Jonathan Bennett (the Aaron Samuels from the iconic and beloved Mean Girls) and TV host Jaymes Vaughan, are pretty much the internet's favorite couple. In keeping with their joyful and loving Instagram presence, the pair got engaged in the sweetest way in November 2020, with an original song.
If you've seen the video, it's evident that Bennett was beyond surprised and thrilled when Vaughan got down on one knee. While both were absolutely certain that they wanted to marry each other, like many LGBTQ+ couples, their engagement process wasn't all smooth sailing. Vaughan says he found himself struggling in the ring department because unfortunately there are not a lot of engagement ring options for LGBTQ plus couples.
"When you think about proposing that you go through planning a million different ways in your head and looking for a ring for months and months until you find the right one," he tells Brides. "Well I was looking for rings, and I couldn't find anything that spoke to a tradition of what do you do when two men are in love?"
So after searching for months to find the perfect ring without success, Vaughan decided to take matters into his own hands. He commissioned Kay Jewelry to help design a same-sex engagement and wedding band all in one. Vaughan had a major part in designing this ring (the initial sketch was done on his Poke bowl to-go container!). Still, it's important to note that this historic piece of jewelry marks one of the first same-sex engagement/wedding bands offerings by a major retailer.
Brides spoke with Bennett and Vaughan over the phone to talk their new ring with Kay Jewelers, their adorable proposal, and of course, wedding plans. Read on for the full interview with the happy and trailblazing couple.
How did this partnership come to be?
Jaymes Vaughan: I knew from social media that Kay was supportive of the LGBTQ+ community. So I thought, "If there’s anybody I'm going to reach out to, to try to get an answer to this and create something in this space, that's who I'm going to go to." I wanted to do this for Jon, so that it was something special for us, but then realized it wasn't out there, I wanted to do this for our community. From the jump, I just felt like Kay had [my] back, knowing that we were doing this for our proposal. But, then it became something bigger picture for the community, to create more space in the industry for LGBTQ+ couples.
How did you come up with the design?
JV: I knew I wanted something blingy for me (because I like blingy) and not so blingy for Jon (because he doesn’t). That’s why the diamonds are hidden, so it’s blingy if you want it to be because you can focus on the diamonds, or you can choose not to. The diamond side faces out when we're engaged, and when we get married, the wedding band side will face out. I knew I wanted something that was really more square because I like timeless pieces, so I went about the design in a timeless vs. current [way]. That's why the metal is 14K white gold because I feel that's more current, but then its shape is more timeless. Having the diamonds hidden is versatile—it can be whatever you want it to be. It can be a flashy piece of the past, or it can be a modern, simple piece of now, depending on where you focus the eye.
Jonathan, did Jaymes do a good job?
Jonathan Bennett: Oh my gosh! I mean, after I blacked out during the proposal, I came to and looked down to have the most beautiful ring I'd ever seen on my finger. And it was not only perfect for me, but it was perfect for us because it had the simplicity that I liked with the bling that he loves. And what I think is cool is that the design of this ring really spoke to me because you don't have to get a different ring when you get married. For a gay couple, I love the tradition that Jaymes planned of taking the same ring and just flipping it versus getting a new ring or switching rings. This new tradition that James created blew me away, and I was just so ecstatic.
JV: You hear him say that? Because at the moment, all I heard was, "Ahhhh! Ahhhh!”
Were you surprised by the proposal?
JB: Obviously, watching the video, you can tell that I was completely thrown off guard. I was completely surprised.
What was your favorite part of the proposal?
JB: The fact that I looked down on my finger and I saw history being made. This is a huge deal. If you're not gay, I don't think you get it, but this is history. So the best part of the proposal—other than the fact that I get to marry Jaymes, my best friend—was looking down and seeing history being made on my finger because this is so much bigger than us. It's exciting that a major retailer is doing this for our community.
JV: We always say we didn't set out to be pioneers or trailblazers. But, we didn't know that this stuff didn't exist. Unless you're getting engaged or married, you're not really aware of what's going on in the wedding industry. And then when you think, "oh wow, there's nothing here." And all the different spaces you see that haven't yet been established for the LGBTQ+ community. Marriage equality is only six years old, so you've got to be trailblazers if you want it to happen for you and the community. We're like, "Let's take this, and let's run with it. Let's make the space." So that the next couple has it easier.
Do you have a wedding date or venue picked yet?
JV: We're getting married in the spring of 2022 at Unico Hotel in Riviera Maya, which is the most LGBTQ+ friendly, celebratory resort we could find. It has beautiful wedding venues to choose from. We are currently doing site visits to check out which exact one we want to use. There's a lot of really great options. We actually stumbled upon them after the first place told us "no." And it was the best happy accident ever because it's pointed us in the direction of Unico.
I want it to have a real classic feel. And I like the all-inclusive aspect because our families have never met, so this will be their first meeting. They'll get to spend a week together at an all-inclusive resort where no one has to think about a thing except getting to know each other. Because when that weekend comes, and we say "I do," we're all one big family now.
How about a honeymoon?
JB: Well, we don't have just one honeymoon. We have a whole year of honeymoons because—in keeping with the tradition of creating spaces for LGBTQ+ people to feel safe and celebrated—we launched our LGBTQ+ travel cruise company, Outbound. And we're using all those trips as our honeymoon. So we get to go on a pre-honeymoon to Greece this November. And then, we have a full year of traveling the world in a safe, celebrated environment with other members of the LGBTQ+ community. Getting to see the world together, check off our bucket list, and feel safe while we do it, it's such an exciting time.
What are you looking forward to most about married life? Least?
JB: There’s no "least," or otherwise I wouldn't be marrying him. People keep asking that question, and I’m like, “What? People get married and have doubts?" I'm going to enjoy saying "fiancé" as long as I can. I think we're most looking forward to getting to relax after we get married because we have been trailblazing many amazing things. I think once it's all said and done, it'll be nice to take some time to just be.
JV: I'll be honest with you, I’ve had so much fun using the word "fiancé," I can't wait to use the word “husband.” We're going to work with every space, retailer, products, etc., that we felt really safe and celebrated about using with our wedding—and we're going to shout them from the rooftops. We just couldn't find some things, so we want to create a list, so other people know. I hope to God the generations after us have it easier. But when you grow up gay and have places where you don't feel safe, and then to step into a little bit of that in the wedding industry and see that it exists, I’m like, if we don't trail blaze, then who's going to do it for the next generation? So let’s use this moment, as loud and proud as we can, and go for it. And we're just excited to do that. It's a lot more work than a normal wedding would be, but I think in the end it will be totally worth it. So once we say "I do," I’m gonna be like, “Baby, you see that beach right there? Wanna go sit on it?"
What ring shopping advice do you have?
JB: We can't speak to other couples because it’s a different world, so the ring advice isn't the same as what it is for us. I would say if you are gay and you're ready to propose to your partner, go to Kay Jewelers. It's not just another ring that you're adapting into your tradition. We finally have a new tradition.
JV: And to have it available at a major retailer is just insane and amazing to us. You always think about just making things accessible and visible for our community—to know there's a safe space for them to go where they're also celebrated. Something that we're really focusing on with our wedding is remembering that it's your wedding. So I would say the same thing with your engagement. It’s your engagement; it’s your wedding. This is your chance to make your tradition. Really remember that it's your experience, and this is going to be a memory that you have for the rest of your life. As you look down on your finger and see it as a symbol of love of that person, make sure it’s yours and not influenced by anyone else.
Our Ring by Jaymes and Jonathan is available now for a limited supply in 14K white gold in sizes 8-12 for $3,200 on kay.com.