Want an Unhappy Marriage? Plan a Public Proposal in Central Park

Save your time, money and relationship by avoiding New York City’s greatest atrocity: public park proposals



Why would you make such a public statement when so many people have done the exact same thing?


Since moving to New York, I’ve always loved to walk through Central Park and explore its many attractions. However, there is one public nuisance that I can’t stay silent about any longer. Picture it: a crowd of anxious family members, cameras at the ready, waiting next to a set of balloons spelling out “MARRY ME?” over the Central Park Boathouse.  

Yes, I hate public proposals. But before you jump down my throat and condemn me to a life of spinsterhood, let me explain. As someone who unfortunately loves to walk around Bethesda Fountain and romanticize New York, I have seen far too many public proposals and have officially deemed them tacky at best. At worst, they’re nothing but uncomfortable for all parties involved. 

Central Park is a beautiful place to ask someone to spend the rest of their life with you, which is why so many people get down on one knee there every year. Public engagements are so popular that Central Park offers “proposal packages” on their website, with the “Surprise Proposal Package” costing a whopping $1,500 for proposal planning, one hour of photography, a dozen roses and the knowledge that you wasted valuable money that could have gone toward your mortgage or the most expensive party you will ever throw in your life. 

Side note: If your proposal plan includes paying someone for a public good, maybe you shouldn’t be the one making financial decisions in your relationship. 

Every proposal I’ve seen has had some variation of spelling out the words “Marry Me?” using both the creativity and artistic skills of a second grader.

Whether planned lovingly or by a neutral third party, Central Park proposals are far too common. In my rulebook, a public proposal should happen once in a blue moon, but since moving to New York a year ago, I’ve seen at least a dozen of these “intimate” moments and no irregularly colored moons. New York is home to over 8 million people, and if you are considering popping the question in the park, remember that you are certainly not the first person to do so. 

You’ll need to think pretty hard outside of the box to make a public Central Park proposal original. It’s honestly better to just think outside of the park. Every proposal I’ve seen has had some variation of spelling out the words “Marry Me?” using both the creativity and artistic skills of a second grader. Let’s be honest, the only person impressed by this spectacle is the Hobby Lobby cashier who sold the lazy proposer their poster paper and glitter paint. 

Whether written on a sign, in sidewalk chalk or in balloon letters, proposers must go out of their way to make their performance exciting. Private proposals don’t require this unnecessary spectacle because the proposal itself is enough excitement for the couple involved. I have to wonder, are these signs really for the person getting proposed to, or are they just a convenient way to fill in the hundreds of onlookers posting a strangers’ proposal on their Instagram stories? 

While well-intentioned, these proposals scream high school sweethearts asking each other to the prom. Call me crazy, but I think asking someone to share a life with you is a bit more serious than a 17-year-old asking their crush to split a limo ride to their high school’s gym. 

Tackiness aside, I will admit that witnessing a public proposal can warm anyone’s day, that is, if it goes according to plan. Worse than their lack of originality is public proposals’ tendency to end in disaster. The risk of having the person you love reject you and your bubble-letter technique in front of hundreds of strangers is far too high for public proposals to be as normalized as they are. Do not subject yourself, your partner, your spectators, and most importantly, me to this unwanted plot twist. 

If you still feel like a public proposal is the best way to show your love, please, I beg of you, talk it over first! So many proposals go wrong because the person proposing wants to surprise their partner, including the part about spending every waking minute with them for the rest of their lives. 

If you’re thinking about proposing, ask your partner how they feel about marriage and your relationship’s future before putting them and yourself in an uncomfortable situation. You can still surprise someone about when, where and how you pop the question, but maybe, just maybe, the concept of marriage should not be a complete shock to your prospective fiancée. 

I’m sure a marriage founded on politeness and fear of public humiliation will be a long and happy one.

I would like to mention that there are plenty of non-tacky ways to propose in Central Park, and the biggest thing they have in common is that they’re not in public. My father proposed to my mother privately on a horse-drawn carriage ride in the park, which was then followed by a meal at the short-lived WWE-themed restaurant in Times Square (I WISH that were a joke). While I am a biased source, and his choice of restaurant was more than questionable, I’ll give him credit for finding a romantic and private way to propose in the park. 

Given that there are alternatives to proposing in public, I question the motivations of those who choose to pop the question in front of a stadium of strangers. Do they think that their partners won’t say no if they ask them to get married in front of dozens of people? I’m sure a marriage founded on politeness and fear of public humiliation will be a long and happy one. 

Before you ask someone to marry you in public, ask yourself, do I really want to get married, or do I just want attention? If your answer is the latter, maybe consider proposing in a restaurant so you can at least get a free dessert out of it. The risk of being publicly rejected for a promposal 2.0 is too great.