Sometimes we find our first loves in the least expected of places – like, say, preschool!
Natalie Crowe Tatman and Austin Tatman were best friends in preschool, but at the age of 5, Natalie’s family moved away and the two children lost touch.
Years later, adult Natalie tried to find Austin on social media. They succeeded as teens, reconnected, and realized they were not only best friends, but in love!
“We have this amazing story, but the story isn’t what kept us together for seven years since we’ve reconnected,” Natalie Crowe told People.
Now in their twenties, the couple recently got married and decided to pay homage to the preschool days that brought them together, so they found an adorable photo of themselves in 1999 and recreated it, standing side-by-side in a red Jeep Wrangler!
They were in the same preschool class and were instantly inseparable.
“We just automatically became best friends and our parents realized it,” Natalie tells 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 fact, their soulmate status may have been evident before birth, as Natalie and Austin were both due to be born on Valentine’s Day. Austin wound up arriving two weeks earlier than expected, while Natalie was born two weeks late.
While childhood memories are kind of fuzzy, there’s lots to remember!
“I have very faint memories, but our parents have told us many stories,” she says. “Like on Halloween in 1999, Austin held my hand in the car on the way to trick-or-treating. Those are little things that our parents tell us, where they knew, ‘This is insane that they’re interacting like this.’”
“Every picture that we have — even in a group — we were together and then everyone else was on the side,” Natalie recalls. “I just basically have memories of always being with him, regardless of whether I remember the detail of the memory or not, I knew we were always together.”
The clearest memory of all was when she had to say goodbye to Austin, after her parents divorced and she moved to Connecticut with her mom.
“I remember the very last day that I saw him, not knowing that I wouldn’t see him for over a decade,” she shares with People. “My last memory of him is [when] we made Rice Krispy treats in his parents’ kitchen… and then we were separated.”
After Natalie’s move, the pair lost touch.
“I briefly remember when I was 8 and 10, I would ask my mom about Austin and she would say, ‘I’m sure if you remember him, he remembers you,’” Natalie recalls. “But I had no way of getting in touch with him at the time.”
When she was 17, she found Austin on Facebook and they reconnected.
“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 told People.
“We both knew we were in love with each other after being on our second date,” Natalie adds. “We rekindled the friendship on the first day of reuniting and then being alone, it was like, ‘Okay, whatever time that may be, I’m gonna marry you.’”
After high school, Natalie returned to her childhood home of Florida for college so she could be with Austin – and he proposed right after graduation!
“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,” she recalled.
At the wedding, the couple hung polaroids from their childhood.
They even brought a red Jeep to reproduce their favorite photos as children. “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 said.
“The Jeep was our favorite thing about the wedding,” she adds of her idea. “It was a perfect recreation of it.”
“We had a storyline and a display of our pictures in order,” she notes. “As amazing as our story is, I didn’t want it to be the focal point of us being together… we have this amazing story but the story isn’t what kept us together for 7 years since we’ve reconnected.”
“There’s a reason that my mom moved us away. At first, she was upset that [we left] Florida where a lot of our family and friends were,” she admits to People. “But when I look back on it, if we hadn’t moved and I had grown up with Austin, I think it would have been a lot different… I don’t know if we would’ve been together.”
“There’s a reason I went through my mom’s archives and found an address book. And there’s a reason that we went to separate colleges,” she adds. “It was kinda crazy how everything came together so perfectly, and it still doesn’t make sense to me to this day.”
Their bond was strongest enough to last the years and the distance, and when they found each other again, they’d grown into each other’s perfect partner.