While members of the Civil War Club in college, couple Patrick and Anna made a pact with club friends to reunite at the 150th Gettysburg Anniversary. To commemorate how Patrick met Anna, he decided it was fitting to propose to her with an incredibly unique engagement ring during their visit.By Caroline Bagby October 02, 2013
One Thursday afternoon in late May, a co-worker passed a notification for a unique engagement ring along to me. The request was for a black metal ring with an embossed herringbone-like stitch seemingly holding a flush-set emerald. Black metal and emeralds are not typical of engagement rings, so I got an urge to talk to the man behind the out-of-the-box idea.
My outreach was warmly met by Patrick McCarthy, a kind and open man blatantly in love with his girlfriend, Anna. My paragraph-long introduction email was returned with seven healthy paragraphs ranging from how Patrick and Anna met, to the idea behind the ring. Patrick and I soon got into an everyday habit of talking to one another and Patrick quickly confided in me that he was planning on proposing to Anna at the 150th Gettysburg Anniversary.
In 2007 Patrick was wandering around the Grand Valley State University campus in Michigan where he went to school. He was seeking out different clubs to join and happened upon an oddly appealing poster for the Civil War Club. Remembering how wow'ed he was with a Civil War reenactment he attended with his parents when he was younger, Patrick decided to check it out.
Patrick made his way to the club's first meeting and was greeted by Anna, the club Vice President. The two quickly became friends and after about a year of meeting each other, they found themselves hanging out nearly every day. What began as a close friendship evolved into a relationship. Patrick was drawn to Anna's selflessness and Anna was enamored with Patrick's infectious optimism.
Before leaving college, Patrick and Anna made a pact with several Civil War Club members that they would all meet again at an epic reenactment during the 150th Gettysburg Anniversary. The friends all drifted to their own corners of the country, but Patrick and Anna stayed together and made their way to Wisconsin.
A few months before the 150th Gettysburg Anniversary, Patrick decided he was ready to pop the question. He knew he wanted to incorporate a couple of important aspects of Anna's life into the ring, including her career as a seamstress and her love of The Wizard of Oz, all while being mindful of her nickel allergy.
Patrick turned to the internet to help him find a jeweler that could create Anna's soon-to-be custom engagement ring and he happened upon CustomMade. He posted a project publicly and Michelle Rahm of High End Wedding Rings expressed interest in creating the ring. After a few messages back and forth, Michelle and Patrick made the connection that they would both ironically be at the Gettysburg reenactment in July. The stars seemed to align for the perfect match and the two set out to refine the ring design and see it take form.
Patrick envisioned a black ring, so Michelle suggested black zirconium, a durable and nickel-free metal. Playing up Anna's job as a seamstress and passion for making apparel, Michelle embossed a standard quilt square on either side of a seemingly sewn-on flower holding an emerald. The edges of the sides of the ring were engraved with Anna's favorite stitch.
The Wizard of Oz is most obviously incorporated with the brilliant emerald stone; however, Patrick requested an additional touch that only Anna would be aware of. On the inside of the ring, Michelle engraved the words, "Defy Gravity, Anna." Defying Gravity is one of the most notorious songs from the popular Broadway musical, Wicked, a story about The Wizard of Oz's infamous good and bad witches. The hidden intricacies of the ring make it something that is uniquely Anna and truly one-of-a-ring.
Once the ring was in-hand, Patrick made plans for the big day, starting with securing a photographer to capture the moment. To temper any suspicions, Anna was told that a local publication was interested in her hand-sewn Civil War era dresses and wanted to take pictures of her work while she was at the reenactment. Not only did that keep Anna from asking questions, but it also enticed her to get in character for the proposal.
The day finally arrived and Anna outfitted a couple of friends with handmade dresses. Anna, Patrick, the dress models, some family members, the photographer and the ring Maker, Michelle Rahm (who Anna initially thought to be the photographer's cousin), headed out to one of the Gettysburg fields to start the photo shoot.
A few pictures in, Patrick parted through a small crowd of people and interrupted to take Anna aside. Her reaction shifted drastically from confusion, to excitement, to sheer joy in a matter of minutes.
The memory of Anna's genuine smile after I put the ring on her finger will always keep me happy.
Due to Patrick's diligent and thoughtful planning, Anna had no idea she was going to get engaged that weekend. Her succession of shock was aptly captured in the photos and ended with an emotional hug with Patrick. "The memory of Anna's genuine smile after I put the ring on her finger will always keep me happy," said Patrick.