Mazel! My BFF’s boyfriend decided to propose, and I was asked to help plan the big moment for the two of them. Of course, I didn’t mind being part of the excitement (to be candid, I relished a chance to surprise her with a proposal that was exactly what she always dreamed of, not to mention have first dibs on all the juicy deets when her college friends and coworkers inevitably crawled out of the woodwork to congratulate and pry). Plus, I’m the expert event planner/matchmaker/Pinterest board curator in our friend group, after all. It was almost a given that I’d help with the process, and I expertly (or so I thought) inserted myself in what would be a seamless (or so I thought) big life moment for two of my people. But it all happened so fast, and was such a big expense (like anything else to do with wedding planning), that I wish I had stopped and taken a second to smell the roses (to check if those roses would die hours later) and ask these four questions before I agreed to help.
“What is the budget?”
My BFF’s boyfriend—let’s call him Tim—wanted to pop the question at a park nearby. The park was covered in beautiful string lights, and was somewhat of a hidden gem in the neighborhood. Tim already had an elaborate plan in the works, thank God, so I took his idea and just made sure each detail would fit my bestie’s style. And when Tim tasked me with buying a bottle of Champagne and flowers and laying them out on a table in the park for when they arrived, I acquiesced without question. Sounds pretty simple right? Wrong. I wish I wasn’t so quick to sign on, and instead paused to ask what kind of budget I was working with. Once I arrived at the grocery store, my painstaking Libra indecisiveness hit, HARD. Roses or carnations? Brut or Demi-Sec? Veuve or Andre? I, of course, knew what my best friend would prefer, but I didn’t know how Tim would feel if I hit him with a $300 receipt after their big moment. I had no clue about his budget for popping the question, and wish I had known what he expected in order to stay within his idea of reasonable spending. For the record, I ended up toeing the middle ground, picking up a $20 bottle of bubbly and a bright sunflower-filled arrangement. It was fine! But had I known he was willing to shell out a lot (or, on the other hand, was totally uncomfortable with the $50 Venmo request I sent through post-proposal), I would’ve felt much more secure in my choices.
“How important are the photos?”
While it may sound trivial, the photos can matter a lot to certain people and not so much to others. While my Instagram-loving BFF would’ve wanted at least 100 selects to choose from for her big social-media announcement, Tim wouldn’t have cared if not a single photo of their engagement was captured. So when he asked me to take a few photos from behind a nearby tree when he got down on one knee, I wish I would’ve recommended he look to someone with a professional camera. “Of course, if that’s what he wanted…” I tried to convince myself. I watched YouTube videos on cell phone photography tips, practiced Portrait mode on my dog in the same park at the right time of day and even asked photographer friends for their advice. While it wasn’t as big a deal as I made it (the photos turned out great, if I do say so myself), I would’ve felt 1,000 times less stressed about capturing the perfect backdrop, lighting and moment if a professional were in the mix.
“What kind of setup is needed?”
Sure, some proposals are simple. On a beach. At a restaurant. On a vacation. ALONE. But others are, frankly, quite elaborate, like rose petals covering the ground, photographs of the happy couple through the years hanging from string lighting...you get the idea. This was one of those engagements. Tim had a vision: a surprise pitstop to the park on their way to dinner, Champagne, the flowers, photos of them from their dating years hanging about, friends joining them for a big toast right after… Yes, it was all very romantic, but it was also a logistical nightmare. For one, I had to ask people to stop entering our area of the park right before Tim and my BFF got there. While most people were amused (“How sweet! Hope she says yes!”), some were annoyed (“This is a public park…you know that right?!”). And I had to make sure the timing was just right. I couldn’t set up too early, but I had to do it when they were on their way, so the Champagne was chilled and the flowers weren’t drooping. My advice to anyone in the same boat: Make sure you know what kind of legwork this requires, and the logistics of the setup, before you agree to help.
“What do you want to do after?”
Congratulations! It’s a YES! But the fun doesn’t end there. Tim’s family and our friends were all eager to celebrate after, but because so much thought had gone into the actual proposal, the post-question plans were neglected. Woops. Should we go to a restaurant? Does the couple want some privacy, or should we all celebrate? We ended up making last-minute reservations at a nice restaurant for a big group dinner, and drank Champagne and toasted to the newly engaged couple to pass the time before the later-than-normal reservation. But I wish I (and Tim) had given more thought to the post-proposal plans. Making sure I knew what they both wanted before the ring was fitted on her finger could’ve helped save me lots of time and stress about the post-ask break-down and cleanup, so that it didn’t all fall to me (or, God forbid, the happy couple).
Of course, I was so happy to be involved, and so full of love for the newly engaged couple. But had I asked more questions up front when Tim came to me with his request, I probably would've enlisted some help and had way less stress going into it. Now, on to the wedding planning... (Someone pass me a Xanax, please.)