Meet Jen & Lauren! These incredible ladies have agreed to let H&H Weddings document their wedding planning process so that everyone can better understand what goes into coordinating your big day! Jen & Lauren will be blogging about the experiences they are having as they prepare to say "I do!" We hit the jackpot, because the talented Jen Brister, of Brister Photo will be documenting all of the fun! We adore these gals and we're so excited to share their journey with you! Thanks to Heidi from Damali NYC for beautifying these babes!
Step 1: The Proposal! We asked Jen to share her proposal experience with us. We may or may not have teared up while reading this...
I knew I wanted to be the one to propose, but I did feel like it was going to be some sort of race, what with two women under one roof with strong opinions who frequently buck convention but want to subscribe to the convention of marriage. I also must confess that I have been envisioning the day I marry Lauren since about date number three, so I had been overly cautious about not putting too much pressure on her about getting married. But, over Ethiopian food one evening, we got down to brass tacks about a true timeline, and I realized that Lauren didn’t need time to figure out her twenties; she doesn’t want to contemplate grad school, she doesn’t want to go teach English for a year in a remote country, and she won’t be waking up one day wishing she was married to a man. So, I started research. . . …and immediately freaked out.
Researching engagement rings was turning up a lot of information. Also, buying an engagement ring is something one does, theoretically, only once in a lifetime. Therefore, there is a bunch of us amateurs bouncing around the internet, trying not to be had, wanting something unique, but wondering, “is this thing going to endure? Will the grandkids scoff at it? WHAT IF LAUREN DOESN’T LIKE IT?” On top of the usual sweat-inducing questions surrounding the purchase of an engagement ring (where? How much? HOW MUCH?), I also knew that Lauren did not, under any circumstances, want to wear a diamond. I had to carefully choose a ring that she actually did love, and not just because it came from me. I was also armed with the knowledge that she liked filigree, and is a gold jewelry wearing woman.
I had been a big fan of Erie Basin, a vintage jeweler in Red Hook, for several years. Finally, I had a legitimate reason to visit the shop. I lied to Lauren about working on the weekend and headed off to Red Hook, very fearful I would be found out. When I walked in I explained who I was. Russell immediately pulled out a 14 carat gold, six-sided Edwardian setting with intricate filigree. I was instantly sold, “that’s the one.” Russell worked with my budget and never once encouraged me to increase it – which I can only imagine is rare for jewelers peddling engagement rings. I still was at a loss for what type of gem would be best in the setting, but I chose a very simple path to my decision. My favorite color is green, and it is Lauren’s, too. So, I asked about an emerald. Russell sourced a beautiful 1.5 carat emerald for me. The ring was beautiful and a perfect combination of old and new.
My last visit to Erie Basin, to pick up the ring, was incredibly stressful. The morning I planned on going to Red Hook, with a flimsy cover story involving meeting a friend for lunch, Lauren woke up and turned to me and said, “I had a dream. We were at the reception for our wedding and I lost the ring. It had a big colored gemstone in the middle, and I lost it in a pond at the reception.” My only thought was “SHE KNOWS. SHE KNOWS.” I pulled it together and managed to get out of the house, but I was positive I was found out. And scared, now that she might lose the ring at some point (Mercury was surely in retrograde). Exiting the shop, I suddenly had this ring that felt like a hot potato in my personal possession. I had planned to propose at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden during the Cherry Blossom Festival, which usually falls in March or April. I had expected the search to take much, much longer. Instead, I had fallen in love with the very first ring I saw, and it seemed like fate (or, and this is more likely, Russell at Erie Basin is a genius). I decided there was no way I could hold onto this thing that long.
I convinced Lauren that we should go see a movie. I knew that in order to get to the theatre, we would have to walk along Prospect Park. I thought I could somehow convince Lauren to stroll into the park with me, even though it was late in the evening, and I could propose in some sort of romantic-ish environment. We city people take what we can get in terms of ambiance. This was during the height of Oscar season and Lauren was insistent upon seeing a movie that was an Oscar nominee. Her initial choices were “Twelve Years a Slave” (nothing says romance like an unabashedly look at the US’s ugly history) or “Captain Phillips” (super excited to propose after watching a drama about Somali pirates, amirite?). I panicked! Finally, I suggested we see “About Time” (from the creators of “Love Actually”), which admittedly looked kind of terrible and a waste of nearly thirty bucks. I honestly do not know how I persuaded Lauren to see this movie, but I did it. I would say that that was my greatest triumph during this entire ordeal.
The entire way there I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t hold a conversation; I couldn’t even help decide what kind of deli sandwiches and snacks to sneak into the theatre. I sat through the entire sappy movie with my hand on the ring, terrified I’d lose it. That was the only night, of my ten plus years of living in New York City, that I was utterly convinced I was going to be mugged. Finally, the movie ended and the walk home began. It was after midnight and she was tired, ready for bed. I was rapidly running out of park as we approached Grand Army Plaza; once we passed the arch we would be on plain old Vanderbilt Avenue, a mere minutes from home, and my window would be closed.
As we came upon the northwestern corner of the park, I felt like things were moving too fast, but in slow motion. Lauren finally provided the opportunity: she stopped and gestured toward the arch. “You know, if you look straight through the arch from here, you can see the Empire State Building.” I said I did not know that, while fishing around in my bag for the ring box (where was it!?). She turned to me and said, “yes you did. I told you that before. Come on, it’s cold.” She started to leave, but I pulled out the ring and, in possibly the smoothest moment I will ever have in my lifetime, said, “So, in your dream, did the ring look like this?” All Lauren managed to get out was, “what’s happening?” before she started crying uncontrollably. After a few moments of just her sobbing, I said, “Are you going to answer? I’m going to get down on one knee.” She said, “No! Don’t! Yes!” and I was relieved. It was now around 1 in the morning. Lauren began running around the street lamps, holding up her ring to the light, yelling “I can’t see it! I can’t see it!” It was fantastic. We went home in a daze and drank champagne. One of my favorite parts of the evening was that it was a bit too late to make any phone calls, so it was just the two of us, happy and engaged, who were the sole bearers of this life-changing news. We didn’t even finish our glasses of champagne; we were so exhausted and ecstatic.
The ring, of course, was too big. Too big to the point that we were both terrified that it would fall off her finger. After some coaxing, Lauren agreed to take it to Russell to have it sized. After a week without the ring, I arrived home eager to see how it fit. When I got home, Lauren pulled out a ring box identical to hers, got down on one knee in our living room, and proposed to me. Now it was my turn to cry. I had no idea she had planned a proposal and was shocked by how perfect the ring was: an 18 carat gold Edwardian wedding band with a small new emerald placed in the gold. Lauren had asked Russell to find a simple gold band from the same era as her ring, and put a new emerald into the gold. The rings make a perfect set. I can’t believe how much I love my engagement ring (a phrase I never thought I’d ever type). Now, here we are, ready to do this, but having to navigate between and among some long-standing yet unyieldingly “straight” traditions and what we, as a couple, actually want our wedding day to be.