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‘Don’t let outsiders dictate your marriage’

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 ewright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.


Live: Huffman

Married: April 17, 1982

Met: Fall of 1978 at her mother’s house in Grasselli Heights. Wanda was a freshman at Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Huntsville and Tyrae a sophomore. 

“My sister and I were both going to A&M and we didn’t have cars, so we used to get a ride” from people who lived in Birmingham and would go home on some weekends, she said. “I met him when he came to pick up [me and a friend] to head back to [campus] … I was kind of hesitant because I’m just not a person who rides with strangers, but since he had brought my sister home [before] and she said he was ok, I trusted her word.” 

“[Wanda] was apprehensive about getting in the front seat with me, but during that drive we had a candid conversation, and right then and there I think we got to know one another,” Tyrae said. “I asked her could I come to see her at the dormitory and that’s how we officially got acquainted.”

First date: A few weeks later at Dairy Queen in Huntsville. “I got her [the dessert] she wanted…the conversation was really attractive, it was continuous, it never got dull,” he said. [Wanda] was a good listener and she was a good talker as well. We communicated real well after that first date…”

Wanda still remembered what she ordered on their first date. “The ‘Peanut butter Buster Parfait’… He was a gentleman and I was attracted to him.”

The turn: In 1979 the pair became a popular couple on campus. Tyrae, a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., and Wanda, a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., began going to formal affairs together. “That was the year I [was the freshman elected to represent the female dormitory hall where I lived] and I asked him to escort me, so we were in the parade together and things got serious…,” Wanda said.

“We attended all the functions that my fraternity had and people got to know her around campus and that she was my woman… Her personality just overwhelmed me with love. I had never been in love like that,” Tyrae said.

The proposal: In 1981 at Wanda’s mother’s house in Grasselli Heights. 

“We got engaged in her senior year…we were at her mother’s house, and I remember asking her mother for her hand in marriage and she gave me her consent,” Tyrae said. “We didn’t have a ring at first. But I asked [Wanda] ‘would you like to be my wife?’ and she agreed. And I told her that I’m going to have to work a little more to get you the kind of ring I want you to have, and she was fine with it.”

We had been dating my whole college life … We had a good time together but I felt like since I had given him myself like that, marriage was the next step… I said ‘yes,’ and we both agreed that we would work a year and then get married.”

The wedding: At Bryant Chapel AME Church in Wenonah, officiated by Rev. James McIntyre. Their colors were lavender and cream.

Most memorable for the bride was the small reception in the fellowship hall immediately following the ceremony. They had a larger one later that night at another venue, “but when I came in I was so shocked to see all my AKA line sisters, they all showed up. So many of them lived out of town, so I didn’t think they were all going to be able to make it. I felt loved.” 

Most memorable for the groom was watching his bride come down the aisle. I said ‘wow this must be it for real’. I had a little silly look on my face and was giddy because she was so gorgeous as usual… I looked over to my dad and he had his handkerchief wiping his eyes, and I was like ‘is he crying?’ 

Words of wisdom: “Both of us are in the church, and we both accepted Christ and we believe in the Lord’s word. And since we’re both on one accord that keeps us together,” said Wanda. “And we try to keep each other happy, we try to do what one another wants us to do. We socialize a lot. And the love of each other and our family keeps us together. Always love each other and don’t let outsiders dictate your marriage.”

“The ability to communicate is number one,” said Tyrae. “If you can’t communicate you’re  doomed. That’s something that you have to do. Compromise, learn from one another and know what makes the other one tick. It’s important to try and do what the other likes. As small as watching a TV program, watch it together.

Happily ever after: The Shorter’s have two children, their late son, Antonio, and Terrence, 31, and two grandchildren Aspen, 25 and Jaiden, 8.

Wanda, 61, is a Grasselli Heights native who attended Wenonah High School. She graduated from Alabama A&M, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education, the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB], where she earned a Master’s degree in Special Education, and Grand Canyon University where she earned an Ed. S [Education Specialist] degree in Educational Leadership. She works as the Lead Teacher in the Special Education department at Sun Valley Elementary School.

Tyrae, 62, is a Titusville native who graduated from West End High School. He attended A&M, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Printing Production and Management. He is retired from the Birmingham City School System.