engagement photos beach sunset

Photo: Rachel Nielsen Photography

You’ve seen them all over Instagram. The proposals in Bali, or atop the Grand Canyon, or with the Eiffel Tower as a backdrop. If you’re trying to plan a proposal but don’t want to spend a ton of money, seeing these types of moments can be a bit disheartening. But you can still have an amazing #justsaidyes moment without blowing your budget.

Here’s how to plan a celeb-worthy proposal on a budget:


Think nostalgia over price
Sure, you could fly across the world, splurge on the fanciest restaurant in town, or rent out a stadium like Kanye did for Kim. But the most memorable proposals aren’t the priciest—it’s all about the attention to detail. Think about important moments in your relationship—your first date, first kiss, first time you said “I love you.” Can you revisit any of these locations and pop the question there? Whether it’s a movie theater, high school football field, restaurant, or elsewhere, locations that hold an important place in your history can be even more special than a far-off, scenic destination.

Consider nearby landmarks
Proposing with the stunning African landscape as your backdrop (a la Will and Kate) is definitely not the norm. Every city or town has spots that are particularly lovely. It could be a park, a lake, a bridge, a botanical garden, a beach, or a neighborhood known for its architecture. You don’t have to travel far to find a location that’s just plain pretty (and free!) if you’re looking for a romantic or scenic backdrop for your proposal.

DIY the “extras”
Some celebrity proposals include expensive champagne, a live orchestra, or a helicopter ride—probably not within a normal budget range. But you can include extras with your proposal that are even more meaningful, without spending a ton. Perhaps, along with the ring, you’d like to present your significant other with a scrapbook of memories, a video featuring a song you wrote, or even his or her favorite cookies. Even playing a song that has special significance can be a sweet added touch.

Get friends and family involved
Having loved ones present during a proposal can add an extra element of surprise. Whether it’s meeting them at a restaurant or bar afterwards for a meal or toast, or simply having them stationed near their phones for a post-proposal FaceTime, including family members and close friends will add even more emotion to this already amazing moment.

Ring shop together
If you’re unsure about exactly the type of ring your partner desires, you may end up over-spending with the thought that a bigger or more expensive ring has to be better. Turns out that 46 percent of couples ring shop together, and we think it’s a great way to avoid overspending. If you both are clear on the ring budget, it’s more likely that you’ll stay within range. You’ll be able to know exactly which ring style your partner likes, and then find something similar that’s in your price range.

Splurge where it counts
Buying 5,000 roses for your beloved is certainly a jaw-dropping gesture. But is it really worth the money? If you have a little wiggle room for a splurge, think about details that will be long-lasting. For example, hiring a professional photographer or videographer to capture the moment. Or paying to fly in in his or her parents for the occasion. Or hosting a small brunch the day after the proposal where you can celebrate with friends and family members.