The Story Behind the Engagement Ring

When Sam and I first started talking about marriage, of course engagement rings came up. And without hesitation, I immediately said that I didn’t want Sam to buy me one, I wanted to wear my grandmother’s. 

ring in richmond

Which means that I suppose I should give you a bit of background on my grandparents. They were pretty much the most wonderful grandparents a kid could ever have, and they are a huge part of who I am today. It was my grandmother who took me to the theatre at the age of 3, convinced I was old enough for it – I sat there rapt through the entire show. She took me to the ballet, she instilled a love of musicals in me. She made fresh bread every day and once took me to a bakery and convinced the baker to show me around behind the scenes. My grandmother traveled the world. She even went to Cuba by herself in the early 50s. My grandfather was a former Marine who served in two wars, but was one of the gentlest people I’ve ever known. My earliest memory of my grandfather is him laying outside on a beach in North Carolina, with a 4 year old me curled up against his stomach as he told me “scary” stories about swamp monsters.  They were both voracious readers and their house had more books in it than our local library.

Grandma and Grandpa
Circa 1961.
grandma collage
From left to right: Grandma 1961 // Grandma late 1950s // Grandma early 1950s

 grandpa Collage
From left to right: Grandpa stationed in Japan // Grandpa with my dad and uncle circa 1965 // Grandpa with my dad 1962

After my parents’ divorce, my grandparents played an even bigger part in my life, sometimes coming to stay with us for months on end. Every child one day realises that their grandparents won’t be around for too much longer. But I was so lucky, they were in good health, and they weren’t that old so I’d never worried. My senior year of university, I received the worst phone call of my life: they’d be visiting my mom and brother and on the drive back to their house they were hit by an oncoming truck and were both killed instantly. It’s a cliche to say that it felt like I was punched in the gut, but it did. Punched in the gut while someone else simultaneously squeezed my heart tight in their fist.

I’ll always regret that they never had the chance to meet Sam. But here we are, almost 5 years later and I am planning a wedding. I was a little girl that dreamed of white dresses and in all of my daydreams, my grandparents were always there smiling back out at me.  Reality doesn’t often mirror dreams and they won’t be there. But by wearing my grandmother’s ring I feel that there will still be a connection. It’s no longer my grandma’s ring or my ring, but a family ring originally owned by someone I loved whole-heartedly, put on my finger by someone else I love whole-heartedly. 

Now how Sam approached my mom to ask for it, and how my mom managed to ship it to England without me knowing is a whole other story! 

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  • What a beautiful story of your ring. Your Grandparents sound such wonderful people; how tragic to have lost them in that way. I’ve sadly never known either of my Grandfathers, and one of my very beloved Grandmothers died when I was 15. It is sad to think she has missed out on a lot of my big life events, but it’s always a comfort to think of how happy she would have been had she been here to see them. I’m sure your Grandparents would have loved Sam and would have been so proud of you on your wedding day. How lovely that your ring carries so many wonderful memories with it. xxx

    • Thanks so much Miranda! I’m sorry that you didn’t get to know your Grandfathers, but just think – you’re Grandmother’s probably wouldn’t have picked them if they weren’t incredible! x

  • Thank you for sharing such a personal and beautiful story of your grandparents and your beautiful ring. So touching to get to wear something so important every day.

    • Thank you so much Elizabeth, it makes me happy knowing that I do get to wear something so personal every day x

  • What a beautiful story <3 I bet they are really proud of you guys and extremely happy! I hope your wedding journey is filled with more love and adventures!

  • This story is so beautiful. I love that you have such a special memory behind your ring, other than Sam of course:) My Great Grandmother was/is my idol, she was the most amazing woman. So wonderful to have such great memories of your grandparents.

    • Thanks Kaelene! I have the best memories of them, and I’ll always feel so lucky that we were close! x

  • How wonderful that you can carry a little piece of your Grandma with you everyday and have her be a part of your relationship with Sam! I know exactly how you feel about not being able to have her there with you on your big day, but as you say, you will still have that amazing connection to her, and to your Grandad. xxx

    Sophie Cliff

    • Thanks Sophie! I have such incredible memories with them and I’ve shared a lot of them with Sam so they’ll always be remembered. xxx

  • Awwww this is so lovely. Beautiful people, and love your ring. I have both of my grandmothers’ rings and did wear one for a short time as an engagement ring. x

    • Thanks Frankie! Also, my grandmother was so stylish that I can never even come close. There’s no point even trying. x

  • Angie SilverSpoon

    That’s so lovely and how wonderful to carry the memory where ever you go. I only ever met one of my grand parents but she had some great stories to tell, she’d basically travelled everywhere that you can imagine.

    Lots of love,
    SilverSpoon London

  • What a beautiful story! And it’s a gorgeous ring too. How special to have them with you always.

  • Such a beautiful story, and now you can always think of them when you look at it. I always wanted my moms ring, which was her grandmas, but she won’t give it up!! haha.

  • I loveee this story! How special for you to look down and think of your grandparents.

  • This is so beautiful. I am so glad you have such a wonderful reminder of them with you always.

