She was so stunned that she convinced herself that she had heard wrong, but when she saw the look on her fiancé's face, she realized she had heard right. That’s when steam started blowing out of her ears as she glared angrily at the woman. She was shocked that they were being treated so badly. But more importantly, she felt horrible for the way her fiancé was probably feeling. Then she came up with the perfect response.
If you’d asked Ariel two years earlier, she would have told you that marriage wasn’t even on her to do list. She was just 20 at the time and was attending the University of Tennessee in Martin to become a teacher. But a part of her wanted to find love, so she tried some dating sites. That’s how she found Quinn McRae and they hit it off right away, but they couldn’t foresee the interesting path these two lovebirds were about to take.
Ariel and Quinn chatted online for a bit. Then they started talking on the phone. In fact, they spent over six hours talking for two days straight. Ariel had never felt this way before, especially for someone she had never met. But her heart told her that he was one special guy. It was too bad that distance kept them apart. But this was a temporary obstacle that would eventually get resolved.
Quinn lived an hour away from Ariel, so he got in his car and drove over to her house to take her out. It might not have been the fanciest date, but it was one that Ariel will always treasure. “I wore a tacky Christmas sweater,” she said. “We ate wings, had a burping contest and drove around listening to music and singing.” That’s when Ariel realized that the connection she had with Quinn was real.
“I fell in love with him on the first date,” Ariel recalled. “If he had asked me to marry him the first time we met, I probably would have said yes.” As their bond continued to grow, their desire to be together grew stronger. As a matter of fact, they even considered eloping three months after their first date. But they knew that they’d need a strong foundation if they wanted to live happily ever after. So, they decided to wait as long as possible, but eventually, the waiting became unbearable.
Two years later, Ariel and Quinn decided that the time had come to take the proverbial plunge. Quinn was a car service advisor and Ariel was still in school, so neither of them had a lot of money. But their love was so strong that they felt they could take on anything life would throw at them. So, Quinn started saving up cash in order to buy her a nice engagement ring. But unfortunately, all he could scrounge up was $130.
Ariel had noticed a pear-shaped set of rings on Pinterest, and Quinn knew that this would be perfect, but the rings weren’t in his budget, so he felt like a failure. “He was so upset at the idea of not making me happy enough and of me not wanting to marry him because my rings didn't cost enough money or weren't flashy enough,” she said. But fortunately for Quinn, Ariel could have cared less about those rings she’d seen online.
Quinn insisted that they go look for a ring, even though Ariel had told him she didn’t need one to get married. So, they visited a Pandora store. Quinn hoped he’d be able to buy her something nice with the $130 he had. Ariel liked two matching rings made with cubic Zirconia and sterling silver, but Quinn assumed Ariel was settling for second best.
Quinn kept asking Ariel, "Are you sure you'll be happy with these? Are you sure this is okay?” He wasn’t convinced she liked the rings. He thought she was just saying they were nice in order to please him. But Ariel didn’t care about the cost of the rings. “I would have gotten married to this man if it had been a 25¢ gumball machine ring,” she explained. So, the couple decided to go ahead and buy the rings. But something shocking occurred.
The couple was happy with the choice they made, until another Pandora employee went over to talk with the woman who was taking care of them. She took a look at the rings and made a disparaging remark. “Can you believe that some men get these as engagement rings? How pathetic." Ariel was totally shocked as she immediately turned to face Quinn. She saw how embarrassed he was, and her anger grew, but not towards him.
“Old Ariel would have ripped that woman a new one,” explained Ariel. But she decided to be the bigger person and teach the woman a lesson in love. "It isn't the ring that matters, it is the love that goes into buying one that matters,” Ariel told the Pandora employee. Then the couple paid for the rings and walked out.
Ariel and Quinn got hitched in a courthouse ceremony on the second anniversary of the day they met. Quinn had picked out the $30 dress from the clearance rack at Torrid, and Ariel looked great in it. Ariel’s two best friends attended as well. Then Quinn went to work thirty minutes later, while Ariel celebrated at a local restaurant over pancakes with her friends. Although the ceremony had been simple, the couple were happy. But Ariel felt that the situation at Pandora needed to be shared.
Ariel shared her Pandora experience on Facebook in full detail. “When did our nation fall so far to think the only way a man can truly love a woman is if he buys her $3,000+ jewelry and makes a public decree of his affection with said flashy ring?” she wrote. “Why do material possessions equate to love?” But Ariel never expected the post to go viral.
People shared Ariel’s post over 50,000 times, and she got plenty of comments that supported her views. She was stunned but happy with all the attention her story got. And she hoped that her experience would help other couples. She told TODAY, "I've received so many messages from people telling me that I gave them the courage to finally propose or get married, even if they couldn't afford a ring." Even Pandora reached out to her.
Representatives from Pandora apologized to Ariel for her experience. They even asked her to tell them the store’s location and the name of the employee. However, Ariel refused to snitch on the woman, but she did accept their apology. “My intention with this post was never to get anyone fired,” she said. “I believe this post going viral is wake up call enough for her.” Pandora decided they still owed Ariel, so they sent her a bracelet. But for Ariel, the only thing that mattered was that she was married to the man she loved.