HOW IT HAPPENED
On 11.21.2020, Thomas and I went on a horseback ride in our local area – Huber Woods. We both grew up running/biking/hiking these woods since childhood & even spent most of our early dating months taking walks in the 360+ acres of protected land we’re lucky to experience.
I should have been suspicious a week earlier when Thomas suggested we go for a trail ride on horseback because, 1) I don’t ride much at all anymore, and 2) There aren’t many places around our area that offer such an experience if you don’t own a horse of your own. But I remembered that Thomas’s dad had a friend who offered such and has been suggesting we check it out since early summer, so the idea of going while the temps were still so mild wasn’t that far fetched.
We got on the horses around 11am and stopped at the old Huber Woods Mansion (now nature center) an hour later to “stretch our legs.” Thomas suggested we go walk around, which I wasn’t that excited about because at this point I was starving for lunch and anticipating a random Diner adventure after the ride. We walked around to a lookout that seemed a bit crowded with people taking photos but has a beautiful view of the fields and the Navesink River behind it (the one we spend all our summers boating on.)
We get a chance to have the lookout all to ourselves, which at this point Thomas suggests we get a selfie. Me, feeling hangry with helmet head from riding, was not about this photo moment but sucked it up because he rarely suggests we take a picture together (lol.) All of a sudden, a photographer (Kiera who I’ve now become acquainted with) comes around the corner and offers to take our photo for us on my phone. After snapping a few, she asks if she could take some photos on her own DSLR camera – which at this point I started connecting the dots. But by the time I registered the idea, I felt Thomas take both my hands and turn me to the side as he proceeded to lower down on one knee.
We both blacked out and don’t remember verbatim that was said but I do know that I said ABSOLUTELY to the love of my life.
Upon returning to the barn, we took a few more pictures and then were greeted by my parents and siblings, along with one of Thomas’s brothers & his fiance to celebrate. We Facetimed Thomas’s parents that have been in Florida since early November (but were in on the whole engagement plan since the beginning) as well as my Grandmother in North Carolina. At this point, I was having champagne for lunch and getting nervous about how long I’d manage without food. TG Thomas’s brother & fiance put together a cheese board and chocolate covered pretzel spread (yes, this is a very important detail to include – still so happy about those snacks.)
I learned later on that Thomas had been planning this day for several months, from getting the ring to scouting the location to securing a photographer and making Plan B & C in case it rained. He knew horses have always been a big part of my life & worked it into the proposal so beautifully. He also knew how important it is to me for him to ask for my dad’s blessing. So the night before, Thomas stopped by my parent’s house after golf and asked, which meant the absolute world to me that he did so.
Thomas purposely kept this whole proposal plan a secret from EVERYONE (except his family) up until the very few hours before, not wanting to have any risk of the surprise being revealed – which is very valid because within minutes of leaving my parent’s house, my dad told the immediate family right away haha. I’m beyond thankful and grateful over how much thought and love went into making this day so special for myself and the both of us as a newly engaged couple.
STORY BEHIND THE RING
I’ll be honest, I never thought or took interest in what I’d ever imagine wearing on my finger until March/April of this year. I still don’t understand most of the terminology (cut, clarity, etc.) All I know is that I thought I wanted something until I changed my mind 3 months ago, which I now learned was around the time Thomas started making plans to ring shop (talk about timing, am I right?)
For months, I was set on a solitaire diamond with a thin diamond band (I’m sure there’s a proper name for such a style but like I said, I have no idea how to speak “engagement ring” – still.) It wasn’t until I came across a photo on Pinterest that sparked my desire to reconsider a completely different setting.
Left – Pinspiration Image (source: Melanie Casey Jewelry) | Right – Mine
This Pinspiration is a Trilogy Setting but instead of 3 same-size diamonds (what I’ve normally seen), this ring had two smaller diamonds on either side. I loved how it made the centerfold diamond stand out, while also complimenting it. The minute I saw it I just knew I wanted something just like that.
Like most women in this stage of her relationship, I wanted to go try something like this ring-spiration on for myself to make sure I 100% like it. I told Thomas from the start that I’d want to gently let him know EXACTLY what I wanted, for several reasons:
1) I have small hands (what I like to call “tiny paws”) and with that, wider fingers that have all been broken from years of horseback riding. There’s only a small handful of ring sizes & styles that would even look remotely right on me. I didn’t want him to do any of the guesswork figuring out what would look best on his own.
2) I didn’t want Thomas to spend x amount of money on something expensive that I didn’t LOVE. We’ve all heard those stories about someone not so thrilled about the ring…I can’t imagine how stressful/awkward/uncomfortable that would be to break the news of not being a fan of the ring choice. At the end of the day, you should adore it in every which way & if you’re someone leaning on the pickier side, please do your partner a favor and pick something out.
So here’s how I managed to pick out the ring without having to tell Thomas exactly what I wanted…
One of my best friends suggested we check out a local family-owned jeweler called Johnsen Diamond, where she got her ring over a year ago. It was September at this point and I had a window of opportunity to go try on some rings over the weekend. This is my second time ever walking into a jewelry store to look at rings so I was beyond nervous and overwhelmed, feeling insecure that I didn’t know the terminology or know how to describe exactly what I thought I wanted. But all my nerves vanished within moments once I showed the Pinterest picture of the ring I had in mind to Elena (co-owner, diamond design expert & specialist.) After several mock ring sets of literally holding stud earrings up to my finger and trying on a few different band widths, I determined exactly what setting, size orientation & width of the band I knew I wanted. Johnsen Diamond wrote it all down on a card & told me to tell Thomas that when the time comes, to just stop in and mention my name. And they’ll take care of the rest with him. That simple.
What made this process so amazing is that I was able to pick out the design of the ring I wanted & Thomas was able to pick out the diamonds, band setting & all the rest that goes into it within his budget. I asked Thomas (post-engagement) how his experience at JD was & one of the things he was most pleased about was not once feeling the pressure to pay up for something he wasn’t comfortable with. It goes to show that Elena & Robert (co-owner, gemologist expert & specialist) truly care about both customers wants & needs when it comes to the entire picture. Elena asked me every question under the sun to ensure I was saying yes (or no) to the things that would make this ring look exactly how I pictured it. Robert walked Thomas through every decision going into the diamond selection and how they would be set to ensure they would not only stay in place, but remain in a position that will compliment the wedding band without needing a spacer (something I didn’t consider thinking about.)
Thomas spent a lot of time making sure this ring would not only be something I’d adore, but also something he would look proudly at and love to see on my finger. Which is something worth noting: Yes, the ring should reflect something of your dreams but it’s also SO IMPORTANT for your partner proposing to you with the ring that s/he also love it. The ring stands for a unity of two humans, and it should reflect the desires of both coming together in unity.
NOTHING – for now! Not making any plans or talking wedding anything until January 2, 2021. I’ve learned that the year 2020 is NOT the place to make any plans whatsoever, so we’re going to enjoy this next month being engaged and celebrating in safe surroundings with family & friends.
The amount of love we’ve received since announcing our engagement has been so surreal. I’m so beyond grateful for how many of you reached out to me to express happiness for our news and I can’t even begin to explain how much that means to me, especially during these times. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all SO MUCH for being part of this amazing tribe of beautiful souls. ILY ALL SO MUCH!
Special Thanks To
Erin & Andy Taffin at Foreluck Farm for arranging such a beautiful day on horseback & making this moment unbelievably special for us.
Elena & Robert Johnsen of Johnsen Diamond for designing the ring of my dreams & for making the entire process for both Thomas and myself so wonderful.