As a writer, I value verbal displays of affection above all others. I particularly love written gestures: letters, postcards, emails and text messages. Even a witty Facebook comment can do the trick.
That said, a very grand gesture involving words is the best one-two punch I can think of. The Hollywood version usually involves some sort of oral rant (see the New Year's Eve party scene in "When Harry Met Sally"), but there are other options, depending on your budget.
Rich Man: Skywriting! Sure, it costs at least $1,995 for a single message (not including the aircraft fees), can last as little as five to 10 minutes depending on wind, and you usually only get about 12 letters, but dang, how romantic would that be? Your declaration of love, "written in the clouds" -- it really doesn't get sweeter than that. All you have to do, besides shell out a few (or several) months of rent, is just get outside. Picnic basket, wine, really anything else would be optional. Try Advertising Aerial if you can afford it.
NOTE: I never said the Rich Man ideas would be practical. In fact, they aren't supposed to be. A girl can dream.
Poor Man: Chicago is now warming up and coming back to life, as evidenced by the folks crowding our beautiful lakefront. Plan a date, any date, outside, and you'll be on the right romantic track. For bonus points, prepare a Harry-like rant regarding your one true boo. Even if you can't afford to put it in the clouds, you can still write it in the sand of the Lake Michigan beaches.Take some pictures for a homemade, post-date card and you'll be flying high.
Check out more warm-weather date ideas on Centerstage.