Charlottesville, Diamond Rings, & a Surprise Party: It’s Our Engagement Story!

Michael and I started to date (again) back in the spring when he came to visit me on April 25th, 2014. I knew I was going to marry him that very night. It’s true, “When you know, you know!”

Telling our “love story” is one of my favorites to tell. In the early chapters, our story is detailed with two young and naive high-school teens dating, wearing his class ring wrapped with hemp to fit my thumb, and drinking McDonald’s milkshakes swinging at Goyne Park. It’s a story of going to homecoming & prom, dancing the night away to Usher’s “Yeah” and K-Ci & JoJo’s “All My Life.” There were notes passed in the hallway and many fights about his driving because “Michael, I’m-precious-cargo, slow down!!!” I remember Michael throwing me over his shoulder and tackling me to the ground when I tried to leave his house angry and Friday nights wavin’n-flirtin’ at each other from the stadium’s band section to the cheerleading squad. #younglove.

There are so many more chapters of our story that beckon for it’s own post—like why we broke up, where our paths took us separately for ten years, and my favorite details, how we were woven back together. That blog post will come on our wedding day 🙂 so stay tuned! Today I’ll share our engagement story since that’s the most recent news!

Because we knew we wanted to get married from the day we started to date again, our focus and intentionality for our relationship has been geared toward how to create a healthy foundation for a beautiful marriage. The details of long-distance, engagement, a wedding were just logistics to us and we often talked about them like facts and equations to ultimately being together. Super romantic, right?!

We went to look at rings in July and I knew I wanted an oval diamond with some form of rose gold. Surprise, surprise, jewelry stores don’t carry ovals (apparently they’re not popular) and the rose gold selection was limited, so the ring I had in my head needed to be custom made (read cha-ching). I was open to looking at other rings but he took the “let me take care of it” approach.

“Ring talk” picked back up in October and we discussed where to get it, how much it should realistically cost, and what I wanted it to ultimately look like. I had found a setting I liked that needed to be customized a bit and Michael and I had a few conversations about it. In the beginning of November, he told me he thought we should go look again together over Thanksgiving and I didn’t do a great job covering my disappointment from starting at “square one”. (I’m showwwy…)

It was apart of his plan to keep bringing up the ring search convo and suggested to go look again. He questioned if I’d have a good attitude about it (heh, sure!) and I begrudgingly said I would. Ultimately, I felt like we’d been talking too much about a ring…it was just a piece of metal after all! Really, I was just ready to marry this man and getting engaged was the first step to that!

We made plans to go to Charlottesville on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, to walk around his college campus (UVA) and then go to look at rings that evening.

Once we got to UVA, we opted to drive around the campus a bit since the temperature dropped significantly. He pointed out “that’s where I lived!”, “that’s where I got into a fight!”, “that’s where I used to bounce!” and so on with details of his interesting college experience. He was really setting the mood…

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We parked and started to walk around for a bit. To warm up, we got some coffee and he started to get really quiet. That’s strange behavior if you know Michael. He told me he wanted to show me one more spot on campus and then we could head back to the car. We started to walk up this hill (well, technically a mountain because it’s Charlottesville) and he was getting a little out of breath. I thought to myself, “Either he’s nervous about something or needs some more cardio!”

Halfway up the hill, he pulls out his old high school ring and says to me, “Well Bird, I know this isn’t the ring you’ve been wanting but I finally wanted to give this back to you.”

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To pause there, a little flashback story is necessary. When we were breaking up in high school, I clearly remember him and I sitting in my parent’s kitchen. As I gave his high school ring back to him, I said, “Well this is sad.” His response to me ten years ago, “Maybe I’ll give this back to you one day.”

I love it when things come full circle and to get that ring back flooded me with memories like  wrapping the ring around and around and around with hemp string, fiddling with it during science class, and studying every detail of the sides for that year we dated.

We continued our walk to the center of campus where he started to say some sweet things to me and within minutes, Michael was down on a knee asking me to marry him with the ring I wanted all along!

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My aunt and uncle were hiding out taking pictures to capture the fun moment and well, we were all freezing and ready to get back to a warm car. After some more hugs and getting some sweet potato rolls from my aunt and uncle, Michael and I were back in the car ready to head back to Richmond!

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What happened next was my favorite moment of the day: Michael grabbed my hand and we prayed together for God to bless our relationship, this engagement, and to continue to prepare us for marriage. We split a sweet potato roll and started the drive back to do the announcement tour for our families! Faith and food people, that’s what true love is all about!

When we got to my house, both of our families and a few of our dear friends surprised us (well, technically me since Michael was in on it) with an engagement party! My parents had three mere hours to set up and decorate for the shindig and my goodness, they did it with some major flare. From a (very) enlarged picture of Michael and I, to party favors filled with popcorn and pretzels that said, “Mike popped the question and now they’re tying the knot!” I mean…come on…CUTE!

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My face hurt from smiling so much that afternoon and evening. Overwhelming love and support engulfed us that night and the days that followed.

We couldn’t be more excited for our new adventure as an engaged couple and yes, we are still getting used to using “fiancée” language. Honestly, things don’t feel too different since I’ve been looking at Michael as my life partner since April, but now we can finally plan a ceremony to commemorate this union and throw a celebration with loved ones! More thoughts of engagement and marriage will come later on Bird’s Nest, but for now, I’ll close with a quote I found early spring right after reconnecting with Michael:

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Thanks for sharing in our joy! Much love to you all!