Bird and Belle's Adventures in Marriage


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In response to a request for our engagement story…

From our engagement shoot at the Alabama Theater

As one might expect, Jay’s and my engagement was far from traditional. Although it is still a surprise that I have found a man who can live with me and all my quirks, our real engagement was not a surprise. We had discussed getting married on many occasions – when I was moving to Kentucky, while at my friend’s wedding and occasionally while walking through the arboretum or cooking dinner. We both knew the intent was there and that was enough.

This summer Jay’s mom, Sally, visited. While at dinner Sally asked for the second time that week what she needed to do to get a wedding started. I responded by shoveling more mashed potatoes into my mouth and looking at Jay. What resulted from her pressing was a lovely conversation about “social norms” – is it right for us to shop for a ring together (of course!), is it OK that there is no “big surprise” as neither of us do particularly well with big surprises (why yes!) and is it OK that we have a non-wedding wedding (of course, just invite the parents!)

The ring!

Our fears put to rest; Jay took me aside the next morning to look at rings online. In a matter of minutes we had found the designer we liked – Tacori. A week later his parents and uncle found a VERY good deal on a stone through family connections. The stone purchased, Jay began to save for the setting as I refused to start a lifetime together with debt on what is essentially a very expensive and terribly beautiful token.

When budget permitted we visited the jeweler. I’m sure we looked like two deer in very shiny headlights. I knew nothing about diamonds other than they are lovely and seemed to have a way of making girls act silly. The jeweler was tremendously helpful, explaining different settings, stones, metals etc. After 25 minutes and trying on only five rings I found the perfect one – a simple Tacori setting in platinum.

The ring was ordered at the beginning of October and would arrive in four to six weeks. With luck, we would have it in time for Thanksgiving. Two days before my birthday, Jay got a call from the jeweler – the ring was already in! That night as we did dishes (a task we view as valuable bonding time) Jay casually said, “So Rivard called today… the ring is in already. We can pick it up tomorrow if you like.”

On my last day as a 28-year-old Jay and I drove to the jeweler. Hand-in-hand we walked in and they opened the box. It was perfect. Slightly confused, the assistant asked if I was Sarah and then looked at Jay and asked if I was allowed to try it on. Of course! On the ring went and there it has stayed – without a lot of pomp and circumstance, but with a lot of heart, kindness and attention to our personal needs.

Although some more traditional folks were skeptical of our process, it was perfect for us. Both frugal and unsure of life-altering surprises, Jay and I found choosing the ring together was the perfect way to make a purchase that will stand the test of time (and fashion). It also made me comfortable with the life changes that are on the horizon. The entire process was so simple, fun and painless that it only made me more certain of our future together!

Although some of my more traditional friends were skeptical of our process, it was perfect for us. Both frugal and unsure of life-altering surprises, Jay and I found that selecting the ring together was the perfect way to make a selection that will stand the test of time (and fashion) and that will make me comfortable with the life changes that are on the horizon.


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A picture is worth a thousand words

Jay and I traveld to Birmingham in October so my dear friend Rhonda McSween could shoot our engagement photos. The experience was just perfect. Our original plan was to go downtown and shoot photos among the old buildings. Included in the shots were to be a couple quick ones at the Alabama Theater. I very much wanted a shot of Jay and I and the Marquee in the background. It seems fitting as we met, and fell in love, in Alabama.

We started with a few “warm up shots” along Morris Ave. and then headed to the Theater. Just as Rhonda was explaining where she wanted us to stand, an older gentleman walked up and asked in a booming voice what “we were up to.” *Gulp* Rhonda explained we were just taking a few shots outside the theater and then would be on our way.

The man, whose name was Cecil, smiled and gestured to the front doors, “Well why don’t you come in and take photos! You can go wherever you want. Take as many as you want.” Rhonda, Jay and I promptly accepted, and then started to melt! People pay a LOT of money to have photos taken inside that Theater!

As we wrapped up the shoot we stopped to thank Cecil again, and get his card. A gentleman who was tuning the vintage organ came up during our conversation to say hello and ask, “Did you see that Vintage Hudson outside? That is mine. The doors are unlocked. You can take all the photos you want with it!” At this point I thought Jay would pass out – How MASCULINE!!

I don’t know how long we spent in the theater and climbing around the Hudson, or how many times Rhonda muttered, “I can’t believe I get to shoot in here! Everyone is just going to die when they hear about this!” What I do know is that photos that are just perfect- decadent, lush, a bit eerie and perfectly Jay and I. Many thanks to Rhonda for such a wonderful wedding gift!

I am posting my favorite below. Rhonda will send more to me over the holidays and I’ll add them as they come. Enjoy!