Back in the mid-2010s, Kenny Pickett—now known far and wide as the starting quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers—was a standout player at Ocean Township High School. At the same time, Amy Paternoster was a star soccer player for nearby Wall High School. Because they both worked with the same trainer, Kenny and Amy would work out together every day after school. But when Kenny graduated two years before Amy did, they went their separate ways.
Fast forward a few years and Kenny was a quarterback for the University of Pittsburgh, catching the eye of National Football League scouts on his way to becoming a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Amy, meanwhile, had crossed the Garden State to attend Princeton University, where she was recognized for sports and academic achievements as an Academic All-Ivy.
On a break from college in January 2021, the pair reconnected at a party. After two years of dating, they tied the knot at the glamorous Pleasantdale Château in West Orange on June 24, 2023.
“We have an amazing relationship,” says Amy. “I cannot be more grateful for him. He’s my best friend. I’m just so blessed to have him in my life. We both say that our favorite thing about each other is how happy we make each other, how much we love each other and how much that love is felt.”
Amy and Kenny’s love story began on a first date at the Butcher’s Block restaurant in Long Branch—one of the hottest restaurants at the Jersey Shore.
It was also the site of Kenny’s proposal 12 months later. After telling Amy that they’d been invited to a private event at the restaurant, Kenny picked up Amy at her parents’ house and, unbeknownst to her, had something up his sleeve. “I thought it was odd that he didn’t come inside to greet my parents, but I later found out he was too nervous that I would see the ring box in his pocket,” says Amy.
On their way to dinner, his friends kept texting him about the proposal, causing a now-comical snafu with the directions. “The notifications kept popping up on the CarPlay screen, so Kenny unplugged his phone and tried to navigate himself to the restaurant,” she remembers.
“Needless to say, we got lost.”
When they finally arrived, the restaurant was completely empty, and Mariah Carey’s romantic tune “Always Be My Baby” was playing.
“The hostess guided us through the various rooms and finally into a beautiful, intimate nook that was adorned with flowers, candles and a white neon sign that read ‘Will you marry me?’ I entered the room and gasped. When I turned around to look at Kenny, he was already on one knee. I cried and nodded ‘yes’ profusely. Then he picked me up and spun me around,” Amy says.
After dinner, and upon their return to Amy’s parents’ house, she “was floored to see 100 of our closest family and friends waiting in the dark, popping up and yelling ‘congratulations!’ For the second time that night, I cried tears of happiness. The rest of the evening was filled with pure love and celebration. I truly couldn’t have asked for a better proposal—it was everything I’ve ever dreamed of and more.”
In the spring of 2022, it was NFL Draft Day, with Kenny in the spotlight. Unlike so many high-profile college football players who traveled to Las Vegas for the draft, Kenny, Amy and their families watched it close to home, at the Deal Lake Bar + Co. restaurant in Loch Arbour at the Shore. Kenny was drafted in the first round by the Steelers.
With Kenny’s future set for playing football in Pittsburgh, he and Amy began planning their wedding for the summer of 2023 in their home state. They booked the Pleasantdale Château in West Orange for June 24. “The grounds are beautiful, the interior is filled with character, and the food is out of this world,” Amy says.
The wedding—with 270 guests, including 10 bridesmaids and 10 groomsmen—was filled with Kenny’s teammates and coaches from the Steelers as well as his days playing college ball at the University of Pittsburgh. The ceremony was officiated by their friend Kent Chevalier, the Steelers chaplain.
Several meaningful personal details were incorporated into the couple’s wedding day. Inside of Kenny’s custom tuxedo by David August, the designer stitched a small red heart, a timeline of the couple’s love story and their initials. Their wedding bands, by Henne Jewelers, were engraved with “KP to AP” (on Amy’s) and “AP to KP” (on Kenny’s).
