When your beau is whisked away to one of the most romantic cities in the world several times a year as part of his job, coming up with an equally romantic place to propose to him could be a challenge. But for Ryan Hahn, who works in program marketing at HBO for shows such as Game of Thrones and Veep, he had just the solution. Rather than compete with the City of Love, where Harris Levinson, an executive producer of digital video, covers the Paris fashion shows, he would use it to set the scene for popping the question. In October of 2013, while Harris was winding down shooting the collections for brands such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton, Ryan secretly boarded a plane with a ring in hand and all the favorite things Harris raved about when returning from his trips on his mind. Here is how the big moment unfolded.
How did you both first meet?
Harris and I met over drinks as acquaintances through friends in the summer of 2009. Even though we had several mutual friends, we only knew each other through Facebook and decided to have a drink and fully introduce ourselves. That first moment sparks flew and what was meant to be one drink became a couple, then a bite, then five hours later we were still sitting at the table when Harris pointed at my forearm tattoo of a compass saying, “So does this thing actually work?” It’s not the first time that I heard that line, but that night it was exceptionally effective and I was smitten. That same month five years later I walked out of Cartier with an engagement ring.
Had you started talking about getting engaged?
We regularly talked about wanting to get married a few months into dating, but we only vaguely discussed the details of getting married. Although gay marriage wasn’t legal while we were dating in New York, it was in my native state of Iowa. I always joked that I was the only one who could propose. Ironically, the day before I proposed to Harris, he had been visiting a watch jeweler in Paris in hopes of finding something with which to propose to me. Certainly it was on both of our minds at the time.
So how did you come up with the idea of traveling to Paris to pop the question?
One July night after a yoga class, my best friend and I were grabbing wine and pizza to counterbalance how healthy we had been. The conversation led to how I had been saving for a ring and how the proposal would have to be unique to catch Harris in one of his favorite moments. For years he had been traveling to Paris for men’s and women’s fashion weeks and the city has been such an influence on him that I can’t imagine whom he would be without Paris. He discovered his favorite wine, Sancerre; his favorite pastry, Ladurée macarons; and his favorite dish, L’Avenue shrimp risotto, on his stays in Paris. I wanted to anchor the excitement of starting our wedding adventure to be Paris as well. From there, I just had to figure out how to fit each of his favorite things into one experience.
Can you share the details leading up to the moment?
Fall is the best season to visit Paris. A crisp excitement is in the air, especially during fashion week. I contacted the video editor who was traveling with Harris to have him request a wrap dinner at Harris’s favorite restaurant, L’Avenue. This way Harris wouldn’t be completely preoccupied with shoots. Then I called the restaurant to help with my elaborate plan.
That night Harris and his crew enjoyed their dinner of shrimp risotto. At dessert, instead of the waitress bringing out a menu, she brought Harris a box of Ladurée macarons “…from Monsieur Hahn.”
Just then I tapped him on the shoulder and told him to dig in. Upon opening the box, Harris found a bright red Cartier box in the center containing a platinum LOVE ring. Although the restaurant was packed with fashionistas and PR teams, I wanted to keep this moment as private as possible. I quietly got down on one knee, took his hand, and whispered, “I love you, Harris. Will you marry me?” The entire restaurant caught on with an eruption of excitement. Blushing, we grabbed a handful of macarons and strolled out to the Eiffel Tower, where we called our family and friends with the good news.
Did everything go as planned or were there any snags?
There were a few snags, but ultimately Harris was surprised and delighted, to the point of asking the group if he was “being punk’d.” As much as I explained what I wanted to do with the staff at the restaurant, it wasn’t until the hostess understood that I had a ring that she was excited for me, insisting that I have dinner that night in a private area hidden by curtains so that I would be there precisely at the right time. I also had a friend who lived in Paris and spoke French fluently help me so that the entire staff totally understood what I was trying to pull off. She saved the night actually because there were several moving parts on an already busy evening.
You both recently tied the knot down in St Barths?
For several years we have been traveling to St Barths, each time expressing how wonderful it would be to have our friends and family there with us. The wedding was finally the excuse to make it happen. The celebration was nearly perfect—and quite a feat to plan—but what made the time extraordinary was the combination of our friends and family from every part of our lives coming together. We had great guests so we were able to get into every detail of the weekend experience.
Did you end up exchanging rings?
We were engaged with the platinum Cartier LOVE rings, which we both like because they are a simple, masculine design. But both being watch enthusiasts, we had already discussed getting wedding watches. We ended up exchanging IWC Portuguese watches that complemented each other, but didn’t match entirely—just like us.
Do you envision having Paris as a spot you will return to in order to celebrate anniversaries?
We are already planning to meet in Paris to start our honeymoon, probably to Saint-Tropez, which feels like a sister to St Barths. Certainly there will be Sancerre, no matter where we end up.