Fashionably Nerdy Weddings: Our Engagement Story & Rings – Stephanie

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Samanatha shared her engagement and ring story recently on the blog and encouraged me to do the same since I got engaged a couple months ago.

Here is the Before & After of my beautiful ring and the full story of our engagement and how we redesigned it is below…

My Fiance and How We Met
Let’s start at the beginning, Russ and I met when our friend Gian decided to start a new fandom themed improv comedy team (like Doctor Who Live and Drunkards & Dragons which are 2 successful fandom teams he was performing with at the time). The theme for this team was decided to be Harry Potter (my favorite fandom and Russ knew nothing about Harry Potter at the time). Gian sought to bring his favorite people from other teams he was on or had previously coached together to assemble this new team and I was currently rehearsing with a Musical Puppet Improv Team that he coached and Russ was on Drunkards & Dragons. Our Team started rehearsals and had been named, ‘The Show That Shall Not Be Named‘ we rehearsed for about 3 months and Russ would send me Facebook messages all the time – he was reading all the Harry Potter Books and he would refer to me as Luna and I would refer to him as Voldie (based on a conversation at one of our first practices about what character would we assume we would play if we ever played a character from the series). We often went to lunches together after rehearsals with Gian and got together for movie nights and to watch Game of Thrones (which I later learned were just excuses for him to hang out with me).

Our friendship grew and grew… he volunteered to come bake with me for my baking blog and we made biscuits and though he had told me he didn’t eat baked goods, I assumed it was a choice and I didn’t know that he is allergic and he was sucking it up as he baked and ate with me. He told me stories about growing up and baking with his grandparents in their bakery in New York. Other than him trying to hold my hand awkwardly that day, nothing romantic ever happened until one day I was having a disagreement with my best friend and I was crying and he was listening and giving me advice and kissed me and we were pretty inseparable since… after a while he confessed he fell in love with me the day we met at the first rehearsal when I came in late and offered to “redecorate” his apartment (this wasn’t saying anything was wrong with his apartment, I was only joking that I wanted to close the blinds because the sun was in my eyes). We have been performing together and dating now for over 3 years.

Marriage & Life
2 years ago I was contemplating a move back to Atlanta after a bad situation with a roommate and Russ insisted I move in with him. I had questioned it at first (we hadn’t been dating that long) but I agreed. It took very little time for the decision to feel like it was the right one – we complimented each other extremely well and brought out the best qualities in each other – the skills I lack he has and vice versa. We talked about marriage and kids and knew early on that we saw a future together and we wanted to have a family. We have a lot of the same goals for our lives and outlook on the world, family and people. We make sense, and are like puzzle pieces that complete a whole picture.

The Proposal
One year for my birthday Russ asked how I wanted to spend my day… I told him I wanted to check something off my bucket list of things to do in Los Angeles and we agreed on The Huntington Gardens and Library in Pasadena (a private massive estate and museum that has art galleries, gardens, a tea room, restaurants, botanical gardens, and so much more)… that year my birthday was on a Tuesday and we rolled up to The Huntington Gardens to find that they are closed every Tuesday – we spent the rest of the day trying to find other things to do in Pasadena.

The next year we returned on my birthday and bought a membership so we could go anytime for free and enjoy the full beauty of the estate. Any chance we got we would go (which was not nearly enough) as the Huntington had quickly become one of my most favorite places in the city.

Our friend Kolby and I devised a day at Huntington this past year and invited Russ and her sister-in-law Jordan (and adorable tiny nephew Orion) to join us for a lovely day on the grounds. We spent the entire day there seeing parts of the gardens I had never seen before… We walked miles it seemed. We ate lunch in one of the cafes and I drank ice tea (which had a bee in it… this doesn’t really add to any romance or anything it’s just a traumatic memory from the day which is how I remember it). I had a great time running around with Orion and trying to capture adorable pictures of him. Kolby was recently married and I was in her wedding party and we were talking about proposals that day for some reason and she was saying how cheesy some can be and talking about girls that get engaged in front of the castle at Disneyland. She wasn’t saying anything was wrong with it – she was saying she had heard stories of girl’s making their significant other RE-PROPOSE to them after their initial proposal in front of the castle. We laughed about this for awhile.

We walked until I thought I couldn’t possibly walk anymore, we were exhausted and our day at The Huntington was over… we said our goodbyes and I grabbed an amazing bag of loose leaf Rose Tea (made from roses from the gardens) to take home from the gift shop. We were starving and stopped at one of my favorite places to eat in Los Angeles, SHAKE SHACK (despite Russ assuming it was going to be too crowded and an awful experience since it had only recently opened the first LA location and it was typically packed). Russ went anyway because he knew I loved it… and SURPRISE – it was EMPTY! We had a great meal, met the manager who gave us a whole bunch of coupons for free food for our next visit – it was kinda the best SHAKE SHACK experience you could ask for. We came home and I was so pooped…
BUT, I made sure to take a moment to sincerely thank Russ for such an amazing and beautiful day filled with so much pure joy and happiness. It was a simple outing with good friends and good food and I was just genuinely very thankful for it. I had been wearing a cute dress all day (made by Frakkin Frocks) and was just dying to get out of my clothes and into pajamas. I had asked Russ to help me get unzipped and was waiting for him to do it – he had been standing behind me for a little bit and I was getting kinda frustrated because I was so tired and he said, “can you turn around for a second” I turned around and he was on 1 knee with a ring box. I was blown away. He said “I’m so glad you had such a wonderful day today and I just want to have so many more wonderful days with you… will you marry me?” Of course I said yes — but I spent the rest of the evening asking him to re-propose in different styles (we are improvisers and we had heard that story Kolby mentioned earlier) So, I got proposed to “Disneyland Style”, “On the moon style”, in “french style”…. etc … it went on and on and was pretty perfect for us.

