Kindergarten sweethearts marry 20 years later

PHOENIX -- A preschool playmate from Phoenix who proposed to his best friend during class made good on his promise last year. Their love story is now touching people around the globe.

Laura Scheel, 23, remembers her husband, Matt Grodsky, as being the kid in her preschool class who "just followed [her] around." 

As a child, Matt, 23, often recited lines from popular Disney films and made a young Laura laugh, she recalled. 

"We don't remember the first time we met each other initially, we just have these great memories of being drawn to each other," he said. 

Their first interactions nearly 20 years ago eventually led to a serendipitous romance that followed them from high school to adulthood. 

And it all began when a rambunctious tyke proposed.

Buddies for life

The young couple was paired on field trips as each other's companion for visits to places like the public library. Laura picked Matt because she found him to be the funniest, she said.

They took a field trip together in which they had to hold hands as they walked.

They haven't let go since.

Matt's affection for his best friend culminated between sipping from a juicebox and nap time when he declared his love for Laura in front of the entire class.

"It's hard going back to when you're four, because you're somewhere between nap time and getting a sip from a juicebox," he said. "But my recollection is pretty nonchalant. I remember thinking, 'I really like this girl. We hang out a lot...Hey, we should get married."

She said they should wait a bit longer.

"So, I listened." 

They went on to separate elementary schools. A decade would pass before they'd truly be reunited again.

'It's all we've ever known'

The pair reunited in their freshman year of high school after Laura spotted Matt's name inside a new friend's cell phone contact list. She recognized Matt's name and, after some convincing, obliged to meet up with him again at his school's football game weeks later.

They've been together ever since thanks to parents dropping them off to dates in early high school to finding and renovating a home in central Phoenix.

"It's all we've ever known," Laura said.

"Our story is very serendipitous. We knew we wanted to be with each other for a long time," Laura said.

Laura stayed in state for college and attended Northern Arizona University and Matt moved to Chicago to attend Columbia College in Chicago. 

1,500 miles separated them, but the pair maintained their relationship and an authentic college experience apart from each other through the use of social media, FaceTime and visits to each other. The longest stretch they've spent apart is 20 weeks.

In his final semester, Matt proposed to Laura outside their former preschool. He only had three criteria from Laura for the proposal -- there had to be a surprise, candids taken and she had to have a manicure. 

"I had no idea. He made me think we were going to a picnic, which we were," she said. "I couldn't believe it and, obviously, I had the waterworks." 

Their wedding in December 2016 combined the same nostalgia and familiarity of their shared past. The first song they danced to was Elton John's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," harkening back to Matt's Disney one-liners. 

The Arizona couple enjoys exercising, cooking and playing with their new dog, Kirby, together, in addition to watching the Diamondbacks play.

'Totally insane' social media reaction

A few months ago, Laura recommended Matt write something heartfelt about their first interactions together for the popular Instagram and website The Way We Met.

He wrote a play-by-play of their childhood adventures and high school reunion, including tidbits about how Laura taught him how to "ride the swings, draw rolling hills and the 'right way' to eat string cheese."

The post sat dormant for months as the couple renovated their new house. On June 19 Laura received a message from the account stating they'd be spotlighted to an audience of 392,000 followers.

As of Friday, the post, featuring photographs of the couple today and as children, has garnered more than 27,500 likes and 816 comments. Matt and Laura were subsequently featured in headlines across the globe over the last week.

It wasn't anything they could have anticipated. But it was a testament to the power of sharing stories online.

"To us, it seems normal because we lived it and others think it's an amazing story that you take for granted sometimes. It's really lucky we did find each other not only in preschool but later in life," Matt said.

Some fans even include celebrities like actor Tyrese Gibson, a self-described "sucker for true love" who offered the couple a three-day trip to Miami. They spent time during a five-day vacation to San Francisco over the July 4 holiday messaging Gibson. 

"I said a spiel when I was four. I wish I could be that talented but I couldn't orchestrate my entire life -- I've just been lucky," Matt said. "We've always been together."

The former preschool buddies said they'd take Gibson up on his offer in a few months. 

"It's totally insane. I'm eating a sandwich at work getting messages saying, 'Hey, you're in India!' or 'Hey, you're in Paris!' It spread like wildfire and we're just glad to be a part of something positive around the world," Matt said. "It's just crazy."

Laura said she's found humor in the newfound attention.

"It's so funny to scroll through Instagram and think, 'That's my face.' Our preschool photos are everywhere," she said. 

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