By Nathalie Bonney @nathaliebonney
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Videographer / Director: Jillian Hall
Producer: Nathalie Bonney/Martha Hewett
Editor: Beth Angus
Fiancés Keith Richoux and Ashley Kilpatrick are different in a lot of ways: he’s 57 years old and a widower, she’s 27 and mum to a four-year-old.
Ashley is African American, Keith is white, with a touch of Santa Claus about him. Ashley describes herself as more liberal than ‘conservative’ Keith. And yet the pair say it is because they are polar opposites that their relationship works – and explains why after just four months, the couple got engaged.
Ashley told Truly: “We complement each other because we're complete opposites. I don't think we could get more opposite. Except me, I mean aside from the external things like our age and our race and things like that, our upbringing was completely different.
“I'm so liberal like I don't think I could get more liberal and he's definitely a conservative. He's jeans and t-shirt type of guy. I'm like heels and dresses.”
Keith added: “I would imagine, the old saying ‘opposites attract’ is true.”
The unlikely couple met through Tinder, with Keith making the first move. After messaging back and forth they exchanged numbers and agreed to a quick call. That short phone call turned into a couple of hours and the pair made plans to meet the very next day at a Japanese steak house in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
Ashley said: “It was a great dinner and then we went and had drinks afterwards and that was amazing as well.
“We were just talking and we kind of didn't want to leave each other.”
Becoming almost inseparable, early into their dating, the couple were aware that their different age and race would attract attention in public.
Ashley said: “Being an interracial couple, when we first started dating, I'm like, ‘there's going to be issues’ and I've dealt with it because as an African American person in America, especially in the south, I deal with prejudice on a daily basis from my job to just everyday life.
“We'll go somewhere and I can see how a sales associate or a restaurant worker or something will treat Keith before they realize that we're together. And it's just so evident for me.
“It's getting better. But there's still aways to go. But as far as our relationship, it doesn't really affect our relationship.”
The speed with which Ashley and Keith got engaged however, has caused some issues with friends and family. Because aside from getting engaged quickly, Keith was widowed just seven months before meeting Ashley.
He said: “Jennifer was my wife. She passed last June. We were married for 28 years. So it's a big part of my life. Like I told Ashley, she will always be in my heart. I mean, it was my wife. She always has that place.
“A lot of people worried about word of mouth because I rushed into a new relationship. But I mean after 28 years of being with somebody, I needed somebody in my life. I couldn't be alone anymore.”
Ashley added: “I can only hope to have 28 years of my own with Keith. To me, that's like a beautiful thing. And I think I don't have concerns now. But when we first met there were concerns there obviously like anybody will have concerns knowing that he's a widower so soon into meeting you. But I don’t have those concerns now.”
The 30-year age gap has also caused assumptions about why Ashley would be dating a man like Keith.
She said: “There is a stigma that the appeal for me would be that Keith is very wealthy and that's why I'm with him.
“We went to a company Christmas party. The night went by and everybody knew I was dating someone older. And then later on from an undisclosed source, I find out that, ‘oh, she's not going to be working here that much longer. She must have met him on a sugar daddy website.’
“I think it’s really ridiculous that people think that I’m with Keith because I’m a sugar baby or anything like that mostly because I think the fact that I still work full time actually over full time as a salaried employee and spend 50 to 60 hours plus a week away from my son is evident that it’s not a sugar daddy- sugar baby relationship.”
Regardless of what the critics think, Ashley and Keith are looking forward to building a life together.
Keith finished: “We just got to live for today and enjoy each other today and hope that we do have it tomorrow.”