A fairytale engagement

AliDan – A real life fairytale engagement
August 18, 2018 Fairina Cheng

Believe what they tell you. Fairytales do exist. And author and serial entrepreneur, Dan Norris, has written a storybook proposal that proves it!

Once upon a time (a few months ago in fact) an email landed in my inbox from a “Dan Norris”. And I did a double take.

I Googled his email address to confirm that it was the same Dan I was thinking of. And yep, it was.

Dan is the creator of The 7 Day Startup and co-founder of Black Hops Brewing on the Gold Coast. In fact, I had been following him since the days he launched (and sold) WP Curve, a WordPress service I once subscribed to.

So when he got in touch wanting an untraditional engagement ring, it was like being contacted by a celebrity!

“Hi Fairina. I am looking to buy an engagement ring for my girlfriend,” the email said. “She thinks diamonds are a bit generic.”

If you know me, that’s always a great start. My passion is unconventional engagement rings that are a little out of the ordinary.

Dan wanted a ring that told a story. And not just any story – a fairytale.

Designing a fairytale engagement ring

Over phone and email, Dan and I chatted about the many things that made him and Ali perfect for each other.

We sourced a gorgeous lilac sapphire with a rosy sparkle – pink in some lights, purple in others. It was the same shade as the peonies Dan would give Ali just to see her eyes light up.

We designed a ring that incorporated black and white diamonds for their yin yang personalities, and a twist for her magical unicorn nature. The inside of the band would be set with a garnet and an aquamarine (their birthstones) in a cheeky Mickey Mouse-like configuration to reference her love for Disney. It would be finished with dual engravings of their names and their anniversary date, so they could sit forever against her skin.

Pink sapphire
Purple sapphire

While the ring was being made, Dan was busy writing a storybook that captured their journey from the time they met to that spectacular moment (in the near future) that he proposed.

On the 3rd of May, their anniversary, Dan gave Ali a sealed envelope containing their story. At the time, the ring was still being made. So she wasn’t allowed to open it.

The proposal

In July, Ali and Dan headed on a holiday to Coffs Harbour (with the mystery envelope stashed away in Ali’s bag).

“The day I proposed we were on a road trip and we didn’t have any accommodation planned for that night – at least that’s what she thought,” said Dan.

“So in the afternoon she asked where we should stay. She made a joke about messaging our friend Darren to see if we could stay at his place in Scott’s Head. I said, yeah cool idea, and pretended to text him. She thought she instigated the whole thing but meanwhile I’d organised to stay there months earlier.”

“So when I asked her to put on a black dress and rush down to the headland with the envelope she had no idea.”

There they were, standing at Scott’s Head, where they’d had one of their earliest dates.

Dan turned to Ali and opened the envelope. He handed her the pages of the storybook he had written, one by one.

Ali and Dan Norris engagement ring story

This is a story about a beautiful young woman. Charismatic, funny, loving, hmm let’s say…. energetic…. Like the most epic woman you’ve ever met. Actually more like a Unicorn. Her name was Ali.

Dan Norris proposal story

Ali met a man. Older, let’s say a little wiser…quiet, introverted, shy. Kind of like the exact opposite of her. But like yin and yang…it worked. His name was Dan.

Dan Norris and Ali get engaged

They met on 3 May (the day you were given this envelope, what a coincidence!) and they got together at a magical drive in movie date on 16 October 2017. That’s also Disney’s birthday. How cool!

AliDan - A love story

They fell in love over some secret dates, a mostly secret trip to Scott’s Head, and a slightly less secret trip to Disneyland in Hong Kong.

Peonies - Ali and Dan's surprise engagement

There were lots of presents and flowers. Because seeing Ali’s face light up every time she got them, was too much for Dan to ignore.

Dan Norris getting married

And before too long, Ali and Dan, became AliDan.

Pink and purple sapphire engagement ring

But one day Dan gave Ali a special present. One that reminded him of her. A precious sapphire, sometimes pink, sometimes purple. But always beautiful.

Yin Yang engagement ring story

It was encased in a string of diamonds, black on one side and white on the other, held together like Yin and Yang. Twisted, like the horn of a unicorn and inscribed with a romantic note.

How Dan Norris proposed

And with that present, came a question.

Ali and Dan Norris - Will you marry me?

AliCat, my unicorn. Will you marry me?

This was when Dan handed her the final page, a drawing of them wearing the very same clothes, and standing in the very same spot they were in at that moment.

And Ali said…

Dan Norris untraditional engagement ring

Custom illustrations by Dan’s graphic designer, Daniel

Engagement ring at sunset

“As I gave her the story, page by page, she was bawling her eyes out,” said Dan. “By the time I asked her she was hysterical and I couldn’t get much out of her. I showed her the ring and she kind of just couldn’t believe it.”

“I also gave her some of my first few drawings that I sent you. She thought that was cool since I can barely write my own name and it looked so dodgy!”

Swirl ring sketch
Yin Yang engagement ring sketch
Swirl halo engagement ring with black and white diamonds
Sapphire halo engagement ring with black and white diamonds

“She loves the ring. She’s showed pretty much every person she’s seen ranging from our close friends and family, to the camping ground operator in the Hunter Valley. She’s still showing everyone and reading the little story to them and showing them the pages now, two weeks on. Everyone loves it and can’t believe how much thought and effort and design went into it.”

18ct white gold engagement ring with pink sapphire and twisted band
Diamond and sapphire halo engagement ring in white gold

“Someone like Ali couldn’t have an off the shelf engagement ring. You were amazing and we ended up getting everything we could have possibly imagined,” said Dan.

And so we come to the end of our story – a happy ending and a happy beginning as Ali and Dan craft the rest of their lives together.

The End.

Dan Norris and Ali

Thinking of proposing?

Book a call or send an email to start the conversation about your very own engagement ring!

If you’re planning your very own engagement surprise (and are feeling a bit clueless about the process) I’ve created something specifically for you. Click here to access The Ultimate Toolkit to an Amazing Secret Proposal!

Comments (3)

  1. Angela 2 years ago

    That is so sweet and a beautiful ring:)

  2. Meg 11 months ago

    That ring is unbelievable! He went above and beyond, such a beautiful story.

    • Fairina Cheng 11 months ago

      I know, it’s one of my favourite stories. I love how it came together and can’t take credit for the fairytale itself, but I am so honoured to have been involved! Thanks Meg!

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