Andrea and Erik’s path to marriage is an inspiring story, spanning two continents, different cultures, and four years of long-distance romance.
Andrea is from Italy. He is a structural engineer who studied at University of Bologna and now works in Downtown LA at Nous Engineering. Erik was born and raised in Los Angeles. He currently works in fundraising for AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that raises money for HIV/AIDS services in both cities.
Andrea and Erik met almost three years ago online, when Andrea was staying in Los Angeles for an architecture internship. Erik wasn’t sure he wanted to meet Andrea, since he wasn’t looking for anything serious, especially with someone who was from another country. Andrea would later tell Erik that he wasn’t sure he wanted to meet him either, but was glad he did.
The First Date
When they decided to meet in person, they discovered, coincidentally, that Andrea was staying just one street over from Erik. They got together on a rainy day, sharing coffee together and talking. Erik later recalled that as he watched Andrea walk out the door and down his patio steps, he thought, “WOW! That is the most beautiful man I have ever seen!”
The two dated over the next few months and had some amazing moments together, but knowing Andrea would return to Italy, Erik assumed it was just a summer fling.
Eventually Andrea did go back.
But Erik wouldn’t let that be the end of their relationship. He bought a ticket to Italy and the couple spent two weeks together eating incredible meals, hiking, and exploring Andrea’s home country. At the end of an amazing trip, Andrea promised he would be back in Los Angeles soon. Erik hoped that he would, but he had his doubts.
When Andrea finished school, Erik was ecstatic to learn that Andrea would be coming back to LA. Erik remembers smiling a lot that day, and thinking, “All right now! This could really be turning into something!”
It became undeniable that there was a magnetic draw between these two. No matter the distance, they were both making it a priority in their lives to be together.
Erik recalls, “We were both in the same place emotionally, being ready to settle down, and for me, I knew I would never feel these kinds of emotions for anyone else. We had incredible chemistry together—something about it just felt so right. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Andrea—I was ready to make that scary leap!”
Once he had his mind set on popping the question, Erik started looking for the perfect ring. This was definitely not going to be a cookie-cutter ring from the mall, but something that would really wow the love of his life.
Erik had always liked being in control of his shopping experience, so he gravitated toward shopping online. He did the research and learned that there were two major players in the online diamond space, one of which was Ritani. Erik searched Ritani’s huge inventory and found a ring that really jumped out at him. It was really unusual—at the same time there was something classic and simple about the design too.
Erik knew he had made the right choice with Ritani. When there was an issue with getting their ring by the date of the proposal, Sylvia in customer service made sure Erik had the ring on time. She worked closely with Erik, reassuring him it was all coming together! She facilitated a quick size exchange that came off without a hitch.
Things were really in motion now. Erik received the ring the same week as his 20th high school reunion—it seemed like fate. He wasn’t 100% sure of how the exact moment would go down, but he took the ring with him and when he and Andrea got on the road to the reunion, he zeroed in on a plan.
As Erik and Andrea were enjoying a scenic ride down to Orange County, Erik saw a sign that said, “Nature Preserve Area.” He had been known to make Andrea stop at these places, so it wasn’t out of character for Erik to suggest they pull over. He asked Andrea to take a walk with him along the path. Andrea said, “Are you sure? There doesn’t seem to be much here, just a bunch of birds.”
Erik recalls, “I was getting so nervous—I insisted we were just killing time before the party. We started walking, the sun was setting, and I remember the sky sort of opening up and turning a really deep purple. I said, ‘Let’s play our game!’ When we go on trips, we will play a game where one of us thinks of an object and the other asks questions until he figures out what it is. I said, ‘OK, I’m thinking of something.’
Andrea started asking questions, ‘Is it big? Small? Is it something you wear? Is it something fancy? Is it something you buy at a mall?’ He wasn’t quite getting there, and he was about to give up and go back to the car, when it finally hit him: ‘Is it a ring?!’
Erik got down on one knee in this lovely nature preserve (yes, with a bunch of birds!) and asked Andrea to be his husband. Andrea smiled, and right away said yes. At the reunion, everyone Erik reacquainted with met his new fiancé. People wanted to know when they got engaged, to which they answered, “About 20 minutes ago!”
So many of Erik’s classmates had been married for many years—this was after all his twentieth high school reunion. But, as Erik points out, “It was not legal for LGBT Americans to get married in this country until 2015—not even four years ago. We were kept from the joy of proposals, engagements, weddings, and legally recognized commitments to our partners until just a few short years ago. To me, that makes my marriage to Andrea even more special – because it was a long hard struggle to win the right to marry the man I love.”
When asked what advice he would give to someone considering proposing,
Erik suggests that whether you go for high drama or you prefer a small, private moment, it should be a reflection of who you are together.
“Like for us, the travel game, letting Andrea kinda in on the secret…walking in nature…it all felt organic and right for who we are as a couple. It is of course a leap of faith, but I’ve never been one to shy away from going after what I want, and in this case, the reward was that he wanted the same thing as me.”
Ready to write your own proposal story? Find the ring that’s meant for your true love now.
Erik and Andrea tied the knot on September 21, 2018. Their wedding photos are simply gorgeous and we had to share them too.