Smith explained to the Hollywood Reporter in an interview published Wednesday that the pair met when he served as her personal bodyguard in 2014 as she visited Springfield, Ore. After having dealt with a stalker, Smith reluctantly agreed to producers' pleas to represent her juggernaut show at the unveiling of a mural to celebrate the 25th year of Homer and the gang.
Grice was reluctant, too, to be there, but he decided to accept the assignment, because he was single, and he knew many other members of the Springfield Police Department had families they'd rather be with than an actress who'd been in The Legend of Billy Jean and Maximum Overdrive. He was unaware of her most famous role.
"I get a giggly feeling when I think about it because Dan didn't want to go to this event and I didn't want to go to this event but something bigger than us was like, 'No, no, listen, you two are going to meet and it's going to work out. You just have to have faith,'" she told THR. "We've seen it in movies and you always wonder, wouldn't it be great if life was like that? Sometimes it is."
The two immediately felt a connection when he picked her up at the airport, and she sat in the front seat. He admired the way she dealt with fans, and she took to his "quiet confidence."
But, of course, there wasn't a straight line to their nuptials. First, both pondered asking the other to dinner, but didn't. Dan was advised against it by his twin brother and fellow officer, Dave, who now co-hosts a podcast, Small Town Dicks, with the couple.
They started texting back and forth as soon as she went back to Los Angeles.
"I thanked him for waiting at the gate and told him that I thought he was really interesting. He texted back, 'I think you're really interesting, too,'" she said. "At that point, I thought we were done because how are we going to start a relationship being 850 miles away."
Still, they did, even though neither had been looking for love. She had just gone through a second divorce, and Grice had decided to focus on his career. He took a chance, though, and eventually revealed to her that he had been disappointed that she never invited him to dinner.
"We kept texting and then we started to talk on the phone. Because I'm a person who leaps and then looks, I said, 'Hey, why don't you come down to Los Angeles?' for [The Simpsons] dates at the Hollywood Bowl. He said that he would love to come, and then I asked, 'Where are you staying?' Then there was a long pause. I said, 'Oh, God. Oh no. S***, did you think you were going to stay with me?' I had to explain, listen, I am divorced again and that was too much for me at that point. He sort of chuckled and asked if I had a mother-in-law’s house or something, meaning my little guest house. But he ended up getting a really nice hotel and, unbeknownst to me, broke the bank for the next six months."
He met her friends, who approved, and Smith spent the next two years-plus making the trip to Oregon every other weekend. There were more bumps — like their serious talk about how she could never move to Oregon that almost broke them up — but they persevered.
"We got engaged in August 2018 and we were engaged for four years. We were going to get married in March 2021, and then it was July 2021. Because of COVID, it got pushed again to June 11 of 2022. There were about 60 people at the ceremony and we ultimately said, listen, we get it," Smith said. "Everyone tested beforehand but we told our guests that if they were still nervous about COVID, no hard feelings, stay home. But if you're not nervous, please come because it's going to be a great party and good god, we've all waited so long for this."
The end result was "amazing, "really natural and really lovely," she added.
Smith was previously married to Daniel Erickson and to actor Christopher Grove, who's appeared in This Is Us and How to Get Away With Murder.