Cristina and Matthew

How We Met

Matthew and I have been best friends since high school. We both grew up in Manalapan, going to the same elementary and middle schools. When it was time to go to high school I ventured to RBC and Matt went to Freehold Township. After soccer season of my sophomore year, I transferred to Freehold Township. I knew only a handful of people and Matt was one of those familiar faces. Our friendship grew over the next 2.5 years into one that would follow us through college, despite the fact that I went to Seton Hall and he went to SUNY New Paltz.

Every time we were home on break from college, we found a way to spend time together, as JUST friends. After graduating, Matt’s life path (and talent) took him oversees to Germany and Sweden to play professional basketball and mine was to continue graduate school. Although this time our journeys were not only in different states, but in fact different countries, we maintained our friendship despite the distance.

The summers would be spent down in Belmar and along the shore, grabbing drinks or dinner when we could fit it in. Our conversations consisted of reminiscing of high school memories and even confiding in each other about our current relationships.

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It wasn’t until both of our lives took a turn we never expected that really proved what everyone else already knew, that Matt and I belonged as more than friends. I was applying for my final internship. I had my heart set on going to Georgia to work with UGA. I was promised that I would get it that I basically already had my bags packed. The email came the semester before: “Cristina you have been placed with Shore Rehab Institute in Brick, NJ for Spring 2016.” BRICK?!? I was devastated. After the countless emails and conversations I had with my advisor, I never saw this coming. While this was going on in my life, Matt was going through a life change as well. He was sitting at his table with pen ALMOST to paper, about to sign a contract that would bring him back to Germany. He told himself that the moment he fell out of love with the game, he would stop. Matt Devine, 1000+ point scorer in high school, 1000+ point scorer & male athlete of the year in college, fell out of love with basketball?! It still amazes me that someone SO GOOD at basketball made the choice to step away in order to prepare for the next 5, 10, 15 years of his life.

So Fall of 2015, I’m back home, in my last year of grad school, Matt is back home, working full time. How convenient! We began hanging out more and more, making dinner a weekly event together. Matt goes on a family vacation to Canada each winter and said, “I’m not going to be home for Valentine’s Day so can I take you out during the week instead?” Here I am thinking, “Great, a pity invitation from my best friend who feels bad for me that I’m single and alone for Valentine’s Day.” I, of course, accept because who wouldn’t want to be Matt Devine’s valentine?! February 10, 2016: Matt pulls up, comes inside to get me, opens the car door for me where I find a box of chocolates and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (he knows me so well) on the passenger seat. We have a wonderful dinner and as we pull up to my house at the end of the night, he puts the car in park in my driveway. DUN DUN DUN.. the conversation began light and then progressed into basically divulging to each other how much we love spending time together and feelings have become more than “friendly.” It really worked out that we were on the same page otherwise… awkkkkkward. Matt is going to kill me that I’m writing this, but my favorite part about the night: M “if things don’t work out we can’t go back to being friends.” C “I agree, it would be too awkward.” M”But I have no doubt it won’t.” C”Me neither. Let’s do this.” **20 solid seconds of awkward silence** C”Go ahead, you can kiss me now.” And he did, and it was the best last first kiss I will ever have.

How He Asked

Fast forward to October 28, 2017: For all I knew, I was going out to dinner with my family, which isn’t out of the ordinary because we get together pretty much every weekend. Earlier in the week my dad texted my sister’s and I asking who was available for dinner Saturday night. If you know me you know I don’t miss a meal, of course Matt and I would be there. My younger sister works some weekends and texted that she wouldn’t be able to make it (again, nothing out of the ordinary). So Saturday rolls around, Stephanie leaves for work at 6:30 AM (or so I thought), Matt and I get breakfast and go pumpkin picking, and then head back to my house before its time to go to dinner. My friend from college stopped by to say hi, since she was in the area, and my parents left a little early to check out some real estate in Manasquan (or so I thought… again). My friend ironically asks me, “Is tonight the night?” pointing to her ring finger. I tell her no, because I really thought it wasn’t. Matt’s sister lives in Denver and wasn’t home, my sister was at work , Matt’s parents were getting together with friends for dinner and there was no way he would propose without our families there.

We get in the car, head to dinner, and being the hopeless romantic that I am, peak over to look to see if there’s a square box sitting in Matt’s pants pocket … nope. I tell myself, “Stop getting in your own head. Tonight is not the night. Don’t work yourself up because you are going to be VERY disappointed when you get to the restaurant and it’s just the family there for dinner.” (Sorry fam) So I spent the next 30 minutes preoccupying my mind with whether or not I shut off my straightener. My older sister texts that they are already there “in the back.” We pull up to Waypoint 622, head into the restaurant, where my family is no where to be seen. The hostess redirects us back outside and around the patio to the back bar suggesting maybe they are there. We follow her directions, head to the back bar, I don’t see my family, instantly get frustrated and begin calling my sister. The outside hostess says maybe they are down the stairs where there is more seating. So we walk to the stairs, Matt trailing a few steps behind me when I hear him say, “Surprise!” I look out onto the beautiful marina, filled with sailboats and yachts, feeling terrible because I couldn’t figure out what the surprise was. I was looking to the right, so Matt very calmly directs my attention to the left, when it hit me.. OH MY GOD!

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A path of lights and flowers guided me down the stairs onto the marina out onto the dock with the most beautiful set up of love notes and lanterns. A photographer in the bushes and both of our families watching the proposal unfold (Yes, Stephanie left at 6:30 AM to really sell the lie and Marissa secretly flew into Jersey and hid for 2 days). I was speechless. Matt walked me out on to the dock, where a few things were going through my mind… “Is this really happening.” “Get rid of this purse it will look awful in pictures.” “OMG this is happening.” Matt prepared a beautiful speech, which I only partially blacked out for, pulled the ring box OUT OF HIS SOCK (he thought of everything!), got down on one knee, asked me to marry him, and the rest is history!

We were so lucky to have family who dedicated so much time and effort, and white lies, into this special day. We will remember it FOREVER. We love being engaged and turning all of our dreams into reality, the best one being that we will be calling each other husband and wife on May 4, 2019. We love where our journeys took us separately and the fact that they ultimately brought us together. Looking back, everything truly did happen for a reason and we love being able to write our story together.