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 Barnett Wright firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
REGINALD AND BRITTNEY SMITH
Married: June 7, 2014
Met: Fall 2009, at Brunswick Bowling on U.S. 280. One weekend Brittney and her friend Erica were invited to the bowling alley by a mutual friend of hers and Reginald’s “which was a normal thing for us, I lived across the street from the bowling alley,” Brittney said. “I had just gotten out of a relationship with my ex-boyfriend, and he was also there [so] I never thought about going to flirt with Reggie. But I did go and talk to him because that’s just my personality, I made conversation to be nice because he clearly didn’t seem like he was having the best time,” Brittney laughed.
Reginald admits being standoffish and that he was no longer in the mood to bowl after discovering he’d left his bowling ball at home.
“I didn’t know anybody so I was sitting back observing the interactions because it was kind of a large group. I did notice Brittney, but I honestly thought that she and her ex were still together based on their interactions…Reginald said.
A couple of weeks later Brittney sent Reginald a friend request on Facebook and messaged him about joining her book club.
“I told him that there was a book club that I and a couple of others from the bowling alley were a part of and that he was more than welcome to come and hang out with us if he wanted,” Brittney said.
After they made each other’s acquaintance at the bowling alley they discovered both attended the same church. “We would still see each other at Bible study and on Sundays, so we became friends. Over a span of two years, we would talk about music [etc]… we grew up on different sides of town [Reginald, in Ensley, Brittney, on U.S. 280], but it was a platonic relationship, we just got to know each other for a long time,” Reginald said.
However, in March 2011, Brittney and Reginald would take their platonic relationship to the next level. Brittney admits to not viewing Reginald as her type for shallow reasons. “He worked at [a chain restaurant],” Brittney said.
“It wasn’t until I heard he was interested in another girl that … that caused me to self-reflect. I realized that I really did like him and that some of the things I was saying were shallow. And then I contacted him and apologized for the way I was acting and for the things I had said and explained that I was acting this way because I liked him. He accepted my apology and we started dating.”
First date: March 2011, at Bellini’s Italian restaurant on U.S. 280, and The Melting Pot in Birmingham for dessert.
“The date was special. [Bellini’s] is a low-light, intimate restaurant and she had on a skirt suit that I really liked and appreciated her wearing,” Reginald laughed. “She was very visually appealing. We tried some different foods that we enjoyed. Afterward, we went to ‘The Melting Pot’ for dessert, and it was an experience because we were dipping fruit in melted chocolate . . . my romantic feelings for her were very prevalent that evening,” he said.
“I had butterflies, I actually planned the date, we went to the restaurant that I chose… I had put some thought into it. It was a very different experience for us because we had hung out a lot, but it was always platonic, but that night it felt like love,“ Brittney said.
The turn: July 15, 2011. “We were riding in the car and she asked me if I consider her my girlfriend, and I was like, ‘yeah, I do’. Then she said, ‘oh, well, you have never asked me to be your girlfriend’, and I got [quiet]. She asked me why I [stopped talking], and I said it’s because I had never been asked that before,” recalled Reginald.
Soon after, he met up with Brittney to profess his love and to ask her whether she would be his girlfriend. He presented her with a bracelet he bought.
“I had never had anybody give me a token of their commitment to tell me that they wanted to be official,“ Brittney said. “He said a lot, he pretty much told me he was going to marry me. He said you’re my friend, I care about you, I love you, and I can see myself marrying you… We were young, we were only 22, but he said I have no intentions of hurting you, I love you. It made me feel safe and loved.”
The proposal: Nov. 9, 2013 in Rialto, California, at Brittney’s father’s house. The couple had traveled to California to meet Brittney’s family and visit her home state.
“When we get to her dad’s house I pulled him outside and told him I know this is only our second time meeting but I want to ask your daughter to marry me, and he gave me his blessing,” Reginald said.
“My brother actually guessed that Reggie would propose, but Reggie had thrown me off telling me he was saving money to pay off debt and wasn’t ready to get married… My dad [almost ruined it] because I heard him on the phone talking about Reggie was about to do it right now,” Brittney laughed. “But I was surprised because [Reggie] made it seem like it was something that was going to have to happen later down the line. I thought the ring was really pretty, and I loved that there was a light inside the ring box.”
The wedding: Central Park United Methodist Church in Five Points West, officiated by Minister Alondio Hill and wife Dr. Angela Hill [of Faith Chapel, in Wylam]. Their colors were purple, plum, magenta, and ivory.
Most memorable for the bride was receiving a letter from her groom. “Reggie wrote me a letter that I read right before the ceremony and that was a special moment for me before walking down the aisle,” Brittney said.
Most memorable for the groom was dancing out of the church. “[We danced] down the aisle to the ‘SoSo Def’ remix of ‘Let’s Get Married’ with Run DMC,” Reginald said.
The couple honeymooned in Montego Bay Jamaica. “At the all-inclusive resorts they have the water sports and I said, ‘let’s go kayaking’ and we got so far out that I started panicking. I started paddling and he was paddling and we were paddling in circles, and he was like stop paddling so I can get us back to shore. I was nervous,” Brittney laughed.
Words of wisdom: “Find a therapist or counselor that works for both of you and go visit them on a regular basis to work through small issues that can turn into big issues,” Reginald said. “Continue to go on dates and find time for each other. Life gets busy with work and kids, but you have to make sure you find time for each other.”
“I agree, counseling is important, and not just when you’re having challenges, but making a regular practice of going to counseling and having someone to help you talk about your current state of marriage. When you become a parent [continue to prioritize] being a wife or a husband. Make sure that your spouse comes first, not your family, the kids, or your friends. As a woman, it can be hard to get out of mommy-mode, especially while your kids are little. Pursue your husband, be engaged with your husband. Keep being the girlfriend and the wife,” Brittney said.
Happily ever after: The Smiths have a six-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son.
Brittney, 34, is a Birmingham [280 area] native, and Shades Valley High School grad. She attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in communication management, and works as the associate manager of economic development at Shipt in Birmingham.
Reginald, 34, is an Ensley native, a Holy Family High School grad, and works as the managing director at Sabre Finance in Birmingham.