Before ever meeting her future husband, Anne McKinney met his parents — in a squished elevator on their 2004 freshman move-in day at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Anne was standing with her mother, who was making small talk with Steve Truppe's parents about moving their kids into college.
"I was mortified," Anne says.
When Steve's mother learned that Anne was studying architecture, she said her son was also in the program and that they should meet.
A little later, Steve recalls, "I'm in my room, unpacking stuff, and (my dad's) like, 'Hey, I just met this really cute girl.' "
The two did meet the next day, in the building's common space.
"We just struck up a conversation and hit it off right away," says Steve, now 28. "Our parents like to take credit for setting us up."
When Anne's mom checked in a few weeks later, she asked Anne if she had ever met the boy in the architecture program.
By then, Anne admits, "I already had kind of a huge crush on Steve."
Officially, they were friends. "We had developed a really strong friendship, and I think both of us realized that we wanted more from that pretty quickly," Steve says.
Fortunately for them, being in the architecture program helped them spend lots of time together, time they might not otherwise have shared because of the course work's demanding requirements.
"Architecture was a really tough program," says Anne, now 27. "We didn't really have a lot of time to see friends."
Huddling together on projects to meet deadlines helped them bond and see how the other person handled a challenge.
Adds Steve: "It was nice because we understood what (the) other was going through; we understood the rigors of the schedule."
Working side by side also helped them realize "that we worked really well together," Anne says.
"We got to see each other solve problems and (apply) critical thinking," Steve adds, "which doesn't normally come into a relationship until much later."
Still, though both harbored romantic feelings, they were young and in college. "It's hard to say if we knew right away we were going to be together forever," Anne says. "We had a really special connection from the beginning."
By 2008, though, building a future together was the plan. Each was accepted into an interior architecture design program in Chicago during the last semester of their senior year. They moved to the city (Anne had grown up in Antioch, Steve in Janesville, Wis.) and stayed after graduation: Anne in Roscoe Village, Steve in Lincoln Square.
Their young careers had rocky starts. Steve nabbed a job at an architecture firm but was laid off five months later. Anne, who had also been trying to get a position in the field, was paying bills by working at Edible Arrangements.
Nevertheless, Steve was saving up for a ring. "We still really wanted to get married," he says.