Barbara Schultze was never in a hurry to get married and didn't mind waiting. The wait is over, and now the 70-year-old Frederick woman is ready to walk down the aisle for the first time May 27.
"Most of my life I thought I was not going to get married," Schultze said Monday as she sat with her fiance, Jean-Francois Ramos.
"As I got to know me more, then I knew I was ready, and I wanted to follow love and compassion and laughter. ...
"There's hope for all of us," she said.
Schultze said that even though she wasn't going to get married just for the sake of getting married, she said she started to think about it more within the last seven or eight years.
"Being alone -- for whatever the reason -- is very lonely," she said.
It's not exactly your typical love story for Schultze and Ramos, who is 75 years old.
They met online about four years ago on a dating site marketed for older adults. They chatted via email for months.
Then, in March 2008, they decided to meet face to face. Lunch plans were made for Hagen's Tavern, and the courtship began. Ramos traveled from Fairfax for the day. After lunch, they drove around Frederick County and went to see a movie.
It wasn't exactly immediate sparks.
Both had indicated on their profile that they were looking for marriage, but they weren't about to rush into it.
Schultze said she knew she enjoyed his company and admits she loved Ramos' French accent.
"There was nothing that said run the other direction," she joked. "He was good enough to stick around for awhile."
Ramos added: "We became friends before we loved each other."
Maturity definitely helped, they agreed.
Ramos was married for 45 years before his first wife died in 2003. Ramos said he didn't think he would find love again.
"I've been lonely for a long time," he said. "I found someone I can spend the rest of my life with. ... It's never too late."
For the most part, this is set to be your typical wedding.
Schultze's family and friends gave her a bridal shower and bachelorette party.
They've spent the last year and a half planning the big event. Schultze said she has the same stresses of a younger bride-to-be.
She is making her own wedding dress, doing the invitations and planning a reception for 125 guests.
"It's tiring because there are so many details," she said. "I think it's probably a lot less hyper than when you're younger. It doesn't mean I don't fight being a bridezilla."
The couple will be married at Holy Family Catholic Community, near Middletown, on May 27.
Their first dance will be to "Tonight I Celebrate My Love For You" by Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack.
They plan to honeymoon in Atlantic City and Cape May.
"I may not be a blushing bride, but I'm a glowing bride," Schultze said.
Concern then joy
Schultze's family members had their concerns about the oldest of seven siblings turning to the Internet to find a mate.
"We were very protective of her," sister Jean Rhoades said.
Those feelings have changed. Now they know Ramos and see the happiness he brings to their sister.
"I'm beyond thrilled and feel so blessed and happy," said sister Pat Thacher, who will be the maid of honor. "He's an amazing addition to our family."
The family has coincided the upcoming wedding with a family reunion that is drawing in relatives from around the country.
They will be able to see Schultze make the big leap with her 92-year-old father walking her down the aisle.
Despite having a bad knee, Gordon Schultze said he is ready to share that moment with his daughter.
Is he surprised it took his daughter until she was 70 to find Mr. Right?
"Things happen when they have to happen," he said.
"We're just very happy that Barbara has found somebody that she can spend the rest of her life with," her mother, Eileen Schultze said.
They know a thing or two about making a marriage work. Gordon and Eileen Schultze have been married 71 years.
"The one thing we always say is we're committed," he said.
"I think that's been proven," his wife quickly responded.
'Hang in there'
Schultze and Ramos agreed that online dating is not the best option, but it definitely fit their needs.
Ramos said he had been out of the dating game for so long, he wasn't about to go to bars to find a companion.
Schultze said she spent about six months on the website before meeting Ramos. There were others she communicated with, but she had not met any of them in person.
"It was getting discouraging," she said. "I was still going to hang in there for a little bit."
Then, Ramos contacted her, and the rest is history.
Why did this match work?
"I'm charming. I look good on his arm," Schultze said with a big smile. "I'm eye-candy."