Holding onto the ring for seven months, Rita planned a spontaneous trip to Virginia Beach and had a photographer capture the moment she proposed.
THE LOVE STORY
Rita Pratte, Lead Disaster Services Specialist for the United States AmeriCorps Federal Agency. Originally from New Hampshire, I attended Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts. Postgrad, I joined AmeriCorps serving in New Orleans on Hurricane Katrina response. There I found a passion for disaster services, and just this year joined the AmeriCorps Disaster Services Unit. We work with federal partners to oversee and deploy AmeriCorps Members to communities in crisis across the nation. I love my job, but in my personal time, I enjoy cycling, hiking, camping, and generally being outside! Lauren will tell you. I need to be “walked” daily. I also recently took up pottery. Although I don’t think I’m very good at it, I do enjoy the classes.
Lauren Field MS LAT ATC — Head Athletic Trainer at a local high school. Essentially, I am responsible for injury prevention, evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of student-athletes. My primary focus this year has been monitoring and enforcing COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the safety of the students and their families. My pre-pandemic hobbies include group activities such as going to wineries and movie nights. Besides all the activities Rita listed above, aside from the pottery because I have not tried that. During the pandemic, my activities include sewing on a 1950s vintage machine, refinishing furniture, and most recently, the art of sushi making.
When we met in Columbia, South Carolina, two and a half years ago, Lauren had just finished the first year of her master’s program at UofSC. I was working for the South Carolina Service Commission as their Lead Disaster Services Specialist. After my service year, I moved around a lot and was brought to South Carolina by Hurricane Matthew. We always say some of the brightest days come after the storm, and in this case, I found Lauren. She asked me out for tacos, and right away, I knew she was a keeper because she was bold and extremely decisive. Isn’t that what we all look for in a woman?
PLANNING TO PROPOSAL
Before the proposal, we certainly discussed the idea of marriage; we both knew it was the next step. We have spent more time together over the last year working from home, and it feels like we’ve worked out a lot of the early kinks of marriage already. I initially planned to propose around Thanksgiving with family, but last minute decided I really wanted the proposal to be personal, just for us.
We planned a spontaneous weekend to Virginia Beach, so Lauren really had no idea that this would be the weekend. I was fortunate enough that Nicole, our photographer, just happened to cancel her weekend plans and was available. In my not so sly way, I suggested that Lauren keep “the Ring quote on her if she happens to have one at all times looking for that perfect double proposal. Well, it didn’t work out that way, but we both did have rings that weekend. It turns out Lauren had actually bought me a ring a year previously, in November 2019. I designed Lauren’s ring with Emily Chelsea in March 2020, so Lauren technically beat me to the purchase but not to the proposal.
We had a great day on the Saturday of the proposal. We rented bikes, rode up and down the boardwalk, walked on the beach, ate a fantastic lunch, etc., so much so that I completely lost track of time. I planned to meet Nicole around 4 pm at a specific location to set up the photo. I told Lauren that we would get drinks at The Historic Cavalier Hotel, rushing her to get ready, I didn’t even have time to do my hair!
When we got there, there was a bridal party taking photos in the exact spot I had planned to meet Nicole. Knowing that Lauren would be respectful and tell me to walk away from the party, I encouraged her to walk straight up to it, hoping they would move. Fortunately, they did move. Unfortunately, I got so nervous I proposed in the wrong spot! Nicole had to run up the stairs to reframe the shot. Right after our proposal, we were mooned by a row of groomsmen (for a photo), which added levity to the overwhelming situation.
FINDING THE PERFECT ENGAGEMENT RING
It’s a funny story. In the fall of 2019, I’ve found my engagement ring at an antique shop in Alexandria, Virginia. I absolutely love the ring and brought Lauren back to the shop to show her. I didn’t necessarily expect her to buy the ring, but she’s not great at lying, so I had a feeling she did buy it. So I sent photos of the ring to all of my closest friends and family. I only found out that she did buy the ring on the day of the proposal. It was even more beautiful than I remembered. My ring is an antique ring from 1890. Its center is one pear-shaped diamond surrounded by 11 Old Mine and Old European cut diamonds. It’s absolutely a statement piece. The history of it is fascinating, and often I find myself thinking about the previous owners of this ring.
I began designing Lauren’s ring in the spring of 2020. Lauren had been sending me photos of rings for a while, all were oval, so it wasn’t hard to know what she wanted. She’s extremely classic, and I needed something to hold up to her medical profession. Emily Chelsea was terrific; she helped me through the entire process and made it as simple as possible. We already have an appointment with her in February to design our wedding bands.
PLANNING THE WEDDING
Now that it’s official, there is an unexpected sense of comfort in the commitment. This pandemic has created a lot of uncertainty in our lives and everyone’s lives, but one thing is for sure, we have each other.
Wedding planning is STRESSFUL! That would be the one word to describe it. There is so much pressure to make this day special, and with that comes indecision. For example, in deciding the venue, we also have to consider how many friends in the bridal party, the number of guests, what type of music we are hoping to have, so many questions! We regularly have to remind ourselves that this is supposed to be about celebrating our love and staying true to that.
Neither of us has been to a same-sex wedding previously, and there are certain considerations we have to make. So are looking to LGBTQ+ sites like Dancing With Her for inspiration. Both of us were raised in the Catholic Church and, growing up, saw ourselves getting married there, so the reality that we are not welcomed has been challenging to overcome. We have been looking at alternatives to incorporating our Faith into our ceremony.
Fortunately, we both have a similar idea for style and ~vibe~ for the event, so finding venues within those parameters has not been difficult. If only we had an unlimited budget!
DWH Preferred Vendor
Engagement Ring Emily Chelsea Jewelry
Photography by Nicole Rae Photography