Thursday, December 14, 2017
Parenting & Relationships

Couple steps out of photo booth and into married life

BRANDON

Friends gathered around the photo booth, waiting for their turns to capture the moment.

Not only had they come together at the Palmetto Club to celebrate the wedding of Matt Sokalski and Laura Welch, but they'd get to take a piece of March 3 home with them forever.

"My dad and his fraternity brothers, guys who've been friends for decades, hopped right in there and took some pictures," said Matt, 32, who teaches autistic children at Buckhorn Elementary.

The joy of the photo booth was something Matt and Laura wanted to share with their friends.

They'd started taking photo booth pictures on outings together since February 2010 — a few months after they began dating.

"We always do the same four poses," Matt laughed. "The third one is always a kiss."

Laura, 23, a supervisor with Geico, loved the wacky faces Matt made in the frames. The couple collected at least 15 of the photo booth prints, and they keep five on the fridge of their Brandon apartment.

"He is the most special person that I have ever met," Laura said. "I knew instantly that we had a connection."

She met Matt when they were both in a transition period in their lives. Laura was a student at the University of Tampa with an internship and a volunteer job teaching golf at Ybor City's Academy Prep.

Matt was teaching at Academy Prep, too; he was changing careers and took an AmeriCorps position at the school where his mother taught math for years.

"I first saw her at a study hall," Matt remembered. "And naturally I tried to impress her by being funny with the kids."

The jokes went over well, but his first date proposal didn't. Matt invited Laura to a faculty barbecue in Ybor. She declined, unsure if it was a date.

"I reached out to him on Facebook and sent him a message," Laura said. Her number was in it. Matt texted two days later.

Things moved quickly from there. In a month's time, they were meeting each other's families.

On July 14, 2010, Matt had the best laid plans. He took Laura to Victoria & Albert's, a Walt Disney World restaurant, dressed to the nines.

After dinner, he had planned to take her to the picture point in front of Cinderella's castle, drop to one knee and give a riveting speech.

"Did you know that the only time Disney does construction is at night?" Matt laughed.

The picture point was a no-go. So he opted for the bridge nearby, dropped to one knee and promptly forgot his speech.

It didn't matter. The answer was yes. And to help pay for the wedding the couple decided to have an extended engagement.

On March 3, more than 170 friends and family gathered at St. Andrew's United Methodist Church in Brandon to witness the inevitable.

"I knew on our first date that this was the woman I'm going to marry," Matt said.

And they enjoyed every moment of their big day.

They've got the pictures to prove it.

Robbyn Mitchell can be reached at (813) 226-3373 or [email protected].com.

Comments
Plan your weekend Dec. 15-17: Katy Perry, boat parades, Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Plan your weekend Dec. 15-17: Katy Perry, boat parades, Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Superstar Katy Perry: In the ever-escalating arms race to be the most eye-popping pop star on the planet, sometimes you have to call in for backup. Even if you’re Katy Perry. When plotting her lavishly spectacular Witness Tour, which arrives i...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Top things to do this week: Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

Top things to do this week: Star Wars parties, comics Gilbert Gottfried, Michael Carbonaro

NEW HOPE: Star Wars partiesWith the opening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the force of fan excitement is strong, so of course there are Star Wars parties this weekend. The giant movie complex Riverview 14 GDX is having celebration with characters from...
Published: 12/13/17
5 things to do under $5: Gasparilla Bowl beach day, Hanukkah on Ice, boat parades

5 things to do under $5: Gasparilla Bowl beach day, Hanukkah on Ice, boat parades

1 Battle at the Beach: The Gasparilla Bowl is coming to Tropicana Field on Dec. 21, but before that the bands, cheerleaders and dance teams from Florida International University and Temple University will have a day of beach-related games and competi...
Published: 12/13/17
6 gift ideas for grandparents and grandchildren to spend more time together

6 gift ideas for grandparents and grandchildren to spend more time together

A grandparent can be a tough person to buy a Christmas gift for. Likewise, many grandparents are stumped on what to get the kids besides some cash. Why not make your Christmas gift something you both want more of: more time together making memories. ...
Published: 12/13/17

Tell Me About It: Leave gender out of division of housework

Leave gender out of division of houseworkWhy is it that when a woman cares about the division of labor at home — like her home being a decent level of clean — she is considered to be overreacting?OK, I’ll get down from my soap box now. (I’ll also bre...
Published: 12/13/17

Tell Me About It: Overwhelmed parent weighs out options

Overwhelmed parent weighs out optionsQ: Since my kids were born, my job basically covered the cost of day care. The kids came home overtired and overstimulated.As they became preschool age, I restructured my work to freelance so I could drop off and ...
Published: 12/12/17

Tell Me About It: Identity of biological father is revealed

Identity of biological father is revealedQ: When I was 18, my mother revealed that the father I grew up with was not my biological father. She claimed she didn’t even know my bio father, and never contacted him again after their brief weekend fling a...
Published: 12/11/17

Tell Me About It: Parents’ extreme sheltering feels creepy

Parents’ extreme sheltering feels creepyQ: My daughter, 11, has three friends from school. One girl’s parents are generous hosts. "Emma" is an only child and has a pool, fun toys, great snacks.The problem is that Emma’s parents don’t let Emma be a gu...
Published: 12/10/17
Top things to do for the week of Dec. 11-17

Top things to do for the week of Dec. 11-17

Katy Perry: The Teenage Dream songstress roars into Tampa’s Amalie Arena on Friday ($45.75-$195.75). amaliearena.com. Hanukkah: The Festival of Lights begins Tuesday, bringing fun celebrations including Hanukkah in the City at the Sundial St. ...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/12/17
Wild weather expected, 2 boat parades canceled

Wild weather expected, 2 boat parades canceled

Boat parades that were planned tonight in South Pasadena and St. Pete Beach have been canceled because of weather fears.Organizers said they will not be rescheduled. Heavy rain is expected to approach the gulf coast near sunset Friday ahead of a stro...
Published: 12/08/17