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‘I Put the Box (With Ring) in Her Hand, and … Said, ‘Will You Marry Me?’

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

CHRIS AND WHITNEY STALLWORTH

Live: West End

Married: March 1, 2014

Met: Initially at Wenonah High School, but they were not friends as Whitney was an upperclassman, and Chris was an incoming freshman. However, in the summer of 2010, Chris inboxed Whitney on Facebook Messenger.

“I already [had an attraction] to Whitney because her aunt stayed next door to my aunt [in the Riley community], and I would always see her, but I could never catch her to talk to her, so I knew I was going to have to hit her on Facebook,” Chris said.

“He inboxed me on Facebook and I gave him my number, but it took him a couple of weeks to call,” Whitney said.

“It took a couple of weeks to call because I had to build up the courage to ask her if she wanted to meet up and talk,” Chris said. “We met up at Piggly Wiggly in West End,” Chris said.

“When I first saw him, I didn’t think it would work out, I didn’t think he was really my type, but he was cool and laid back. We found out that we worked in close proximity to one another [Whitney worked at America’s Thrift Store in Midfield, and Chris worked at Clipper’s Barbershop in Fairfield], and he invited me to have lunch the next day at Wendy’s. His conversation and the fact that he was consistent with the things he was telling me made me want to give him a chance,” Whitney said.

First date: August 2010, at Chili’s on Lakeshore Drive. Chris picked Whitney up from her home in Riley. “It was nice, we learned more things about each other and I guess I realized I liked him at this point because I was definitely nervous,” Whitney said.

“It was time for me to make that move, I wanted to start pursuing her as my girlfriend and my mama always told me you have to treat people how you want to be treated so I wanted to take her out and continue getting to know her,” Chris said. “And my daddy always told me if you ask a person what their dreams and goals are it will tell you a lot about them, and her dreams and goals were like mine or better. I liked that she wanted more than what we came from and we were both pursuing [our goals by working and planning] at the same time, and I liked how the communication was going on the date.”

The turn: Magic City Classic Weekend 2010. “I asked her [whether it] was time [to make it official], and she felt the same way. We had been dating for a minute at that point, and the restaurants changed,” Chris laughed. “Instead of Chili’s we started going to Flemings, Ruth’s Chris, and Pappadeaux’s; I was showing her that I was really invested in her happiness and enjoyment, and I was supporting her theory of what taking things to the next level and being her man looked like.”

“It was serious for me before he asked me, I already wanted him to be my man… He showed me things that other guys didn’t show me, he was consistent, he kept his word. We were building a relationship based on our goals and what we wanted to do together, so when I made decisions I made them with him in mind and he did the same,” Whitney said.

The proposal: On Whitney’s birthday, July 13, 2013, at Red Lobster in Vestavia Hills.

“I wanted to be funny, so I bought her a bag of stuff I knew she wouldn’t like. I got old folks clothes from Walmart, mou mou’s, fuzzy slippers, and a bonnet, and I had it all nice in a gift bag but she played it cool and acted like she liked it and threw me off my game because she was supposed to act [unhappy about her gifts] and then I was supposed to get down on one knee and propose to make it better,” Chris said, “so I had [to regroup] and wing it. When we got through eating

I said, ‘let me see your hand’, and I put the box in her hand, and she said, ‘what’s this for?’ and I said, ‘Will you marry me?’ And she said, ‘yeah, but you gotta ask my mama before it could be official.’”

“The gifts weren’t cute,” Whitney recalled, “but I’m a very appreciative person so whatever somebody gives me, even if I don’t like it, I’m going to act like I do. I didn’t know what to think [about his gift selections] but I was optimistic about it,” she laughed, “I felt like he had to have something else in store, I just didn’t know what it was. And then he put the box in my hand and I was shocked. He’s not one who’s good at surprises, most of the time he blows the surprise before it gets here so I was surprised that he pulled it off without me knowing about it. I was happy, but I was in shock mostly because he had just lost his mom [to cancer] the month before and I couldn’t believe that he had time to think about me,” Whitney said.

“My mom had helped me plan the proposal before she passed and that meant a lot to me. I liked the way that Whitney and my family were bonding, and when I told my mom she was super excited, and she helped me pick the ring out. And two or three weeks before I proposed my mom passed, so I had to finish everything out,” Chris said.

The wedding: At Whitney’s home church, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Ensley, officiated by Pastor George Williams. Their colors were fuchsia, yellow, and tan.

Most memorable for the bride “was seeing Chris cry like a baby, he cried big tears while I was walking down the aisle,” Whitney said.

Memorable for the groom was all the emotions he was experiencing. “Once they opened up the doors of the church and I saw Whitney standing there it touched me. I felt my mom, and everything was perfect, it felt meant to be in that moment,” Chris said.

They honeymooned in Orlando, Florida. “That was our first trip together and we enjoyed being together somewhere new,” Chris said.

Words of wisdom: “The key that kept us together is communication of course, and not letting anyone in your business, including family. And when times get hard and you can’t get anywhere [by yourselves] and you can’t figure it out on your own, seek counseling,” Whitney said.

“I feel like you should be very understanding as a man because there’s a lot of things we don’t understand about a woman until we actually live together. Every man should have counseling to really understand everything that goes into a marriage. Everyone’s [understanding] of marriage is different, you can’t base your marriage on what you’ve seen and how you grew up, you need counseling to help you guys find your own way,” Chris said. “There’s this book that helped us that I think everyone should read, it’s called ‘Us Against The World’, by David and Tamala Mann.

Happily ever after: The Stallworths attend New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Ensley, and have a daughter, Cali, 1-year-old.

Whitney, 34, is a Riley native, and Wenonah High School grad. She attended Strayer University [online] where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and works as a billing analyst at UAB Student Health and Wellness.

Chris, 33, is a West End native, and Wenonah High School grad. He attended Lawson State Community College where he earned a barbering certificate. He is a master barber and owns his own shop, BC Luxury Shop in downtown Bessemer, and an offensive line coach at Midfield High School.

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