Amy’s cousin Carly wrote and performed the couple’s first-dance song, a sweet tune called “Steeler Heart,” which Amy describes as “a country ballad personalized for [our] love story.”
The wedding also featured a custom Steelers ice sculpture, a custom monogram by Blush Paper Co. projected onto the ballroom’s dome, custom cigar wrapping for their hand-rolled cigar bar, Millie’s ice cream shipped in from Pittsburgh, and custom hangover kits in each hotel room.
The couple and their friends and family danced to a 12-piece band in the Pleasantdale Château’s beautiful ballroom. “The flower detail was particularly spectacular—down the aisle, in the arch, and on every table throughout the venue,” Amy says. “We filled the ballroom with tables of varying sizes with mirrored table tops, candelabras, candles and ornate flower arrangements.”
Down the aisle, Amy wore a form-fitting off-the-shoulder gown by designer Galia Lahav from the Manhattan boutique Bridal Reflections. She carried a beautiful white bouquet of orchids, while Kenny wore an orchid corsage. The bridal party donned white roses.
One very special gift that day came from Amy’s parents. “Unfortunately, I lost my grandmother unexpectedly a few years ago to a brain aneurysm. We were extremely close and her passing was very difficult,” she says. “My parents gifted me with one of Nana’s rings that I had always cherished. When my parents presented me with the ring, they said, ‘There is one person who would give the world to be here with you today, so here is something I know she’d want you to have.’ I bawled my eyes out.”
Her grandmother’s influence was also felt in the food choices at the wedding. “Nana was Cuban, so it was important to me that we had Ropa Vieja served during the cocktail hour,” Amy says.
After their big day, the couple chose Puerto Rico for their honeymoon. “Kenny and I spent most of the vacation by the beach or pool, but also enjoyed exploring,” she says. “We went on a day-long guided excursion around the island to see waterfalls, natural cliffs and beaches. A separate day, we chartered a yacht to explore nearby islands.”
They also feasted on the local cuisine. “Because we’re athletes, we also enjoy eating!” she says. “We ate five- to eight-course dinners every night and enjoyed tasting different wines.”
After returning to New Jersey, Amy and Kenny had a few days at the Shore with friends and family and then jumped right into their new life in Pittsburgh.
Amy works at an investment firm there and says, “It’s such a blessing to be here and to have found a great firm to work for.” She adds of Pittsburgh, “Moving here and fitting in have been easy. The people are super down to earth; all are hard-working and like to have a good time.”
She lauds the city for its livability and dramatic setting at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers to create the Ohio River. “It’s beautiful when I drive over the bridges to work and then drive home during sunsets,” she says.
During the work week, Amy commutes to her firm at its Station Square office across the river from downtown Pittsburgh. Three miles down river, Kenny prepares for game days at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, allowing the couple to occasionally meet up for lunch.
Despite busy schedules that require them to be out of town frequently, Kenny and Amy navigate the hectic nature of things to spend quality time together.
“We’re used to it by now. Every Friday night is date night,” she says. “We always try to find a new restaurant. Saturdays we’ll spend all day together until he has to leave for the hotel for the night-before-the-game meetings or to take a plane for an away game.”
As for what the future holds, does Amy imagine returning to New Jersey some day? “We love the Shore and have fond memories of it,” she says. “Hopefully, one day, we’ll get back.”
VENUE Pleasantdale Château, West Orange PHOTOGRAPHER John Bacolo/Gabelli Studio BRIDE’S HAIR Senada K. Ceka BRIDE’S MAKEUP Drita Paljevic BRIDAL PARTY HAIR & MAKEUP Royal Brides By Senada K. Ceka EVENT DESIGN & PRODUCTION Debbie’s Designs BRIDE’S GOWN Galia Lahav by Bridal Reflections RINGS Henne Jewelers GROOM’S ATTIRE David August Clothing INVITATION SUITE & MONOGRAM Blush Paper Co. LIVE PORTRAIT Cody Sabol Art