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.
CANDACE AND COREY HOWARD
Married: June 9, 2007
Met: Fall 2005, at Rebirth Christian Fellowship Church. They were both members and one-day Corey spotted “a girl with gold hair.”
“I saw Candace as I was leaving out the church, and I [wondered] who is that girl with the gold hair, and I started inquiring with a couple of friends and got me a little background information on her,” Corey recalled.
Soon after, a mutual friend made sure their paths crossed.
“Our friend told Corey to wait on me at the bottom of the steps [near the sanctuary exit] and [when Corey saw me he] asked if he could walk me to my car… I was a little hesitant at first, but my car was right outside the door so I was okay with that. And then he asked me for my number and I gave it to him because he was cute, he smelled nice, he dressed nice, and he loved Jesus so he had me with that,” Candace laughed.
The immediate connection between wasn’t strong. Candace said she and Corey only spoke on the phone twice and neither ever called the other again “…until April 2006, I remember because it was Easter Sunday,” Candace said. “[After service] I was in my car in the parking lot and God told me ‘if you let him pass you’re going to miss your husband’, so I stopped him,” Candace said. “I blew my horn and he stopped right there in the middle of the street and walked over to see what I wanted, and I said ‘Hey, let me give you my number again, call me tonight’ and he did, and we talked on the phone until 3 am.”
First date: The next day at Ruby Tuesday on the Southside. They met up on Corey’s lunch break.
“I had butterflies, we [laughed], we talked about everything. I had two kids [then 4 and 5 years old], and he had a son that was on the way, so we talked about family life. He just made me laugh a lot, he still does it now.”
“I remember being mesmerized by her eyes, they’re hazel, and she was talking but I didn’t hear her because I was staring into her eyes…,” Corey said. “[The first date] was the screening process, I was making sure she could add and subtract and knew her ABCs,” he joked.
The turn: April 2006. For Corey, it was “almost instant, I had to get rid of all my females because there was something about Candace that made me know I wanted her for the rest of my life. She appealed to me mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and not just physically,” he said. “We started spending every day together and didn’t have time for anybody else, it was just understood.”
“I’ll put it to you this way, two weeks after our first date I got a key to his apartment. That’s how fast it went,” Candace said.
The proposal: May 2006, over the phone, while Corey was at his apartment on the Southside, and Candace was at hers off Lakeshore Drive.
“I was sitting in my apartment and I already knew she was going to be my wife the first time I saw the gold hair, God told me that was going to be my wife. And we were talking on the phone and I played her a song by Kenny G and Toni Braxton ‘That Somebody is You’, and the synopsis of the song is about searching for somebody for so long and [finding them] and I was flowing so smooth sharing with her how I felt about her, and I didn’t know I was about to ask her to marry me, it was kinda impulsive. Before I knew it the words were out of my mouth. It was the perfect moment,” Corey said.
“I was at home getting ready to go over to his house, and I was surprised but I still said ‘yes’ [because] I saw how he cared about me and one of my major things was how he cared about my kids,” Candace said. “Even though it had only been a month, he loved them like they were his own… I didn’t care about a ring, a ring would come. I told him to give me a year to plan the wedding because I wanted to be a June bride, and when I got [to his place] he asked me if I would marry him again while we were laying across the couch and I was on his chest and I told him ‘yes’ again.”
The wedding: At Rebirth Christian Fellowship Church in Roebuck, officiated by Pastor Doug Taylor. Their colors were tiffany blue and cream.
Memorable for the bride was a bad case of cold feet the morning of the wedding. “I cried and called Corey panicked, I got cold feet, but Corey calls them ‘froze feet’,” Candace laughed. “All these negative thoughts came up and [in the moment] overshadowed what I knew God had told me about Corey. I told him I didn’t think we were supposed to be doing this, and he talked me off the ledge and put everything back into perspective. He was so patient, he let me vent and he just listened and reassured me that this was going to work. He said, ‘What God put together, let no man pull asunder’; that was the scripture he said to me and told me I’ll see you in a minute,” Candace said.
Memorable for the groom was the vow exchange. They wrote their own vows and Corey didn’t write anything down, “I actually went off the top of my head,” he said. “I had so much to say about her because the evolution of being with her was so powerful. She was the fuse that plugged into my life and ignited me. The stuff that I felt empowered to do because of her was next level… and that was the first time I ever felt like I wasn’t in control. I didn’t filter anything, it wasn’t calculated, I just told her how I felt about her from the deep pits of my heart and my very soul. The words just flowed like when the Holy Spirit flows…,” Corey said.
“Corey cried, he had me crying, he had the best man crying, my mama and my daddy was crying, there literally was not a dry eye in the house when he got through,” Candace said.
Words of wisdom: “Put appreciation in ink, and expectations in pencil,” Candace said. “Always appreciate your spouse for everything that they do. People always have expectations for their spouse, but sometimes things change so you have to be able to adjust and readjust.
“Keep God at the center of your marriage, the trifold cord is not easily broken. Don’t fall in love with the wedding, fall in love with the marriage. The ceremony is for the public, but the [union] is for y’all; you need to put the same amount of energy you put into the wedding into the marriage,” Corey said. “Marriage is a constant move of evolution, the person that you marry is not the person you’re going to be married to because we constantly evolve.”
Happily ever after: The Howards are a blended family with three children, Kobe, 23, Kyya, 22, and Jimaree, 16. They attend Rock City Church, where Candace serves as an Elder, and Corey is a deacon.
Candace, 46, is an Ensley native, and John Caroll Catholic High School grad. She attended Jefferson State Community College where she earned an associate’s degree in child development, and Brown Mackie College in Birmingham, where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She is currently in pursuit of her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education at Miles College, has published children’s books ‘Say It With Me’ and ‘Count With Me’, and works as an elementary school teacher at Rock City Preparatory Christian School in Forestdale.
Corey, 45, is a north Birmingham native, a Phillips High School grad, and attended Virginia College where he earned an associate’s degree in computer-aided drafting and design. He is currently pursuing a license in general contracting at Lawson State Community College and owns his own business, Clear As Day Trash and Debris Removal, based in Birmingham.