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She Said Yes!

Things have always seemed to work out just right for Erin Ricciardi and Connor Schmitt. Connor reconnected with his former army platoon buddy, Kyle when they discovered they lived across the street from each other in Fort Stewart in Georgia, where they were both stationed. One fateful weekend, Kyle invited his sister Erin to visit, and the rest, they say, is history. They were both head over heels within a few short months.

During a drizzly Fourth of July weekend, Connor and Erin took out the family dinghy, “Queen Mary”, around Bassett’s Island in Bourne, a home base beach for the local Schmitt family, to “test the engine”. Cape Codder Connor took New Yorker Erin to Bassett’s the first time she came to visit. Connor shrugs, “Without the sentimental value, it’s just, you know, not the best sand beach. That was just our place. We went all the time growing up.”

It was around Memorial Day when Connor began concocting an elaborate ruse about how their small craft was experiencing motor issues, emphasizing to Erin that they were even having a mechanic look at it–building a water-tight story to ensure they had a reason to be out near the Island together that day. 

“In the Schmitt family, that doesn’t shock me,” Erin laughs. “That they would say, ‘OK, the engine may or may not work. Sure, it’s raining and there’s thunder and lightning, and we have to test the engine of the dinghy right now. Totally. Let’s go.’”

Adding to the overall scheme, the Schmitt and Ricciardi families had planned to have dinner at the Chart Room in Cataumet that evening. And while one can eat at the Chart Room in shorts and a t-shirt, Connor surreptitiously convinced her to wear a special outfit. Luckily, Erin had squished a dress from a friend’s prior wedding into the back of her suitcase. Erin adds, “But my hair was soaking wet and unwashed because we had spent the day running around.” She looks at Connor. “What were we doing–pounding sand and moving bricks for your Dad?” They laugh together. 

With so many moving parts, Connor needed a team to help him execute the proposal perfectly. Mary, his sister, would be with their photographer the day-of, helping time everything just right. The ring he had purchased with his brother, Jack, was stowed away, first wrenched in a shelf in the family office, then taped underneath the kitchen sink. Connor seems proud of his machinations. “Even if you were a plumber, you wouldn’t be able to find it. When Erin came to visit for [a friend’s] wedding beforehand, I knew she was never going to find this thing. Her little tiny hands would never find it back there.”

In addition to his family, Connor had enlisted Erin’s best friend Mallory Pound in on the secret. That afternoon, bemoaning the fact that she had to take out the dinghy before going to a nice dinner, Erin connected a few dots and flippantly asked Mallory if Connor was intending on proposing to her. “She didn’t miss a beat and said, ‘Erin, I would sue him if he proposed without running it by me first.’ All it took was her reassurance,” Erin shrugs. “And I thought, oh, okay, I guess it’s not tonight.”

Twenty minutes before the two departed in the “Queen Mary”, family friend Max Hart took Mary and photographer Abby DelSignore out to the Island from Parker’s Boatyard on his own skiff. “My sister and I had a code signal–we’re texting each other, but in emojis. Like code words,” Connor grins. Once on the Island, Abby crawled with her camera through the brush and poison ivy to get to just the right spot. 

After such a long-con, it thankfully didn’t take much to convince Erin to pull the apparently faulty dinghy up onto the shores of Bassett’s. Connor begins, “We start walking, but I had the ring in my pocket. This ring was like the size of a fist in the box. And she’s trying to walk on my right side where the ring was.”

“So he physically moved me, like, ‘no, go over here,” Erin pantomimes. 

“As we get closer, I’m getting worried because I see Abby’s grey hood.” Connor explains. It dawned on him that it was finally time for the big moment. “I don’t even remember what I said,” he blushes. “I kind of blacked out.”

Erin picks up the story. “You turned to face me. And that’s when you said…what did you say?” She laughs.

“I said, ‘I want to ask you something? Do you want to take a journey with me?”

“Or do you want to do this thing with me?”

“Do you want to get married?”

“And that’s when I was like, ‘Wait, are you really doing this?’ Then I started to cry.” 

And that’s when she said, “Yes.”

The couple is tying the knot at Shining Tides in Mattapoisett next August. Reflecting, Erin muses, “Had he not gotten the job he currently has, we would have never crossed paths. So it was kind of perfect. We always talk about how it seems God always had a plan…the stars aligned for us.

Rachel Walman is the assistant editor at Cape Cod Life Publications.

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