BY NICOLE S. DANIEL
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 email@example.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
VERDELL AND IDRISSA SNIDER
Married: Nov. 10, 2001
Met: “Actually we didn’t just meet we were just there,” Verdell laughed. “We stayed next door to each other for about 11 years (in Avondale). If I was to walk on to out of my front door and turn left I was at her front door. It was apartment E and F. She had always been my best buddy like my best friend, so a childhood friend. But as a childhood friend I’ve always liked her.”
“We shared a porch,” Idrissa said. “Honestly we never officially met; we’ve always known each other. Our grandmothers were friends. My mom and his mom worked together at Parisians (a department store formerly located in downtown Birmingham) and they used to catch rides with one another so there were a lot of family connections.”
“We were raised to be godbrother and sisters,” Idrissa said. “Even as young kids we’ve always had a physical attraction for one another. I remember we got in trouble for our physical attraction. We got in trouble because we had an attraction to each other at an age where our parents didn’t play that, and we both were raised in Christian homes and my daddy didn’t accept his daughters being loose or wild, so we snuck around for years … He was my first kiss, my first everything and hopefully my last.”
First date: “We officially started dating when I was 17 and that was my junior year of high school at the Alabama School of Fine Arts,” said Idrissa. “Our first official date was the Brian McKnight concert at the Boutwell in Birmingham. That’s when [Verdell] made a somewhat public statement that he liked me.”
Verdell remembered asking her father if he could take [Idrissa] to the Brian McKnight concert and “if I can remember correctly, he said something like I knew you liked my daughter but if you’re going to take her out you have to take care of her. After the first date nothing really changed, our parents just figured out we talked not on the level of friends so it was no longer a secret. So at the point we somewhat went public.”
The turn: Idrissa said, “I lost my job and by that time my mom had passed and I had a lot of responsibilities for a young person. I was working a lot and I was doing a lot for my younger sisters to be a young college student. I had real bills, the money I made was not for spending money. I remember calling Verdell telling him I needed money and he asked me ‘How much do you need to take care of everything?’ The next day he sent me all of the money I needed and cover my bills for that month. For me to tell my boyfriend, or a guy I’m dating, I don’t have the resources and he steps up in that way without me asking and that was an ‘ah ha’ moment that he was my husband because I don’t have to ask him to provide when I’m in need.”
Verdell said, “Knowing how she was raised and the values she had and what she had to offer I could see her being the mother of my kids. I knew I didn’t have a long time to be wasting before somebody else would scoop her up and I didn’t want to lose that. She was the full package and I wanted to take her off the market as soon as possible.”
The proposal: “We were together for about two years before he proposed to me,” Idrissa said. “Him being away and already joined the [Navy] and coming home saying, ‘Let’s go out and do this the right way meant a lot to me.
“The entire time we were together we wrote letters because I was away in the military,” Verdell said.
“Yep we wrote letters hoping my daddy didn’t open them up,” Idrissa laughed. “He proposed to me the summer of ‘99 which was the end of my freshman year of college [the University of Alabama] and we got married exactly 18 months later. I was a young bride . . . when we got married I was 20 years old.
“Long before I proposed I knew I wanted her to be my wife,” Verdell said. “If I was going to marry anybody in life it would be her. I saw how she was raised first-hand and I knew her parents well. And knowing that made my decision much easier.”
“I was able to briefly visit home so we went ring shopping in Birmingham at Century Plaza Mall. We were playing around I took her to different stores and I just ask if you wanted a ring what would it look like so we looked in different cases at different types of rings,” Verdell said. “In my head I was like I need her to show me which one she wants and I’ll go from there hopefully it’s not the most expensive one she sees,” Verdell laughed. “While she was in another store I doubled back and got the ring. I proposed in front of my mom’s house in Irondale.”
The wedding: “I was in the military so we knew the wedding date would be around November or December because of Veterans Day so we knew I would be off the next day,” Verdell said. “So we set the date for Nov. 10, 2001.” The wedding colors were blush, cream and champagne and held at Greater New Antioch Baptist Church in Ensley, officiated by Pastor E.O. Jackson, Sr. The “Bonnie & Clyde” themed reception was at the Sheraton downtown Birmingham.
Most memorable for the bride were songs by the University of Alabama Afro-American Gospel choir of which she was a member and “hearing them sing the three songs I selected because they all seemed to symbolize and illustrate what the experience was like,” Idrissa said. “They opened up with ‘Love’ by Kirk Franklin. Next, they sang ‘Total Praise’ by Richard Smallwood, and after our kiss and the benediction, they rocked out to an up-tempo song called ‘Let’s Just Praise the Lord.’
“It was a night wedding and I think people came because they knew how we were raised so I think they were coming to see if we were legit getting married,” Idrissa laughed. “I had a bunch of bridesmaids. It was big and fun for the people that knew us. My flower girl had wings like an angel.”
Most memorable for the groom: “When the double doors opened, and I saw my beautiful bride walking slowly down the aisle with her dad, I wanted them to hurry up.”
“All of my groomsman were people I went to high school [Shades Valley High School] with besides my brother [Brandon Snider] and uncle [Darrell Calhoun]. But it was a vibe. We had tickets made and a getaway car Bonnie and Clyde hats poker cards all of that.
Words of wisdom: “It’s essential for you to understand what your needs are. You have to be very clear on who you are and your needs and most importantly be ok with vocalizing your needs. Preserve yourself for the quality marriage you want. You’re setting yourself up better to be a wife. You can’t say you want to be a wife or a husband and everything you do doesn’t depict that. You can’t spread yourself everywhere,” said Idrissa. “Also, if a man likes you or wants to pursue you, he’s going to have to do certain things to show you. I think a lot of times young women think a guy likes her just because he says it but there’s no action behind it.”
Verdell said, “Find somebody that you’re very comfortable with and that you can do life with. Seek God and ask if that is the person for you. Kill the outside noise that’s family and friends especially if they are not married.”
Happily ever after: Idrissa, 41, is an educator and advocator for ISART Writing and Consulting who attended Alabama School of Fine Arts. She graduated from Georgia State University with a bachelor’s degree in film and journalism; a masters in communications management from The University of Alabama at Birmingham and a Ph.D. in Rhetorical Criticism in Black Feminist Studies from Wayne State University in Michigan.
Verdell, 45, attended Shades Valley High School and is retired Navy. They have three children. Verdell II Snider, 16, Vann Daniel Snider, 13, and Vaughn David Snider, their “little angel” who passed at 4 days old and would’ve been 14 this year.