No couple forgets how they became engaged and for one Vernon pair, this rings especially true.
The future Mr. and Mrs. Lemay’s wild dash home to Canada came to a conclusion when local jewellers Ziba and Fareed Lor of Gold’N Time Jewellery made a special delivery to the couple in quarantine — and shared the whole experience on social media.
Before Brian Lemay’s departure with his girlfriend of seven years, Stephanie Tessier, he and Fareed Lor began working on a one-of-a-kind diamond and rainforest green passion topaz engagement ring.
Lemay knew his custom-made ring wouldn’t be ready before the trip, but he never expected what came next.
The Tolko employee and Alexis Park Elementary School teacher were supposed to embark on a nearly 20-day backpacking trip starting from Roatan, Honduras, but their trip was cut in half when borders began to close and ferries were stopped running amid the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.
Lemay said the pair flew in March 8 and everything seemed normal. A week later, the Vernon couple said a curfew was put into effect and businesses on the island started to shut down.
They knew they had to get home as quickly as they could. But, not before Lemay proposed.
He popped the question with a photo rendering of the unfinished ring on his cellphone, while sitting on the beach under the stars.
She said yes, of course.
Then focus quickly shifted back to the reality at hand.
More and more restaurants began to close and the couple noticed more of a police presence patrolling and monitoring the shorelines and beaches.
“It became a game of contacting the embassy quite a bit and looking at flight options,” Lemay said. “We were looking online and still finding stuff available, but because the borders were closed, a lot of that flight information was inaccurate.”
Flight traffic had reduced significantly to the tourist destination and Lemay said the two began to worry about the limited travel options.
One-way tickets from WestJet were being sold for nearly $2,000 a piece, Lemay said.
Two Air Transat planes were scheduled to land in Roatan March 23 and the couple, along with several American and Canadian tourists, were informed there may be available seats in one plane.
Lemay and Tessier thought this was their only shot of getting home.
All taxi operations had been ceased amid growing concerns around the novel coronavirus, but a woman at the couple’s accommodations arranged for a private vehicle to drive the travellers to the airport.
“We were second or third in line of around 70-80 people all hoping to get a seat on this plane,” Lemay said.
Lemay said he believes all hopeful passengers made it onto one of the two planes bound for Montreal or Toronto, and to the duo’s delight, Air Transat brought them home to Canada at no cost.
Upon arrival in Montreal, Lemay’s father put them up in an airport hotel for a night before the couple could catch a flight home to British Columbia.
Lemay and Tessier made it back to their Vernon home just before midnight March 24.
Lemay contacted Gold’N Time Jewellery and told Fareed he didn’t know when he’d be able to pick up the ring as he and his finacée were ordered a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
“He didn’t hesitate,” Lemay said. “He said, ‘we’ll make arrangements.’”
Gold’N Time Jewellery has already implemented several changes to flatten the curve of COVID-19. The shop is only open three days a week — Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays — and only for a few hours where Fareed can arrange for pick ups and repairs.
Jewelry, Fareed said, is not an essential service, “but it’s sentimental.”
“Our customers want to know their pieces are in a safe place, or they want to have it for their own peace of mind,” Fareed said. “Especially in times like these.”
But for Lemay, Fareed went above and beyond that level of customer service and offered to arrange a COVID-19-safe delivery.
“He even asked if we needed groceries picked up,” Lemay said.
Fareed ensures he and his wife, Ziba, maintained social distancing in their delivery, but they certainly won’t forget this custom ring anytime soon.
“It’s extremely exciting,” Fareed said. “We do a lot of custom making, but this was so different and so special because under the circumstances, you’re still able to bring some happiness.”
The delivery aspect is a small ask for Fareed, he said.
“But it meant so much for them because they are stuck at home,” he said. “This is something they will always remember — it’s not a regular proposal.”
The customer service won’t ever be forgotten as well, Lemay said, noting for any future jewelry purchases, he knows where he’s going.
Lemay said his fiancée is ecstatic now that she’s wearing her custom-made engagement ring.
“She can’t stop looking at it,” he laughed. “She feels like a princess.”