-- Last Updated: Mar-28-13 11:02 AM EST --
I would get the nicest PFD you can afford, in terms of comfort and features. Badly fitting ones can chafe, well fitting ones can be comfortable enough not to much notice they are there. And they don't vary with the boat unless you get too long a torso length for the eventual boat - but if you look at full out sea kayaking PFD's the length should be fine.
As some have mentioned below, boat width is part of getting a paddle. Rec boats are wider than more performance oriented boats that you may want later by at least 4 inches. That is probably why you are getting 220 and 230 cm lengths when you try the calculators (like on Werner's site etc). Frankly both of those are long against current thoughts for each of you in a narrower sea kayak. (Though as willowleaf mentions above, someone who is truly short in the upper body dimensions may need that 220 to get a good catch.)
So there is no reason to break the bank on paddles right now, just get as lightweight as you can within your price range.
But - and you could get lucky here - that 230 length is so long against current thought, you might be able to score a great deal on a 230 cm paddle that was originally $400 plus off of EBay. The last time I looked, there were some good lightweight paddles out there in a 230 cm length. It appears that some folks were putting their used ones up for sale rather than spending the bucks to get them shortened.
One other thing - do NOT get your wife a big blade paddle on the thought that it will give her more power. It works exactly the opposite - the smaller the engine, the smaller the blade size should be. Joints have limits. A smaller person may need to set up a faster cadence, but that is near impossible to do with a blade that is too big. It is a breeze with a smaller blade size.
When you want a "really nice" paddle, you'll start seeing price tags new of near $500. Best to wait on that kind of investment until your skills and the boats have come up some.
If one of you wants to start doing wet work sooner than the other - rolling, that kind of thing - look for a cheapo used WW boat, either an old school boat or one of the newer Jacksons. It'll get you going in that stuff for a few hundred bucks tops.
YakCatcher Rod Holder
Cartop Kayak Carriers
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