A bride-to-be was horrified when her engagement ring flew off her finger from the top of a multi-storey car park just two days after her firefighter fiancé proposed and landed in a gutter several floors below.
Hairdresser Lydia Wagstaff, 26, was over the moon when her boyfriend of five years, Henry Sleight, 29, proposed in the Lake District during a romantic hiking break on June 23 2021.
Two days later, when the couple broke their journey home for a quick M&S sandwich in Lancaster, Lancashire, Lydia was aghast when she brushed some pollen off her shoulder from the flowers Henry had bought her and accidentally flung her vintage diamond ring into the air.
Thankfully, a resourceful car park attendant rushed to their aid – fishing the jewel from the filthy gutter with sticky tape attached to the end of a long pole – meaning Lydia could show-off the beautiful ring when they broke the news to loved ones once they returned home to Long Buckby in Northamptonshire.
“I’m only just able to start laughing about it,” said Lydia, who knew her ring was too big, but was so excited she could not wait for it to be resized before putting it on.
“It really put a dampener on everything, as we had been on such a high.”
She added: “My biggest advice to newly engaged couples now is not to wear a ring if it’s too big.”
Lydia, who met Henry six years ago through a dating app, is far from the only person whose engagement has not gone smoothly.
According to a poll by wedding website Hitched, one in five couples wish they could change their engagement story.
At least Lydia has never been in any doubt about her choice of man.
Referring to Henry as the love of her life, she recalled their early chats when she saw him on the app, saying: “Obviously, the firefighter part was a good positive.
“But I was really attracted to the fact he was so genuine and down to earth.”
When the couple went to the Lake District in June, she had a feeling he might pop the question.
Yet, she was surprised by his timing, when they set off on an early morning walk on June 23.
She said: “The day before Henry proposed, we’d gone on a boat trip on Lake Windermere and I thought he might have done it then.”
She added: “When he suggested the next day we went for a hike – something we do a lot of – it didn’t occur to me he’d propose.
“We went up a mountain and started taking some pictures, because we were overlooking beautiful Buttermere lake.
“He got me to walk out a little bit and then when I turned around he was down on one knee.”
Luckily for Lydia, Henry had picked the perfect ring to propose with.
“I kept air dropping pictures of this one ring a few months before he asked me to marry him,” she said.
“I didn’t expect him to cotton on, so I was thrilled. It’s an antique ring with an oval central stone and a smaller oval one either side of it.”
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She added: “It was a little big for me, but I started wearing it right away.”
Still, she never expected it to fly off when she wiped some pollen from her shoulder.
“I had this really big bouquet of flowers and there was pollen from them on my arm,” she said.
She added: “I think it was just absolute chance that as I was wiping it off, my hand was in the direction of the air and my finger must have just locked in a perfect straight line and the ring flew over the car park wall.”
In a split second, her romantic dream became a nightmare, as they both stared at the ring sparkling from the dirty gutter several floors below and, apparently, completely out of reach.
“It all seemed to happen in slow motion,” said Lydia, “I screamed, ‘My ring!’”
She added: “I just went into panic mode and ran off to try and figure out how to get down to that level.
“Then Henry called across to me and he was on his stomach looking down onto this kind of canopy gutter and said, ‘I can see it.’
“We had no idea how to reach it, though.”
One in five couples (19 per cent) wished they could change their engagement story.
Thanks to Henry’s firefighting know how and an enthusiastic car park employee, the pair devised a plan to retrieve it.
“The car park man called his boss, then went down to a window parallel to the ring,” said Lydia.
“He actually had to go into someone’s office to open it, but he managed to swing it open further.”
She added: “He was going to try sticking a magnet to a stick, but my ring is platinum and when I googled it, I discovered that it’s not magnetic.
“We were worried he was going to push it into the gutter further, but he used tape sticky side up on a pole to get it back.
“It was a pretty tense moment, but he got it back and we were so grateful.”
Too terrified to watch, as the helpful man poked about in the gutter, Lydia feared her precious ring would be lost forever.
“I couldn’t watch,” she said. “it was so stressful, but luckily he rescued it in the end.”
After the kerfuffle, she was too traumatised to put the jewellery back on and left it in its box for two weeks.
She said: “We got stuck in terrible traffic on the way home after the incident and I was just sitting there, replaying that awful moment on a loop.
“I got the ring resized two weeks later, it had been two sizes too big!
“Then I started wearing it again and I love it.”
Now the couple are planning their wedding for June 29, 2022.
“It’s an exclusive wedding venue Elmore Court in Gloucestershire, so they’re very creative,” she said.
“It’s going to be great. We haven’t finalised numbers, but it will be around 80 people and I don’t want to give too much away.”
One thing she will reveal is that she will make sure her wedding ring is the right size before she lets Henry slip it on her finger.
And by the time they tie the knot, she hopes she will finally be able to laugh about her engagement ring debacle.
She said: “I have a reputation in my family for being clumsy, but I really surpassed myself that day.”
She added: “I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it at all initially.
“I’m slowly able to joke about it more now, but only because I got it back.
“By the time we get married, I hope it’ll just be a funny story!”
To help plan a flawless proposal go to https://www.hitched.co.uk/