By Chanda Temple
Special to The Birmingham Times
All photos by Jeremy Wells
“You Had Me at Hello” highlights Birmingham-area married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future profile, please send a nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the couple’s name, a contact number and what makes their love story unique.
Shay Renee Curry Oden, 30, and Wilbur Oden, 36, of Birmingham
Married: Nov. 4, 2017
Met: In September 2015, Shay Renee had just come home after undergoing her third radiation treatment for a pre-cancerous pituitary tumor when she decided to read a book to take her mind off her health and bad relationships from the past. Her book of choice was, “Calling in ‘The One’ : 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life.’’ She liked the book, the journaling it suggested and its tips, including, “Try something you haven’t done before.’’ Since Shay Renee had never been on Plenty of Fish, an online dating site, she decided to give it a go.
She met Wilbur, a truck driver. They first chatted via Snapchat and then on the phone. That first phone call lasted four to five hours.
In October 2015, a friend accompanied Shay Renee to a Birmingham-area Denny’s restaurant so she could meet Wilbur in person.
“He showed up in flip flops, a Superman shirt and basketball shorts,’’ Shay Renee said of Wilbur. “I was like, ‘He’s fine, but he’s definitely not dressing to impress me.’ ’’
But for Shay Renee, the clothes didn’t make the man that day.
“After our first date, I was totally smitten. I could tell he was an honest person,’’ she said. “I couldn’t tell what was different about him but I knew he was different.’’
They immediately started dating.
He’s “The One”: Less than a month of dating, Wilbur met Shay Renee’s parents, of Virginia, while they were visiting Birmingham. During the visit, Wilbur told Shay Renee and her parents that he’d be sure to get her home to Virginia for Thanksgiving. Following through on such a promise impressed Shay Renee. “I knew I was in love with him because nobody had ever kept their word like that to me except for my dad,’’ she said.
The proposal: Wilbur popped the question on Christmas Day, 2016.
The wedding: They exchanged vows at the Redmont Hotel in downtown Birmingham on Nov. 4, 2017. The wedding was small, intimate and “about us,’’ Shay Renee said. “A big wedding didn’t matter to me,’’ Shay Renee said. “Wilbur is the man I prayed for, and God created him for me.’’
The wedding cake: In honor of Wilbur being a Mason and his love for the University of Alabama football, Shay Renee had images connected to the Masons and Alabama football drawn onto the top of their lemon wedding cake. The wedding topper read, “The Best Day Ever.’’ She also gave him Mason cufflinks. He bought her wedding dress and shoes.
Words of wisdom: “Marriage is hard but don’t let it discourage you,’’ Shay Renee said. “People want the wedding but they don’t want the work. You have to put in the work.”
Happily ever after: Shay Renee is a stay-at-home mom to the couple’s one-year-old son, Xander Oden. Wilbur, a divorcee and a truck driver, also has two daughters from his previous marriage. Today, Shay Renee is in good health and looking forward to spending a lifetime with Wilbur.
Final thoughts: “People are scared about changing their lives because there are things they have to work toward,’’ Shay Renee said. “Maybe reading this story will show people that there are options. There are other ways to do things than just going to a nightclub or a bar. I tried Plenty of Fish. Something else may work for someone else. The thing to remember is that I tried something different from what I had been doing. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different result.’’
“Sometimes you have to go outside of your comfort zone. And if you do that, the results can go beyond your expectations,’’ Shay Renee said.