Mothers tend to have an intuition about certain things. When Kay Parker met her daughter’s fiancé, he easily earned her seal of approval. Then she discovered a strange photo from years earlier that sent her suspicions into overdrive. And she asked herself: was this man really who he seemed to be?
Several years before there was a fiancé in the picture, Kay’s daughter, Heidi, was accepted into the University of Newcastle. But while moving away from home would be a massive change for Heidi, no one imagined what the future had in store for her — and her family.
In the fall of 2011, Heidi set out for her new home. The university didn’t mandate that students live in dorms, so Heidi arrived on campus planning to share an apartment with some friends.
That living arrangement wasn’t what Heidi imagined, though, and so she started looking for a new home. She searched the rental market and settled on a sunny studio apartment that was closer to campus.
Then, one day, Heidi received a weird Facebook message. A man named Ed said he was a tenant in her old apartment, and he desperately needed her help with a strange request.
Ed wasn’t too handy and was struggling with the unit’s washing machine. However, he figured that the apartment’s previous occupant surely knew how to use it. Heidi tried to help by message, but it was no use.
Eventually, Heidi decided that it would be easier to show Ed how to use the machine, so she walked over to her old building. Before long, the stranger’s clothes were fresh and clean.
That could have been the end, but fate had other plans. Heidi was partying with friends one evening when she saw Ed across the room. And as the two started talking again, they knew they had to stay in touch.
Heidi had thought Ed was attractive ever since he first messaged her, and she wasn’t going to let him slip away again. The pair had their first date at a local restaurant and immediately hit it off.
Heidi and Ed quickly became a couple and dated throughout university. But, before long, one specific date was looming: graduation. Was their relationship strong enough to survive the end of their time as classmates?
The couple wanted to give life together a shot, so they both moved to London. At first, though, Heidi and Ed rented separate apartments, temporarily putting their careers before their relationship.
That relationship not only survived the extra space but flourished. Before long, the couple was living together again. And at that point, they decided there was only one thing they still needed to do.
They had to meet each other’s families! Both Ed and Heidi called their respective moms and made plans. The four of them were going to have dinner at the couple’s favorite restaurant.
After a suspenseful few days, the big moment finally arrived. Both Ed and Heidi walked into the restaurant with their mothers. The fate of their relationship would come down to this evening.
Thankfully, everyone hit it off! Before long, both mothers were swapping stories and family memories like a pair of old friends. It turned out that they even had a mutual interest.
Both families loved sailing and had taken several vacations to the same parts of the Mediterranean. Kay even shared an embarrassing story about Heidi meeting her first crush in Turkey. But the kids interrupted with some important news.
Shortly before the dinner, Ed had proposed to Heidi! Yes, the couple would finally tie the knot. The two mothers were shocked, but, after a few minutes, their emotions changed to unbridled joy. There was a wedding to plan.
After Kay returned home, she started straightening up the house. With all those pre-wedding supplies and post-ceremony gifts to store, she wanted to have some extra room in the attic. When she was digging around, though, she found something strange tucked in a corner.
It was a photo album caked in dust. Kay hadn’t flipped through it in years, but she figured that her daughter’s wedding was a good excuse to reminisce. She sat down and cracked open the cover.
The album contained pictures from the family trip to Turkey. One particular picture caught her eye, however. It was of a young Heidi with a boy. Yes, there was photographic proof of that anecdote Kay had shared at dinner.
The kid had been Heidi’s first “boyfriend,” and the pair had spent virtually the whole vacation holding hands. But then Kay’s mind started to race. Something about this boy seemed familiar. It was almost as if she had seen him recently.
After a few moments, everything clicked. His name was Ed, just like Heidi’s fiancé. And at dinner, Ed’s mother mentioned that her family had also taken a trip to Turkey years earlier…
Kay quickly snapped a picture of the photo album and sent it to Ed’s mom, Fiona. And almost instantly, her phone started ringing. Unsurprisingly, her new friend needed to speak with her about their kids.
Fiona confirmed what seemed impossible. That boy was her son. Heidi and Ed had first met — and began life as a couple — as a pair of six-year-olds. Now they were about to get married!
Clearly, Heidi and Ed were destined to be together. Buoyed by that belief, the couple happily tied the knot in August 2017. But that wasn’t the end of the story.
Inspired by the couple’s connection, Heidi and Ed’s families have also become fast friends. They were all still in disbelief that a childhood friendship really led to marriage. But they may not have been so stunned if they’d heard about another pair across the pond.
Like Heidi and Ed, Zachary Frankel and Alex Olsman thought they knew pretty much everything about each other. They’d first met on a blind date, after a mutual friend confirmed that Alex was into redheads. And from the jump, they discovered a few odd coincidences.
