A mum is set to marry her Prince Charming after being set up with him by her schoolgirl daughter – who secretly made a dating profile on Plenty of Fish and screened hundreds of candidates.
Dental assistant Natalie Johnston, 42, was anxious about meeting new men after a string of bad relationships, so her daughter Megan Johnston, 14, decided to play Cupid.
The mischievous youngster downloaded matchmaking site Plenty of Fish on her phone and set up a profile using her mum’s details and photo and a fake name, ‘Zoey’.
Within hours, mum-of-three Natalie’s inbox was flooded with dozens of messages from blokes and hundreds of potential suitors had viewed her profile.
Megan whittled down candidates using their age, location and hobbies and sifted through dozens of unsuitable options, including guys who sent lurid messages asking for naked photos.
She eventually settled on tall, dark and handsome Ray Sexton, 46 – a 6ft4ins construction foreman who said he was a family man living just down the road from Natalie in Tacoma, Washington.
Clueless Ray, a divorced dad-of-two, exchanged messages with ‘Zoey’ for almost a MONTH until he asked to meet in February 2015 and Megan was forced to come clean about her true identity.
The teenager then broke the news to her stunned mum, who decided to give Ray a chance.
Former corrections officer Natalie chatted to Ray on the phone and even did a background check – which came back clean – before agreeing to meet.
She admits that when she saw him it was “love at first sight” – and in August 2017, after falling head over heels for one another, smitten Ray asked Natalie to marry him.
The bride-to-be, who is set to tie the knot to Ray this July, said: “He is hilarious and we are so happy. It is perfect. I couldn’t have picked anyone better if I had tried.
“It was hard to explain how we met to our friends and family but they all love him. We are very much in love.”
Matchmaker Megan, now 17, added: “I was really nervous when I first set up the profile and I had to think, ‘Oh, what would my mum say?’
“I honestly didn’t think it would work out because of the bad relationships my mum has had in the past, but I’m really really happy that it did.
“I could tell Ray was a good guy and as soon as I met him I knew he was the one for my mum.”
Natalie split up with Megan’s dad before she was born and had boyfriends but none of the relationships worked out.
She says her last partner was controlling and she was left suffering trust issues with men. Despite wanting to meet someone new, she was anxious about dating.
Natalie said: “I wasn’t upset with Megan when I found out what she had done, I was just shocked.
“There were pros and cons because she could have talked to the wrong person and that would have been scary.
“There were people who were asking her to show her breasts but she just blocked them straight away.
“She got a lot of responses and said there were about three definite candidates but they all lived far away and she didn’t want to have to move school district.
“When she showed me Ray’s profile and read through the messages she gave me I was scared and wanted to dig a bit deeper.
“We spoke on the phone that evening. I said, ‘Hello, I’m Megan’s mum,’ and he started laughing.’ We laughed about it and I was blown away.
“He said, ‘So, do you want to meet?’ and it went from there.”
On February 24 2015, Natalie and Ray met in the public parking lot at a grocery store – a safe place so Natalie could be sure he was who he said he was.
“He parked next to me and walked out and when I saw him I felt like I had known him my whole life,” Natalie said.
“He went to shake my hand and I just jumped into his arms. It was love at first sight.
“I went home and said, ‘Meg, he is perfect.'”
Soon afterwards, Natalie met Ray’s daughters Jaden, 16, and Jorian, 10, and he met Megan and her other daughters, Elle Ray, 19 and Brittany, 22, who has a one-year-old son, Luke.
Ray said: “When I first saw Natalie’s profile I was caught by her smile. I thought she was beautiful.
“We started messaging each other but sometimes I wouldn’t hear back and I was beginning to feel like I was wasting my time.
“When I found out it was actually her daughter I was relieved because it made a little more sense, but it was like starting all over again from the beginning.
“I was nervous but it was amazing getting to know the real her.
“When I first met Megan I thanked her and gave her a hug. I consider her my daughter and her mum will soon be my wife.
“What she did for us is incredible.”