Washington Square Park Proposal – New York, New York – Colleen & Matt

Colleen and Matt both went to BU (he graduated in 2014, she in 2015). While at BU, they both worked for the Community Service Center and held the same job, but different years. During the summer of 2012 Matt coordinated the FYSOP (First Year Student Outreach Project) while Colleen was a staff member, and during the summer of, 2013 she coordinated the same program while he was a staff member. The program is designed for incoming freshman and transfer students to be welcomed to Boston and BU through community service. They both knew the same people, and their paths probably crossed earlier than when they actually met.

During the beginning of the program in August 2013, Colleen was up on stage giving a presentation to all the staff and students. Matt was an incoming senior, standing in the back of the room definitely thinking “I’m too cool for this”. But then he saw her on stage and thought to himself “wow, she’s really pretty. I need to know her”.

“I spent the rest of the week-long program trying to get her attention, finding people to try and introduce us, etc. It wasn’t working. At the end of the week, there was a dance for all of the staff members. I don’t like dancing, so I was hanging out with friends in a room upstairs. As the night was winding down, my friends and I were planning on heading out to go to Tasty Burger (kind of like shake shack). As we walked down the stairs, Colleen was walking up the steps. I seized my opportunity. As she approached me I turned to her and said: “Do YOU want to go to Tasty Burger?”. She said “Sure!”. It wasn’t a real date, more me and my friends and her tagging along. But it was a great time.”

“For our real first date, I took her to a Red Sox game about a week later. I picked her up at her apartment, we walked to the stadium, and sat behind home plate. We talked the entire game, never a dull moment. From then on, I knew she was the one. Almost 5 full years later here we are.”

Colleen and Matt had openly talked about marriage and proposals for a while, so they knew there wasn’t too much of a surprise that it would happen eventually. The surprise was going to be the when and how, not necessarily the “if”.

In November 2017 Matt picked out her ring. He didn’t tell anyone what he was doing, he did it all by himself (which he says he’s very proud of!). Colleen was VERY open about the style she liked, so he had some information to go off of.

In December 2017 Matt was at Colleen’s house and found time to talk to her dad and mom separately to ask for permission and share his “vision”, which he says was probably the most nerve-wracking moment of his life. “I think I blacked out. After I got the approval, I shared with them that I wanted to propose in May (so they needed to keep this a secret for nearly 6 months). At this point, I also had told my parents and brother, so they too needed to be tight-lipped about my plan. I also reached out to her cousins (who are pretty much like her sisters) because Colleen said that when I propose, she needed her cousins around and she needed her nails to be done.”

During January 2018 Matt started telling his friends about his plan because he wanted to ensure as many people were around as possible to help celebrate. Then in February 2018, he started telling Colleens friends that he was planning a surprise birthday party for Colleen on May 12th (Her birthday is May 15th. She also graduated from her nursing program a week later, so this was the perfect date).

In May 2018, all of Matt’s friends knew what was going to happen and they were great about keeping his plans a secret for almost 5 months, which is pretty amazing. Most of her friends had caught on by now, but some still thought that they were going to NYC for a surprise 25th birthday party.

Two days before the proposal, Matt took Colleen to see Waitress on Broadway for her birthday as a decoy gift. “I could tell she was upset that I didn’t propose right then, and we actually talked for a while about how I promised to propose by the end of the summer… little did she know.” The next day her two cousins (Steph and Rachel) came down from Boston to co-celebrate their birthdays (the three of them all have a birthday within 3 weeks). This was planned, so no surprise ruined.

Then finally on May 12th, Matt told Colleen that he needed to head into the city for an end of the semester school brunch. So he heads out to go meet his parents and brother for breakfast in NYC. “While I am out, I pre-booked a mani-pedi for Colleen and her two cousins in Hoboken. While this is happening, Colleen’s parents meet me and my family in NYC to join in on the day. At around 1pm, I met Colleen and her cousins at the subway. Her cousins walk uptown to “meet a friend”, while Colleen and I start heading to Washington Square Park for “lunch”. At this point, I couldn’t even think straight. I just let her talk and walked her to the spot. Once we got to the park, right in front of the fountain I said “Colleen, I’m really sorry but I lied. There is no lunch”. And then I proposed! Right after, I told her to call her mom on the phone to share the news. What she didn’t know was that everyone was in town to surprise her. And luckily we had the entire thing photographed professionally. Our families then ran over and surprised her! Super happy moment.

But it doesn’t end there. There is still the “surprise birthday party”.

At around 4:30, I start leading us all to a bar where I told friends to gather and wait for us to arrive. As we walk in, easily 50 of our friends were waiting for us in the back patio of the bar with food, snacks, drinks, etc. She was stunned. We had friends from NJ, NYC, CT, MA and CA all come out to the bar to help us celebrate. It was awesome. We stayed out with friends til 2am and had an amazing day.

Colleen had absolutely no idea any of this was happening. It was a secret 7 months in the making, and it went exactly as I planned.

I picked Washington Square Park because it’s a really nice park. We had walked through it a bunch in the past since it is close to NYU and the PATH from Hoboken. I also wanted to be a daredevil and do it in a public space for photos.”

Thank you to VeroLuce Photography for sharing these images with us.

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  1. Sharon Benmaman

    August 30th, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    What a wonderful story! Mazel tov to both of you, and Matt, to your parents, Karen and David, who I’ve known since the beginning of their love story!

  2. Karen Sanders

    August 30th, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    Veronica Yankowski Ligouri is such a true professional and so talented!! She captured the essence of the day and the love that Matthew and Colleen have for one another as well as the happiness that the 2 families have for them. Thank you to Veronica for doing that! We now have these pictures forever and cherish them.

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