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.
ANGELA AND TWENELL RIDDLE
Married: July 6, 1996
Met: In 1982 at Forest Hill High School, in Jackson, Mississippi. Both were in the band, Angela played the saxophone, and Twenell played the trombone and was also drum major.
“We didn’t have a whole lot of interaction in high school; we didn’t do a lot together,” Angela said.
“I knew who Angela was and I thought she was cute, but I was an upperclassman, and she had a steady boyfriend… it wasn’t until a few years after high school [summer 1989] when I was home one weekend from college [at Mississippi Valley State University] and I saw her at the club that we really connected,” Twenell said.
“We were actually outside the club when I saw him and I walked up to him and hugged him. I graduated with his brother and knew his sisters, and I was actually happy to see him. I was with my girlfriends, so we just talked for a little bit and exchanged numbers. I was newly single at the time, and [ready to mingle],” Angela laughed.”
First date: Fall of 1989, Twenell had graduated college and was back home in Mississippi for good. They went out to eat at Bananza, a steakhouse in Jackson, Miss.
“We were just catching up, talking about people that we knew and having a good meal,” Twenell remembered.
“I thought he was very handsome, and we had good conversation. We knew the same people, some friends of ours had gotten married and I was in the wedding. We talked about my ‘non-wedding’ [Angela had been previously engaged before discontinuing that relationship], and we were just catching up,” Angela said.
The turn: January 1990. Angela had been “having a good time” after breaking off her engagement and only casually dated Twenell for about a year before the two decided to be exclusive.
“That’s when our first child came along…,” Angela said. “That’s when we knew we were becoming a family and made it official,” Twenell said.
The proposal: March 1996, at their newly purchased home in Jackson, Mississippi.
“I knew her birthday was coming up, and I remember asking her what she wanted and she said, ‘your last name.’ So I said, ‘ok, we’ll do it on your birthday then, or we won’t do it at all.’ We are simple people and we did things in simple and traditional ways. We were getting married, and I knew we needed a ring so I went out and found one with the intent of honoring the tradition of two people vowing to spend their lives together. I found a ring that I thought would be pleasing to her and gave it to her. It wasn’t over the top, it wasn’t a ‘Real Housewives of Atlanta [reality show]’ proposal or [superstar] ring, it was from the heart,” Twenell said.
“I was thrilled when he said, ‘let’s do it on my birthday.’ We had dated for a while, we had a child and we had family asking ‘when we were going to get married?’ we had just bought our first house, so I was thrilled and excited,” Angela said.
The wedding: At their home in Jackson, Miss., officiated by Reverend Anderson, of New Jerusalem Baptist Church, in Jackson, Miss. Their colors were teal and white.
“The house had a hallway and an archway leading to the living room, and we decorated it nicely and got married in our living room. All our family and friends were there, we cooked… A coworker made my wedding cake and the groom’s cake. Another friend fried a turkey for us, we had ham, I made my own potato salad, it was a downhome good time,” Angela said.
“It was tradition for families to cook for weddings, bring dishes, and contribute to the wedding, that meant something back then. We didn’t need coordinators to do the job, it was communal; we did it ourselves. It wasn’t that we were poor and didn’t have money, this was familiar and traditional to our [era],” Twenell said.
Most memorable for the bride was how much she enjoyed their day. “We had the best time, I was calm and excited at the same time, and I actually took pictures and I don’t like to take pictures at all. I was posing for the cameras,” she laughed. “And I became fast friends with one of his best friend’s wives, she came in and jumped right in and helped get everything set up. And his best friend from Cleveland, we didn’t know he was coming and he showed up and played at the wedding for us and sang. It was small and intimate, but it was absolutely wonderful,” Angela recalled.
Most memorable for the groom was having “all three of my best friends there from three different locations, who had never met each other, and it was brotherhood the whole time. That was one of the best times that I ever had,” Twenell said.
They were supposed to go to Vicksburg, MS, and stay at a casino hotel for their honeymoon but, “the day was so long, and so fulfilling that we fell asleep after everyone left and never made it. We didn’t go the next day, we woke up and said forget it,” Twenell laughed. “There was still plenty of food left and we got up and [cleaned up] and remembered the day.”
“We were only to be taking a nap and were gonna get up and go but that didn’t happen,” Angela laughed.
Words of wisdom: “Marriage is about the commitment that you make. Relationships are not always easy and you’ll have bumps in the road, but when you hold true to your vows to stay committed to each other for better or worse, and through sickness and in health, that has to mean something. In today’s times, when you look at people now and why they separate, it’s [usually] because of money, who brought in what, and how you can get a fast buck. There’s not a lot of ‘in sickness and in health’, or ‘I screwed up, can you forgive me?’, and that’s part of [marriage]. And I think that’s what has made ours last as long as it has because no matter how mad we get at each other that commitment means something. We’re both God-fearing people and that is the anchor for us. Twenell said.
“It’s all about the vows that you made before God, you have to go through the good and the bad times and be strong and supportive. You can’t skip out at the first sign of trouble, we’re in it for the long haul is how I’ve always felt,” Angela said.
Happily ever after: The Riddles moved to Birmingham in 2001 when Twenell transferred for a management position at Bruno’s [grocery] warehouse facility. They have four daughters, Shayna, 31, Ashlee, 30, twins Kiera and Karla, 24, one son, Jarius, 32, and one grandson.
Angela, 56, is a Jackson, Mississippi native, and Forest Hill High School [Jackson, MS] grad. She attended American Intercontinental University [online], where she earned a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems and works as a business systems analyst for Protective Life Insurance.
Twenell, 58, Itta Bena, Mississippi, native, and Forest Hill High School [Jackson, MS] grad. He attended Mississippi Valley State University, where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in music education, and professional photography accreditation from Professional Photography of America. Twenell works as a senior manager for DC Operations at Hibbett Sports in Alabaster.