By Anita Debro
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 Ariel Worthy at email@example.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
VERA AND CECIL “CHIP” COPELAND
Married: Feb. 27, 2004
Met: Vera met Chip’s sister at a jewelry party. “She asked me if I was single,” Vera recalled. “She was trying to match make.” Vera passed along her number for Chip.
“He called me numerous times,” she said. “With no answer,” Chip added.
After about a month, Vera decided to answer, and they first spent time talking on the phone.
First date: The two met reluctantly at the Brookwood Mall food court. They gave vague descriptions and planned a hasty exit if necessary. But a getaway was not necessary— the two ended up going to O’Charley’s for dinner after meeting in person.
After that first date, Vera and Chip would meet frequently at Samford University or the Shades Creek Greenway to exercise together.
The proposal: It was the summer of 2003 and Vera was in San Antonio for a business trip. “I flew out there for the weekend,” Chip said. The couple went to the River Walk one night and sat on a bench and that is when Chip proposed. Vera didn’t say yes just yet. “I asked him: Have you talked to my brother and uncle?”
“So I returned home and did my homework,” he said. A week later when Vera returned home — and after talking to her family— Chip asked her again to marry at her apartment. She said yes.
The wedding: The two were married at Sixth Avenue Baptist Church. There was no time for a honeymoon afterward, as they had just purchased a house. “We closed on our house the day before the wedding,” Chip said. “So we spent our honeymoon in our empty house.”
Words of wisdom: “It is good to find someone who you are compatible with but not overly so. You two need to have some differences to keep the relationship balanced,” said Chip.
“I agree,” Vera said. “And communication is key in any marriage.”
Vera also said that it can be natural for a couple, especially with children, to become complacent. “Your focus is on the child, but you shouldn’t stop focusing on the marriage,” she said. “You have to be creative for the relationship.”
Chip agreed. “You need to do things to keep the relationship fresh— date nights are important.”
Happily ever after: The couple has two children – an 18-year-old son, Christian; and a 12-year-old daughter, Caitlyn. They enjoy traveling together and going out to eat. Vera likes to volunteer with The Girl Scouts and is active in the Birmingham chapter of Jack& Jill. Chip is active in his fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha and he works as an official for Southwestern Athletic Conference football. He is also a real estate agent with Keller Williams. Vera works at Vulcan Materials.