A woman who broke up with her fiance after a fight over wedding expenses can keep the engagement ring, a Halifax adjudicator has ruled.
Devin Sherrington had sued his would-be bride, Lauren Arbuckle, in small claims court for the 3.25 carat diamond ring, worth as much as $19,000.
Sherrington, a personal trainer, and Arbuckle, a hairstylist and make-up artist, had planned to marry in 2016. But he postponed the wedding amid arguments over its cost, small claims adjudicator Gregg Knudsen said in a written ruling released Wednesday.
"Mr. Sherrington testified that the wedding budget was becoming a very contentious issue. He sought to err on the less expensive side while Ms. Arbuckle preferred a more lavish affair. As a result of the disagreement and the strain it was having on their relationship, Mr. Sherrington suggested they postpone the wedding," said Knudsen.
"Ms. Arbuckle did not agree with that idea at all."
She wanted to elope, he wanted 'a party'
Arbuckle — who texts showed had originally wanted to elope but Sherrington wanted "a party" — then ended the relationship altogether, Knudsen said.
Knudsen said it wasn't Arbuckle who broke the engagement — and that was the key issue in deciding who keeps the ring.
"I find the postponement was an indefinite postponement, sufficient to treat the engagement as over. Ms. Arbuckle may have ended the relationship but Mr. Sherrington ended the engagement," said Knudsen.
"It is the conditional aspect of the gift, the marriage or the intent to marry, which is the critical issue. The determination of the entitlement to the engagement ring is based upon who broke off the engagement and who didn't."
In the end, Knudsen said text messages exchanged by the two showed Sherrington had told Arbuckle she could keep the ring anyway.
The adjudicator did, however, order Arbuckle to pay Sherrington $2,914 for her share of a trip to Mexico they had taken together.
The battle over the ring may ultimately be moot: Arbuckle has filed for bankruptcy, so the ring is in the possession of the trustee in bankruptcy.
A private matter made public
In a brief interview with CBC News, Arbuckle said she wasn't aware the decision would be a public document. She woke up Thursday morning to find the news of the decision — and by extension, her private life — spread across media.
"It's been a painful time," she said. "This was a private matter that both Mr. Sherrington and I have been dealing with for the last year and a bit, and it's something that I did not want or ask for and going through the pain of the breakup was enough, let alone to have it drag through court."
Arbuckle said she's had a lot of support from people, but also "a lot of backlash and some really horrible things said to me."
She said she just wanted to sell the ring to be able to pay off debt incurred from the wedding planning.