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‘Fall in love with her every day to keep everything fresh’

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

MICHELLE AND NISHMANN HUFFMAN

Live: Trussville 

Married: November 19, 2016

Met: A.H. Parker High School, freshman year, August 1989. Nishmann and her twin brother, Michael, were best friends but Nishmann didn’t make a move right away because “he didn’t want Michael to know that he liked me, so he didn’t say anything until the last day of school at an end of the year party,” Michelle remembered. 

“He shared that he liked me and I told him I liked him too, but we were moving back home to Nashville the very next day… We had our very first kiss at that party,” Michelle said. 

Nishmann recalled cornering Michelle at the party “and we went to the bathroom to talk, and I was like you know what, there’s something that I’ve been needing to tell you but I didn’t want to say anything because of Michael. And she asked me ‘why you worried about Michael?’, and then I just kissed her, and she said ‘well I’m sorry, but I’m moving back to Nashville in the morning’, and I never saw her again,” Nishmann said. 

It took a while but the pair reconnected in 2010 via Facebook. 

“Michael found me on Facebook, and I was like ‘hey, it’s good to see you, where’s Michelle?’,” Nishmann laughed. “He told me she was on Facebook, and I found her and sent her a friend request and we did a bunch of catching up…we had lost so many years between freshman year in high school and then.” 

They quickly became good friends and three years would pass before they decided to go on a date. “I came to Birmingham on a work trip in May of 2013, and we met,” she said.  

First date: May 2013, at Applebee’s in Five Points West. “On our first date he was as handsome as I remembered him to be,” Michelle said. “He was always very personable and made me feel comfortable and secure. He made me feel like we picked up where we left off our freshman year, and he shared that he didn’t want to be my friend and that he wanted more.” 

“When I saw her it confirmed everything for me, everything came rushing back, all the feelings I had in the past came rushing back and I’m the kind of person where I’m not gonna let a second opportunity pass me by,” Nishmann said. “I put myself all the way out there, told her what I wanted …”

The turn: October 2013, Nishmann, got a 2 a.m. phone call from Michelle while he was on a road trip.

 “…she had gone out with some friends and we hadn’t spoken in a while, and when she called me and asked me what I was doing I was like a small kid,” Nishmann laughed. “I was blushing, I couldn’t get my words together, and I’m normally smooth. She was showing me the interest and energy I was looking for, and that moment did it for me.”

Two months later the couple spent their first Christmas together in Atlanta at Michelle’s aunt’s house with all of her family. She said Nishmann “fit with everybody…he fell right in with my family like he was supposed to have always been there. That was our first holiday together and he showed me for the first time in my life what a man is supposed to do. He has always provided and made me feel secure and just brought happiness. That gathering sealed it for me,” Michelle said. 

The proposal: November 15, 2015, at Bethel Baptist Church in Pratt City. Nishmann proposed in church, right after tithes and offering.

“My dad [Reverend Earl Wiliams] was the associate pastor there and he and my godfather, who was the pastor of the church [Tommie L. Lewis] called me up to the front, and Michelle thought they were just calling me up to acknowledge me for something, she had no idea they were calling me up so I could propose to her,” Nishmann said. “I had put together this slideshow with a bunch of photos of us together, and she’s sitting in church on her phone, not paying attention to the photos moving across the jumbotron, so when I got up there and asked her to come up to the front she was surprised. I said, ‘the Bible states that when a man finds himself a wife, he finds himself a good thing and finds favor in the Lord’. And then I got down on one knee and said ‘Michelle, you are my good thing, will you marry me?’ and the crowd went wild,” Nishmann said. 

Michelle recalled glancing up and noticing her photos moving across the jumbotron right before being called up to the front. “I was like why are they showing our pictures? Then Nishmann called me up to the front and I started getting nervous because I don’t like to be in front of people,” Michelle said. “I had butterflies, I was happy and excited and I felt blessed that he proposed to me in church. It was another sign that he was the right one.”

At the time of the proposal their children were 21, 17, 15, and 14. 

The wedding: At Lake Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., officiated by Pastor Kris Erskine. Their colors were grey, black, and fuchsia.

Most memorable for the bride was a moment during the ceremony when she and her groom asked their children to come forward. “Instead of only he and I exchanging rings, we got bracelets for each of [the children] to let them know that it’s not just he and I, they now have a bonus mom and a bonus dad, and the bracelet said ‘we love you, mom and dad’. And when we blessed the rings, we blessed the bracelets that we gave our children,” Michelle said. 

Most memorable for the groom was a moment with just he and “the brothers” before the start of the ceremony. “The pastor was praying for me, and all of the brothers (my father-in-law, sons, cousins, groomsmen) were laying hands on me, touching and agreeing that I have wisdom and were speaking life over me and it was very emotional and very spiritual. It was one of the best parts of the wedding, it was a powerful moment,” Nishmann said.  

Words of wisdom: “No matter what was done, how you feel, or what the day was, don’t go to bed mad at your spouse because tomorrow is not guaranteed,” Michelle said. 

Nishmann said “fall in love with her every day to keep everything fresh. I make a point to literally fall in love every day, it keeps me humble, it keeps things fresh and it makes me crave her every day as I did in the beginning,” he said.  

Happily ever after: The Huffmans are a blended family with four children: O’Conner, 25, Syntara, 23, Nicholas, 21, Kassidi, 19, and two grandkids. 

Michelle, 45, is a Nashville, Tenn. native, and Whites Creek High School [Nashville, Tenn.] grad. She attended Bethel University in McKenzie Tenn., where she earned a bachelor of science degree in organizational leadership and a Master’s degree in business administration.  Michelle works as a manager at Protective Life Insurance, Birmingham.

Nishmann, 45, is a Fountain Heights native and A.H. Parker High School grad. He attended the University of Phoenix, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in business management with a concentration in Human Resources. Nishmann is a retired career retention specialist from the United States Marine Corps and works as an Employee Labor Relations Specialist for the Department of Defense.  

The couple has been working from home since the COVID-19 shutdowns in March.