Childhood sweethearts separated at age 5 reunite and fall in love
Natalie and Austin were both due to be born on Valentine's Day, but she arrived two weeks late, and he arrived two weeks early. This wouldn't be the first time things didn't go to plan, but it seems that from childhood friends to husband and wife, they always found a way back to each other.
By chance, the pair were placed in the same preschool class and quickly became inseparable. "We just automatically became best friends and our parents realized it," Natalie told PEOPLE. "It’s strange when you’re that age - you don’t usually hang out with the opposite sex. But from when we were 2 until we were 5, we were constantly together."
In the interview, Natalie admits that some of her memories of those days are a little hazy, but a few stick out. There's the moment he held her hand when they went trick-or-treating in 1999, their playdates in Austin's toy Jeep wrangler, as well as the countless photos left behind from their time growing up in Ocala, Florida.
However, it all changed when Natalie's parents got divorced. At seven years old, she had to move to Connecticut with her mother, and didn't see her best friend for another 12 years.
"I remember the very last day that I saw him, not knowing that I wouldn’t see him for over a decade,” she said. "My last memory of him is [when] we made Rice Krispy treats in his parents’ kitchen… and then we were separated."
When she was eight years old, and had spent a few years away from Florida, Natalie recalls asking her mom about him, but having no way of getting in touch. Then, in 2012, she spotted his name in her mom's old address book. When she looked him up on social media, she recognised him straight away.
"I still have no idea to this day why I went to his name out of all the names that were in there. This thing was full," she said. "As soon as I saw, I was like, 'Oh my gosh, I remember him.' There was this overwhelming feeling of 'I better go find him on Facebook before I miss out on this opportunity.'"
Once Natalie got in touch, she soon found that Austin was still living in Florida - just ten minutes away from her father's house, where she was soon to be visiting. So, that July she got the two families to reunite, and was surprised to find that the two of them immediately hit it off.
"Ever since that time, we’ve been together. It was like the second I saw him, it was a friendship that had come back to life instantly," Natalie said. "We both knew we were in love with each other after being on our second date."
Austin and Natalie finished up high school, and attended different colleges in Florida, starting a long-distance relationship. A year after graduation, in 2017, he proposed - and two years after that they got married at New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
Before they tied the knot, they made sure to recreate the old photo of them in Austin's toy jeep from 20 years earlier:
“After we had picked the place we were gonna get married, that’s when it was like ‘I’m literally marrying my preschool sweetheart, this is insanity'. We were trying to throw in little details [of our relationship] and when I saw the Jeep in the photos, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we need to do this.'"
Natalie and Austin are now living together with their dog in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and we wish them all the best!