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 Erica Wright firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
SHELLEY AND FANNIE BEACHEM
Live: East Lake
Married: April 24, 1993
Met: October 1990 at a birthday party. They were introduced by a good friend Leonna Williams. Fannie said she was taken by Shelley’s intelligence and adventurous spirit.
“I looked at how intelligent he was, and he liked doing the same things I liked to do… we talked about traveling and different things like that, and I thought I’d like to get to know him more and more,” Fannie said. “He walked me to my car, and I said to myself, ‘my family and friends are going to ask me why I didn’t get his number’, so I brought up exchanging numbers, but he had to do the rest. I found out later on from his sister that he was excited I was attracted to him.”
“I thought she was gorgeous and intelligent and had a great sense of humor,” Shelley said.
First date: At the Magic City Classic around 1990. “I called her and told her when we meet, let’s meet at the flagpole in front of [Legion Field],” Shelley said.
“I had to ask him to tell me how he was going to be dressed because I hadn’t seen him since that night at the party…and I was there with my girlfriends and they went on inside to sit, but then I looked up and there he came walking up.”
“It was fun, I got a chance to meet her sister and friend, we had a good time. Afterwards, we all went to different Classic events and partied and had a good time…all of us ended up at Fannie’s house at the end of the night and just chilled for a little while,” Shelley said.
“He also got a chance to meet the rest of my family, my children included, so I thought that was great,” said Fannie.
The turn: “Men are hunters and she had me hunting for three weeks [to get the first date], and after we had that first date, I knew right then she was the one,” Shelley said.
“It [the connection and their exclusivity] was just understood…when we met, both of us were in our 40’s, so we pretty much got serious right away.”
Despite the early commitment, Fannie told Shelley, “You still have to wine and dine me.”
“He used to buy me roses when he came to visit and would take me shopping, spending the whole day with me and just treating me. Then we’d go to dinner at the finest restaurants.”
The proposal: In June 1992, Shelley decided to pop the question in her living room on the sofa. “It was pretty simple,” Shelley said, “we had been pretty serious and it came to the point where I had to put the cap on it. So, I asked her to marry me, and she accepted. There was a ring… and I just popped the question.”
Fannie appreciated the simplicity and intimacy of the moment.
“I was surprised. I was happy too . . . it was time and I was ready. I had asked God to send me someone that loved Him [God] first, loved me like he loved the Lord, and that also loved his children and could love my children as his own, and he fit the bill,” Fannie said, “my prayers were answered and I said, ‘yes.”
The wedding: The couple were married at New Hope Baptist Church in West End, and had their reception at Rime Garden Inn & Suites in Irondale. Their wedding colors were peach and mint green.
Most memorable for Shelley and Fannie was their non-traditional wedding party.
“Instead of having a best man, I had my sister stand up there with me. Other than Fannie, that was the most exciting thing for me because [my sister] lived in L.A., and she came all the way down here just for my wedding,” Shelley said.
“I had my oldest daughter stand up there with me. And my family from all over, Michigan, Texas, Demopolis and Montgomery, they came from all over to show their love for me,” said Fannie. “And Shelley made me feel like a queen on the dance floor, that was my special time.”
The couple honeymooned in the Smokey Mountains in Gatlinburg, TN (a few weeks later.
Words of wisdom: After three previous marriages between them, (she twice; he once) the Beachems this year marked 26 years of matrimony and said keeping God first and a commitment to the long haul sustains their marriage.
“I told Fannie after I proposed to her that she needed to make sure this is what she wanted because, ‘If I get mad, I might change rooms, but I’m not changing addresses,’” Shelley said. “We keep God first and keep on learning [throughout their] marriage because marriage is a learning curve… we’re still learning.”
“Once we decided we were going to get married we started praying together and going to church together and started trying to ‘walk the Word’,” Fannie said. “We started connecting with other couples in the church who were living the Word and making their marriages work.”
“That’s where communication comes in, no matter how hard the circumstances you still have to talk it out, and you have to learn how to put your feelings aside,” he said. “One thing we’ve learned over the years is that as long as each of us keep each other first, everything else will work itself out.”
Fannie added, “Always keep it fresh like it was when you first met. We still do that now, we like to do things together, we like to travel, every week we pick a night out and we don’t plan anything with anyone else, and we spend that time together . . . I’m a planner, so we still travel,” she said.
“We’ve been to quite a few marriage seminars, and one thing that’s stuck with us is [a] pastor said to always keep the home fires burning,” Shelley said.
“And he listened to him too, because he always keeps me smiling,” said Fannie.
Happily ever after: Fannie, 72, is a Collegeville native and A. H. Parker High School grad. She retired from Bell South/AT&T in 1998. Fannie opened a travel agency business in 1997 called ‘Beachem Tour & Travel’ which she retired from in 2017.
Shelley, 68, is a Fairfield native and E.J. Oliver High School grad. He served in the Air Force where he worked as a civil engineer and retired from Norfolk Southern Railway. He is a wedding photographer who is still in business, under the name of Beachem Photography he said.
There are seven adult children between them: Charlotte, Menyorn, and Jarvis Beachem for Shelley and Paulette Anderson-Jones, Laetitia Goodman, Eric Anderson, and Aaron Brown for Fannie.