Blueprint Proposal’s Guide to Proposing in NYC on a Budget

How to make the moment she says “I do” last forever.

Amazing. Enchanting. Nerve-wracking. Life-Altering. Expensive.

Proposing marriage to the love of your life is likely to invoke all of these words.  As a man, it is one of the most gallant acts you’ll ever make and when everyone learns of your recent engagement they will gleam with excitement, then immediately ask, “How did you do it?”

Weddings have become a billion dollar business in the United States with over-the-top extravagance and months, sometimes years of planning.  When celebrating a lifetime of marital bliss, the average wedding runs about $27,000.  And that’s less than 12 hours of full-on celebration.  So much attention, these days, is spent on every moment leading up to saying “I do,” but so many overlook the truth that without a proposal there would never be a wedding in the first place.

From friends and family flash mobs to full on YouTube productions, there’s no surprise that marriage proposals have joined the procession to become a focal point and sometimes pricey affair.  It’s easy to see how some get caught up in all the excitement of a perfect proposal, but ultimately it will be a moment and memory—a story that they will always be able to tell—which you will give the person you love when asking for their hand in marriage.  Gentlemen, remember, this is your time to shine.

But have no fear struggling actors! Grad students! Cheapskates!  Blueprint Proposals, a boutique event planning company specializing in marriage proposals, is here to offer expert advice and tips for creating a champagne and caviar proposal on a ramen noodle budget.

Disclaimer:  When it comes to the ring, you’re on your own.  As women (one single, one not) we are more than understanding when facing financial limitations versus female expectations.  Yet, when you do decide to put a ring on it, keep in mind there’s no understanding for a budget diamond.  Save wisely, spend wisely gents.

$10—Let NYC do the planning!

So the Lincoln Center isn’t available to rent for the evening. As it turns out there are infinite places that are just as magical and perhaps meaningful when it comes time to ask away.  New York City is full of free (yes, free!) gems that can be picture perfect for popping the question.  Whether it’s an intimate picnic on the New York Highline or revisiting the coffee shop where you first met, let this low-cost proposal speak more strongly towards deep sentiment than dollars and cents.

Budget-friendly ideas:

  • An evening in and candlelight dinner that you’ve prepared (or at least carried in) followed by a special slideshow you’ve prepared telling your love story in third person.
  • A walking tour of every spot across the city that reminds you of your love.  Plan ahead by having a bodega prepare flowers and ask the owner of her favorite bakery to sneak the ring on top of a sweet treat!

 $100—Use insider tips to find great deals!

You’ve got an extraordinary ring for an extraordinary girl, so planning to do something a bit out of the ordinary is the natural instinct.  However, out of the ordinary won’t have to mean big bucks when it comes to the plans.  It’s 2012 and you can barely check Facebook without some type of daily deal or group coupon popping up.  Keep your eye out for the NYC deals for special offers from all her favorite spots.  Start with surprise like a special massage from a spa they’ve probably mentioned in passing using a daily deal.  Tasting menus and wine pairings make for memorable meals, thanks to the 50% voucher you purchased weeks ahead at that restaurant you’ve always wanted to try.   End the evening with a stroll through Central Park as you share some chocolate truffles you picked up from, yep you guessed it again, another group coupon.  She’ll swoon at each piece and personal touch you give while your wallet takes a giant sigh of relief.

Somewhat budget-friendly ideas:

  • Tickets to an off-Broadway show run less than $50 and the “not-quite-on-Broadway” theater may be willing to get in on your scheme.  Proposing after a curtain call? She’ll say “I do! I really, really do!”
  • Take in the beautiful city lights on an Adirondack cruise around Lower Manhattan. You’ll skip the hefty ticket prices and huge crowds of tourists on the big cruise boats that pass by and you can propose with your own BYOB meal while taking in the stunning skyline.

 $1000—Spend big … spend well

So you’re going all out, over-the-top, unbelievably big. There’s as much potential for romance in New York as there is for a shopping spree at Saks Fifth Avenue.  However, just because your budget is bigger, there’s always the chance it may not be better.  It will still serve you best to employ the aforementioned thrifty tactics and get more for your money by incorporating DIY touches with classic NYC staples.  Only in New York can you leave the start your evening with a glass of champagne followed by the opera and end it with a hot dog or soft pretzel on a bench in the Village.  This is a city of high and low brow, so if you have something over-the-top to start remember this proposal may set the tone for the entire wedding process so bring it back down to reality and make it memorable, make it about both of you.

Not-so-budget-friendly ideas

  •  The chef’s private tasting menu at Per Se? Go for it, go all out!  Just make sure you’ve got her friends at the Landmarc bar (your tab of course) for you to surprise her with an impromptu engagement party for after she says yes.
  • Not so tech-savvy, but a true romantic?  Use your money to hire a videographer or photographer to capture the big moment as you get down one knee.  The money will be well worth the memories it will provide and a special gift you can always give the night before your wedding.
  •  Consider using your year-end-bonus to include the special people in both your lives.  You’ll get extra brownie points for flying in the parents and best friend from Alaska, too.


Read more in Weddings on The Good Life.

Image credit: clgregor/Flickr

About Erin Mavian and Kym Pitlor

Erin Mavian and Kym Pitlor are co-founders of Bluepint Proposals, a boutique event planning company specializing in marriage proposals. As a consumer intelligence expert, Erin has worked in trend and consumer forecasting since the beginning of her career and is often involved as a presenter or panelist at media and thought conferences. Kym, who began her career in the Jewish non-profit sector of New York, is a PR and media maven in addition to contributor for F**ked in Park Slope. Both are based in and in love with New York.

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