“We talked till the lights in the bar came on,” says Carla, 28, remembering her first date with Benjamin, 29, after the two first connected on Hinge in the spring of 2016.
It helped that they had important things in common: Both live in Hoboken (geographic proximity is a big deal when dating in the NYC metro area), and both have successful careers in finance. They also shared strong personal connections to the Jersey Shore.
So the conversation flowed easily, but there was also a kind of effortless—and immediate—chemistry between them. Both felt drawn to each other from the start, and sensed that what they were embarking on was the real deal.
“I felt a strong connection to Carla from the first day we met,” explains Benjamin. “But as I got to know her better it quickly reached the point that she was the first thing I thought about when I woke up and the last thing I thought about when I went to bed, and that’s when I knew she was the one.”
As for Carla, the moment hit her on date number 2: “Ben picked me up in an Uber, waiting at my front door to escort me to the car,” she says. But when they arrived at the restaurant he’d chosen, it was closed because of a plumbing issue. “Ben didn’t flinch. He said, ‘I have a backup just a few blocks away.’ I knew right then that he was special and not the typical guy.”
“We just seemed to click right away and everything came naturally,” adds Ben. “We both saw a future together from early on in the relationship.”
“Ben is very laid-back while I’m very high-energy, so he helps keep me grounded,” explains Carla. “We have always been one another’s number-one fan. Whether it’s a career move or a personal struggle, we have each other’s back.”
And this is why, when they realized they were ready to take the next step in their relationship a couple years later, it made perfect sense for Carla and Benjamin to come at the engagement ring selection process together as a team.
Like most women who see an engagement ring in their future, Carla had spent some time on Instagram in search of visuals that captured the look and feel of the style she envisioned. This online treasure hunt eventually led her to Greenwich St. Jewelers, whose Instagram feed contains no shortage of engagement ring inspiration, whether you’re in the daydreaming phase, or looking to make contact with a jewelry pro who carries the engagement ring styles and designers you’re targeting.
Based on Carla’s research and feedback, the couple arrived at the store knowing that that they wanted “something unique and that looked antique,” says Carla.
They also had Carla’s grandmother’s engagement ring to work with: “My grandparents have been married for over 52 years and incorporating a few diamonds from her ring into mine meant the world to us,” says Carla.
The couple also knew that their criteria would most likely mandate a custom design, and just one visit with jewelry stylist Mary Herouvis confirmed for them that Greenwich St. Jewelers’ expertise in this area would be a great fit.
“I came into it blindly and not knowing what to expect, but we just described the vintage style we were looking for—I wanted it to be a geometric shape and not just a round center—and the first drawing she sketched, we knew that was it,” says Carla.
Mary worked with G.St’s CAD specialist on perfecting the proportions of the custom design, a cluster style configured in a diamond shape. The final ring featured most of the heirloom stones in a setting of 18k yellow gold with milgrain details on the bezel-set center diamond, and subtle granules on the accent stones.
“We could not have imagined a better outcome,” says Carla.
Only she wouldn’t see the final, completed ring until Benjamin proposed. Of course she knew it was coming at some point, but she didn’t know how or when. That part was up to Benjamin and he was determined to make it a big surprise…
“Carla is a very tough person to surprise so it was important to me to pull it off,”
says Benjamin. “Because of her involvement in the engagement ring’s design, I really wanted to wow her with the delivery.”
Summer 2019 seemed like the right timing, and Benjamin got to work making arrangements in June, around the time he picked up the ring. An August weekend at Carla’s family’s beach house in Lavallette, NJ was already on the calendar, with a birthday party planned for Carla’s sister on Saturday, August 17.
The Friday part of the family weekend was supposed to be “low-key” but Benjamin saw his opportunity: He would propose that night—hopefully catching Carla off guard—and then follow up with a surprise engagement party at the Red Rock Tap & Grill in Red Bank.
“I worked hard to throw Carla off the scent, and by the time August came around I had convinced her that I wasn’t going to propose until October or November,” says Ben. And as for the weekend of August 16, “Any talk of a party Carla heard was chalked up to birthday festivities,” he says. “It was the perfect cover.”
“The hardest part about this was keeping it quiet all summer while I planned. I couldn’t have done it without the help of Carla’s two sisters, who were in on it the whole time.”
And so on that Friday, with the sun still high in the sky at dinner time, Carla and Ben had a night out in Red Bank (the town is about a 40-minute drive from Lavallete, and the area in which the couple hope to settle down and start a family one day).
Ben cleverly framed the evening as a chance to relax, just the two of them, before the weekend’s birthday activities kicked off.
What really happened:
“After dinner we walked to a dock behind a waterfront park and Ben got down on one knee!” says Carla. “He couldn’t have been calmer. I didn’t suspect a thing. He had the ring in his pocket and didn’t break a sweat once.”
A band was playing U2’s “With or Without You”—not planned, but “truly a surreal moment,” recalls Benjamin, who then suggested they go for a “celebratory drink” before telling anyone their news.
“When we arrived at the bar she was stunned to see 50 of our family and friends cheering for us,” he says. “It will be a memory we’ll never forget.”
“Ben knew he wanted to do it in a place that was becoming special to us and have all of our family and friends there to celebrate,” says Carla. “It seriously couldn’t have been a sweeter moment.”
Congratulations, Carla & Ben! We loved collaborating with you on this gorgeous ring and wish you the best as you make plans for your wedding—something tells us the Jersey Shore would be the perfect spot…