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Frugal Ideas for Your Marriage Proposal – The Low Budget Romance

Frugal Ideas for Your Marriage Proposal – The Low Budget Romance
Written by Irina Vasilescu

You and your loved one have been together for a long time and you’ve already had the marriage-and-kids talk. You know in your heart that you want to spend the rest of your life with this person, so you are thinking of popping the question. But how exactly can you do so?

If you know that you want to utter your marriage vows soon and there are huge wedding expenses to handle, you might want to keep the costs of the ring and the marriage proposal down. The good news is that there are plenty of frugal ideas that you can follow, without sacrificing on romance. Read on to find out how to pick the engagement ring, and how to pop the question being frugal – not cheap – and without sacrificing on romance.

The First Step: Knowing Which Engagement Ring to Get

Naturally, you would not want to pop the question without having the right engagement ring. There’s an old saying that an engagement ring should cost at least twice your entire month’s salary. This is actually quite extravagant and if you’re living on a shoestring budget, it may not be very practical.

It is actually quite extravagant to spend more than 15% of your income on an engagement ring – so it pays to know exactly how to come up with one that is within the price range, without disappointing the bride-to-be. To give you an idea about how you can buy the perfect engagement ring, take a look at these tips:

Go for a fraction of the carat to lower the costs.

Unless your girlfriend is a jeweller, she most probably won’t be able to tell the difference between a 1-carat diamond and a 0.9 or a 0.8 carat stone. This is very good news for men who are planning to propose because even such a seemingly small difference in carat rating can spell a huge discount in price.

For instance, between a 1-carat and a 0.9-carat solitaire diamond ring, there can be a 30% price difference. The same goes for two different rings: 1.4 and 1.5 carats; or 1.9 and 2 carats. Depending on the budget that you have for the ring, you can choose a stone with a slightly lower carat rating to also decrease the costs.

Skip the diamond altogether

Almost everyone in the world has seen the sapphire engagement ring given by Prince William when he proposed to Kate Middleton. This revived the trend for non-diamond engagement rings. Consider the personality of your soon-to-be-bride and look for non-diamond options. How about choosing her birthstone which is set in tiny diamonds as an engagement ring? This will definitely cost you less than a solitaire diamond ring.

Keep in mind the personality of your bride-to-be when choosing a ring

Another thing to consider when choosing a ring to use for your marriage proposal is the personality of your girlfriend. Some men go for the colour of their significant other’s eyes. Any stone that reminds you of the colour of her hair, the fire in her eyes when she gets mad, or anything else that gives you a hint of her personality, you can choose as a basis when picking an engagement ring.

Choose diamonds of a lower grade or colour

None of your girlfriend’s friends or relatives would look at the engagement ring using a magnifying glass. So if there’s hardly any difference between the colour and clarity of a higher-priced and a slightly lower-priced stone, go for the cheaper one. As far as colour is concerned, jewellery experts recommend choosing a ring which has the lowest grade but still appears to be white.

Frugal Ideas for Your Marriage Proposal

Don’t discount the possibility of buying an engagement ring online

Lastly, do not discount the possibility of buying your engagement ring online. It may not be as romantic as purchasing an engagement ring from Tiffany’s or other glittering jewellery store, but the price difference will definitely make you think twice about not doing it. What makes online engagement rings cheaper than the ones that you can buy from brick-and-mortar stores is the lack of overhead costs.

Online stores do not have to invest in an actual store, sales staff and other costs. The price difference can therefore be passed onto the buyers in the form of huge discount. Based on a study released by The Wedding Report, more than $1 billion out of the almost $10 billion spent on engagement rings in 2010 came from online purchases. When doing so, you really get the best value out of your money. Just make sure to choose a reputable online jeweller and ask what the return policies are in case the actual ring that they will send does not fit.

Frugal Marriage Proposal Ideas

According to, 33% of engagements happen between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. There’s probably something about the holidays, being with friends and family gatherings that make men want everyone to witness their marriage proposal. If it’s almost that time of the year and you wish to pop the question without sacrificing on romance, here are a few frugal but not cheap ways for you to consider:

Have a holiday or season-themed proposal

If almost half of marriage proposals occur during the holiday season, why not have a holiday or season-themed proposal? If your girlfriend loves the snow, think of a way to incorporate the snow into your proposal plan. Spring or fall are equally colourful seasons where you can use leaves or flowers as part of your grand plan for the proposal.

To make things much more personalised, work with friends and family so that you can set the stage for the proposal. Depending on your girlfriend’s personality, you can choose a grand proposal which everyone can witness, or something more intimate between you and her, as well as your closest friends and relatives.

It’s all about the details

If you don’t have a budget for a proposal at a famed restaurant, why not set your very own stage? Let’s say that you love hanging out at the park. During the holiday season, the park would teem with brilliant holiday lights. This makes the perfect setting for a proposal where you can simply bend on one knee and ask your girlfriend to marry you; or have a more elaborate setup where you will work with friends and family to surprise her into saying yes.

Do it on the beach

During the summertime, the beach is a popular setting for marriage proposals. You do not even need to spend anything because the use of the beach is free. All you have to do is think of the details and a very creative way to go about popping the question.

Do the first date proposal

One of the most popular ways that men use to propose marriage is to go back where they first met or had their first date. If there’s a quaint little restaurant or a park where you had your first kiss, that can be your setting for the proposal. Revisit that extra special place where sparks first flew and make it even more romantic by getting down on one knee to propose to her.

