One of my favorite aspects of the D.C. area and what a national magnet it can be is that it brings together people from all over and beautifully lends itself as the backdrop to falling in love. I recently sat down with Jennifer Myers and Louis Kishkunas, two Midwestern transplants to D.C. who did just this, to talk about how they met, their sweet engagement story, and the funny way Louis knew exactly what Jennifer wanted for her engagement ring design. I’ve shared their cute story here, if you would like to read on…
Meaghan: You two have such a perceptible bond, it’s like you have known each other forever. How did you actually meet?
Louis: Jennifer and I have known each other for about three years. We met on Hinge, a dating app that functions like Six Degrees of Separation where it pairs you with people who you mutually have in common through your own social networks. Jen, who is from Nebraska, has lived here in D.C. since 2004 but I had moved to the area relatively recently so I was excited to meet a fellow Midwesterner (I’m from Iowa).
Jennifer: We swapped a couple of messages through Hinge and agreed to meet up at Rustico in Ballston. Honestly, we couldn’t stop talking from the moment we met. It started with just drinks and that became dinner and then that became post-dinner drinks…it was amazing. At the end of the date Louis walked me to my car and I was really looking forward to a sweet end-of-date kiss but as we approached I realized there was some random person standing right next to my car having a full phone conversation, totally killing the mood. I thought quickly and pulled Louis into this little courtyard we were passing and we shared the best first kiss! (laughs) We really had an instant connection, the chemistry was very real.
Meaghan: It’s amazing to have such a strong connection from day one. What drew you to each other initially?
Louis: For me it was just the fact that Jen was very nice and caring. She reminded me of home in many ways. I said something about politics at one point on our first date and she gently (jokingly) said that I should never bring that up on a first date. I thought it was funny and touching that she was so concerned about my love life, she just had this special caring quality about her.
Jennifer: I’m pretty sure I messaged him first. I thought he was really cute and he was from Iowa, so I thought we might have a lot in common. From there…I honestly knew in my heart from the moment we met. It felt like someone you have known your entire life but is also brand new and so you just want to absorb them and talk forever.
Meaghan: What made you decide you wanted to get married?
Louis: For me it took just about two years. Jen knew right away, but I had bad luck in the past so I kept pumping the breaks. There was a point though where we were talking about moving in together and for me, knowing that if I was going to do that then the rest of this was definitely going to happen.
Jennifer: Both of us philosophically believe in marriage: its formality and importance, and the symbolism. For us these were really meaningful things as a couple, and from that we could easily move into thinking of us as a family.
Louis: It was a recognition of what we already had. A celebration!
Meaghan: Before getting engaged, did you know what you wanted for a ring?
Jennifer: This is kind of funny. When Louis and I got pretty serious and moved in together, one of my friends asked if I knew what kind of ring I liked and asked if I had a Pinterest board. I was like…What? I was clueless. Several friends agreed, so I went ahead and made one and definitely realized in the exercise that I had a “type” in mind. Fast forward a few months and Louis’s sister wanted to connect with me on Pinterest for something unrelated and I was little embarrassed because that board was literally the only thing I had up…
Louis: When I started to think about the process, I knew I wanted to work with a designer and make something really ours, something custom. I was talking to my sister about all this stuff and she’s like “Oh!! Let me show you something!” and she texted these Pinterest images over to me and I was like…well that made this easy, she likes this twisted band look. So then when I met with Tim and we had a lot to work with, which made the whole process so straightforward and easy.
Jennifer: When I look at my ring, I love that it’s classic and that it has a vintage feel to it. The center diamond stands out, which I love.
Louis: (Laughing) It took three weeks to find that diamond so I hope you loved it! No really, it was a cool process with Tim. I got to see them, hold them, see the cut, color, and size, balance out the price… there is nothing like seeing these diamonds under the light in a nice showroom. You can really see what speaks to you to get the right balance of everything you’re looking for.
Meaghan: Speaking of which, tell us about the design process. Jennifer, did you know he was planning this?
