While we only got back from our honeymoon a mere three weeks ago, our wedding honestly feels like a lifetime away. It was such a blur, and, as you know, it wasn’t exactly the wedding we had envisioned–but it was perfect and so, so special in a way we had never imagined it could be.
I am honestly so surprised to say this in hindsight, but I think our wedding bands played such a role in our marriage process so to speak. Already, they have a lot of meaning and history, which Neal and I are both going to share today, from our own perspectives!
Plus, make sure to read all the way to the end for our video (I know, we’re on a video hot streak lately 😉) and an awesome event you won’t want to miss if you’re shopping for your own rings!
Jess on choosing wedding bands
Remember when I wrote this post?
It sounds funny now to admit, but when we first got engaged, I really had no interest in getting a wedding band.
As all of my best girlfriends have gotten married over the years, I recalled how excited they were about adding another stack of diamonds to their fingers. But me? I didn’t really get it. My engagement ring was so beautiful on its own–I felt that adding another ring to it would only take away from how simple and beautiful it was.
Plus–how could another ring possibly mean more to me than my engagement ring?
There is such an incredible story behind it. How Neal decided it’s how he would spend his first commission check at his new job–how he designed it himself, how he took my mom’s engagement ring (that I wear on my right hand) out of my ring dish to get sized when I was out of town, and knew to tell them to make it a “teeny bit smaller.” How he took out a safety deposit box at the bank to keep it in (so I would never find it) and waited six months until just the perfect time to pop the question. How he proposed at the Waldorf Astoria, my favorite hotel, and swept me off to a surprise trip to Charleston–arguably the best 48 hours of my entire life.
Each time I look at my engagement ring, all that emotion rushes back, and I remember all these little details that it symbolizes.
So–yeah, I mean. How can another ring on my finger top the meaning of that one? Plus, I went through a pretty stubborn phase at the onset of our wedding planning where I resisted a lot of the “traditional” aspects. Why did I have to do something just because everyone else has done it for thousands of years? That seemed silly.
I brought this up to Neal, who was a little taken aback. This, mind you, was coming from the only man I know who was excited to finally be able to wear a wedding ring. (Seriously, how did I land such a catch? I really don’t know.)
Knowing how important it was to him, I warmed up to the idea, and began researching online, but really couldn’t find a wedding band that I loved. Did I want something classic, like another thing, plain gold band to match my engagement ring? Did I want something out of the box? Or something vintage?
Then, I got an email from a local jeweler, C.D. Peacock, inviting us to come in and look at wedding bands. “Why not check it out?” I thought–I was running out of time to figure out what I wanted, and had nothing to lose. I browsed around on their website before our visit, and within seconds, I found it! I walked in 100% confident that I had found the one.
(But then I did try on a few beauties that made me second guess!)
We walked into CD Peacock, and we were greeted by Jennifer, who asked us a little bit about our story, how we met, and what we were hoping for in our wedding bands. (And also poured us champagne. That was one of the best parts 😉) She was insanely knowledgeable and could not have made us feel more welcome–unlike any of the jewelry stores I had been in previously, which just felt stuffy, uptight, snobby, and unwelcoming.
What I also didn’t know, that I later learned, is that they are the oldest jeweler in Chicago–founded in 1837–the same year that Chicago became recognized as a city!
As soon as it became apparent that we were history nerds, they even brought out old catalogs they had on file from the 1920’s to show us! (Who does that??) Another fun fact for Chicagoans–you know those gorgeous famous brass doors at the Palmer House? Those were made back in the day by C.D. Peacock! They have always been a family business, and it shows. Everyone in the store was so welcoming and knowledgable, and clearly had a love for the company.
Anyway, back to the story–Jennifer showed us some of the styles she thought would be a great fit, and pulled out a display of A.Jaffe bands–and there it was! That dainty, yellow-gold art-deco band. (I tried it on in silver, but ordered it in gold!)
It was everything that I was hoping for–classic, vintage-inspired, and feminine. Most of all, it doesn’t take away from my engagement ring at all–it just adds to it! I also love that it’s beautiful all on it’s own, so when I’m traveling or don’t want to wear my engagement ring, it looks just as beautiful!
Neal went with a classic gold band by A.Jaffe (which he also tried on in silver)–it’s simple, but also has tiny ridges on the outside edges–you know how he loves attention to detail 😉
More champagne was poured, and we toasted to successfully checking the “find wedding bands” item off our wedding list, and also, to Jennifer, for being so lovely. A few weeks later, they were ready, and we stopped back into the store! They were even better than we had remembered.
Left: A classic infinity band, Right: The band that I chose in silver
Neal on choosing wedding bands:
Jess thinks I’m weird, but since she and I started dating I have always wanted to wear a wedding ring. And I’ve always known what it would look like: a classic yellow gold band. Simple but significant. My Dad wears a gold band, and when I was lucky enough to meet the perfect girl, I knew I wanted a ring like his.
While her story on her wedding band is back and forth and a little complicated, mine is the opposite. Give me 14 karat gold, classic styling, and make sure it fits. I didn’t expect to like or dislike our experience at the jewelry store. I figured I would point to a simple ring the first 5 seconds we walked in the door, and then they would spend the next few hours helping Jess find a ring. In reality, I truly enjoyed the experience of picking out my ring.
Jess did a great job describing our experience with C.D. Peacock and the history of their company. Let me just add one thing: I am a business man-I appreciate and expect professionalism, attention to detail, and integrity, and these guys nail all of those. They are a Chicago company that has always been family owned and it shows.
