#McMillion Wedding: Designing our own wedding rings

by Emily McFarlan Miller

I’m on my way to Ocean City, Md., via New York City today for my friend Kara’s bachelorette party weekend. But the new series continues, because once you hit this age, it’s pretty much all weddings, all the time.

Joel and I will be married a year this month. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. At the same time, I can’t believe we’ve condensed everything that’s happened since into 365 days — not even! Needless to say, I’ve been thinking about all those things, all those other things we’ve learned and the party that started it all. And while the marriage part is the most important (and I have the privilege of sharing some of that now on Start Marriage Right), I thought I would share a little bit of the wedding part here this month.

Enjoy the wedding. Love the marriage.

When Joel and I started premarital counseling at our church, one of the first questions our pastor asked was when did we start to talk about getting married?

We never did; not until Joel proposed. We had never talked about dating either; not until Joel asked me out. Those probably should have been red flags, like the fact Joel was unemployed when we started dating or that, a month or two after that, I started totaling cars with abandon. But when I met Joel, God told me I would marry him, and I just believed if that was God’s plan, that would happen. I wasn’t too worried about it.

The closest we came to talking about getting married was when Joel asked me what kind of “jewelry” I liked. Joel knew what kind of jewelry I liked. He’d made me earrings and necklaces from old Elgin watch pieces and oyster shells and bottle caps and thick, thrift store chains. I was pretty sure he wanted to know what kind of engagement rings I liked. I told him I liked The Tiffany Setting. Not THE Tiffany Setting. But, you know, an engagement ring that looked like an engagement ring.

That was in January or February, more than a year after we had started dating. By summer, I was starting to think I had REALLY misjudged the question. By my birthday in early September, I was starting to make jabs about how much Joel likes to TAKE HIS TIME.

Actually, he was working on it. Literally, working on it with a client of his who is a jewelry designer. We’re incredibly blessed our friends are such tremendously talented people — musicians, photographers, designers, florists, confectioners, bakers, jewelers. We tried to show them off as much as possible at our wedding. He’d taken a picture of The Tiffany Setting and a picture of a paisley (I love paisley!) to Alicja at Morrison Galleries in Geneva, Ill., and asked how they could make a ring out of that.

The answer was a half-carat diamond set between two paisleys carved into white gold (see Joel’s cell phone photo at the end of this post). If you see it from the top, it looks like a simple solitaire; from the side, the two paisleys peek over top of my wedding band.

Our wedding bands, too, were designed by Alicja at Morrison Galleries. Mine is a simple band with a dotted border on either side of an etched paisley pattern. Joel’s is brushed so it’s not as shiny, with a similar dotted border.

Wedding rings inherently are meaningful, “a sign of the vows by which this man and this woman have bound themselves to each other; through Jesus Christ our Lord,” according to the Book of Common Prayer. But it really meant a lot to me that my husband put that much thought into the “jewelry” I might like (and that he knew me well enough to be RIGHT!).

The other jewelry I wore on my wedding day was equally meaningful: The cross necklace my mom had worn on her wedding day (something borrowed), my great-grandmother’s wedding band (something old; also, engraved inside was the date she married my great-grandfather in Chicago: May 22!) and a pair of earrings my then-roommate and bridesmaid Kristin bought for me at Kohl’s amid an I-can’t-find-any-earrings-for-my-wedding freakout. Joel even wore his great-grandfather’s pocket watch.

Rings: Morrison Galleries, Geneva, Ill.

Read all posts in the “#McMillion Wedding” series here.

Photo credit: All wedding photos by the incomparable Shauna Bittle. Squiggles divider by IROCKSOWHAT.

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