A globe outside of the science museum in Raleigh was the perfect spot for Erica to propose to Azul after plans for an international proposal fell through.
Who are Azul & Erica?
Erica is a classically-trained pianist and diligent cat mom to her ragdoll named Carnegie. She loves shoes that make a statement as soon as she enters a room. Erica is the youngest of three to fantastic parents and is the responsible “baby” of the family. And a double Taurus.
As an intellectual property attorney, with Ward and Smith, P.A., Erica thrives at creative problem-solving for her clients and working with international colleagues. One of her favorite events is the annual conference of the International Trademark Association (“INTA”).
Azul is a trusted friend and an incredibly passionate person. She too, is a diligent cat mom to two cats, Stevie Wonder Nicks and Bowie (which if you’re keeping score, that’s three cats total, all with music-related names). Azul loves getting to know people at the core best of who they are (as opposites attract, Azul is a double Scorpio). She enters a room, making sure everyone in the room is comfortable, valued, and included.
Azul is the older sister to her closest friend, Lorenzo, who shares her musical talent. As a professional musician, Azul is constantly making noise. Whether trumpet, voice, and/or keys on stage or singing at her garden/the grocery store/the mall/at 2 am when an idea strikes her..constantly, you get the picture (sound?).
Erica and Azul love to travel. Spend quality time with their family and friends (specifically cook for them!), and go on adventures to museums, concerts, and local restaurants. They love spending road trips together. Listening to true crime podcasts, or arguing with each other about something that challenges their beliefs and ideals. These types of arguments are followed by frantically researching something new on the phone and learning from each other and what is available online. It’s a strange way to keep their minds active and it is hard to explain. But the main thing is – they never get tired of spending time together.
How long have you been together, and how did you meet?
We have been together for nearly three and a half years. We met on the dating app, Bumble. Our first date was at a local coffee shop where we talked for four hours, and Erica followed Azul home for dinner. Azul remembers Erica’s intense eye contact (her blue-eyed gaze). Erica also remembers Azul’s eyes but for a different reason. Azul is very expressive, and her eyes can tell you a lot about what she is thinking.
Proposal plans didn’t exactly go to plan, what happened?!
Erica secretly wanted to propose on an international trip over the New Years’ holiday 2021, but the global pandemic threw that planning for a loop. The idea to go to Europe for a holiday was not a surprise, we have friends there, but the engagement plan was.
We had looked at rings together – more under the impression that we wanted to know what each other liked for the future. No one knew that each other actually purchased anything.
When Erica realized the pandemic would prevent the traveling plans, and more importantly, when she realized how much she wanted to marry Azul, she could not wait any longer. She got the ring in the summer of 2020, and it sat hidden in her home office. There were many days where Erica took the ring outside to look at it in the sun when Azul wasn’t home.
Erica spent a few weeks talking to Azul’s parents, friends, and family about the idea to go ahead and propose. 2020 was a challenging year, especially for Azul, and bringing something exciting and stable into it made a lot of sense. You can’t wait for a perfect moment. You have to make it.
The proposal on Azul’s birthday was a complete surprise. Azul is a planner. If she wanted to find something that matched her partner, she would have to do extensive research to find something as timeless, unique, and beautiful as her. And when Erica proposed, she knew she had already found the right one.
Azul proposed back with a vintage emerald ring a few weeks later. She got nervous and FaceTimed our best friends Emily and Kenzie to watch. It was honestly perfect.
The whole proposal, and the time leading up to it, was a little stressful, what happened?
Erica: I had to hide the ring on our way downtown to walk around for Azul’s birthday. I never carry a purse or anything, and the box the ring came in was too bulky for my pocket. So, I emptied and cleaned out a lip balm container, which the ring fit perfectly inside. It was an easy way to avoid the question of, “what’s in your pocket?” but I’m not going to lie – I was really stressed out about putting such an expensive piece of jewelry in a plastic container as I drove downtown.
