Couple with record 2-ft height difference were made for each other: "She feels like home"

By Vicki Newman

This married couple might not see eye-to-eye in the literal sense due to their record-breaking height difference, but it’s clear they were meant to be together.

Larry McDonnell and Jessica Burns-McDonnell, of West Virginia, USA, officially broke the record for greatest height differential of a married couple (different sexes/taller woman) thanks to the 86.36 cm (2 ft 9 in) between them.

Jessica is 177.8 cm (5 ft 10 in) and Larry, who has diastrophic dwarfism, stands at 91.44 cm (3 ft), although Jessica cheekily joked to us that Larry is only 3 ft tall “when he’s lying down”.

We caught up with them backstage after their appearance on our Italian TV series Lo Show dei Record, and they filled us in on their incredible love story.

It began decades ago when Larry, 42, was held back in the first grade and ended up in the same elementary school class as Jessica, 40.

And looking back, he says he’s incredibly glad he repeated the year.

Jessica explained: “We had the same friend group growing up and we kind of orbited around each other, but we didn’t really hang out together until we were older.”

Larry, who uses a mobility scooter to get around, later moved into his own house very near to where Jessica lived, but before that he lived with one of Jessica’s close friends, and she’d often call round to visit.

larry and jessica pose with their certificate

Jessica had a boyfriend at the time, but the pair found themselves naturally drawn to one another.

They were such a natural fit that people would constantly tell them they were made for each other and should get together.

At least for a while, they were happy being just friends.

But one day, after Jessica became single, they suddenly started looking at each other differently.

Larry and Jessica on their wedding day

“She was the first person I could actually be me around,” Larry said.

“She laughed at my stupid jokes and everything she talked about, I loved.”

“And I talked about some weird stuff,” Jessica laughed.

“I could be weird, and he could be himself and it just worked, it was fun.”

They officially started dating in the summer of 2006 and were married by December that year.

jessica feeds larry some cake on their wedding day

“We didn’t want a wedding,” Jessica said. “We wanted a marriage.”

The couple both said they knew they’d be together forever and just wanted to get started with the rest of their lives.

They’ve gone on to welcome four children together – Olivia, 16, Daxx, 15, Victoria, 12, and one-year-old Felix.

They also spent time working together for the state of West Virginia in the Department of Homeland Security.

Jessica is still there but Larry has since moved to a different department, overseeing purchases for all state agencies.

They decided to apply for the record after Larry saw an article about the previous record holders on Facebook and realized he was shorter than that man and Jessica was taller than the woman.

jessica bends down to give larry a kiss

James and Chloe Lusted (both UK) have a height difference of 56.8 cm (1 ft 10 in) – almost a foot less than the difference between Larry and Jessica.

When asked to look back on Larry’s proposal, they both burst out laughing.

Larry said that earlier that day, his parents had told him it was the 28th anniversary of their first date.

And it would soon become an important date for him and Jessica too, even though Larry initially hadn’t planned to propose that day.

He had a ring hidden in his bookshelf and in the moment, something must have felt right, although Larry doesn’t really remember it.

He said: “I remember reaching around, grabbing the ring and I blacked out. I do remember her saying yes and kissing me.”

larry and jessica riding his scooter on their wedding day new

But he doesn’t remember actually asking the question.

“I swear you did,” Jessica laughed.

Fast forward almost two decades, and Larry and Jessica are just as in love today as they were back then.

When asked what their favourite thing about each other is, Larry said: “Well, when I have my arms around her, she feels like home and all the turmoil that’s going on in the world, it goes away, and it’s just me and her and it’s the most peaceful thing ever.”

Jessica added: “You know, 17 years, you have your ups and your downs.

"Some of our downs have been really down and he has been my rock, he’s been the person where I literally could not get up off the floor and he’s said, ‘I will pick you up and I’ll make it all right.’ And that’s what it’s felt like being with Larry.

larry and jessicas hands with their wedding rings on

I can be anywhere in the world, but if I’m with Larry, I’m home.

The couple also responded to the stereotypical view in society that says men should be taller than women.

Jessica said: “For me, if you’re so busy focussing on the outside, you’re probably not focussing on what’s really important and that’s who the person is on the inside.

“I mean, you might find a person who looks exactly like what you want but you need someone who makes you feel and think and love and that’s what I got with Larry, and I don’t think there’s anybody out there that’s taller than Larry that could come close.

“This man has challenged me more in this life to be a better person and he’s made me a better person from just being around him.”

Larry added: “She really pushes me to excel, and she’s always been there in my corner pushing me and coaching me and helping me.”

Missed Larry and Jessica's appearance on Lo Show dei Record? Viewers in Italy can watch it now on Mediaset Infinity. Lo Show dei Record airs Sundays on Canale 5. 

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