing. “I’m waiting for that nest egg to be built back up.”

Sarah has remained close with her couples, too—something she credits to the filming process. “You’re around them all day, every day for a while, so you do—you make these relationships just like you would every day, too, but just a little bit closer quarters when you’re filming,” she says. “We for sure keep in touch [with the couples]. I love seeing their lives unfold.”

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