The Ring
The ring Russ presented to me was his Grandmother’s and is super unique – it has many diamonds and was in a butterfly shape. I actually really loved it because it was so different… however, the ring size was much too small for my finger and also all the bands on it were a little too thick for my style. Russ told me he would not be offended at all if I wanted to either redesign it or get a new ring. My mother is a jeweler and has designed many rings before for brides. I love antique and estate jewelry pieces so I decided to use the beautiful stones that already existed in the ring and redesign the ring. We teamed up with the talented team that work with my mother at Lee Brant Jewelers in Atlanta, GA. With Brant and jewelry maker/designer Chuck Norton helping us we came up with some possible designs to use as many of the stones as possible. Russ also gave us a ring that had belonged to his grandfather to be used to help aid us with more diamonds or gold if needed for the ring.

This was my initial inspiration for my ring – I had previously pinned this ring on Pinterest from Heidi Gibson Designs and had over time kept coming back to it.

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Russ and I love space and space themed things so I wanted to make sure my ring incorporated that with some sort of star burst or sun burst design and also I loved Art Deco style rings.

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We went through a bunch of drawings and mock ups (above) to get things just perfect – this is the only  wedding ring I will ever have and I intend to wear this ring for the rest of my life…. I wanted it to be unique but classic, spacey but dainty and feminine, nerdy but chic. We finally all agreed on a design and it is AMAZING (below)! I chose Rose Gold – because I thought it was just so feminine and pretty and does not clash with any of the yellow gold I typically wear if I wanted to wear my other rings with it.


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My Wedding Band
I wasn’t sure I wanted a wedding band, I love the single engagement ring so much, that I didn’t want to detract from it all. My mother talked me into it saying that there are times when I won’t want to wear diamonds for playing sports or other activities that could damage my ring or put me at risk for getting it stolen. She also told me stories of women that say that they come in years later trying to add a wedding band that matches their ring exactly and how much work it is to do that after the fact and we could have mine made exactly from the same gold so it’s a perfect match. I agreed to a wedding band and wanted to incorporate stars and galaxy into our wedding bands also to keep the space theme going  – Russ wants a ring made of Tungsten (a element often found in meteors) so he has the space part covered – but, for me I wanted different types of stars engraved (though the band is pictured above with alternating stars this is not the final design for the band). Inspiration we are using for the band is pictured below…

Making The Ring
After the design process was finished Chuck set off to make the rings and we are so lucky he documented this process for us so that I could share it here..

“Melting the Gold” This was done with a torch, and you can see the gold in the bottom of the crucible. Once the gold is melted, it is cast into the mold.

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“Rough Castings” is what the rings look like right out of the mold.

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“Tumbledcastings” is the first step of finishing. After going through the tumbler, the surface is burnished, and the rings are beginning to shine.

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“Handfinishing” is the labor intensive process of sanding and polishing by hand, all the surfaces of the ring.

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“Setting the center stone”, all the diamonds are set but the center. Chuck checks the fit before cutting the seat for the main diamond.

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Then finally the final finished rings (my engagement and wedding band)

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My mother came to visit me and brought the rings and gave them to Russ when she got here and didn’t tell me and he got to propose again… this time while I was organizing the cabinet under the kitchen sink (he catches me at all the perfect moments…) and he caught me off guard yet again…

sunburst, ring, pinterest, starburst, art deco, vintage, chuck roberts sunburst, ring, pinterest, starburst, art deco, vintage, chuck roberts

I absolutely love my rings and when my mother took it to be appraised before bringing it to me – the appraiser saw it and immediately said “it looks like a vintage art deco starburst ring” so, we did a good job but, the absolute best compliment about the redesigns have come from Russ’ mother and aunt that said that they love it and really see their mother’s ring in it and that she would totally approve and be happy I have it. Because that was always a concern that I would be dishonoring her spirit. To know that they all love it is the most special part.

The Wedding
Shortly after our engagement was announced we ran off to Japan for an amazing long trip and upon returning had the privilege to announce that we were expecting our first child and had decided to focus on making pregnancy as stress free as possible and putting the wedding plans on hold until our child was safely ushered into the world.

So, now as our pregnancy is coming to an end we are starting the process to try to find a venue and wow… there are some very cool places we are currently looking at and considering… and of course we will bring all of you along for the ride…

I can’t wait to find all the little ways to incorporate our favorite fandoms into the whole wedding experience…

Do you have a cool or nerdy engagement / wedding / ring story?
Please share it with us!