Carla Reale and Greg Russell didn't really know each other until August 2011.
Less than a year later, they'll be married alongside the Cuyahoga River in their hometown.
Their story may not sound so out of the ordinary, but the couple truly first met more than 30 years ago as classmates at what was then Kent's Davey Junior High School.
Reale said they knew of each other during their time at Davey, and then Theodore Roosevelt High School, but they didn't really know each other.
"We knew each other to see each other I think," she said. "I was more an athlete."
"And I was more at the vocational end," Russell said.
Both their parents are longtime residents of the Tree City. But different churches, different social groups and different interests meant they never really crossed paths.
"His younger brother was in school with my younger sister," Reale said. "I knew them to see them."
As less than acquaintences, there was never enough of a connection for even a spark of an attraction back then, Reale said.
After graduating in 1981 and 1982, Russell, 50, and Reale, 49, took separate paths following high school. Russell's took him into the Marines and around the world before he would return to Kent and marry, and Reale's path led her also to marriage and a home in Silver Lake, OH, just west of Kent.
Between them, the couple have six children total. Each has two prior marriages.
Reale, a Kent State University grad, said she had just given up on dating again when her and Russell reconnected through Facebook.
"We messaged for a couple weeks," Reale said.
After sending messages back and forth, they learned they were living about 2 miles apart in Kent and eventually agreed to meet at Riverside Wine & Bar in August 2011 for a formal date — one that almost didn't happen.
"I asked Carla, 'why don't we meet for a cup of coffee?'" Russell said. "I almost bailed out. I had been divorced for over three years. I wasn't dating. I was quite content by myself.
"I'm really glad that I met her though," he said. "That first night we spent probably three or four hours together. We just talked the whole time. It was great."
Five months later, Russell proposed and they set the wedding date for July 4, 2012, in Heritage Park beneath the Main Street Bridge. The date means their anniversary will coincide, and sometimes match, with the Kent Heritage Festival, which is held on the Fourth of July weekend each year.
The wedding will have all the makings of a truly Kent ceremony.
Kent resident Nora Trogdon, an ordained minister and one of Reale's best friends, will perform the ceremony. The couple are already wearing their custom wedding rings, which were made at Standing Rock Jewelers.
"She started wearing her ring, and I'm not a party pooper so I started wearing my ring," he said.
"He's just a copy-cat," she said.
The flowers are coming from Richards Flower Shop.
The one item Reale didn't get from Kent was her dress, though she's already arranged for any alterations to be made by a Kent seamstress.
"I just love the town, I really do," Reale said. "I think we're both looking forward to it."
"We're very excited," Russell said. "We're looking forward to it."