A Washingtonian Wedding: The Lord of the Engagement Ring

Follow along with Bridal Party’s guest blogger Emily as she plans her wedding.

Emily's left ring finger sporting her dream ring: a simple, round diamond.

This past week we took a little siesta from wedding planning, so I asked Drew to help me tell you the story of the sparkly, gorgeous thing I wear on my left hand, ring finger.

You know how in the movie Sweet Home Alabama, McDreamy surprises Ms. Legally Blonde by giving her the run of New York’s legendary Tiffany & Co.? That would never be my dream. Way too many choices to make, plus the romantic in me wanted my future husband to choose something that reminded him of me. I wanted him to pick the one piece of jewelry I’d wear forever.

So faith is huge—I mean that’s a lot of trust to put in a man. And there are a few things I just hate. Yellow gold, for instance, and the marquis cut, and sapphires in the place of diamonds. But after meeting the man I wanted to marry, those worries evaporated. I would gladly and even proudly wear whatever Drew picked out if it meant I got to marry him—even a teardrop-shaped sapphire.

Just a few weeks before Drew proposed, a friend and I popped into a jewelry store because her boyfriend had been skirting around the issue of engagement, asking her the telltale questions: “What ring size are you?” and “What style do you prefer?” While in the store helping my friend choose a style she liked, I tried on a few diamonds myself—feeling very Holly Golightly in a surreal sort of way.

I fell in love with a simple and elegant ring that glittered on my hand. Round brilliant cut, thin band.

On the plane ride home to Nashville on New Year’s Eve, I broke the news to Emily: My grandfather was furious with me. I had put off completing paperwork on my car until the last day of the year, and I was going to have to leave her with my parents and go do some business with him at his office first thing.

To Emily, my family members were still just characters in the stories I’d told her, and she was eager to meet them, to match them with my memories. I had told her barnfuls of tales about my grandfather, but to meet him like this, when he was so agitated with me, would set those barns ablaze. I’d better go alone, I told her. She said she understood and rested her head on my shoulder. I looked out the plane window, trying not to laugh.

My parents met us at the airport, and we sped down I-65 to Brentwood and Vittles, a hole-in-the-wall meat-and-three restaurant that I told Emily was one of my all-time favorites. When the fried chicken came and conversation between Emily and my parents seemed to be ambling along, I asked to be excused. My grandfather was waiting for me. My dad winked and tossed me his keys.

I left Emily there, entrusting her to my parents, and drove two blocks to Brentwood Jewelry to see Salem the jeweler about a diamond. My grandfather was waiting in the parking lot. Our plan had worked.

Inside, I described to Salem what I thought Emily wanted in a ring: simple but elegant, with a thin band for her tiny finger. He smiled, pointed at me, and said, “Ah, yes, I think I know exactly what you’re looking for.”

He returned from the back room with a beautiful diamond set in a four-pronged platinum band. I couldn’t picture it on anybody’s finger but Emily’s. My grandfather nodded his approval. When I was growing up, my grandfather was the most important person in the world to me, and it was important for me that he be there for the most important purchase of my life.

I had told close friends and family from pretty much day one that Emily was the girl I was going to marry. I had started putting money away for a ring to symbolize my total commitment to her around that time, too. But as I walked out of the jewelry store with one arm around my grandfather’s neck and the other holding that green-felt ring box, the happy heaviness of it all welled up inside. I knew that this was right, it was important, it was good, and to spend the rest of my life with Emily was exactly what I wanted.

An hour had passed. I was itching to get back to my girl. I feared she was beginning to suspect something. Worse, I had images in my head of her and my parents sitting there in a ferocious silence, swapping hard stares across an empty table. Then the phone rang. It was my mom.

“Drew,” she said.

“Mom, what are you doing?” I said. “Can Emily hear you?”

“She’s gone to the restroom,” she said. “We had to call you because we couldn’t wait to tell you—Drew, we love her. She is the sweetest thing.”

“I know,” I said. “She is.”

“The ring?” my mom asked.

“Got it,” I said.

“She’s coming back,” she said. “Gotta go.”

They had just finished their dessert when I arrived, wiping my brow, telling them how I’d rather not talk about how mad my grandfather had been about the car. On the way home, we held hands like high-school kids escorted to a dance, my dad stealing glances at us in the rearview mirror. Once home, we took a long walk between the hills to the pond, and that night we greeted a houseful of guests who had come over for a New Year’s Eve party.

My mom carefully whispered in their ears the news, and I watched as one by one they made their way slowly and inconspicuously back to my brother’s bedroom to see the ring. It’s a wonder Emily didn’t catch on. It’s a wonder I held on to the ring a week before getting down on my knee. But the greatest wonder—a miracle, really—is that I’m the guy who gets to marry this girl. And the ring isn’t worth half a fraction of what she means to me.

When Drew got down on one knee on January 5, he pulled a box from his suit pants pocket, opened it, and there sparkling bright in the flickering candlelight was a one-carat round brilliant diamond resting regally on a thin platinum band—the exact ring I’d fawned over in the jewelry shop.

All I can say is that it’s meant to be.


Emily, a Washington bride-to-be, writes every Friday about planning her wedding, which will be in Nashville this fall. To follow her adventures from the beginning, click here.

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