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‘He wanted the world to know how much he loved me’

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


Live: Alabaster

Married: Aug. 3, 2013

Met: Spring, 2000 at Jefferson Davis High School in Montgomery during their sophomore math class.

Renea and John were introduced by a mutual friend who was also in the class. Renea said that she and John were just cool and that was it. “I remember him being kinda quiet, he was on the football team and really nicely built, and very handsome but it was a friendship,” Renea said.

Renea “was a nice girl,” said John.

After high school, John and Renea went on with their lives and ended up settling in Birmingham. Eight years later, they reconnected in August 2010 via Facebook.

“John made a Facebook post asking if he had any friends on that want to go to PF Chang’s that had their own money — implying that he wasn’t paying,” Renea laughed. “And I replied that it would have been great but one of my babies was sick. He responded that he didn’t know I was in Birmingham, and then he was in my inbox.”

“I remembered her from high school and she was cool then, so I said, ‘let me see what she’s up to and how life has been treating her’,” John remembered.

First date: September 2010 at TGI Friday’s on Hwy 280. Renea recalls being nervous. “I was so nervous I only ordered a salad, and that is not me,” she said. “I had been all in his pictures [Facebook profile] since we had started talking and I liked what I saw. The conversation was good… it seemed like stuff was falling into place [for us both] with our careers…”

John said he didn’t know what to expect. “It had been eight years since we’d last seen each other, and you never know how a person has changed over time,” he said. “I thought she was beautiful and that made me nervous and not want to say anything crazy to mess it up. The food was good, conversation was good, I asked questions trying to see how her life was going.”

The turn:  For both, November 2010.

“We had started seeing each other almost daily, he was always over to my apartment and we would [take the children to play] … There was a night that my oldest [Caleb, 5] asked me ‘where is John, we haven’t seen him today’… That made me approach John about where he felt our relationship was, and I told him that it was fine if he wanted to just be friends, but we’d need to take a couple steps back because my [two] children were paying attention,” Renea said.

John said it was an easy step forward. “We were spending a lot of time together and enjoying each other’s company so it didn’t take much for us to [become] serious. It was a simple decision.

The proposal: Magic City Classic Weekend, 2012, at Renea’s apartment in Hoover, “it was simple and straight to the point,” John said. Renea’s birthday was also that weekend and he had planned to usher it in with a proposal.

“Renea was asleep on the couch and I woke her up. I told her to come to the bedroom. It took her a few minutes and when she did she saw the ring in my hand. I asked her to marry me, and she said ‘yes’ “In a matter of seconds she had taken pictures and posted it on Facebook,” he laughed.

Renea remembered putting it on Facebook — after she enjoyed the moment and texted her mom. “When I got to the bedroom, he got down on one knee and told me that he wanted the world to know how much he loved me and asked me to marry him. If over the moon is a true feeling that was it,” Renea said.

The wedding: At Renea’s home church, Weeping Willow Baptist Church in Montgomery officiated by her pastor Reverend Leon F. Ross. Their colors were turquoise, chocolate and cream.

John remembers Renea sliding a gold band onto his finger that wasn’t the one they’d selected because she’d accidentally left his ring in her dressing room.

“So I ended up wearing her uncle’s ring temporarily,” John said.

“My mom and uncles were sitting on the first row and she saw the look on my face when the pastor asked for the rings and realized why I was looking crazy, and she reached over to my [married] uncle and snatched his ring off his finger and handed it to me,” Renea laughed.

“Also, her pastor said the same prayer three times in a row and practically skipped to the end and said, ‘you may now kiss the bride’,” John laughed.

“He forgot about all the in-between stuff, and there was my mama again, coming to the rescue,” Renea laughed. “She said ‘no, no, no, not yet’. And then pastor said, ‘oh, at the appropriate time you may kiss your bride’.”

The couple took a five-day cruise out of Jacksonville, Florida to Nassau, Bahamas. They enjoyed getting away from the stress of the wedding and getting some rest. “We missed all the activities the first night [of the cruise] because we were sleeping,” Renea said.

Words of wisdom: “Be patient with one another and be willing to compromise for the greater good of the relationship,” John said. “Don’t forget to have fun, because mentally, you gotta get relief. Everything is not supposed to be serious all the time and if you don’t make time to enjoy life together you can become resentful.”

Renea said, “Pick your battles. Sometimes we may want to finish a conversation or argument at that moment, but you may want to take your time to think about what you’re saying because words definitely hurt,” Renea said. “Your emotions are [heightened in the heat of the moment] so you should take the time to think about what you want to say and how you want to say it.”

Happily ever after: The Spears have four children: Caleb, 15, Christion, 13 John, 6, Zaniyiah, 1.

Renea, 37, is a Montgomery native and Jefferson Davis High School [Montgomery] grad. She attended Faulkner University [Birmingham] where she earned a bachelor’s degree in HR Management, and is the owner of Brown Sugar Desserts by Renea in Helena.

John, 37, is a Montgomery native and Jefferson Davis High School [Montgomery] grad. He attended Faulkner University [Birmingham] where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and is co-owner of Brown Sugar Desserts by Renea in Helena.