Matthew and Molly Mastrilli were childhood sweethearts. Growing up in Rowlett, Texas, they saw each other on Sundays at church services and at youth events.

Molly was a third-grader at Rowlett Elementary School the first time she set eyes on Matt, while attending the First Baptist Church of Rowlett with her family. He was a second-grader at Dorsey.

By the fourth grade, she had developed a crush on him and she made her feelings known through a mutual friend. Like most boys at that age, when Matt got the message, he shrugged his shoulders and said, OK. But the seeds of a childhood friendship had been planted.

They both attended the same middle school and their friendship continued, but they still weren’t close. It wouldn’t be until high school when there would be a seismic shift in their friendship.

“Once we got into Rowlett High School, we started to hang out with mutual friends. We were close, but not dating,” Molly said.

Like most youth at that age, they were dating other people, but when those respective relationships came to an end, she started looking at Matt through a different lens.

By then she was a junior and he was a sophomore.

During summer break, and at church events, they started talking — casual at first but then they started getting closer and spent most of that summer hanging out.

“It was casual at first, then we started getting closer,” she said.

The teens were getting ready to attend a weeklong church camp that summer, and a week before the camp, they got up early one day to go and hang out with friends.

“That’s when I realized I was having feelings for her. It was the summer between my sophomore and junior year,” he said. “It was just being together, we always had fun together and I realized how pretty she was, a good faithful woman of God, faith in Christ, she was athletic and took care of herself. She was looking good.”

“I always thought he was handsome and a believer, which is very important,” Molly added. “I always thought he was very handy. He could work on his own truck. All of the families that had girls in the church youth group wanted their daughters to grow up and marry Matthew.”

After church camp, Matt asked Molly to be his girlfriend and he asked her out on their first official date: to a sports pro shop on the banks of Lake Ray Hubbard, in Rowlett, where they could walk along the shores and onto a pier that led over the lake, talking about whatever came to mind.

“We didn’t have a need to get to know each other. We just wanted to be together,” she said.

A stop at a local burger drive-in followed their walk along the lake and when he took her home, they sealed their new relationship with a kiss.

“He asked me first if he could kiss me,” said Molly, blushing just a bit at the memory. “We had our first kiss after our first date; then he ran off after that to go home.”

Molly graduated high school a year before Matthew and enrolled at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor where she majored in nursing. For the first year, the couple endured a long-distance relationship until Matt graduated and joined Molly at UMHB, majoring in history with a minor in education and art. But doubts started to cloud Molly’s thoughts and she broke off her relationship with Matt and tried dating other men. That only lasted three weeks before they got back together.

“I knew I wanted to marry Molly through most of college, but her dad said, ‘let’s wait,’” said Matthew, who now teaches world history and career prep at Belton New Tech High at Waskow in Belton ISD.

A family affair, and a stranger

Molly graduated from UMHB in May 2012 with her degree in nursing and went back to Rowlett to spend the summer with her family before starting work at McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple.

Matt had one more year to go at UMHB but couldn’t wait another year to ask Molly to marry him and decided it was time to pop the question. He wanted it to be special, something Molly would never forget. After all, he already had a ring.

That August he enlisted the help of 50 of their closest friends, and their parents, to pull of the surprise proposal of the year.

While Matt and friends from Belton caravanned up to Rowlett, local friends and family members were at his parents’ home staging an engagement party. After he dropped off his friends at his house, he picked up Molly for what she thought was going to be a romantic dinner at Gloria’s restaurant on Lake Ray Hubbard, to celebrate five years of dating. He even brought a shoe box filled with souvenirs from their dating life to look at with her.

He parked his car near a park a short walk from the restaurant.

Matt had arranged for their mothers to be hiding in the bushes in the park, ready to ambush the couple with cameras to capture the moment he proposed. They exited the car and started walking toward the restaurant when Matthew stopped suddenly and got down on one knee.

“I was blubbering,” said Molly. “He got down on one knee.”

“She was crying, but she got a yes out,” Matt said, smiling.

As the moms came out from behind the bushes, taking photos, a stranger in a pickup truck drove up behind them, thinking they were about to perpetrate a sinister plot against the couple. Once they explained the situation, he drove away.

“I was so overwhelmed,” said Molly, a nurse in the medical surgical unit at McLane Children’s Hospital. “We had talked about getting married, even in high school. We just celebrated our third wedding anniversary in December.”

Matt and Molly married on Dec. 13, 2013, at The Chapel at Caliber Oak in Salado.

“I felt in my heart only a couple of months into dating him that this is the one,” she said.

“We broke up a little bit, but it didn’t last long,” Matthew said.

Catherine Hosman is editor of Tex Appeal Magazine. Contact her at editor@texappealmag.com or 54-501-7511.

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