06/19/2013 at 10:00 AM EDT
Linda Cardellini says she's living out a sweet and an old-fashioned story: She's marrying
her childhood sweetheart.
Speaking to PEOPLE at a Clinique event in New York Tuesday, the Mad Men
star, 37, said she first met fiancé Steven Rodriguez when she was just 10 years old and in grade school.
"He was 11. He was the new kid at my school," she said. "He could do amazing bike tricks and I was impressed. Not afraid to say it."
That early endearment stayed with Cardellini. About three years ago the childhood pals reconnected, and now not only do they have a daughter
together, Lilah-Rose, 15 months, but they are planning their wedding
"It seems very meant to be," Rodriguez says.
Adds Cardellini: "It's pretty hilarious. It's shocking – and then not at all."
"We've been friends for years and years," she says, "and it was not even three years that we got together and realized that we should've been doing that all along ... It didn't take long to figure out we were amazing friends and we could probably be great partners."
Reporting by SYDNEY BERGER