Gary Hardwick says he's always been attracted to older women. In fact, his new wife, Almeda Hardwick, 71—the same age as Gary's grandmother—isn't even the oldest woman he ever dated. Gary, 18, says he was unhappy in a relationship with a 77-year-old woman in June 2015 when he first met Almeda at a funeral for her son, who was also Gary's uncle through marriage. A few months later, when Gary was single, the pair met again and "it was like an instant connection. [There was] so much chemistry there," Gary tells the Knoxville News Sentinel. "I wasn't looking for a young man, but Gary just came along," adds Almeda, who lost her husband of 43 years in 2013, per Metro. "I just knew straight away that he was the one."
After a few weeks of dating, Gary proposed and arranged an October wedding in just six days. The couple married with Gary's mom's consent (he was 17 at the time, six days short of his 18th birthday). "We just knew we were right for each other, so [age] really didn't matter," says Gary. He says the couple—who live in Sevierville, Tenn., with Almeda's daughter and two grandsons around Gary's age, per the Mirror—have been overwhelmed with support from most family and friends. And though they've received "two or three thousand negative comments" on YouTube, where they document their day-to-day life, "it doesn't bother either one of us," says Gary. "We're happy and in love, and that's all that matters." (The world's oddest animal couple recently split.)