“I grew up in Center City, Philadelphia, on a park called Rittenhouse Square, and Alex also grew up on this park,” Zach said. In a big city like Philly, it was surprising how well connected Alex and Zach were. Their friend definitely knew what they were doing setting up their blind date.
They even had the chance to run into each other years earlier. “My best friend growing up had, in high school, briefly dated one of his best friends,” Alex said. Those parallels brought the couple closer together. Things started getting serious, though neither was aware they were still missing a big piece of the puzzle.
It was only a matter of time until Zachary and Alex officially became an item. With the prospect of marriage on the horizon, Alex’s mom found something interesting — something that would shine a light on their fortuitous past. She didn’t know what to tell them at first.
Alex’s mom was preparing for a move, though that entailed moving a ton of old junk out of their house. Plenty of it was headed for the trash bin, but fortunately she paused before chucking one item. It was a stack of old photos — it must have been decades since anyone looked at them.
Amid other precious memories, Alex’s mom discovered one of her preschool pictures. The photo showed a young Alex, sitting in the front in a blue shirt, smiling with the rest of her class. But hers wasn’t the only face that stuck out to her mother.
She could recall a handful of names from Alex’s early days, but most of the kids were strangers to her. Still, the mother couldn’t stop examining the red-haired boy off of Alex’s shoulder. It even looked like their arms were touching.
She dialed her daughter’s number in a frenzy. Alex couldn’t piece together what her mom was asking about at first. Something about her preschool class photo? But when she sent over a screenshot of the old picture, Alex saw what she was getting at.
She thought her daughter was standing next to Zach, but Alex wasn’t sure. “I had to show him the phone and be like, ‘Wait, was this you?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, that’s me,’” Alex said. “I actually remember getting a little emotional. You read about stuff like this, but to have it happen to you, we never expected that because we were set up blindly.”
It turns out that their parents had chosen the same Montessori preschool. “And we did put together that we were in the same preschool class but I couldn’t place Zach,” Alex said. “I don’t remember meeting as children or being in the same room, although I’m sure that we were.”
Alex wasn’t the only one overcome by the picture, Zach was also amazed with the physical evidence. “Seeing definitive proof was overwhelming,” Zach said. Besides the Montessori school, they were also in the same museum art class at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Even though they had plenty of opportunities to find the other while they were young, Alex said, “we definitely met at the right time.”
Zach decided to use their theme of chance meetings to pose a big question to his girlfriend. A few weeks after they moved in together, Zach surprised Alex with a ring at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. “It was just a really romantic, special setting in the museum that we took art classes in apparently, in the city that we both grew up in,” Alex said. “It all felt really nice.”
The couple planned to get married in February 2020 in Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where Alex’s parents live. They also had the perfect idea for their Save the Date cards: they used their preschool photo. That’s a cute and unique way to share their wedding information with their guests. Though not everything went as they planned
They also intended to hold a ceremony in the U.S. that December, one that would be in tandem with Alex’s grandpa’s 100th birthday. What they didn’t plan for was a pandemic that would sweep across the globe, pushing their dreams to the back burner.
Though their plans changed, Zach and Alex still managed to have an intimate wedding ceremony on September 4 in Mexico. And on December 27, they made their union official with only a few in-person guests, including Alex’s grandpa. The rest of the party watched on Zoom, safely socially distanced.
“We really struggled trying to figure out what to do with COVID when we knew we were pushing back our wedding, but we ultimately decided honoring my grandfather was the best thing we could have done,” Alex said. Fortunately, the revelation about their preschool connection made their scaled-down celebration one to remember.
The newlyweds expressed hope to re-celebrate their wedding once COVID calms down. Still, they’re so happy to have found each other, though Zach still wonders about how much of chance it really was. “I wrestle with this all the time of whether we’re products of our environment,” Zach said.
It was a fair question. Was their love the result of “just two Jews from Philadelphia that find each other because we both moved to New York and had mutual friends, or is it some universal force that brought us together at this moment in time?” Zach asked.
“And I’d like to think at least it’s a blend of both. I think that there’s a reason that we met at this specific moment,” Zach said. “Had we met at any other moment, really come together at any other moment, I can’t imagine it going the way that it did.”
Alex agrees with Zach’s take. “In Hebrew, it’s called ‘Bashert’, it’s like meant to be,” Alex said. “And I like to think that’s what we are, and we got, I don’t know, just really lucky. Fated.” Destiny has a way of bringing couples together, and it’s not unusual for soul mates to find stunning connections from their pasts.