Matt and Krystal with BelugaFor the last several weeks, Shedd Aquarium and NBC Chicago collected the love stories of couples seeking to take the next step in their relationship. Through this contest, Matt won the chance to propose to Krystal at Shedd, with the help of a beluga whale! If you believe timing is everything, you will enjoy this story.

Matt and Krystal both attended Bradley University, but never met despite the school’s small size. They had mutual friends and at times lived down the street from each other, but their paths never crossed. It wasn’t time.

After college, Krystal, the free-spirit, moved to sunny San Diego for the beach and outdoors. Matt, who loves all things Chicago, moved to the city to enjoy the culture and activities. Their paths crossed several times, but destiny had a plan. They attended numerous weddings in their 20s (over 20 each) and were even in the same wedding together, but with Krystal focused on fun and travel, and Matt focused on his career, finding love wasn’t on either of their radars.

Matt down on one knee proposingKrystal moved back to Chicago in 2009 and attended the wedding of a former Bradley University sorority sister shortly thereafter. Matt was at the same wedding, and the timing was finally right! They instantly felt a connection, and the conversation was endless. Neither of them was looking for someone, but their lives were unknowingly changed forever.

They walked Navy Pier on their first date, each of them taken by the many similarities and common links between them. They couldn’t wait to see each other again, and soon their relationship blossomed over weekends spent discovering the food, festivals and sites of Chicago. After a month of dating, took a break on a cement bench overlooking the Chicago River following a day of shopping downtown. Matt put his arm around Krystal and at that moment, they realized they wanted to grow old together. Matt told Krystal how strong his feelings were, and Krystal commented on how she wanted the intensity between the two to last forever.

Matt and Krystal posing for cameraThey created rules to live by that they continue to follow 2 ½ years later: monthly date nights, and to always court each other. They take the time to reconnect and keep the romance in their lives through the discovery of new restaurants, concerts or a movie after cooking together. They court each other regularly by opening doors, holding hands and writing love letters—continuing to fall in love over and over again with each other and with Chicago. They are now at a point in their lives where they are ready to begin their forever together.

Matt and Krystal wanted the unique opportunity to get engaged at Shedd Aquarium, as they’ve spent several days with friends or family exploring Shedd. They’ve had date nights at Jazzin’ at the Shedd in the summer, and even regularly watched Navy Pier fireworks on the lawn outside of Shedd’s lakefront terrace. Similar to beluga whales who travel in social pods, they are thankful that their circle (pod) of friends brought them together and changed their lives forever.

Read more about Shedd’s new Beluga Encounter Proposal Experience, now available to everyone looking to add a special engagement to their own “Whale of a Love Story.”