Fate certainly has a way of bringing together two people who are meant to be with each other, and no one knows that more than on-air pop culture reporter Ali Stagnitta and her fiancé Rich Carbone. They first met in passing at a workout class in New York City, but it wasn’t until a few months—and a pandemic outbreak—later that they finally went out on a date in the fall of 2020.
The now-engaged couple matched on Hinge in the fall of 2020. When Ali shared his profile with her mom, “I said, ‘here’s some stuff about him, he went to Hopkins, he played baseball,’ and my mom goes, ‘he also played football.’” Shocked that her mom had intel on this new guy, Ali asked her how she knew. “My mom told me, ‘you called me after you met him earlier in the year.’”
After just a few dates at Wolman Rink, Restoration Hardware rooftop, and more COVID-friendly places, both Ali and Rich knew they were in it for the long haul. “The pandemic definitely kind of sped things up,” reminisces Ali, and Rich agrees. “We went on three dates and then we had done everything we could do in New York at the time,” he adds with a laugh.
Fast-forward to April 2022 and Rich decides he’s ready to start planning the proposal. “My name is Rich Carbone, Ali’s becoming a Carbone.” So a Carbone NYC proposal only felt appropriate. “I figured Carbone might be tough to get into with a pretty large group,” he adds. After booking the private dining space six months out, Rich took his time finding Ali the perfect ring.
The groom-to-be looked to Karen and Lexi Taub, the mother-daughter duo of Alexis Jae Jewelry. “She was amazing and she couldn’t have been more honest with me,” Rich says of working closely with Karen on selecting the natural diamond and ring design. “We actually went a little lower in carat than I thought I would,” he explains, in favor of higher clarity. “I probably saw 8-10 diamonds but the one we found is beautiful and when I saw that I was like yeah, that’s the one.”
“For pieces like engagement rings that are meaningful purchases and that we envision becoming family heirlooms, we always recommend natural diamonds,” explains the Alexis Jae team. “There’s no evidence that lab-grown diamonds will hold their value over time.” Natural diamonds on the other hand are finite and will retain their value, making them the perfect stones to pass down to future generations.
“I felt like, this person is so right for me and the ring is really right for me.”
Engagement Ring: Alexis Jae. Bracelet: Made by Malyia
For Ali, not having been involved in the process, the ring was a total surprise. “It was everything I had ever wanted,” says Ali of the round, brilliant cut natural diamond, set on a classic 4-prong mounting and pave band. “I felt like, this person is so right for me and the ring is really right for me.”
And choosing a natural diamond was a no-brainer for them both. “Rich and I truly feel our love is one of a kind and rare, and having a natural diamond engagement ring that reflected that was something we both wanted,” Ali explains. “Plus, I truly believe nothing sparkles quite like a natural diamond!”
Before Rich got down on one knee in front of the Carbone sign, he spent the week avoiding Ali, worried he would give away the surprise. “All week I thought you were breaking up with me,” Ali says with a laugh. “I was so sad, I was like, he’s really avoiding me.” Of course, we all know this story has a happy ending
After she said yes, Rich surprised Ali with a private dinner at Carbone with their family and closest friends. “There’s usually people waiting outside of the restaurant for their tables but the Carbone manager brought everybody inside to give us space,” remembers Rich. “After Ali said yes, all the people waiting went nuts.” Proof that everyone loves love!
Ali and Rich are taking their time planning the wedding, with some help from Fete Nashville, which will be held at the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2024. It’s a very fitting venue, given the personalized engraving in Ali’s ring—lyrics from their favorite song, “One Man Band” by Old Dominion.
“It says, ‘I don’t want to be a Rolling Stone alone,’” Ali tells OND with a smile. “It’s just like a little thing in there and it’s just beautiful.”