What People Are Spending On . . . the Proposal
You’ve probably seen videos of some pretty incredible will-you-marry-me asks: From a marching band in midtown Manhattan to a song-and-dance routine on a suburban street in Portland, Oregon, some people go all-out to utter those four simple words.
For instance, The New York Times looked further into the flash-mob proposal of 43-year-old David Centner, who proposed to his girlfriend in July of 2012–in front of a crowd of people dancing to “I’m All Yours” by Jay Sean.
Sure, the memories are priceless, but the event? It cost over $7,300!
The marching band in Midtown, which required 140 instrument-wielding high schoolers bussed in from the suburbs, cost about $7,000–not including flying in relatives to witness the show this past June.
Of course, not everyone spends thousands of dollars on this one moment. But are people spending more on proposals, in general?
According to proposal planner Michele Velazquez of The Heart Bandits, the answer is yes. “In the past, most people proposed in a restaurant, at home or just in a pretty setting–there were no photos, there was no hoopla,” she says. “Now, our clients generally spend between $500 and $3,000 on a proposal.”
Why such fuss? “‘How did they propose?’ is one of the first questions everyone is asked when they announce their engagement,” Velazquez explains, ”so the story needs to be special.”
But if you aren’t planning to shell out thousands to ask the question, don’t worry–you’re in the majority. In a 2012 survey conducted by TheKnot and Men’s Health, 99% of men surveyed said that they didn’t use a proposal consultant, and 72% said that their proposals weren’t documented through photo or video.
This doesn’t mean that the proposal wasn’t special: Among women surveyed, 29% said that their proposals happened at a place that had meaning (like the location of their first date), and 47% said that the surprise factor was “very important.”
So They Said Yes … Now What?
“People are spending more money on the proposal because they’re putting more into its uniqueness and sincerity,” explains Kailen Rosenberg, relationship expert and founder of Kai-len Love and Life Architects. ”But they are spending less on the wedding. We’re seeing more people who are doing elaborate proposals, and then eloping or having small weddings.”
Okay, maybe not that small: According to TheKnot, among engaged couples who didn’t plan the wedding themselves, the average cost of the big day in 2011 was about $27,000.
Given this not-so-modest figure, couples need to keep in mind that there’s another big day that’s just as important: The day you and your partner open up about your finances.
“If you haven’t talked about finances with your significant other, you are not ready to get engaged,” says our financial advisor Sophia. “A lot of couples haven’t talked about the amount of credit card debt or student loans that they have, but these things will definitely play a role when you combine your finances.”
We know having the “money talk” isn’t easy—it’s hard just to look at your own bank balance sometimes. But you’ll need to work as a team for the rest of your lives, so getting off on the right foot today will help set you up for financially happy ever after.