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To Have & to HOLDEN

Manuela and Lauren’s Double Destination Proposal

Real Couples

Real Couples is our series where we interview our community about their love stories, why they chose Holden, and anything else that comes up along the way.

Manuela (she/her) and Lauren (she/her) recently got engaged—twice! We love a double proposal here at Holden, so we wanted to learn more about their love story and what led each of them to decide they were ready to pop the question. Both chose to design fully custom 3-stone tapered baguette rings—you can submit a fully custom request of your own here.

How did you two meet and start dating?

We met on Tinder in March 2021 and had our first date eating dinner outside in the frigid cold because of COVID-19.

How did you know they were “the one”?


Ultimately, I was looking for a spark, that “it” factor. A few years ago, I wrote a list of things that I wanted in an “ideal partner” after years of failed attempts at dating. I dated people who met many of those items on that list, but I found that those things didn’t really matter without a spark.

When I met Manuela, I instantly felt it because of her gentle and warm energy. I immediately felt safe. I also loved how she was so vocal about being excited to be on the date. She wasn’t trying to play it cool or play games.

As our relationship progressed, it became more and more clear that she was my person. Everything just fit so easily with us. We’ve gone through hard things, but nothing about our relationship has ever felt hard. It doesn’t hurt that she’s beautiful.

Manuela and Lauren for Holden


For me, it was something I came to realize over time (two months, lol), rather than a singular moment. I can think of so many instances when I thought about Lauren and knew that was it, she was always in my future.

She accepts me for everything I am. Her love is really, truly unconditional, and she does the best job at making sure I know that every day. As someone who struggles with mental health, I’ve made the biggest strides after she came into my life because of how nonjudgmental and encouraging she is.

I also knew she was the one on our first date because she’d said she listened to “Good Days” by SZA as her hype song, and SZA is my favorite artist.

Who proposed, and how did you decide to pop the question?

We both proposed to each other! After talking about getting engaged and getting married for a while, we decided to start the ring shopping process to learn about what we liked and how it worked.

We went to a bunch of places for consultations, but when we sat down with Holden, we jumped right into designing our rings right then and there. It wasn’t a question that we wanted to work with them.

While we knew that we were going to propose to each other, and we conceptually knew what our rings would look like, we wanted to make sure there was still some element of surprise. This was near the end of 2023, and we decided to individually plan our own proposals to each other sometime in 2024.

Tell us about the proposal. What was going through your minds?

Manuela set up candles and flowers for her upstate New York proposal to Lauren


I ended up proposing first on March 2nd, our third anniversary, with a surprise trip to Phoenicia, NY where had our first trip together. I rented the very same cabin we had stayed at and planned to propose by the creek that runs behind it. I recruited one of our best friends, Alex, to take pictures. I had planned to do a sort of spa day as a diversion so I could sneak back to the AirBnb to set up the proposal while Lauren was distracted.

It was pouring rain the whole day and I kept going back and forth about bumping everything to the next day, but I was absolutely set on proposing that night. Once we were back at the AirBnb, I told her I had something I needed to show her outside.

The nervousness really only hit me then. Up to that point, I’d been super excited to propose, but I think it was finally hitting me that I was going to ask her to be with me forever, and I wanted everything to be perfect for her.

Manuela reads a note and gets down on one knee for Lauren

Since it was wet and muddy and still raining, I put on these ridiculous giant rubber boots that the AirBnb had provided and gave Lauren my boots so we could walk to the water. You can see them in our pictures, which I think is hilarious. In the end, I think the rain ended up making it even better. The photos came out so cool and moody, and I’m almost glad it didn’t clear up.

During the proposal, we were both so exhilarated that we felt like we’d both kind of blacked out, so Lauren later asked me to read the note I’d written her again so we could experience it a little more coherently. Everything went better than I could’ve expected, and lucky for me, she said yes!!!!

Manuela & Lauren embrace after the proposal


After Manuela’s elaborate and stunning proposal, I knew I had to do something extra special for her. I had been toying around with a few ideas but ultimately, I kept going back to wanting to propose on a trip abroad. We had a trip to Portugal planned in April, and I knew I wanted to do something while we were there.

We both love the water, so I thought doing something on a boat would be perfect. I ended up chartering a private sailboat to take us along the Tagus River. I had been so nervous about weather, though; I just needed a clear day that was breezy enough for us to be able to sail. Despite mixed weather every other day, it was perfect on May 1st, the day I’d made the engagement plan.

I was in cahoots with the captain and his wife, as they knew I was going to propose. They recommended that I propose when we got closer to the 25 de Abril Bridge, so I spent the first hour of the trip trying to act normally, but I didn’t do a very good job. I was just saying words until it was time.

Lauren proposes back to Manuela on the Tagus River in Portugal

As soon as we got close, I asked Manuela to stand up to take pictures on the bow. Since we were sailing, she was scared of falling but I convinced her I really wanted to stand for a picture. She reluctantly stood up and held onto a pole on the bow for dear life.

As we stood, my partners in crime (aka the captain and his wife) got ready to take pictures. Then I read her a note I’d written and got down on one knee and asked her to marry me!

What advice do you have for someone planning a proposal right now?

1. Find out what your partner would want or not want in a proposal. Do they want friends or family there? Do you want a photographer? Make sure what you’re planning is really something that your partner would enjoy. For example, we both knew we didn’t want super public proposals, so we knew not to plan each other a flash mob at the mall. Maybe your partner doesn’t love hiking, so don’t plan an 8-mile trek even if it’s something you love to do and it leads to a nice viewpoint.

2. Give yourself enough time so none of the planning feels rushed. Have fun with planning! We both found that giving ourselves a lot of time made the process really enjoyable, rather than stressful.

3. Don’t judge yourself for any emotions you experience. It’s amazing and overwhelming to propose to someone. If thought you were going to cry but you didn’t, or you sobbed the whole time and you’re not a crier, if you black out and don’t remember every second, all of that is perfectly normal. We found that we were overwhelmed when it was time to start telling people. It can be stressful to figure out who needs to know personally over the phone vs. who will find out if you post on Instagram, e.g. Ultimately, it’s your decision, and whatever you feel is best is the right choice.

Fully custom 3-stone baguette engagement ring by Holden

What was important to you in choosing a ring? What made you choose Holden?

Getting a ring was going to be an investment for us. We wanted to feel like we were taken care of and guided through the process, especially since we went in really not knowing a lot. One thing we did know was that we wanted a lab-grown diamond, and we had a budget.

After our consult and learning more, we felt completely taken care of and knew we wanted to move forward. Their customer service was way better than any of the places we went to before and after. At other places, we just felt like another customer, but at Holden, we felt special. It felt like they were genuinely excited for us.

They also normalized us being a queer couple in a space that feels really heteronormative. We’d seen Holden’s TikToks and loved to see the queer representation so clearly on their social media and marketing.

What does love mean to you?

I think we can both agree that love for us is in the quiet moments. It’s being excited for routine things we do all the time, like ordering our groceries, talking in bed before we go to sleep, or watching episode after episode of Below Deck. It’s knowing that we can rely on each other emotionally, that we can have our bad days.

Manuela and Lauren for Holden

Love is having our own vocabulary, where we have our own language that we’ll probably take to the grave. It’s feeling emotionally and physically safe. Love means being cared for by someone who complements you, and helps you grow individually and as a couple.

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