Married Couple Realize Years Later They Were Side by Side in Preschool Photo: 'Meant to Be'
Alex Olsman and Zach Frankel had no memory of ever meeting despite growing up in the same area
A couple, who "met" on a blind date, discovered they had actually first crossed paths as pre-schoolers — and, as they prepared to wed, found a photo to prove it!
Zachary Frankel and Alex Olsman tell PEOPLE (the TV Show!) they had no idea they attended the same Montessori preschool in Philadelphia when a mutual friend set them up in Oct. 2016.
"She was like, 'Well, how do you feel about redheads?'" Olsman, 30, recalls on Friday's episode. "I was like, 'Sure.' So she immediately gets on her phone and she texted him... it was definitely a moment. It was intense."
But on their first date about a week later, Frankel, 32, and Olsman started piecing together their past and realized they were more closely intertwined than they initially thought.
"I grew up in Center City, Philadelphia, on a park called Rittenhouse Square, and Alex also grew up on this park," Frankel explains. "So we quickly put that together and... we knew all of the same people in common."
Vasi Siedman Zachary Frankel and Alex Olsman
"My best friend growing up had, in high school, briefly dated one of his best friends," Olsman notes. "And we did put together that we were in the same preschool class... but I couldn't place Zach."
"I don't remember meeting as children or being in the same room, although I'm sure that we were," she adds.
A while later, after the two had started a relationship, Olsman's mom was cleaning out their house preparing to move when she stumbled upon a preschool photo.
In it, Olsman was smiling next to a redheaded boy, their arms slightly touching — so her mom snapped a photo and texted it to Olsman, asking if the boy was Frankel.
Alex Olsman Zachary Frankel and Alex Olsman's preschool photo
"Honestly, looking at the photo, Zach looks so different now than he did when he was five that I couldn't 100% say," Olsman explains. "I had to show him the phone and be like, 'Wait, was this you?' And he was like, 'Yeah, that's me.'"
"I actually remember getting a little emotional," Olsman continues. "You read about stuff like this, but to have it happen to you, we never expected that because we were set up blindly."
"Seeing definitive proof was overwhelming," adds Frankel.
While growing up in Philadelphia, Olsman and Frankel predict they unknowingly crossed paths "quite a bit," as they were also in the same museum art class as children.
But still, Olsman believes "we definitely met at the right time" — a fateful moment which later led to a proposal at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Nov. 2019, shortly after they had moved in together.
"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," Olsman says. "It all felt really nice."
Vasi Siedman Zachary Frankel and Alex Olsman
For their wedding, Olsman and Frankel planned to tie the knot in February in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (where Olsman's parents now live) and used their sweet preschool photo as their Save the Date.
In order to make their nuptials legal, they also planned to hold a ceremony in December around the time Olsman's grandfather, Bernie Levy, was turning 100.
But due to COVID-19, the couple had to postpone their Mexico wedding to Sept. 4 and scale back on the size of their States-side ceremony.
On Dec. 27, the pair legally tied the knot in a "small reception" in Florida, joined by Levy — a World War II veteran who was part of the infantry that liberated concentration camp, Dachau— as well as Olsman's cousin Marnie, Marnie's boyfriend and Frankel's parents.
The rest of their guests, including Olsman's parents — who did not travel due to COVID-19 — were able to Zoom in for the ceremony.
Vasi Siedman Zachary Frankel and Alex Olsman with Olsman's grandfather, Bernie Levy
"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," Olsman explains.
As they hope for better circumstances in the fall so they can properly celebrate their wedding, Frankel and Olsman say they feel fortunate to have found their way back to each other after so many decades.
"I wrestle with this all the time of whether we're products of our environment and this is 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?" Frankel says. "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. 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."
Adds Olsman: "In Hebrew, it's called 'Bashert', it's like meant to be. And I like to think that's what we are and we got, I don't know, just really lucky. Fated."