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The Lifeline

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Love at First Byte

Featured Photo from Love at First Byte

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, and it’s got us in the mood for love... with a cyber-fantastic twist. On the hunt for happily married couples who met online, we called out to our social media followers and found six adorable duos who were happy to share how they met and fell in love on the interwebs.

Daniel and Johanna Joseph

Daniel Joseph’s proposal to Johanna was one for the books. An alumni of Rutgers University, Daniel coordinated with the college’s Zimmerli Art Museum that was showcasing a Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibit. He was able to stage Johanna’s engagement ring as part of the display, complete with a handwritten proposal in the museum case.

“I mean, who doesn’t go over to look at the Tiffany jewelry exhibit?” says Johanna with a smile. “He even planted a GoPro camera to capture the whole thing. It took a ton of coordination, and everyone in the museum was in on it. It was quite a surprise!”

Today, the happily married couple who met on, are parents to an adorable two-year-old son, Ryan. They recently opened a poké restaurant in Lake Mary.

When they first connected online, both Johanna and Daniel lived in New Jersey and were in their 30s, busy with their careers. Johanna traveled a lot for work, and Daniel was pursuing his master’s degree.

Online dating was a great, practical way for them to meet people, and as it turned out, the couple was living only 15 minutes away from each other.
“We chatted online, then over the phone, then agreed to meet for a drink at a local pub in New Jersey,” says Johanna. “The conversation was so easy, like we’d known each other for some time.”

Soon after, Johanna left on a month-long work trip, but they stayed in touch, communicating virtually through email and video chat. In 2014, Daniel and Johanna got married in the Turks and Caicos Islands with close friends followed up by wedding celebrations on both the east and west coasts of the U.S. with their families.

“We met online in 2012 – six years later we’re married, we’ve added our little guy to the family, relocated to Lake Mary, and opened up a local poké restaurant,” Johanna recaps. “What an amazing adventure it’s been. All thanks to an online date!”

Dewayne and Una Cooper

“Dewayne and I met online on in 2005 and got married in 2007,” says Una Cooper. “After 11 years, we are still happily married.”

Una, a single mom at the time she met Dwayne, admits she was a little leery at first about online dating, but her friends at work encouraged her to give it a try. Within a few weeks, she connected with Dewayne. They talked over the phone for several weeks before deciding to meet in-person at Cranes Roost Park in Altamonte Springs.

“We walked and talked, just getting to know one another, and it was nonstop conversation,” says Una.

“When I saw Una’s picture online, her smile struck me,” says Dewayne. “It was very illuminating. I could tell she was a little bit different.”

“I can tell you this, if I had met him in the normal way, I probably would have had no interest,” admits Una. “He didn’t look like the kind of guy I would normally date. But I was at a point in my life where I wanted to meet someone totally different. Someone who had a great mind and was family-oriented. That’s why I know online dating was better for me. I was able to meet Dewayne on a different level.”

Dewayne and Una got married in Leesberg where Una is originally from, and they renewed their vows on their 10th anniversary on a beautiful, white sandy beach in Jamaica.

“Even the minister noticed that Dewayne was shaking a little bit during the vows, and he said, ‘You still feel this way after all these years!’” Una remembers. “It was just as special as our wedding day.”

Together, the Coopers have four kids and nine grandchildren.

“It’s been amazing,” says Dewayne. “We had both been married before, so this time we knew we were in it through thick and thin. It’s all about having patience and a good understanding of one another.”

Kevin and Sarah Thomas

Sarah was not really looking for anything serious when she matched with Kevin via the online dating app Tinder. She was at a concert in Tampa where Kevin is from. They started chatting online, but didn’t meet in-person that day. Later on, when Kevin was visiting Orlando, the couple realized they were within a one-mile radius of one another and decided to meet up at Magic Kingdom.

“We started dating but were long-distance for almost six months before Kevin moved to Orlando,” says Sarah. “Then in October 2017, Kevin flew my parents out from Arizona and proposed in front of both our parents at the place where we first met, Magic Kingdom.”

On November 3, 2018, the football-loving couple had a football-themed wedding weekend alongside their closest family and friends.

“Football is one of our passions,” says Sarah. “We did our engagement shoot at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia [the home stadium of the Philadelphia Eagles], and our honeymoon is going to be attending the NFL Draft in April in Nashville, Tennessee.”

