Evan McMaster Photography & Illustration

Yes, it would be awesome to get down on one knee on a Bahamian beach while Beyoncé crooned “Halo” in the background. However, not all of us can afford to shell out hundreds of thousands on a proposal. In fact, most people can’t. If you’re trying to plan a five star engagement without emptying your savings account, we’ve got a few tips and tricks for you.

Here’s how to plan a marriage proposal on a budget.

Put personality before price
Take a page from Derek Shepherd’s playbook and put personality before price. If you’re a Grey’s Anatomy fan you’ll remember his proposal to Meredith pretty clearly. Instead of shelling out the big bucks, he wallpapered a hospital elevator with x-rays from cases they worked on together (cue the “aww”s). Find something equally special about your own relationship and use that as the jumping off point for your proposal. Sentimentality and nostalgia will get you farther than cash in this case.

Use your hometown to your advantage
You don’t have to pop the question on the sandy beaches of Saint-Tropez to make your proposal memorable. Your hometown is probably brimming with amazing places to get down on one knee, you’ve just gotta find them. Take a day to be a tourist in your own city to scope out the perfect location for your big moment. It could be a botanical garden, local park, major landmark, trendy bistro or even your own backyard.

Flex your creative muscles
You don’t need to get all of your proposal inspo from Pinterest, but adding a few crafty touches doesn’t hurt. Think about creating a scrapbook of your favourite memories together, making your partner's favourite dish from scratch or DIYing a few decorations to make your engagement even more special.

Get your friends and family on board
Now’s the time to rally the troops. Consider bringing in a few of your nearest and dearest to be a part of the proposal. Having everyone you love in the same room will make the moment even more special.

Don’t ring shop alone
If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, it’s easy to go over budget when ring shopping. Note that bigger isn’t always better and your S.O. might appreciate something on the daintier side. If you don’t want to ruin the surprise by heading to the store together, ask their BFF to come along for the ride. They can do a little digging for you in advance to help figure out the exact style and cut your partner loves. Tip: pictures are key when finding the ring of his or her dreams, so bring along a few photos for good measure.

Pick one thing to splurge on
Yes, it would be amazing to pull a Kanye and rent out an entire stadium for your proposal. But, unfortunately, not everyone has that kind of cash sitting in their bank account. Think about that one thing that’ll push your proposal above and beyond. Does your S.O. love live music? Maybe hire a local artist or talented friend to play “your song” before you get down on one knee. Or, maybe your partner is super family oriented? Consider flying in his or her parents to be a part of the engagement.

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