At the end of the second season of The Bachelor in 2002, Aaron Buerge presented a final rose — and a ring — to elementary school psychologist Helene Eksterowicz. But as the year came to an end, so did their romance.
Cut to a few years later and Buerge has finally found his mate — and it was love at first bite.
"Long story short, I got some hot dog mustard on her the first time we met," says Buerge, 35, the banker and restaurant owner who confirms to PEOPLE that he will marry his bride-to-be, Angye McIntosh, 33, a commercial insurance agent, on Aug. 8 in their hometown of Springfield, Mo.
It's Buerge's first marriage — and his first proposal since his televised one seven years ago. But he's not going into it with any hesitation. "I'd like to have a family," he says. "I'm not getting any younger. At this point, when you're in your mid-30s, most of the drama of dating has gone away. There's a lot more maturity in your relationship. I know from my experience what I'm looking for, what makes me happy. I'm not gun-shy. I'm amazingly calm about the whole situation, believe it or not. That's kind of a good sign."
He's so mature, in fact, that the couple met through his former flame. "My ex-girlfriend and I thought we would get together for some beers with some other people, and that's how I met Angye," Buerge says. They've now been together "for a couple of years," he says.
It was while strolling through downtown Springfield on their way to the restaurant he owns, Trolley's Bar & Grille, that the incident with the hot dog occurred. "We were just walking from one bar to another," he says. "I was chowing down." But Angye took the mustard drip in stride.
"She's really a genuine person, and that's really hard to come by," Buerge says. "She's hard-working, she's a smart girl, she's driven, she's independent, she's got her own things going on. A lot of those characteristics to me make her ever that much more beautiful. Because I'm pretty independent myself. She's just a very quality gal. She's just good people."
And what does she see in him?
"That's a very good question," Buerge says. "I wish I had the answer to that!"