If you choose to do anything slightly out of the ‘norm’ in life, it can come with questions or confusion. People are quick to assume wrongly or struggle to understand if it’s not what they want, had or did. It’s been a similar situation when sharing our engagement as we didn’t follow tradition. We chose not to have a conventional engagement and planned it ourselves. Mostly off the back of deciding to do the ring together first, so the proposal followed naturally. I looked for stories similar to ours but struggled to find many.
This is for fellow couples like us who might be in a similar position. Or if you’re just curious on how another couple has done it. We also shared our Engagement Story over on YouTube if you’d prefer to listen/watch.
starting the ring shopping process
Benji asked me to get my ring size during the summer of last year. Whilst in London for a work trip, I popped into a beautiful jewellers I had seen on Instagram. They kindly measured my finger and showed me some designs. It was the first time I had seriously considered what I liked, although we had previously played the game of “what would you pick?” whilst passing the window of jewellery shops or on Pinterest. To avoid escalating my excitement any further, I sent Benji some photos of their trilogy engagement rings we had previously liked, along with my size.
A few weeks later, we were back in London together and decided to visit the same jewellers to see some rings in person. As we were trying a few options on, it was clear we were overwhelmed, uneducated on diamonds and out of our depth in a very expensive jewellers. Meanwhile, a couple sat next to us where designing and making their own ring with a professional in store. They had a glass of champagne in their hands and looked so happy. We knew instantly we wanted that same experience.
engagement ring shopping together
Truthfully, I knew Benji would do an excellent job getting an engagement ring. He had support from both my bestie and Mum who both knew exactly what I’d like, and has previously bought me jewellery and a watch I love and wear daily. Watching that couple design one together was a light bulb moment for Benji, who suggested that we also do it together. I was really honoured and excited as I never imagined having the opportunity. The ring shopping felt like an experience in itself that we could have together.
Not only is it a lot of pressure and a big expense, but if it’s something you wear on your hand every single day for the rest of your life, you want to get it right. Obviously there is no right or wrong way to get a ring. Some couples do it together later on. Others WANT the surprise (and love the idea their partner picked something for them). Some have heirlooms. Designing the ring together came completely naturally and felt right for us, and we decided to do it before he proposed.
choosing Cara Jewellers in Dubai
My Mum has been shopping for diamonds for years, specifically at Cara Jewellers in Dubai. She’s known the owners for a long time and found them in the Gold & Diamond Park when they had just two stores (now an empire of over ten!). They’ve fixed, changed and made several rings for her, including designing and creating my special 21st birthday ring 7 years ago (which they resized for me out there too!).
It was a no-brainer we’d visit them. We already trusted them and reached out to share our ideas. They provided us with a contact via WhatsApp called Deep. We messaged him back and forth for a few months prior, sending photos and specifications for the diamonds we wanted. We’d spend our evenings reading articles and watching YouTube videos on diamonds and rings. I’d really recommend this Engagement Ring Shopping video for some tips.
Deep arranged a car to pick us up the day after we landed which was a private, Cara branded mini-van. He made the whole experience extremely relaxing and we felt important before we even arrived in Dubai.
designing the engagement ring together
If you’ve never looked at diamonds before, they’re pretty complex! The style, clarity, cut, colour, carat, setting and type of metal band are all things to consider. They massively change the look, feel and price of a ring. Deep showed us around the multiple Cara stores, and we looked at every type of trilogy setting they had available. He pulled a few options for us to try which was a great opportunity to see different styles on me.
After months of researching it was very clear we knew exactly what we wanted. It was no problem to have it made rather than pick off the shelf. They had a similar lab-grown version we liked, so we essentially aimed to copy it.
Trilogy rings always stood out to us. They represent the ‘past, present and future’ together. When it comes to rings, it really is so personal. Everyone’s hands/fingers are different, and what suits one person won’t suit the next. It’s not necessarily about the size of the diamond. It’s about what suits the person wearing it and their personal style. You also have to consider that a wedding band will sit with it too. I personally wanted something classic that wouldn’t date, and knew this was it.
buying diamonds in Dubai
Deep gave us the opportunity to pick all three of the individual diamonds we wanted. It was a case of going up and down the scale with the different elements. We felt it’s pointless being at the top end for colour and clarity. The naked eye cannot tell the difference. We ended up with a slightly smaller carat in the middle with the exact specifications we wanted. The two smaller diamonds on the sides came down to .0 decimals! Deep was so patient and helpful whilst we decided. The whole process took around two hours and the ring took 3 days to be made.
