A couple who were friends in preschool are about to get married - after a chance encounter reunited them 16 years after they lost touch.
Emma Marsh, 21, and fiancé AJ Sellers, 20, were just four years old when they bonded while attending Washington Catholic Preschool in Washington, Indiana, USA, in 2001.
Emma, a social worker, remembers countless playdates at the Sellers family home and AJ, a military policeman, recalls his friend’s Hello Kitty themed fourth birthday party.
The friends grew apart when they began kindergarten in different schools and Emma later moved to Muhlenberg County, Kentucky, with her dad Tony Marsh, 43.
They ran into each other in the hallway of Vincennes University in Indiana in November 2017 but didn’t recognize one another until they were reintroduced through a mutual friend.
They quickly made up for lost time and immediately began dating.
Just three months later, AJ purchased an engagement ring and began planning his proposal to his childhood sweetheart.
Although their preschool is no longer in operation, romantic AJ brought Emma to the church that stands in its place and popped the question on February 8 this year.
Emma said: “I remember being in AJ’s house when I was a little girl. We were really good friends.
“We hung out every day.
“He even remembers a Hello Kitty mirror I gave him at one of my birthday parties.
“When I moved away I always wondered what happened to him. I’m the type of person who likes to go back and reflect and I always felt a desire to reconnect.
“So when I moved back to Indiana in my junior year I found him on Facebook and I sent him a message but we never ended up meeting.
“I had a boyfriend at the time and AJ later told me he was worried about coming between us.
“I forgot about it after that.
“A couple of years later I was walking into the administration office at my college when I ran into this guy who was reading and walking at the same time.
“I kept walking but I did feel like I recognized him.
“Later that day my friend Jordan asked me if I wanted to hang out and when he came to pick me up the same guy I bumped into was in the passenger’s seat.
“I asked him who he was and he said ‘AJ’. I was shocked, I said, ‘My AJ?’”
AJ added: “We didn’t stop talking until 4am that night.
“I started to have feelings for her almost immediately.
“We started dating a few weeks later and last February I asked her parents for their permission to marry her.
“They asked me to wait a year so I respected that.”
AJ arranged for Emma’s family and friends to gather in the church and roped in her mom Alicia Marsh, 43, who convinced Emma to wear a blindfold promising her a “surprise”.
Emma was shocked when she took off her blindfold to see AJ holding a ring and was speechless when he got down on one knee.
Emma said: “I was so overwhelmed when I saw him and then he got down on one knee.
“I was speechless. I don’t think I even said yes until later that night!
“He slipped the ring on my finger and I noticed all of my family and friends were there.”
AJ added: “Originally I planned to ask her in a hot air balloon but they cancelled all February flights because of the weather.
“That’s when I started planning to ask her in the same place where we met, even though it’s not a school anymore.
“I’m so glad it worked out.”
The happy pair will wed in June 2020 and believe it was destiny that they found a way back into one another’s lives.
Emma said: “I believe it’s fate. With AJ I have so many memories it’s so special. He’s funny and he’s so kind. I can’t wait to marry him.”
AJ added: “I knew early on that I wanted to be with Emma forever. She’s so selfless and the most beautiful person inside and out.”