Leanne and Adam’s Proposal Story
The search for the perfect engagement ring started in July, not long after Leanne and I had moved into our house. It concluded when I was finally able to pick up the custom designed piece from the jeweler on December 28th. In the five or so months in between, I’m pretty sure I looked at every ring available on the planet. After all, it had to be perfect.
I can now speak at great length about the 4 C’s (cut, color, clarity, carat) and spot the difference between a 10K and a 14K band. I can tell you all about modern styles as well as the gorgeous jewelry history of the Edwardian, Victorian, and Georgian eras. In short, I fully and completely immersed myself to find the perfect ring to symbolize all the things I felt for my to-be fiancée.
And, initially, I had it ALL WRONG. Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of choices and the variety of selection, I decided (after many Google searches about the validity of the decision) to ask Leanne to take a look at some designs I had saved, essentially tipping my hand that I was planning on proposing at some point. I was torn on the decision, because I definitely wanted to surprise her, but I also wanted to make sure she had a ring that she absolutely loved. After all, she would be the one to wear it every day. So, after a couple glasses of wine, I decided to show her my list.
This was a major turning point. She now knew my plans and I now knew that I was not even close to finding the ring she wanted. And, to be honest, I would highly recommend including your girlfriend in this process (unless you know exactly what she wants). In my opinion, this made the process much more enjoyable. I was no longer a lone wolf using my alone time to scour the internet. Now I had a partner. We would look at ideas together and started visiting antique stores where she could actually try on rings to see what worked and what didn’t work. That took us from considering an Art Deco ring to refining our search after seeing how large those designs looked in comparison to her hand/finger size.
The search eventually became exhaustive and I think we were both tired of looking. In truth, it became a little frustrating. Not because we didn’t find some options that we liked, but since we’d only been looking at consignment and antique stores, we were working on a fairly limited supply in terms of variations (IE: this ring might have the right setting, but not the right cut or the right metal, etc).
We had, more-or-less, eliminated the idea of shopping for a ring at a traditional store because we both enjoyed the idea of finding a vintage ring that didn’t necessarily adhere to the latest styles and trends. The stores we were shopping in were quaint and had a certain romance to them that we enjoyed and the more traditional retailers seemed stale and unappealing. However, as a “cover all bases” move, I decided to stop by Perry’s Emporium to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Basically, I just wanted to do my due diligence at this point.
After a quick display case scan and chat with a rep, I was ready to move on, not seeing anything that appealed to the sensibilities of what we had in mind. After hearing what I was looking for, the rep advised me to chat with the store manager to see if he had any ideas on what might be possible. Patrick (the manager) was extremely knowledgable and had a proactive personality. He seemed genuinely invested in what I had to say and, after describing our dream ring to him (and showing him a few photos), he explained to me that the setting we were considering was actually not necessarily a vintage style, and that it could be made-to-order. He pulled out a large book and thumbed to a page with the exact setting, informing me that we could populate the setting with loose stones (they had a large case of differing stones in terms of the 4 C’s) and have it made to our specifications.
I got real excited. And then I went home and told Leanne. She saw my excitement and agreed to go with me to talk through the process to make sure she was okay with everything (considering we had not planned on buying from a major retailer and we had not ever considering creating the ring at all). We had the same pleasant experience with Patrick and we decided that it seemed like the perfect fit. I came back a day later and went through all the details to get her dream ring ordered: A three-stone setting with trillion diamonds flanking the main stone, an Old European-Cut diamond. I loved being able to pick out the individual stones, as we were still able to incorporate a vintage element by selecting a diamond from the 1930’s.
Then I waited for what seemed like an eternity for it to arrive. But it did eventually arrive, which led me to my next task — planning a proposal. I had been so caught up with finding the perfect ring that I hadn’t spent much time thinking of what to do after I actually had it! It didn’t take long for a plan to take shape though, and with some covert tactics and planning with the help of Leanne’s sister and brother-in-law, a scheme was hatched!
Leanne is also a photographer and takes a lot of family photos with her sister’s children (Maddox is 2 and Hazel is not quite 1). My idea was that we could set up a photo shoot scenario where she would be taking photos of her their family and then her nephew could bring me the ring box when the session had finished. It was a great plan, but since she had been a part of the ring search, she was highly suspect of, well, everything and she sniffed it out pretty quickly. We all laughed her off, though, and continued with the plan, although she did change the location because she wanted a different backdrop for the photos!
She still suspected, but I waited until the very end of the shoot to propose. I could see her looking around for any planted photographers and I could sense that she was starting to think it wasn’t going to happen. And then it did!
As we were planning to leave, Maddox ran up to me with a big smile on his face and handed me the ring box (I ordered a special box from Etsy that was from the same era as the middle stone and that had been used at a jewelry store in Asheville, a special place for the two of us). I’m not exactly sure what I said next, but she said YES! When she finally looked around, she was surprised to see Austin there, snapping away (he had been hiding in the parking lot about 100 yards away from where we were — I’m not sure how he covered as much ground as quickly as he did)!
After a champagne toast, everyone left us there to soak in the moment and we sat by the river and smiled big smiles. (On an interesting note: My original location was Hugh MacRae Park, where we go sometimes to walk around and talk with each other. It’s kind of a tradition that we bring boiled peanuts to snack on and I even had Austin bring some boiled peanuts to the proposal site. When we sat down on a bench after the proposal, there were fresh boiled peanut shells around us. Leanne suggested that maybe it was her dad giving us a sign that he approved. Chills.)
After 20 minutes or so, I told her that we needed to go because I had arranged for a dinner reservation. I told her I wanted to go home beforehand to change and get cleaned up. As we pulled onto our street, she started to notice lots of familiar cars. She started screaming and hitting the sides of the door. “Are there people at our house?!” If I didn’t completely surprise her with the proposal, I definitely surprised her with the engagement party that followed! So many of our friends and family came from near and far to celebrate with us, creating a night that was nothing short of amazing. Everyone helped out behind the scenes to get things set up while we were gone and, most impressively, no one spilled the secret!
It was perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m extremely excited about this next chapter with my best friend. Now, about that wedding planning!