Stephanie and Matt

Where to Propose in Pittsburgh, PA

How We Met

Trickery. Pure and simple. But I’ll get to that later.

Stephanie and I both went to the University of Pittsburgh for undergrad, and while we had a number of mutual friends and had attended numerous parties together, we had never met until one night in February of 2012. We were at a party, and a friend of mine introduced me to her. I remember thinking, “Wow, she’s beautiful. Out of my league, but beautiful nonetheless.” She seemed polite and had a really bubbly personality.We exchanged the usual pleasantries, but didn’t talk all that much. By the end of the night, we simply said our goodbyes. So, I went home and did what any logical person would do at that juncture: sent her a Facebook friend request.

Needless to say, I woke the next morning and saw she had accepted it. We didn’t really have much contact with the exception of exchanging a few Facebook “likes.” Apparently, my posts were “witty” (I remind myself of this when she tells me I’m NOT witty). Then one night, I received a message on Facebook from Steph. It said, “Hey! Are we still on for tennis this weekend?” NOTE: I do play tennis. So, at this point, I thought, “Um, yes, hello, let’s play tennis.” And then, before I had a chance to respond, she typed, “Oops, wrong Matt! Sorry about that!” It was only an accident. Game over. Strike three. Do not pass go.

Stephanie's Proposal in Pittsburgh, PA

Well, you would think, right? Well, despite the misdirected message, we talked for two hours that night and then two hours the next night. We transitioned to Twitter mentions until I finally mustered the strength to ask for her number. About a month and a few dates later, I asked her out on Pittsburgh’s Hot Metal Bridge on July 15, 2012, and she accepted (it was also four days before her birthday; I am not a smart man). A few weeks into our relationship, she confessed something to me. The Facebook message was no accident. She had simply “decided” she was going to date me, so she took a risk and sent me the message. Played me like a fiddle. However, after all this time, I think I’ve proven myself to be the “right Matt” after all.

Stephanie and Matt's Engagement in Pittsburgh, PA

how they asked

Steph fooled me into dating her with a tennis ruse, so I decided to reciprocate. After dating for over five years, I decided it was time to pull the trigger. We only looked at rings twice, but I knew generally the type of vibe she was feeling for a ring. Plus, I didn’t want her to have all the power in ring choice.

I finally picked out an oval diamond, which I knew was her favorite. So, I thought to myself: what’s a unique way to propose that’s not overly cliché but still maintains a sense of romance? What was something that both of valued equally? Something that was meaningful. Maybe I was watching one of those Roger Federer watch commercials or something, but I had a Eureka moment: a tennis ball ring box.

A few Google searches and a trip to Reddit paved the rest of the way. I ventured out to a crafts store, and while I was a fish out of water there, I managed to obtain foam, gorilla glue, and red felt. One night when Steph was out of the apartment, I went to work. Have you wondered what the inside of tennis ball looks like? Well, it’s not that interesting, folks. Kind of smells weird. That’s about it. Then I started carving away at the foam to serve as the base for the ring to sit. I wasn’t a boy scout, so this task was daunting. When you add a four-month-old kitten into the mix, who tries to EAT the foam you’re cutting away, the task becomes near herculean. When I had two halves of sphere-like foam, I glued them to each half of the tennis ball, leaving one of the pieces of foam more hollowed out. I then glued on the red felt, cut a slit for the ring, and voila!

When I had the finished product, I realized I needed a plan. Since Steph and I had played tennis dozens of times during our relationship, I told her that I really wanted to play one last match of tennis before the warm weather ended. I bolstered that fib with the fact that two of our very good friends were moving to South Carolina, and that they wanted to play with us. In reality, they got to the local tennis court about a half hour earlier than us and staked out a hiding spot.

After FINALLY convincing Steph to play that day, I led her to the court. I wanted her to come to MY side of the court, so I told her, “Hey come look at the crack running across my side of the court. Not fair.” Steph being stubborn, she stayed on her side, found a similar crack, and said, “No way, there’s a way bigger one on my side!” Well, it’s not love if you don’t have to work for it, right? Preferences be damned, I came to the center of the net, recited my prepared “speech” without a hitch, and she said, “Um, no way?” Kidding, guys, just making sure you’re paying attention. Of course, she said, “Yes!” and we celebrated one of the best days of our lives. Needless to say, she finally got that tennis match she wanted. Final score? Love all.

Special Thanks

Jesse McClain | 
Nicole Jankowski |