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‘Don’t take everything so seriously, and forgive easily’

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 Ariel Worthy aworthy@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.


Live: Pelham

Married: Nov. 1, 2014

Met: Fresh Anointing House of Worship in Montgomery. Samuel knew immediately that Emma was a woman of purpose. “She had on these high heels, and the way she moved … it was like she was walking with a purpose. But I didn’t approach her that day.”

Samuel said images of Emma flashed in his mind the rest of the day so much so that he had to describe her to his younger sister, Mary, who attended church regularly with their mother. He asked who this “powerful woman” could be? “My sister says, ‘oh, that’s Funmi (Emma’s nickname) you’re talking about, she’s the pastor’s daughter.’

Samuel was in Montgomery a day early in preparation to take the Alabama State Bar Exam. “I knew then, I had to pass the bar the next day,” he said with a laugh.

He messaged her on social media and they began talking.

First date: It was summer 2012. Sam and Emma met at the movies, and although completely sold on the person she’d grown

Emma and Samuel Ford for You Had Me At Hello for The Birmingham Times.

to like over the phone, she was nervous to meet him in person for the first time. “I had no idea what he was going to look like,” Emma said, “he only had four really bad pictures on Facebook, and I couldn’t really tell … so I had my sisters tag along, incognito, in case he was creepy, or I felt like I just couldn’t do it,” she laughs. “But when I got there and saw him, I was like, ‘oh, we’re gonna be ok, I’m definitely going to marry this guy.”

The proposal: Six months later, while on the way out to eat, the couple was in a car accident that totaled Sam’s car. The unfortunate circumstance propelled their love, commitment, and bond. Following in Emma’s native tradition, Sam says he nervously asked her mother and father for her hand in marriage, and on Valentine’s Day, 2014, he popped the question.

“We went to dinner at Logan’s, and afterward he said we needed to go by the church because he needed to give something to my mom…,” Emma recalled. “I got out of the car and walked into the church and saw the rose petals, then my whole family came out. It was beautiful. He was down on one knee, and he said my whole [African] name, which I didn’t even know he knew…it was really very thoughtful.”

The wedding: Emma, from Lagos, Nigeria and Sam, from Powderly, AL combined their cultures on their wedding day. There was an American wedding and a Nigerian reception.

“The best part of our wedding day, was Sam getting to see my culture,” Emma said. “The reception was Nigerian, we had a huge wedding of 500 guests, I had family come in from Nigeria, Ghana, London . . . we changed into traditional Nigerian outfits that we had made in Africa, we did the ‘money-dance’, we ate Nigerian food . . . watching him and his family embrace my culture, that was most memorable for me.”

Words of wisdom: “The beauty of a successful marriage is the friendship it starts with,” Emma said. “Stay up and laugh with each other, maintain your friendship, even after you have a child, that’s important. God and balance is a must,” she said.

Emma and Samuel Ford for You Had Me At Hello for The Birmingham Times.

“Balance,” Samuel said. “Your priorities have to be in order, in order to have a good home-life/work-life balance. That was our greatest challenge at the beginning of our marriage, because I was a new attorney, building and trying to secure a stable future for our family … I had to learn to balance it out,” he said. “And, yes, God at the head of it all, that’s how you stay the course.”

Emma said, “marriage is supposed to be fun, enjoy it. Don’t take everything so seriously, and forgive easily,” she said.

Sam said, “Wifey rules. Whatever she says, goes. Happy wife, happy life.”

Happily ever after: Samuel 33, is an accident and personal injury lawyer at Fuston Petway French. Emma, 32, is a stylist and fashion blogger with HouseOfOdara.com who was recently flown to London to style for a line participating in African Fashion Week London.
The Fords live in Pelham, and have 2-year-old son Sammie. The family is set to visit Nigeria in October, and Sam is excited to meet all of  Emma’s extended family.