When the Proposal Costs More Than a Wedding

Sometimes we consider the big day more important than the "entire life" together. Now, apparently, that thinking has pushed past the wedding itself. It's all about the proposal, too.

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Sometimes it seems we get a little confused about weddings. For instance, sometimes we seem to consider the big day more important than the "entire life" together, and in some situations, so much effort and money is spent on the wedding itself that there's not all that much left over for, say, the business of life. Now, apparently, that thinking has pushed past the wedding itself. It's all about the proposal, too.

Of course, this isn't entirely new. It's something that's been creeping up on us, slowly but surely. All of those Jumbo-tron proposals that you see, the flash-mob proposals, the proposals in which people try harder and harder to impress, to do something different and really special (sometimes failing horribly: remember the car-wreck proposal?), are on generally the same side of this coin. I know, I know, you want this day to be remembered forever; you want to do something that no one else will; you want to go viral. But sometimes it's a little over the top. It's so over-the-top, it's a New York Post trend story. As Kate Storey writes (in an article titled "I Spent $45,000 on my Proposal"): "Just getting down on bended knee is no longer enough. Popping the question is now a scripted spectacle requiring an elaborate production team of choreographers, cameramen and assistants."

Ooh, well, what do you get with a $45,000 proposal?

  • The sun will set as if on cue.*
  • The diamond will cost $21,000 (if you're Josh Ogle, who "spent $4,900 to rent the rooftop of Chelsea’s McKittrick Hotel, where he proposed to Nataliya Lavryshyn.")
  • There will be pages of love poems by Pablo Neruda scattered about, perfectly haphazardly romantically.
  • You will be transported via 1932 Hupmobile to Daniel for dinner served by Daniel Boulud himself, as you sit in an "exclusive skybox." 
  • Then you'll go on a proposal-moon. "The next day, the couple jetted off to Greece and France for two weeks, where they stayed in private villas and honeymoon suites." Yes, now there are proposal-moons! 
  • So this moment is never forgotten, a "Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, videographer and professional story writer" will be on hand to document everything. (Price undisclosed.)

Lame! Where are the heirloom eiderdown pillows upon which to rest tresses laid in gold? Where is the part where the ancients are time-machined to the future to peel the couple grapes and fan them with silk handkerchiefs as they recline on lawn chairs full of money? Take a hint, proposers. If you're going to do this, you gotta go big.

It's only natural: Because some people are spending so much money on their bigger and bigger and bigger-yet proposals, the devilish side-industry of proposal-planning has sprung up. (Ogle paid $3,500 for his proposal planner. What will you pay for yours?) Everyone wants a viral YouTube video. Everybody wants to be written about on some website or another. Everybody is kind of, um, shall we say, lacking in certain priorities? As Storey writes, "According to a recent survey on HowHeAsked.com, 75 percent of women want their proposal caught on tape." (75 percent of women who answer HowHeAsked surveys, that is.)

Big, extravagant weddings are a part of American culture, partly because, as historian and author Stephanie Coontz told me recently, there's a dubious sort of thinking that goes, "If I can make my ceremony unique enough, we’ll have something that will last." So wedding budgets keep going up ("A survey by TheKnot.com recently found that wedding budgets are at an all-time high since 2008 and that the average wedding in Manhattan costs $76,678," writes Storey). And so do proposal budgets, which are on average between "about $5,000 all the way up to $50,000,” says one proposal planner). Because the proposal should be just as unique and special as the wedding if anything is to mean anything. Obviously.

But what about the, er, relationship? There must be some people out there who don't go to a proposal planner at all, who just ask, willy-nilly. Maybe they even have a conversation about it with the person they want to marry first, and don't hope to take them entirely by surprise, because that can go badly sometimes. Kudos to them. At some point, the only way to top a $45,000 proposal becomes not trying to top it. It is, after all, your decision, but perhaps the question of sharing the rest of your life with someone else needn't come with a visible price tag. (Congrats to the happy couple, nonetheless.)

*Note: technically, I suppose, the sunset was free.

Image by Africa Studio via Shutterstock. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.