Everyone I know has an engagement horror story. It might be their own, or it happened to someone they know. There are the ones on Ferris Wheels. Boats. Pet-assisted proposals gone wrong. Pretty much anywhere a ring can slip out of your hands and disappear forever, they have. I have a friend whose first job was at Disneyland, cleaning the filter on Splash Mountain, and yes, she found more than one engagement ring in there. So engagement ring horror stories are A Thing! I’ve even got one.
My now-husband proposed to me with a gorgeous, vintage, Art Deco shield ring that he had gotten from his grandmother. It had belonged to their dear family friend who had been his mother’s godmother, and never had children of her own. It was perfect for me. I have always loved old things, the more compelling the story the better, and I believe deeply in the importance of family and chosen family. And it was just so pretty. He and I hadn’t ever discussed rings, or actually engagement (which was fine for us but I don’t officially recommend it! Talk about that stuff first), but somehow he got it just right. I loved it.
Fast forward a year and a half. Our wedding is fully planned, booked, ready to go. I have a vintage dress from the 1920s, same era as the ring, and a wedding band custom made to match the same tint of gold. And we’ve been roped into attending a family reunion on the beach in South Carolina two weekends before our wedding date, very excitedly planned by my fiancx’s grandparents. I’ll admit, I was not thrilled about traveling across the country less than two weeks before getting married (my to do list was loooooong at this point), but I was overruled. Apparently very reasonable prices are available for rental beach houses during shoulder season, and that’s just irresistible. I should also say now that I’m not a beach person. I love to swim, but I grew up in Northern California where the beaches are cold, windy, rocky, and dangerous—and I hate being cold. So my preferred body of water is definitely a nice river or lake, preferably somewhere hot that I can fly to directly.
So we make it to South Carolina, via only one narrowly-missed connecting flight, and despite my undeniably bad attitude, it’s nice. It really is. The night before, a second cousin had proposed to his girlfriend (she said yes), so everyone is excited about that. We’re watching old family videos, I introduced my future sister-in-law to the joys of Waffle House, and generally we’re having a good time and making happy memories. So my then-fiancx and I decide to take a dip in the ocean; after all, we’ve flown here to stay in this beach house!
You know where this is going. We get in the water; I’m pleasantly surprised that it’s really quite warm. Just as I turn to my future husband and his sister to say “this is actually pretty nice,” my beautiful, vintage, irreplaceable engagement ring slips off my finger and into the Atlantic. My future sister-in-law grabs goggles and searches; the guy wandering the beach with a metal detector tries to help us. But it’s gone. It’s so very gone. I’m devastated, trying desperately not to cry, and now I have to go into the house and tell my future husband’s grandmother—the one who gave us this ring, the one who inherited it from her dear friend—what has happened. And as I’m headed inside, that second cousin’s brand new fiancx, the one who’d just been proposed to, smirks at me and says “Oh, yeah. Never swim in the ocean with your ring—everyone knows that! That’s why Andrew [name has obviously been changed] gave me this nice beach storage bag for my ring last night,” holding up a special engagement ring mini bag with some shitty sexist diamond-based pun on it and wagging it in my face.
This story does have a happy ending, though! I did not murder or even slap that woman—I was trying so hard not to burst into tears that I don’t think I even managed an icy stare. We got married without my engagement ring, less than two weeks later, and I was so consumed with… you know… getting married that I only thought about it once, maybe twice. And a year and a half after our wedding, I stumbled upon the exact same vintage ring on Etsy, this time rendered in white gold. It was a splurge, but I bought it for myself for my birthday, and now every time I wear it, I think about how beautiful yet ephemeral that first ring was, and how maybe someday someone will find it while walking on the beach, and it will have another life. I’m not really sure there’s a lesson here (other than don’t ruin family reunions with your grumpiness), but I do know I’ll never wear any jewelry in the ocean, ever again. I know I can’t be the only one, right? Wait, really, right?!? Tell me I’m not alone.
Let’s dish: give us your best (and worst) engagement ring horror stories. The good, the bad, the wait, they dropped it where?!?!?! Maybe there’s a lesson, maybe not, but when it comes to surprises and expensive jewelry, we know you’ve got a tale to tell.