More stressful, though, leading up to it, was probably the fact that summer/fall of 2020 was difficult for us and mental health-wise for many people.
Our country faced significant and very important protests against systemic racism and police brutality; the weeks leading up to the presidential election came with fear of unpredictability. Our family lost a good friend – a kind, giving woman who we miss a lot – and another friend was in a bicycle accident. Added to that, Azul and I tested positive for COVID-19 in October 2020. Already Azul had lost her jobs as a musician. With the emotional height of everything going on with the country, our family, and the virus, we realized that our relationship was a lot stronger than we had ever known it to be. Those events sparked a lot of meaningful conversations between us.
We – luckily- ended up with a mild case of sickness, and we know our struggles are minimal compared to some, but we realized how fragile life could be. And above anything else – we realized we had found the perfect partner for the ups and downs of life.
Without trying to be too heavy here, strong relationships are built on getting through tough times. And once it was safe to leave the house after quarantine, Erica could not wait to put that ring on Azul’s finger. That kind of love – our kind of love – keeps us safe, grounded, and supported.
Why did you choose the globe outside of the science museum in downtowan Raleigh as the perfect spot to ask ‘will you marry me?’
Early on in their relationship, Azul showed Erica where she was born on a huge globe outside the science museum in downtown Raleigh. About a year later, Erica joined her on a trip to Argentina. Fast forward through many dates, including many to the symphony downtown, and many adventures in travel, Erica proposed next to that same globe. Erica proposed on Azul’s birthday! It was a complete surprise, and Azul was not suspicious AT ALL by Erica’s idea to go for a walk downtown for Azul’s birthday.
The exact words are hard to remember, but it went something like, “I may not have been able to ask you this question on a trip across the world like I had planned, but we will have our whole lives to travel together. And in 2020, when life got a little harder – a little unpredictable – one thing became easier and more clear. I want to spend the rest of my life traveling with you. And I know for sure, no matter where we end up in the world or what adventures we go on, I will be happy if I am next to you.
And we want to know all about that incredible diamond engagement ring.
Azul’s five-diamond platinum ring was scored on an online auction site. She fell in love with a similar ring in a store in Raleigh. So Erica kept that style in mind as she researched various possibilities online. The ring Erica bought stayed hidden in her home office for months before she gained the courage to propose.
Azul found Erica’s ring at an antique store in Raleigh. It’s a 1940’s vintage emerald, diamond, and gold band ring. As background, Erica wears an emerald ring her grandmother gave her mom in high school on her left-hand pointer finger. She never met that grandmother, but she knows she is with her through her mom’s example, and that ring reminds her of that relationship. That ring is important to her, and Azul knew that. Emeralds are also Erica’s birthstone (double Taurus, remember?). So Azul finding this vintage emerald ring as an engagement ring was absolutely perfect. It matches the ring she wears daily, and the style is so unique.
It’s hard to explain why, but the rings are symbolic of what Erica and Azul are to each other. Erica surprised Azul with a ring she never thought she would like. Still, it reminds her that she can be her complete self around Erica. Even if that self is more sophisticated, elegant, and traditional.
Azul surprised Erica with a ring that shows how Azul values Erica’s relationship with her family and a ring that is uniquely vintage. Azul has a knack for finding vintage clothes for Erica that meet her style and hype up the fact that Erica’s style does not have to be what everyone else expects.
What does your engagement mean to you both? Has anything changed?
Our engagement provides comfort in an uncomfortable time. It also validates our relationship in a way that is important for a same-sex couple. We cannot wait to call each other WIFE. There’s no ambiguity about how we feel about each other, and the word, wife, supports that feeling.
Sometimes we talk about how our relationship is like building a treehouse.
We get better at it as time goes on, and we get more materials to expand upon what we started with. As we build our relationship, our treehouse gets stronger. The engagement just means we have created a pretty good treehouse. But it’s still just the start of a lifetime of building something great.
Photography by Mina Von Feilitzsch