Frugal Ideas for Your Marriage Proposal

Go for what she likes

If your girlfriend is a hiker or the outdoor type, use the great outdoors as a setting for your romantic proposal. You two can go on a hike or a cycling trip where you can lead her to a special place where there’s a small table with flowers and a bottle of champagne. If she likes rom-coms, look for proposal ideas there and be downright cheesy – she will surely love it.

Do the double-cross proposal with her best friend

Women would have that intuition of when you’re supposed to propose. Conspire with her best friend about a fake proposal, time or location and disappoint her at first. This way, when you get to the real setting of when you will propose, it will completely surprise her.

Other frugal ideas to propose to your significant one without sacrificing on romance

If your girlfriend loves being the center of attention, she will definitely love a public proposal. Do it at a national park, on the rooftop of a hotel, your favourite club or a dancing spot – and pop the question when she least expects it. If you’re the type of guy who never cooks, bring out that recipe book and sweat it out in the kitchen.

Invite her over for a romantic dinner that you prepared and she will surely appreciate your extra effort. Scavenger hunts that lead to where the engagement ring is, a slide at your local movie theatre, a romantic picnic, a scrapbook of your love story that you put together yourself – the possibilities of how you can pop the question are practically endless.

As long as your gesture is sincere and you put a lot of effort and thought into the marriage proposal, it does not necessarily have to be expensive. She will surely say a big yes once you ask her to marry you if she feels your love and sincerity.

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About the author

Irina Vasilescu

Irina Vasilescu is our money-saving and DIY expert and also the editor-in-chief as she's always on the lookout for the latest online deals.


  • When it comes to engagement rings, not everyone needs a fancy ring. Of course, most women like receiving one, but they’re often more than satisfied with a relatively small stone. Very few women will want their significant other to spend a fortune on a ring when they can use the money toward smarter purchases or handling other mandatory expenses. Then again, plenty of men like splurging a little on the ring just because.

    • I’m at the age where many of my friends are starting to get married and you’d be surprised at just how many of the ladies are deadset on a diamond on their finger rather than any sort of alternative. Some are even resistant toward synthetic diamonds.

      Our society has really groomed young women in to expecting a diamond; not receiving the absolute best is to “fail”. It’s kind of scary how much sway the diamond industry has over people’s preferences when it comes to such an old custom as marriage. The whole diamond thing is a relatively new phenomenon!

      • I think a lot of people make the mistake of confusing how much they’re loved with how much is spent on them. It’s sad how materialistic our culture is. Moreover, because of standards and values set by our society many feel pressured to show off. Impressing others and gaining status is treasured. A huge rock contributes to that. Otherwise, a person feels judged and embarrassed. This is not the case for everyone, but for a chunk of the population it is.

    • I do not want to spend too much on an engagement ring. The two months worth salary is not a good rule to follow. Instead of putting it on a ring, it could be better used for raising a family.

      Also, diamonds are inherently useless anyway. Artificial diamonds can be made in a laboratory. Non-diamond ones are indeed better, and probably not as expensive.

  • I definitely agree about the ring. In many years after your marriage ceremony, do you really care about how expensive your ring was? It’s the experiences that you have spent with your significant other that gives this union a meaning. If the person you’re with cares more about the ring you can buy more than the love you can offer, then this marriage is probably not about love.

    • Exactly. It’s all right for a couple with two people that have expensive tastes and can afford a more expensive ring. If you don’t have the means to buy said ring, though, and you still care about having an expensive rock, then you’re probably not in a relationship for love. You’re probably a little on the materialistic side, and that marriage is probably doomed for failure.

  • Oh! Speaking of skipping the diamond engagement ring: go with moissanite. It’s a gem that’s only slightly less hard than diamonds (9.5 Moh vs Diamon’s 10 Moh) but more brilliant and available at a fraction of the cost.

    In fact, many people won’t even be able to tell the difference (not that you should deceive your fiancé to be), but I find this to be a perfect substitute for the overpriced diamonds out there. You can get them cut in most of the same cuts as diamonds and most jewelers will work with them without any issues.

    Definitely check it out as an option if you’re shopping around for an engagement ring.

  • My dad proposed to my mom in the spot where they first met, actually! It was in a bookstore, and my mom loved it, and it didn’t cost a thing! As for the rings, I totally agree with buying a right with a slightly fewer number of carats – it’s very true that no one will know the difference between a 0.9 and a 0.8 carat stone. And besides, it’s about the gesture in the end anyways. If she really does love you, then a ring shouldn’t affect whether she says yes or no. You’re asking her to be a part of you for the rest of her life, and a ring is very, very little of that!

    • I agree with you on this point. A ring’s worth should not be the measure of a person’s love. It is indeed a really small part of it. To be engaged is that you want to be with that person, preferably until you grow old and wither. Love should be worth more than a diamond ring. Technically, diamond is worthless anyway. Should be worthless..

  • After fiver years of dating, my boyfriend and I are ready to take the next step. I am getting the chance to help pick out my ring and I’m shocked by the prices. I was toying with the idea of doing a gem stone other than a diamond as my center stone but they too could get very expansive and I was worried about some stones with everyday wear. I also wanted a stone that would look nice with every outfit I might ever wear. While looking I came across moissanite. It’s a man made stone that looks and acts like a diamond but is not a CZ. It has a hardness close to that of a diamond and I really couldn’t tell the difference between the two when I saw a moissanite stone and a diamond next to each other in real life. The price difference is unbelievable. I’m going for it and I can’t wait to see my new engagement ring in person.

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