Sarah’s advice for those looking for love online?

“Don’t take it too seriously,” she says. “You want to be who you are, so don’t let it be the end all be all. If you told me I would meet my future husband on Tinder, I would have laughed.”

Dan and Tina Lopez

When Tina first saw Dan’s profile picture on Love@AOL, one of the original online dating services, she liked his casual beach look. They connected and then started talking on the phone.

“When you think about it, personal computers were just becoming a thing people had at home in the 1990s, so meeting online was such a new concept,” says Dan. “But neither Tina nor I loved the club and bar scene, so this was a great way for us to meet and discover we had similar interests.”

Thankfully, Tina and Dan lived nearby each other and decided to meet up for their first date at the Orlando Ale House.

“The truth is, I did a drive-by before I got out of the car,” Tina admits with a laugh. “I love that he waited for me outside and was nicely dressed. We just hit it off, but I remember there was a moment of quiet during the date, and I tried to fill the void and said, ‘Oh wow, this table is so shiny!’”

The dinner date went so well, Tina and Dan extended the evening to include a movie. After some time of dating, Dan, Tina, and her two daughters took a camping trip to Pennsylvania. “We barely knew how to camp, but one night over the campfire Dan told me he loved me, and soon after that he proposed,” says Tina.
The couple got married in Sanford and hopped on a honeymoon cruise to the Caribbean where they won a whopping $1,000 on a slot machine.
Sixteen-and-a-half years later, their love story continues to blossom. Tina and Dan chalk it up to simply having fun together. They also began working for the same real-estate company in 2004 and eventually opened up their own business in 2011.

“Tina manages the properties, and I do the sales,” says Dan. “We make sure to respect each other’s wishes. We have an amazing life together and still love every minute of it.”

Gary and Sherry Rumel

“Meeting online can be tough, but you’ve got to meet the person face-to-face and talk as often as possible,” says Sherry Rumel. “For Gary and me, it’s as if our meeting was choreographed. We were meant to be.”
The couple met online on As fate would have it, both of them were from the same small town in Utah, making it more convenient to meet up in person.

“I told Gary not to call me right away, so he waited two whole days to make a point,” Sherry laughs. “When he did call, we hit it off and talked for hours.”
Gary was on a trip at the time, but the couple planned a dinner date to meet in-person.

“He got back early from his trip and decided to schedule the date earlier,” recalls Sherry. “He just couldn’t wait another day and wanted to meet me. The rest is history, really.”

While Gary had tried online dating before, the whole concept was new to Sherry, who was encouraged by her family to give it a go.

“It’s like Gary was waiting for me to get divorced, so he could find me,” she jokes. “It’s incredible, though. He was also married previously, but this time around we knew we were looking for the same things in life.”

Six months later, the couple got married and honeymooned in Cocoa Beach, eventually moving to Lake Mary in August 2017.

Gary, a myo-physiologist, was also able to help Sherry who had been suffering from severe back, leg, and hip pain. Today, the couple are partners in a local business helping clients with a variety of health issues.
“It’s good to have things in common and feel positive that you are good together,” says Sherry. “We’re both family-oriented, spiritual, goal-oriented, team players. We both have a good sense of humor, are loyal caregivers, and just love to have fun and go to the beach!”

Adam and Madeline Hawley
Madeline and Adam Hawley met online on in July 2017 and got married exactly a year after they met.

“It happened pretty fast, actually,” says Madeline. “He sent me a message, and I responded that evening. A week later, we met in-person, and we’ve been together ever since. We just felt very close to each other very quickly.”

The same week they met, Madeline was on the verge of giving up her membership. It was about to expire, and she wasn’t planning on renewing it. And then she met Adam.

“Online dating can be scary because some people want to meet right away without talking, so you have to be careful,” says Madeline, who was a single mom at the time. “We continued to talk, and when we realized it was serious, we both cancelled our memberships.”

Despite planning on a simple wedding ceremony at the courthouse, Madeline was convinced by her daughter Ashley to have a small ceremony at home with family, friends, and cake. Wasting no time, Madeline and Adam headed onward to their honeymoon in Mexico that evening.

“Adam is just very homey and into his family, which I love,” says Madeline. “And I was looking for someone who wanted to be part of my family and build a strong foundation. We were looking for the same things and just clicked. When you have the same goals in life, it makes a real difference.”

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