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‘After Our First Date I Already Knew I Wanted to [Marry] Her’

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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.

JERALD AND CHRISTINIA COOK

Live: Bessemer

Married: Sept. 11, 2011

Met: December 2008, at Brookwood Mall in Homewood. Christinia, then 21, and Jerald, then 20, met after she began working at fast food location in the food court. Jerald’s cousin Christin, and his good friend LaDarrius also worked there and tried to match Christinia and Jerald.

Jerald remembers helping the manager of the fast food location unload the delivery truck “and when Christinia started working there I used to flirt with her but she didn’t give me the time of day but one day I she flirted back, so I told her to come see me [where I worked as the stock room manager], and when she came in I asked her for her phone number,” Jerald said.

“We exchanged numbers, and I texted him first,” Christinia recalled.

“… we texted back and forth the whole day and then I asked her what she was doing that night, and said we should go out,” Jerald so they agreed to go out and ended up Brunswick Bowl later that night.

First date: December 2008, at Brunswick Bowl on 280.

Christinia went home and got ready for their date, and Jerald picked her up from her home in Wenonah.

“He was real nervous when he picked me up, and I was just trying to talk to him… He’s real goofy and was being goofy the whole time,” Christinia said.

“I can’t deny that, I am a little goofy. And I didn’t know how much bowling actually costs because whenever I went out bowling with my cousin Christin we always had coupons and I generally only paid for the shoes, and I was very surprised at the total,” Jerald said. “I only took like $30 with me and we had to leave and go to the ATM so I could get some more money. I was tremendously embarrassed, I thought it was over for me.”

“Once we started bowling everything was cool. I’m a trash talker, so I was calling him garbage and telling him I was going to beat him. It was fun, he’s goofy so he was making me laugh. After his little [money] hiccup, he calmed down and I could see he was really being himself,” Christinia said.

The turn: For Christinia, it was March 2009. “I had initially friend-zoned him. He was cool, but I wasn’t ready to be in a serious relationship at the time, but what changed that was when Jerald met my daughter [then five years old]. The way he interacted with her and the attention he gave her… He just really accepted me for who I am, and my daughter and that’s what made me want to be in a relationship with him,” Christinia said.

“I think I wanted to be with her the whole time… … And [Christinia and I] had only just gone on our first date but I already knew I wanted to be with her,” Jerald said.

The proposal: November 2009, at Jerald’s mother’s home in McCalla.

“Earlier that day we were in Walmart shopping, and we were walking by the jewelry counter and she told me about an article that said Walmart sold high-quality diamonds, so we stopped and we started looking at wedding rings. And I’m just looking at the rings on her hands and while she was talking time started slowing down and I was caught in the moment, and I asked her, ‘what if I got you a ring? do you think you would want to marry me?’ And she gave me a nonchalant answer,” Jerald said.

But that didn’t stop him from doubling back to Walmart and buying a ring, and we were going to my mom’s house that night, and before we walked in I got on one knee and asked her if she wanted to marry me,” Jerald said.

“I said ‘yes’ because I knew I wanted to marry him,” Christinia said. “I wasn’t hesitant. I was excited about marrying him and getting to plan a wedding.”

The wedding: On the beach in Mimirar, Florida. “I was planning a wedding but then I started getting stressed out by the logistics, so I asked Jerald, ‘did he want to just go to the beach and get married?’ and he said ‘yes.’ It was kind of an elopement,” Christinia said.

“None of our parents were there,” Jerald said. “It was a total elopement,” he laughed.

“I invited my siblings [two sisters and brother-in-law], and he invited his siblings [two sisters], his cousins and we took our daughters Makensey [then 9], and Morgan [then 1].  We rented a beach house and made a weekend getaway of it. We found an officiant online, and we all wore black and white,” Christina added.

Most memorable for the bride was a moment during their vow exchange. “I really got choked up. It seemed like time stood still in that moment because I can only vaguely remember everything else about the day, but I remember that in detail,” Christinia said.

Most memorable for the groom was being tardy to their nuptials. “We’re not very punctual people, and in true fashion, we were late for our wedding. But it worked to our advantage because it made the background for our wedding crazy. [The photos show] the sun setting on one side, and the moon rising on the other side. It was the best day of my life,” Jerald said.

They honeymooned for a few extra days on the beach in Miramar, Florida.

Words of wisdom: “Learn each other’s communication style and love language. You gotta learn how that person communicates because a lot of times things can go unsaid, or be vague but if you learn the other person you can actually communicate with them the way they need to be communicated with as opposed to talking at them. It’s all about what they will be receptive to,” Christinia said. “Once you learn each other’s communication style you can get through anything. And always make time for one another.”

“Understanding space, meaning, you have to know when you need to give it, when you need to take it, or when you need to get closer,” Jerald said. “You have to [take those cues] because you can overwhelm your spouse. I am a fixer, I try to fix things all the time, and sometimes I just need to listen. It’s not always about trying to [fix something], sometimes you just need to have an open ear.”

Happily ever after: The Cooks have two daughters, Makenzey, 21, and Morgan, 12.

Christinia, 36, is a Wenonah native, and Wenonah High School grad. She attended the University of Alabama [UA] where she earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, and she owns her own hair salon, Shear Glass Hair Studio, in Hoover, where she also works as a stylist.

Jerald, 35, is a Fairfield native, and Central Park Christian High School grad. He works at Mercedes Benz, in Vance, as a team leader for a production line, and is a Maybach project team member.

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