Buying the ring in Dubai also meant that Benji paid a very good price for it. We don’t plan on ever selling it (obviously!), but we are going to get it valued in the UK. We assume it’ll be worth more here. If you’d like another perspective of shopping with Cara, read this post on How To Buy Jewellery in Dubai. Stacey the author has worded it well.
We returned a few days later (they picked us up again!) to collect the ring. Diamonds are graded by different labs, so it’s important to keep the certificates and documentation too. We also looked at the ring under a microscope which was fascinating. It was perfect. They provided us with a beautiful box, cleaning cloth and bag to take home too.
telling our loved ones
When we told our close friends and family, we experienced a mixed response. Most of them obviously supported and loved the idea. My best friend even said, “oh that’s SO you guys!”. They were so excited to be in the know with us as I hadn’t shared anything online. The only thing was that it was a bit odd to pre-congratulate us for something we hadn’t done yet, ha!
Other friends questioned my choice to not have a surprise. Some family members were so confused their expressions said it all. Ultimately, we didn’t have to tell anyone our plans, but it was a really nice part of the process. We had about 4-5 months before we left for Dubai and it really built the excitement for us.
planning the proposal
Benji is not the type of man who typically does many surprises. Mostly because I don’t like them very much, but also because we both suck at keeping secrets from each other.
He considered options for where he could propose at home or in another location. But due to the nature of my job organising all the trips, anywhere or anytime he did it I’d likely guess anyway.
It was very obvious to us that whilst we were already in such a beautiful country, why not make it extra special and propose there too? As we had already done the ring together, we decided we’d also plan the proposal together, and so the ‘engagement holiday’ idea was born. A whole trip dedicated to celebrating and spending time together.
We stayed at Anantara The Palm which I’ve written a full review of…coming soon! It’s a beautiful resort and has a private beach.
We did look at options for different locations and ‘engagement set ups’. Aura Events are a great company who offer engagement shoots. Just one look at their Instagram and I was in love with their work. Although everything looked beautiful, it just wasn’t us. We knew the moment would be over so quickly, and it became obvious that the location alone was beautiful enough. The whole trip felt like a big celebration, and we knew the beach would be private enough without many people watching (there were only a handful of strangers who witnessed it!).
I said yes 💍
On Thursday 24th February 2022, Benji got down on one knee on the beach at sunset.
I was weirdly so nervous all day, physically shaking beforehand! He was so calm and enjoying every bit of the shoot, whispering silly things in my ear. We did some photos beforehand dancing and laughing outside the hotel, before walking over to the spot we had seen on the first night of the trip.
He said beautiful words. I cried. The ring looked incredible in the sunshine. He asked “will you marry me?”, and I had never felt so happy in one single moment. We popped a bottle of Moët we bought at duty free in the airport, then took a few of our own selfies to send to our loved ones.
having a photographer present
We found our photographer Kayla Simoné on Instagram, who shot these beautiful images for us. We had a Zoom call with her a few months prior to discuss our idea, and booked an hour slot to capture the moment. She very kindly organised a videographer as a bonus for us too.
Both of us weren’t sure how it would feel having other people there, but we were pleasantly surprised when it came to THE moment. Kayla had us walk up and down the beach before saying “whenever you’re ready”. She stepped back and it felt like just the two of us in the whole world. There weren’t many people around anyway, but I was so focused on Benji I completely forgot they were there. Kayla was so kind and made us feel so comfortable. I’ll forever cherish these photos and the video!
would we have done the engagement any differently?
Truthfully, no. It was magic. Better than I imagined. Being bare foot in the sand, wearing a beautiful dress with my hair and nails done made me feel fab. There was no secrecy or pressure, we both made the decision together, exactly how we plan on moving forward in our marriage.
The excitement wasn’t over in one single moment either, we spent months building it together, something I hadn’t anticipated. We had a whole holiday to celebrate! The next day we had Afternoon Tea at the top of the Burj Khalifa and continued to live in a lovely engagement bubble.
Benji is the best man I know, and being engaged and planning our wedding fills me with so much love and excitement. I am so happy to be marrying a man who is open to doing things differently, but more importantly, always having what’s best for US at the forefront. It was a beautiful holiday, a truly romantic moment. I loved every minute of it.
Cheers to us, Benji. Can’t wait to be your wife. x