7 Most Expensive Romantic Gestures in Hollywood History (and 3 for Under £60)

Diamond rings, surprise holidays, a dozen red roses are all staples of a Valentine’s Day romantic gesture. But how does that compare to some of Hollywood’s most iconic romantic moments? And do Brits even care about the cost of the gesture? Find out all that and more below.

Connor Campbell Last updated on 16 August 2022.
7 Most Expensive Romantic Gestures in Hollywood History (and 3 for Under £60)

How much does a priceless moment actually cost? Hollywood history is littered with examples of romantic grandeur. Yet, as we will see, even the most spontaneous displays of love come with a hefty price tag.

But it seems Brits haven’t swallowed these Hollywood fantasies. According to our Valentine’s Day survey of 2,000 adults who have had a relationship, 58% disagreed with the idea that ‘the cost of the gesture influences how romantic it is’. Interestingly, men (33%) were more likely to agree with that statement than women (18%).

Sadly, fellas, expensive doesn’t necessarily mean thoughtful, with 71% of Brits saying that ‘thoughtfulness’ is what they are most looking for in a romantic gesture. In fact, ‘material gifts’ and ‘amount of money spent’ were among the least appreciated qualities in an act of romance.

But how does all this stack up with what we’re shown on the silver screen? Below, we take a look at the seven most expensive romantic moments in Hollywood history – plus three slightly more affordable options for the 58% of Brits who wouldn’t spend more than £150 on a romantic gesture.

» MORE: Budgeting 101

The cost of popular romantic gestures in Hollywood films

Romantic renovation, The Notebook – £2,105,400

You might think to emulate The Notebook you just need to have a snog in the rain. However, you’d be missing the far more costly romantic gesture that precedes that moment of passion: renovating the Windsor Plantation.

Ryan Gosling’s Noah spends years fixing up a dream house for Allie (Rachel McAdams), with a story in the newspaper about this feat leading to the famous rain-soaked smooch. And Brits can empathise with Allie – 42% said they appreciated a romantic gesture when it was something their partner knew they always wanted.

You better start saving if you want to do the same. The Martins Point Plantation on Wadmalaw Island in South Carolina – the real house used in the film – is now estimated to cost £2,105,400 ($2,857,900). And that’s before you even get to the renovation!

» MORE: Should I move house or make home improvements?

Cost breakdown of renovating the plantation house from The Notebook

‘I’m flying’, Titanic – £745,655.71

Few scenes from Hollywood history are as iconic as Rose (Kate Winslet) and Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) standing upon the bow of the Titanic, wind blowing in their hair as the sun sets.

Back in 1912, Jack’s third class ticket cost £13 – thanks to inflation, that’s £1,582.16 in 2022. Rose’s first class ticket, meanwhile, was £30, or £3,651.14 today. That’s £5,233.30 just to get the two of you on the boat!

But even then, that’s not quite romantic enough, is it? No, to truly make that magic moment, you need the warbling tones of Québécoise chanteuse Celine Dion. And that doesn’t come cheap. Hiring Celine to sing My Heart Will Go On could cost you up to a cool $1 million (£738,830.91).

To be on the safe side, you might also want to spend a bit extra and secure a lifeboat (£1,434), or at least a door (£157.50) big enough for the two of you to float on while you wait for help. Just in case.

Cost breakdown of the "I'm flying scene" from the Titanic

Marching band blowout, 10 Things I Hate About You – £4,270

Hollywood just doesn’t reflect real life, does it? After all, how would high schooler Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger) be able to afford the cost of serenading Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) in 10 Things I Hate About You?

Admittedly, he had access to a school speaker system and marching band. For those of us now out of the education system, recreating this moment would prove to be a bit trickier.

The big expense is the marching band, which works out at £4,225 for the afternoon. At least with a £45 karaoke machine you won’t have to worry about fluffing the lines to Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.

Pottery poltergeist, Ghost – £428.99

If we wanted to be really accurate here, one of you or your beloved would need to be a ghost to pull off Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore’s poltergeist pottery lesson.

But this is for Valentine’s Day, not Halloween, so we can probably skip that step and get straight to the pottery wheel. Which isn’t cheap, setting you back £200.

To make sure you’re not just splattering clay everywhere, you’re going to need lessons, which will cost £50 for two private sessions in NerdWallet UK’s home town of Norwich.

But that’s not all. To cover the inevitable frustrated mutterings as your clay bowl collapses once again, you’ll want to pick up a record player for £175, and an original Unchained Melody 12” vinyl for £3.99.

