BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY
Special to the Birmingham Times
“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Erica Wright firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
RICHELL AND JECOREY CRAIG
Married: March 22, 2008
Met: Richell and JeCorey met as teenagers in 1996 at Birmingham’s now defunct Heritage Festival that had been held in Linn Park. JeCorey, 16, and Richell, 14, were introduced when her friend Tamika stopped to talk to him and a group of friends.
The two became real friends and it wasn’t a thought of dating, “[but] anywhere we went . . . we always met up,” he said.
JeCorey recalled that he saw Richell differently during his time away in the military.
“I stayed in touch with her and not everyone else, it was like it was meant for us to really be friends and keep in touch,” JeCorey said.
The Turn: While JeCorey progressed in the military, Richell enrolled at Alabama State University. By 2006, both were back in Birmingham after JeCorey completed his term in the military and Richell graduated from college. Both had recently ended relationships.
First date: The pair could not remember an official “first date” since they had been on numerous outings over the years. However, Richell can recall a night in 2006 when JeCorey called and told her to “get dressed up” and they went to Ruby Tuesday’s on Birmingham’s Southside.
“The feelings and chemistry were totally different,” JeCorey remembered.
Richell agreed: “I don’t want to say we became possessive [of each other], but we were exclusive now.”
The proposal: After a 10-year friendship JeCorey popped the question the same year  during Christmas breakfast at IHOP in Pelham. Since both of Richell’s parents had passed, JeCorey asked her brother, Lawrence [Yarbrough] for her hand in marriage.
“We sat and had our normal small talk conversation… [but] by the end of the breakfast my hands were sweating and I said, ‘let me go on and do this,’” he said. “I got down on one knee and she got teary-eyed because she knew what was coming…”
“I was just thinking like, ‘oh my god, it’s really about to happen’,” Richell said. “He was giving this speech about how he loves me and can’t live without me and then got down, and that’s when . . . I was bawling before he could even ask,” she said. “He proposed, I accepted, and we stood up to hug, and the whole restaurant was standing up clapping and people started coming over congratulating us,” said Richell.
The wedding: New Bethlehem Baptist Church in Bessemer AL. The wedding colors were buttercup yellow and espresso chocolate.
Most memorable for Richell was “I was marrying my best friend, and during the whole ceremony I just remember JeCorey kept mouthing ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’ it was just confirming that this man, my best friend, was who God deemed for me to marry.”
Most memorable for JeCorey was “I found a woman that actually deserved that part of me,” he said. “She deserved to be a wife, that’s who she was…When we turned around there were so many people wall to wall, in the balcony and everything… we had over 400 people there, the love that we received was so real.”
Words of wisdom: “Love,” JeCorey said. “There are plenty of times when you want to walk out that door, but the love that’s in your chest for the person, won’t let you leave. You realize you can’t live without that person….two days later you realize ‘oh, we’re just fussing, we ain’t going nowhere.”
Richell said, “God, love, communication, wisdom, endurance and prayer keeps us together. It’s what molds the marriage because at the end of the day love conquers all. Women can endure a lot more than men,” she said. “For them, it’s black and white, but for us, we have to use wisdom to see through the storm, and endurance to keep the marriage together.”
Having someone that understands you and knows you better than you know yourself and keeps you level headed — “having that lifetime friend and companionship,” Richelle said.
JeCorey added, “Your spouse can give you perspective…they’re there for you when you need them most,” he said.
Happily ever after: JeCorey and Richell have a two-month old son Harper Yarbrough Craig and JeCorey’s first son, JeCorey Craig Jr. from a previous relationship.
Richell, 37, is a Bessemer native and Jess Lanier High School grad. She earned her bachelor’s degree and master’s in Elementary Education from Alabama State University and an additional master’s in Educational Leadership at ASU. She is a third-grade teacher at Lipscomb Elementary School.
JeCorey, 39, is a Titusville native, and an A. H. Parker High School alum. He served in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper and currently works at Warrior Met Coal.