  • Laura

    This is such a lovely lovely post and what a beautiful ring. The fact it was your grandmother’s will make it even more special and that comes across in your writing. Can’ wait to hear the rest of the story πŸ™‚
    Laura |

  • Aw, thanks Madaline! What brought you to wearing your grandma’s ring? I’d love to know! x

  • Your grandparents were a lovely people. I really liked that you attached photos of them. i always wanted to have such a intelligent and artistic soul in my family, never happened. πŸ˜‰ I am really sorry for the awful way they were taken away from you. Find me at
    Have a lovely day, Iga x

  • So exciting and beautiful!! Thanks for sharing this rich family history.

  • What a traumatic and beautiful story – in equal parts.
    It’s a lovely idea to wear your grandmother’s ring – You’ll have a symbol of their love and your love all mixed together in one object now πŸ™‚
    Also beautiful pictures – they were lookers weren’t they!


    • Thanks Abigail! They were definitely a striking couple when they were younger, but I’m obviously biased! I wish I had inherited her red hair though! x

  • Aw, this is lovely! It’s wonderful that you have something of your grandparents. And it’s cute that Sam and your mother successfully conspired πŸ™‚

    • Sam wanted my mom’s approval on the whole thing so they were in cahoots from the beginning. (Sometimes I think she loves him more than me.) And they way they sneakily got it here was so risky that it makes me feel a bit sick just thinking about it! x

  • Wow. It’s wonderful to hear about your grandparents. Your grandmother looked like a friggin’ movie star. That moment of knowing your grands (and the other people you love) won’t always be around is a hard one… Thanks for sharing such a beautiful, honest bit of your family history with us πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for reading! My grandma was proposed to a billion different times, so she totally knew she was a looker too πŸ˜‰ I used to joke that I was never quite sure how grandpa managed to be the one that got her in the end. I’d kill to have her natural red hair though! xx

  • This is simply the loveliest, loveliest story!

  • Ah that’s a lovely story! I know what you mean by saying that you’d like Sam to meet your parents. My husband will never get to meet my dad and I have a feeling that they would be best friends…they share the same zodiac sign and its cliche, but they do share some character traits too!

    • It’s hard when you know that the people you love would be great friends if they had met, isn’t it? It must just be human instinct to want all the people you love to all be in the same places! x

  • How sweet and sentimental!!!! =)

  • I liked this talk about oh so sweet, I now wear my great aunts engagement and wedding rings as well as mine

    • Thank you so much Jo-Anne! It’s lovely to get to wear other family rings sometimes, isn’t it? x

  • Julie @ Artwork by JM

    That is so sweet! My grandparents and I were very close too and my grandfather (who was basically my father figure) passed away right before I met my now husband Chris. I always tell him how much I wish he could have met him. I love that you have a beautiful part of your grandparents with you now all the time. So great

    • Thank you Julie! I’m sorry that you never got the chance to introduce him to, Chris. You just want all the people you love to know one another, don’t you? But I’m sure Chris knows what a wonderful man your grandfather must have been! x

  • amitygardens

    AWWWWWW! This is so lovely! πŸ™‚

  • Aw that is such a great homage to your grandparents and that’s really lovely that you’re wearing her ring now! It looks gorgeous by the way!

  • Amy @ the tide that left

    I read this DAYS ago and have only now just got round to commenting. I love this story. Sam is a proper romantic, and so are you. Made for each other! I’m always a big believer in making an effort when you propose – he had to really mean it to arrange all that with your mum before asking you!

    • He put so much effort it. It was amazing. And actually, they arranged it pre- Christmas but then the ring got lost in the mail for over a month and he had to cancel his original proposal plan. (He told me all of this after the fact – I felt so bad for him when I learned how stressed he must have been!) x

      • Amy @ the tide that left

        OMG! Stress.ful! Poor guy! Such an important ring; must have been pretty upsetting for all involved. I’m so pleased it arrived and you got your gorgeous proposal. x

        • I feel a tiny bit guilty since it wasn’t very stressful for me… πŸ˜‰ x

          • Amy @ the tide that left

            I wouldn’t feel too guilty. You’ll probably be the one who gets most stressed about wedding organisation so this just kind of evens itself out. x

          • That’s true πŸ˜‰ x

  • First of all, that ring is absolutely beautiful. The meaning behind it is.. well, very touching. I remember you mentioned your grandparents passing before and when I read about it again, I was touched and saddened and moved all over. I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose both of your grandparents at once. The only comforting thought would be that they went .. together. More sad for you and your family to lose them both but a comfort that they were together when they went.
    It’s nice when you get a bit deep with your blog and I appreciate you opening up to your readers. I bet you were shocked when Sam asked you to marry him with Grandma’s ring. How special. You’ve got yourself a good one but I’m sure you already knew that.. Seeing as you both read HP together. Still can’t get over how awesome that is. πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for this entire comment, Haley! Whatever ring Sam used would have been really special to me but now it has double the meaning, which I love πŸ™‚ x

  • The ring is so beautiful, Amanda! This is such a lovely story, I was really close to my grandparents as well and I SO wish they could’ve met Lance and now Joey <3

    • Thanks Fran! I feel very fortunate that we were all so close! I know a lot of kids don’t have that luxury with their grandparents xx