Alexandra and Thomas

Image 1 of Alexandra and Thomas

How We Met

Thomas and I met back in 2009 during Orientation Week at Carnegie Mellon University where we were both incoming freshman. At one of the events called Playfair, we separated into groups by birthday month for an ice-breaker; little did I know then, but Thomas developed a crush on me at that moment when we met for the first time in the July, August, September group. Despite having similar majors, schedules, and friends, we only bumped into each other sparingly for the next few years. However, Junior year we ended up at the same party during Carnival, CMU’s yearly springtime ritual to blow off steam before finals, and I beat him at quite handily at beer pong.

It wasn’t until that fall (of our senior year) that our paths finally crossed for real. That semester proved to be a difficult one, but I discovered early on that Thomas was to be one of my Teaching Assistant for my Biology Lab course. That November, I stayed late in the lab to catch up on work at the end of a truly terrible day and was all out of sorts. Understandably I lost track of time, and by the time I looked at the clock, I realized I was going to be late for a tennis team lift and had to hustle to campus. I was in such a rush that I forgot my computer charger on my lab bench. As a ran to the gym, I kept getting texts from a Pittsburgh number that I didn’t recognize telling me that I had left my charger behind. I knew I didn’t have time to turn around get it, so I texted my lab partner to see if she could pick it up for me but she has already left for the day. At that point, I was ready my day from hell to be over. However, as if the Pittsburgh number could tell I needed a win, they offered to drop it off to me after my lift and my mystery hero turned out to be Tom!

Post lift, I was at dinner with the team when Thomas walked in with my charger to return to me. He gave me a warm hug and told me he hoped my day would get better. After he left, my teammates were very impressed and decided to name him Computer Charger Boy. After that moment we started texting more regularly. Fast forward two weeks and Thomas asked me to lunch at a local cafe called Eat Unique for our first date! After lunch, I was so excited that I sent an email to one of my best friends about the having gone on a date with the cutest guy. Thomas texted me right away after lunch and asked me if I wanted to go out with him again that same evening. It wasn’t long after that that we were an official couple!

how they asked

Thomas asked me to marry him while I was in Pittsburgh for the week of his 26th birthday, and I could not have been happier with how he did it! Typically when I am in town, we go to our alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, to walk around the campus and see how much things have changed since we graduated. Even more typical of my visits was contacting my college tennis coach, Andrew Girard, to say hello and catch up. We managed to run into him outside of the athletic building; he even gave me some new gear so that I could represent the Tartans proudly! As we left the building, Thomas suggested we go to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens next. Phipps was right next door to campus, and was a very romantic spot with beautiful scenery; we had talked about going there together before but had never found the time. So we dropped off my new Tartan gear at the car, cut across Flagstaff Hill, and made our way to Phipps. Once inside, Thomas got our tickets, and we headed into the greenhouses. I have to admit I wondered why were visiting Phipps so close to its closing time, but I quickly brushed that thought off. We made out way through the picturesque flower displays accented with incredible life-sized glass sculptures of orchids. As we were walking and taking in the sights, Thomas mentioned that he had heard wonderful things about a room called the Broderie Room and said that we should go there. When we rounded the corner to the Broderie room, we saw that the room was roped off, but like magic the second we got there a woman working for Phipps told us they had just finished an event in the area and it was now open to the public.

Thomas and I entered the Broderie Room and stopped to make a wish with a quarter at the Wishing Well in the entrance; little did I know that my wish was about to come true sooner than I thought! We walked hand in hand around the room between beds of flower in full bloom, taking in the sights. When we reach the end of the path, Thomas looked at me and said, “You know I brought you here for a reason today.”

Image 2 of Alexandra and Thomas

At that point, the world around me slowed down to a stop. Thomas got down on one knee and asked, “Alexandra Christine Tapak, will you marry me?” I was so over the moon that I had already shoved my hand forward towards him and said “Yes!” before he even finished saying my full name.

Image 3 of Alexandra and Thomas

I was so overcome with emotion, I couldn’t even begin to process it all, and then I heard something that I didn’t expect: clapping. I looked over to the source of the applause, and it turned out to be the very same Phipps employee that had let us into the Broderie room. Thomas must have seen the surprise creeping onto my face, so he leaned over and told me that the entire Phipps trip and the Broderie room was all planned out just for us! And then, just as I was about to cry, Thomas let me in on another part of the surprise: he had hired a photographer to capture the entire event. It goes without saying that I sucked those tears back in as not to ruin my makeup, We spent the rest of the late afternoon taking photos all around the Conservatory and enjoying the moment. Best quarter I’ve ever spent.

Image 4 of Alexandra and Thomas

Special Thanks

John Dillard
 | Photographer
Julie Hutto
 | Planning