Jennifer talked me into trying a band with a stepped edge–which wasn’t originally something I even entertained when I first thought about what my ring would look like.
I hate to be so predictable, but the first time I put it on, I seriously knew it was the ring. Jess will try to argue against this, but I have very ugly hands. Four years of college football has left me with fat and or bent knuckles and skinny fingers-not exactly a good look. For whatever reason, my ring makes my left hand look much better!
It’s classy, but masculine. Simple, yet still differentiated. A classic that will stand the test of time – I hope I can be the same way!
Above: The top contenders! (Neal chose the far left, I chose the middle!)
Jess on what her wedding band represents:
When we walked out of the store, we had no idea what was in store for our wedding and the mountains we would have to climb. (How could you possibly anticipate your venue being evacuated by a forest fire and all the madness than ensues afterword?)
What I also didn’t know was how much this little band would come to truly mean to me in the coming weeks.
I didn’t want to exchange rings at the “little ceremony” because I felt that doing so would take away from our big day, making our ceremony in Oregon somehow feel less “official” and special. Turns out, you can’t really have a church ceremony without exchanging rings, so I felt a bit defeated and upset.
But then the day came, and much to my surprise–the day didn’t take away from how sentimental our big wedding would be. It was truly such a special day in itself. Exchanging rings in a small, intimate ceremony in front of our closest family meant the world to us. We wore them the rest of that day, and then put them back in the box until it came time for our big ceremony in Portland.
Then, much to our surprise–we found out that our original wedding venue had been evacuated due to a forest fire. While the venue ended up being saved, the roads were closed in the area, and there was heavy smoke and ash in the air for miles. (More on that story here.)
Long story short, we planned an entirely new wedding in 36 hours, with zero fights and zero tears throughout the process. All of our guests jumped in to help, and it meant more to us more than they will ever know.
I am so proud of us. More proud than I ever thought it was possible to be. It only brought us closer together, and gave us a deeper appreciation for one another. And in hindsight–what better way to start off a marriage?
At the beginning of our ceremony, we passed our rings around for each person to hold, and say a silent wish for us, before passing along to the next person–starting with the best man, through the groomsmen, through the crowd of 130 people, to the bridesmaids, and ending at my Maid of Honor.
Now, when I look at my ring, I think of how much love went into this little wedding band. How many wishes it holds from each of our loved ones. How Neal and I have never worked as a stronger team to make that day come together against all odds.
So, when I thought my wedding band couldn’t ever possibly hold as much significance as my engagement ring?
I was wrong 😉
Neal on what his wedding band represents:
As you well know by now, we faced some pretty significant challenges before we actually walked down the aisle in front of all of our friends and family. We had no idea what we would be up against before the big day (by that I mean our big ceremony in Portland), but I want to talk more about our “little day”.
I am from a big (27 first cousins on my Dad’s side big) Irish-Catholic Chicago family. You could say we are traditional, but that would be an understatement. We are entrenched in tradition. “That’s how we do it in our family” is a pretty common phrase, and I grew up loving every bit of this way of thinking.
When it came time for Jess and I to plan our wedding, how and what our ceremony(ies) would look like was a big time topic. My lovely wife already wrote a post on why we decided to do two weddings. What she didn’t specifically mention was that she really did step out of her comfort zone to get married in the Catholic Church.
She could have said that she didn’t feel comfortable with the idea, and everyone would have understood. But she didn’t do that. She knew how important it was to me and to my family that we get married in the Church and she very bravely and very selflessly proposed the idea on her own. To me, that is a perfect example of unconditional love. When I look at my wedding ring, it will always first represent my wife’s selfless love for me and for my family.
I’ve already mentioned that my dad wears a gold wedding band and that my family is very traditional, but let’s connect those two thoughts. I have always wanted to wear a gold wedding band because my dad wears one. It is the ultimate example of “when I grow up I want to be like my dad”. He is the ultimate man’s man, but he has always made one piece of jewelry look cool. If I am lucky enough to have a son, I hope he feels the same way about me.
For the sake of not being repetitive, let me just say this: the struggle of planning a wedding for a year and a half, then re-planning it all over again from scratch in 36 hours, and then pulling off a wedding in such a short amount of time brought out the very best in Jess and I. It was the perfect metaphor for life. Life truly is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it, and as far as I am concerned, overcoming our wedding challenges was one of our finest hours as a couple.
When I look at this ring on my finger I will always remember those days, but more importantly, I will remember the strength that Jess gave me during those days, because I know that life will throw many more difficult challenges at us. The bond that Jess and I have was forged in both fire and rain (literally), but today it is a fun story to tell because we survived it together.
Now that we are back to “normal life,” my travel schedule for work has returned to its usual and sometimes brutal rotation. But there is one key difference: this gold ring.
It allows me to take part of Jess with me wherever I go. It reminds me that I have a teammate in life that I can count on even when the odds look unsurmountable. It makes me smile, because having Jess is all that I have ever really wanted.
Now enough sappiness–watch our fun video!
P.S. Ring shopping for yourself? Stop into C.D. Peacock next Thursday!
C.D. Peacock is teaming up with A.Jaffe for a fun event at their Old Orchard location next Thursday! You can get a mani AND try on our rings and A.Jaffe’s full collection!
If you have any questions on picking out wedding bands, let us know below! Have an amazing Thursday!
Thank you to CD Peacock for gifting us our wedding bands in exchange for telling our story! All opinions are 100% our own, and we can’t say enough good things about our experience! We’ll be back soon!