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He got on one knee. . . it was so intimate, it had so much purpose and love behind it’

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

OMAR AND TYRONICA CHAPMAN

Live: Bessemer

Married: Oct. 19, 2018

Met: July 2005, in Bessemer at a mutual friend’s in-home salon setup. Tyronica, who was 13, was there getting her hair done, when Omar, who was 15 stopped by. “I came in after she finished getting her hair done, and we all just sat around and hung out. I asked her if I could use her phone and I put my number in it and I called her later on that night and introduced myself again,” Omar said.

“We were both popular in school, so I wasn’t surprised that he put his number in my phone… We flirted here and there, but I know we was just looking at being friends because . . . I wasn’t even allowed to date at that point,” Tyronica said.

Once the school year started, Tyronica, who was an eighth-grader at McAdory Middle School and Omar, who was a 10th-grader, got to see more of each other in passing because “the middle school and the high school were on the same campus,” Omar said. “I knew her brother, Jarvis, I played football with him… but once she came up to the high school [in 2006], we started dating and Jarvis and I weren’t seeing eye to eye on that …I had to fight for this love,” Omar laughed.

First date: Fall 2006, at the Battle Of The Bands at Legion Field in Birmingham. Tyronica was now a freshman at McAdory High School, and Omar was a junior.

“I remember it being hot out there, but we definitely had a good time. I remember being a little nervous because it was our first official date, and it was exciting because we had been building up to that point,” Omar said.

“We went to the Waffle House after the Battle Of The Bands, and I had the All-Star meal,” Tyronica remembered.

The turn: After graduating high school in 2008, Omar moved to Hunstville to attend Alabama A&M University; when Tyronica graduated high school in 2010 she enrolled at A&M as well. Omar gave her a promise ring, and they got their first apartment together in Hunstville.

“We were young and we weren’t ready to get married, but I wanted to show her my level of commitment by giving her that promise ring . . . she wasn’t convinced [to enroll at A&M],” he said.

“I was definitely convinced,” Tyronica said. “But when he graduated [college in 2014] we moved back home [Tyronica left school also with plans to finish later]; I went back to my parents and he went back to his parents, and it was a different vibe . . .  and we took a [two-year] break,” she said. “Once we came back to each other [2016], that’s when we got real serious.”

“We had been together for so long from such a young age, we had to grow into ourselves. But once we reconnected in 2016, we were more mature, and more understanding of each other,” Omar said. “I’ve always told Tyronica that we were going to be together forever, and when we got back together, I wanted to show her that we had gone through the puppy love, and now it was time for our mature love.”

The proposal: Christmas Day, 2017, in Chicago, at the Chicago Bean [a metal landmark at Millennium Park]. “I planned this trip strictly to propose,” Omar said.

Tyronica remembers it being 10-degrees outside, “that wind was cutting, I had never felt a cold like this ever in my life,” she said.

“I made sure she dressed for the weather, we prepared. There was a good two feet of snow on the ground, it was a white Christmas. We were at the Bean, we were hugging and kissing, and I propped my phone up to record a video and during our photoshoot/video, I dropped down to my knee and proposed. But it was so cold out there that my phone actually froze and cut off,” Omar said.

He was disappointed to find that the phone did not catch their magical moment dancing in the snow. “The video caught me getting down on my knee, and the hug, and then it cut off,” he said.

“At first when he was doing the whole spiel before he got on one knee, he was talking about how much he loved me and how much we had been through… I was literally on cloud 9, and I think the snow flurries really did add to the magic, it was so intimate, and I didn’t realize that’s how I’d want it until it happened, and I loved it. It had so much purpose and love behind it, I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” Tyronica said.

The wedding: At Soiree in Hoover, Ala., officiated by Pastor Douglas Caddell, of  Canaan Baptist Church in Bessemer [who was actually one of their teachers at McAdory High School], and the couple’s colors were red, white, and gold.

Most memorable for the bride was a moment at the reception. “Our wedding party was giving toasts and it felt good hearing them express their love for our relationship and my brother, Jarvis, showering us with blessings [was full circle], because many years ago he was asking us what we were trying to do,” Tyronica laughed. “. . . there was a lot of love in the air and it made me feel a lot of joy.”

Most memorable for the groom was “after we said ‘I do’ and we walked down the aisle together. We had just kissed and solidified our union, and when you turn around and see all your family and friends happy and clapping, for me it felt like we were stepping into the rest of our lives together,” Omar said.

The newlyweds honeymooned in Gatlinburg, Tenn. “We went to the cabins for a week,” Omar said. “We watched the sunrise every morning from the back balcony, it rose over the forest/hills, and that as the backdrop behind that sunrise was a highlight,” he said.

Words of wisdom: “If you love something you have to work for it, life is hard, and people give up too easy. Be honest, communication is very important and you have to learn and grow together. Every day is a new opportunity to learn and love,” Omar said. “You have to be strong. Another tool to use is understanding, these are traits to work on if you’re weak in those areas because when you say ‘I do’, it’s till death do you part so you have to communicate and talk through your issues. The task is simple, but doing it is the hard part. You have a [lifetime] together, you just take it one day at a time.”

Tyronica said, “First of all you have to keep God in your relationship, you have to pray over your household and your marriage, it’s the faith and prayer that keeps a lot of things going. Be honest with yourself so you can be honest with your spouse… If you’re living with one person for the rest of your life, you cannot get your way all the time, you have to compromise or that other person is going to be miserable. You can’t have an ego in a marriage. It’s hard for an alpha female to be submissive, and he’s [spoils me] so I get my way a lot, but you gotta learn to pick your battles,” Tyronica said.

Happily ever after: Tyronica, 30, is a Bessemer native, and McAdory High School grad. She attended Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University and is currently in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree in business management at A&M University online. Tyronica works for the City of Bessemer in the revenue department as an accounting assistant.

Omar, 32, is a Chicago native, who grew up in Bessemer and McAdory High School grad. He attended Alabama A&M where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and North Carolina Central University [NC], where he obtained a master’s degree in library science and works as Director of the Bessemer Public Library.

Updated at 2:37 p.m. on 6/15/2022 to clarify quote.

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