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 Barnett Wright firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
RYAN AND AKASHA JACKSON
Married: June 23, 2018
Met: August 2016, in Muskegon, Michigan. Akasha, a friend of the bride, and Ryan, a friend of the groom, were a bridesmaid and groomsmen in the wedding.
“The bride and the groom had a party for the bridal party, and when I came in, I saw Ryan and thought he was nice looking, but he was sitting at a table with a woman and the little girl that was the flower girl, so I assumed that was his family,” Akasha said. “I was single, but I wasn’t necessarily looking to date, anybody…but we really hit it off at the reception. We danced, and then he came and sat by me and we struck up a conversation about our careers, our lives and then he mentioned that he had never seen Lake Michigan before, so I offered to take him by the lake so that he could see the beach… He ended up needing a ride to the airport the next morning which was in the city I lived in (Grand Rapids, MI) and I offered to take him… A month later I was down here in Birmingham visiting him and the rest is history,” Akasha laughed.
Ryan said he wasn’t looking to hit it off with anybody at the wedding. “I had just finished a series of dates in Birmingham, and I was over it,” he said. “I thought of the trip as an escape where I could come and regroup and be by myself. We had been around each other for a couple of days but did not speak until the wedding… I did think that Akasha was beautiful, but we still didn’t speak. At the wedding, I sat by her and started a simple conversation about how she was doing, and that led to laughing, dancing, [the beach, and a ride to the airport the next morning],” Ryan said.
First date: September 2016, Akasha came to Birmingham for her first visit and their first date. Ryan took her to Firebirds in Hoover for dinner. “The vibes were even better, we had been talking every day since we met, and this [date] was a month later,” he said. “I really wanted her to come down here and visit so that I could confirm that she was the same person I was vibing with in Michigan. That date did it for me, we laughed all night, we talked all night, she was beautiful, her hair was on point, everything was perfect, it was like we just picked up from where we left off.”
“After we met in Michigan, I had already called my girlfriend and told her that I think I just met my husband. I just had never had those feelings, or such a strong connection with another man before, it felt like I had known him forever and like it was meant to be,” Akasha said.
The same weekend, Ryan took Akasha to meet his mother, and they hit it off.
The turn: For Akasha, it was from the first night they hung out in Michigan. “I always felt like I was exclusive to Ryan because I knew he was the one, so I wasn’t looking and dating anyone else,” she said. “I even wrote in my journal about how I knew he was the one.”
For Ryan, it was after Akasha’s first visit to Birmingham. “Based on our interactions I confirmed she was the one,” he said. “Our connection, and being in person with one another, that vibe was amazing, so I knew she was it.”
The proposal: July 7, 2017, at Lake Michigan. Ryan had flown in with his family so that everyone could meet and be together for the holiday. “I’m talking the entire family: aunts, uncles, parents, nieces, nephews, siblings, everybody came for the 4th of July picnic,” Akasha said.
The proposal took place underneath a pavilion on Lake Michigan. Ryan had made signs for all of his siblings to hold up, asking Akasha to marry him.
“I called everyone together to thank everyone for coming, and my siblings and niece and nephew got into position with their signs, and I looked at [Akasha] and started telling her how much I love her and appreciate her, and that she was the answer to a prayer, and then I got down on one knee and proposed to her and she said ‘yes’,” Ryan said.
“I was surprised, I wasn’t expecting it, I was definitely happy, and in the moment I was thinking about how much I loved him and his family and was excited about our families coming together as one,” Akasha said.
The wedding: In Muskegon, Michigan, at Fricano’s Event Center on Lake Michigan; which is the same waterfront they went to the night they met and got engaged. Their nuptials were officiated by Pastor Gregory R. Glaster of Greater Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church in Titusville, and their colors were deep cranberry, gold, and cream.
Most memorable for the bride was locking eyes with her groom on her way down the aisle. “My two brothers gave me away because my dad passed away several years ago… Locking eyes with Ryan was such a sweet moment, and deep connection because you could feel the love radiating between us,” Akasha said. “As soon as he saw me he broke down crying, I was crying, and I feel like everybody at that moment could feel the love that we have for each other.”
Most memorable for the groom was “right before Akasha walked down the aisle when I first laid eyes on her. That is a moment that I will hold fast to forever,” he said.
The couple did not honeymoon as they had to move Akasha to Hoover from Michigan. “We stayed a few nights at a really nice hotel in Muskegon, MI and spent some time at the beach, and then we loaded up the U-Haul, and drove my jeep, with my golden retriever, Bella, to Alabama,” Akasha said.
The couple has planned a honeymoon this year in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Words of wisdom: “Life is not one person’s alone, you have to be willing to do it together in unity. That’s the only way to keep a marriage together. For us, that’s how we’ve been able to maintain and navigate all the different nuances– age (Akasha is six older), culture, different cities, and how we do things is by realizing this is not just Ryan or Akasha’s life, this is ours. And the more we do things together the more we flourish,” Ryan said.
“Each individual person needs to keep God in the forefront and be selfless within a marriage. It takes compromise and forgiveness and really allowing love to cover a multitude of sins and offenses and having forgiveness to come back from it. And seeing the best in each other, and working together to make the marriage work,” Akasha said.
Happily ever after: The Jackson’s have one son, Israel, 2.
Akasha, 35, is a Muskegon, Michigan native, a Reeths-Puffer High School [North Muskegon, Michigan] grad, and attended Michigan State University where she earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism. She also attended Grand Valley State University [Allendale, Michigan], where she obtained a master’s degree in education [M. Ed], and is a 6th grade English teacher in the Mountain Brook school district.
Ryan, 29, is a West End native and Holy Family Cristo Ray Catholic High School grad. He attended Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University where he earned a bachelor of science degree in political science with a minor in English. He serves as community relations specialist in the Mayor’s Office for the City of Birmingham and is a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. He has been a licensed minister for six years and serves on the ministry team at All Nations Worship Assembly in Birmingham, which is set to launch Spring 2022.