Limousine lovers, Pretty Woman – £383.94

Despite being filled with expensive shopping trips, the most romantic moment in Pretty Woman takes place away from Rodeo Drive.

But what will you need? Well, of course, a limousine is a must – that’ll cost you £120 for the hour. And it wouldn’t be Valentine’s Day without roses, so that’s another £39.99.

If you really want to complete the Richard Gere look, you’ll also need a black umbrella (£18.95) and a dashing grey suit (£85).

One extra cost that Gere’s Edward Lewis didn’t have to factor in was a ladder. Yet the lack of fire escapes in the UK means you’re going to have to bring your own, adding £120 on to your romantic budget.

Have the time of your life, Dirty Dancing – £342.47

Voted the romantic movie moment respondents most wished happened to them in our NerdWallet survey was Dirty Dancing’s legendary lift.

Yet it might cost more than you think if you wanted to successfully hoist your partner to the heavens and pull off this dancefloor classic.

To avoid a nasty accident, you might want to take dancing lessons first – around five hours should do it, which will cost you £150.

Then you need the outfits. Baby’s dress is £41.50, while Jennifer Grey’s iconic perm is £55. It’s a bit cheaper if you’re dressing as Patrick Swayze’s Johnny – his black shirt and trousers combo is £59.99.

And how can you have the time of your life without Time of My Life? The Ultimate Dirty Dancing Soundtrack is £5.99, while a CD player will set you back £29.99.

Empire State of mind, Sleepless in Seattle – £304.37

To recreate the ending of Sleepless in Seattle, you’re going to need to plan a whistle-stop trip to the Big Apple. Admittedly, you’ll have to be in Seattle first if you really want to nail your best Tom Hanks impression!

A pair of one-way tickets from Seattle to New York comes in at £224 – that’s one for you, and one for your precocious kid who kicks the plan into action.

As long as your beloved decides to visit the Empire State Building on their own, you’ll only need to buy two tickets to the observatory. An adult ticket is £32.35 ($44), while a kid’s ticket is a barely discounted £28.03 ($38).

You’ll also need to spend £19.99 on a teddy bear to stuff in your kid’s backpack, to make the moment truly special.

Now you just have to worry about those return flights…

But romance doesn’t have to break the bank…

Remember – thoughtful means more than expensive, and cheaper doesn’t have to mean worse. You should always avoid spending what you don’t have, especially when it comes to February 14th. Your beloved might even appreciate it more, too.

For a bit of inspiration, here are three of Hollywood’s most iconic romantic gestures that would cost you less than £60 to pull off this Valentine’s Day.

Lock eyes in the aquarium, Romeo + Juliet – £54

While you might lack the party atmosphere, it’s pretty easy to recreate the dreamy moment Leonardo DiCaprio’s Romeo and Claire Danes’s Juliet lock eyes in Baz Lurhmann’s 1996 adaptation.

All you need to do is book two tickets online at one of SEA LIFE’s 10 aquariums across the UK. Book a trip to the London Aquarium, at £27 each, and find a spot where you can lock eyes either side of a tank. Perhaps the jellyfish room?

Say it silently, Love Actually – £47.07

Although we perhaps don’t recommend telling your best friend’s wife that you love them, there’s no doubting the impact Andrew Lincoln’s cue card confession has had on the nation’s romantic imagination. Only Dirty Dancing’s lift had more Brits wishing it had happened to them, according to our NerdWallet survey!

Luckily, it’s not too costly to pull off. You just need to get yourself 13 pieces of A3 card (£8.59), a black sharpie (£1.50), CD player (£29.99), and a CD of carol singers (£6.99) for cover.

Blast your boombox, Say Anything – £25.99

The cheapest option on this list is one of the most simple. Rock up to the house of your crush and, just like John Cusack does in Say Anything, stand outside and blast Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes from your boombox. It’ll only cost you £25 for the boombox, and £0.99 to buy the song and stream it via bluetooth (the vintage cassette will set you back a lot more).

And if you really want to save on money, you could probably just use your phone!

» MORE: The cost of being in love

Cost breakdown of the "boombox" scene from Say Anything

Disclaimer: Survey results are generated by market research company OnePoll in collaboration with NerdWallet. The findings are taken from a survey of 2,000 UK adults who have had a relationship by OnePoll between 31st January to 3rd February 2022. OnePoll are members of ESOMAR and employ members of the MRS. OnePoll is an MRS Company Partner. All MRS Company Partners and their employees agree.

Image Source: Getty Images

About the author:

Connor is a writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and The Independent. Read more

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