Jennifer: I had no idea he was doing this whole design process…
Louis: Oh, but she was onto me from the beginning. I had put in my calendar my first appointment with Tim as a happy hour and she started drilling down saying that 4pm was really early and wondering where I was going for these insanely early happy hours… (laughs)
Meaghan: Ha, it’s so hard to keep these things secret sometimes. How did you propose? Was it a surprise?
Louis: I wanted our friends to celebrate with us so first I threw out three different dates to our friends and they all immediately voted for the earliest one, saying “get it done!”
Jennifer: I will say that I had strong “spidey senses” that he was thinking about proposing. One day he asked about going to dinner at Rustico the following Sunday and I said sure and offered to make a reservation, but he immediately said he had already made them, which raised my suspicions. That night I texted a group of friends to say I thought he was going to propose that following Sunday, and they all said I was definitely wrong (laughs). Unbeknownst to me he had already invited all of these friends for a surprise post-engagement party so they were all trying to cover for him!
Louis: So, I brought her back to Rustico where we had our first date and I proposed right outside of the courtyard where we had our first kiss. I even had a photographer lined up to document the event. Then, we went and partied with our friends! It was so great.
Meaghan: Any tips for those who are thinking about getting engaged?
Louis: Every couple has their own unique history and unique dynamic. However you do it, the answer will come to you as long as you go with what works for you as a couple. For me, it was pretty straightforward. I didn’t have to think that long about how I wanted to do the engagement or the ring because I knew what Jen liked and I planned accordingly. I just thought about what she wanted, and what made sense for us. On a more practical note, let her make the reservations! Then you won’t tip off your girlfriend like I did, and it will really be a surprise.
Jennifer: Know what you like and communicate it. For some couples, that might mean shopping for a ring together and trying things out, for others, it might be closer to what we did. My one bit of advice: if you’re considering wearing your engagement ring together with your band then definitely think this through. You’ll be (hopefully) wearing those two rings together forever so you want to make sure it’s right. After we got engaged we both came in and met with Tim to come up with my band design. He came up with two ideas that were both beautiful. I chose one and the other I’ve already slated for our anniversary! (Hint, hint!) We tried on a few different options and there were ones that looked absolutely beautiful by themselves but when paired with my engagement ring, neither ring looked as good. I think the wedding bands can feel like an afterthought to the engagement ring, but it definitely should not be! The same goes for the man’s ring. I love Louis’ ring, and he receives so many compliments on it! I’m so glad we had the experience of getting all three rings made just for us.
My other advice is to do what you think represents you best as a couple. With engagements, weddings, marriage, there’s always going to be what you’re “supposed “ to do. Then, there’s making mindful decisions about how you’ll do it. Our wedding was unique to us but still had a fair amount of traditional elements. It really reflected who we are as a couple and what we wanted to celebrate and get out of our special day.
Louis: Right. It’s so easy to get pulled into all these different directions, trying to accommodate other needs and desires, but if you stick with what you want you’ll be just right.
Meaghan: Can you describe your design process in one word?
Louis: Collaborative. I didn’t just pull out a complete vision in my head and have someone execute it. It was a very good human intelligence operation. Working with Tim, who is a great designer, to come up with what ultimately was the ring made such a big difference. I started with a good foundation of information and then went through Tim to add in what I liked to my taste, and this amazing ring is what came out.
Thank you, Jennifer and Louis!
Alexandria & Company is an Old Town-based workshop and design studio specializing in creating and restoring fine jewelry and silver hollowware. They are the in-the-know jewelers of Alexandria and have been serving clients out of their small workshop for decades. Tucked in their historic building on South Royal Street, the team at Alx&Co. brings a personalized, modern approach to their craft – this is not your average stodgy jeweler or antique shop. Visit them during their walk-in hours or online to view their collection of handmade fine jewelry or to drop off a repair project; or, if you’re feeling creative, make an appointment to talk about that custom design project you’ve been imagining.
121-B South Royal Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Design Studio Walk-In Hours (all jewelry services): Wednesday – Saturday 12-6pm
Silver Workshop Walk-In Hours (all silver repair and restoration services): Wednesday or Friday 12-6pm, or by appointment
Appointments encouraged for custom design.