How did you and your significant other meet?
We were set up on a blind date (in Austin, TX) that almost didnt' happen because Mike lost my phone number initially. Our mutual friend Stacy told me she would reach out to him, but then three weeks went by and I totally forgot about it. He asked Stacy for my number again and called on Thursday, February 26 and we met the next day at an infamous dive bar in Austin, TX called The Dry Creek Saloon. I loved the Dry Creek, but not a lot of people knew about it, so I thought, if this guy knows the Dry Creek? he can't be half bad. It's also where Mike proposed three years later.
As a couple, what are your interests/hobbies?
Hiking, biking, traveling to new places and old haunts, enjoying a good restaurant, making fires, being outdoors in general
When did you know your partner was “the one” and you wanted to get married?
From Katie - It was early on - about six months into dating, so I didn't want to get my hopes up too much, but we went to visit my brother and his family in San Francisco and I just loved how open to travel and adventures Mike was (he tried oysters for the first time) and he was also so genuinely caring with my nephew and niece. Then we both got poison oak and had to support each other through that fiasco (Mike got it worse than I did) and that helped further my belief that we could manage through a lot with each other and come out better for it. From Mike - This is a toss up. I'd say our first trip to Santa Fe, NM, a few months after we met was very special for both of us. It was our first trip together and it was magical. There was even another couple who commented on our bond with one another saying they'd never seen two people so in love. The other trip that happened shortly after the Santa Fe trip was to visit some of my family, including my mom, in northern Wisconsin. Katie just jumped right in to introduce herself to my mom and it was clear to me that she was her own person and that sealed the deal for me.
What is one of your favorite things about your partner?
From Katie - Mike is the most genuine person I have ever met. No, he's not perfect (who is?) but he is always trying to be a better person and allows himself to be vulnerable with his fears, flaws and needs. He's also incredibly kind when not sincerely disturbed by injustice in this world - in which case, his inner punk (read: convictions) comes out and he'll fight like hell for the right thing. He's always there for me. Also...his dimple. It's what I noticed first. It's like a sparkle on his face. From Mike - I've always been in love with Katie's genuine kindness and her willingness to care for others. She was volunteering at a pediatric emergency room when I met her and also served as a camp counselor in the summer for kids with cancer. On the physical side, her eyes were so striking I even told people about them after we first met.
What was your proposal like (was the ring a surprise or was it collaborative)?
Mike brought me back to the Dry Creek where we met and even wore the same shirt he wore the night we met more than three years previous. He had been away for several weeks before our engagement helping his mom through doctor's appointments and some health issues, and unbeknownst to me, while he was gone he had talked to my parents about proposing to me and also asked my mom for a family ring that I had mentioned one drunken night after we first met. The week before he proposed, the ring was supposed to arrive in the mail from USPS, but it didn't arrive by its projected tracking date and then the tracking just disappeared. By some miracle, it was delivered the day before his planned proposal - Friday, May 4 (he knew my favorite number was 4, but he didn't know that was also my grandparent's anniversary date). From Mike: The whole reason we wanted to go to Balefire 10 years post wedding was to design a ring that I could give Katie that wasn't a family ring. So, the ring we most recently created was not for the actual proposal, but for a recommitment ceremony.
Tell us about your wedding (if it has happened yet).
We were married 4ish months later in Santa Fe, NM - where we had taken our first trip...maybe that's when I knew he was the one? There were a lot of those moments. We rented a VRBO house sight unseen - just winging it to a certain extent - overlooking the mountains. It was perfect! Think NM architecture, art on the walls, lots of kiva fireplaces everywhere and plenty of outdoor space to view the surrounding New Mexican beauty. We only invited our immediate families. Mike is already one of seven, so the guest size amounted to around 30ish people with my family. It was so intimate and fun to keep the guest list small that all of our family says it was their favorite wedding they'd been to. No DJ - just a iPod on shuffle, but we did hire a mariachi band for the procession, which was really unique and lovely. And, because we rented the house where the wedding was performed, anyone staying in the house got to get into their PJs and crash out whenever they wanted. It was the best!
Why did you decide to work with Balefire?
From Katie: I stumbled into Balefire with one of my best friends who knew about the store and wanted to browse. I had already been looking for a 10-year anniversary engagement ring because we used a family ring before and Mike really wanted to get me something that was given by him. For months, I had been looking at diamond engagement rings, but the traditional jewelry stores and traditional rings were just not clicking for me. When I got to Balefire, I could tell right away that it was my kind of jewelry store with one-of-a-kind, environmentally-conscious pieces. I eyed up the commitment ring case and chose to try on a very simple gold band with sapphire and that's when I knew! I was going to have Balefire work with me on the design of a sapphire ring. I'm also very impressed with how caring, diligent, and knowledgeable the shop owners and designers are about stones, metals and - well...the whole works! They are clearly very passionate about what they do and how they support their clients. Also, it's not to be overlooked that when we were sitting down for our consultation to design my ring, Mike noticed a wider commitment band that struck his fancy. It was clear by the way he reacted to it that he really liked the style, so, I secretly had Balefire make him a new ring that I was able to engrave with a funny quote from one of our favorite comedy love stories - Palm Springs. It was a really good surprise!
What advice would you give to other couples shopping for wedding or engagement rings?
Follow your instincts and not what society tells you you may want in a ring. If you lean toward enjoying unique, one-of-a-kind anything in your life, then Balefire may be the perfect option for you and your loved one. I for sure thought I'd want Mike to get me a traditional white gold or platinum band with a round diamond solitaire, but, in the end, I trusted my gut that that type of ring wasn't really me and I love and appreciate the more unconventional direction we went in.