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‘I Remember Her Coming Down the Aisle … I Had to Turn my Head to Wipe the Tears’

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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.

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ARLANA AND CARY ‘TREY’ TORBERT lll

Live: Helena

Married: Nov. 25, 2000

Met: Spring 1992. Trey and Arlana, from neighboring cities, Auburn and Opelika, met in high school. They were part of an organization created by the Auburn University alumni chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. called ‘The Delteen’s, which was a college readiness cohort designed to bridge the gap between Opelika and Auburn high school students. Arlana began her freshman year at Auburn University in Montgomery in the fall of 1994, and they reconnected in the fall of 1996, a year after Trey transferred in from Southern Union Community College. Over the course of two years, they started catching feelings but couldn’t get on the same page.” said Arlana.

“At the time, I wanted to hang out with my homeboys every weekend. I was young and I didn’t know what I wanted at the time… I was the average college guy, I just wasn’t ready to commit,” said Trey.

First date: Fall 1997, at Igor’s, a now closed sports bar in Montgomery.

“I told Arlana she could order whatever she wanted because I thought she was going to get hot wings like me, but she ordered the most expensive thing on the menu– red snapper,” Trey laughed. “I paid the bill, but it was more than I wanted to pay.”

“He seemed as if he was being extremely generous, so I did what he said I could do,” Arlana laughed. “I couldn’t afford red snapper and he seemed like he could so I ordered what I wanted.”

After their first date, Arlana said she continued getting mixed messages from Trey, and he continued running from commitment.

“I chose to go on with my life and do me and enjoyed that phase in college, and that no longer included Trey. I made him a non-priority so that he could do what he wanted to do,” Arlana said.

The turn: Summer 1998, Trey noticed the void Arlana left behind, and, “he showed up at my house with a three-piece suit on, a dozen roses, and a Brian McKnight CD and told me he wanted me back in his life,” Arlana said. “But I wasn’t giving in that easy, I had to make sure…”

Trey remembered, “It was summertime hot and I almost passed out in the black suit,” he laughed, “I was sharp though, I had on my black Stacy Adams.”

After three months and a series of regular dates, Arlana recalls Trey inviting her over for a meal he had prepared. “…and that’s when he asked me [about being his girlfriend] and I said ‘yes’,” said Arlana.

The proposal: Spring 1999, at Trey’s apartment in Montgomery. “We had gone out to dinner at Red Lobster first…” Trey recalled.

“Which I ate alone because he was very nervous… I guess he was anxious about getting ready to propose and he hardly ate any of his food,” Arlana said.

“We got back to my apartment that night, and I had a note stuck on my front door for her, and she snatched it off immediately trying to see who it was from and it was a note from me to her. I sent her on a scavenger hunt in my apartment,” Trey said.

“He sent me to the kitchen where he had roses and chocolate-covered fruit, and then the next note told me to walk down the hall to the bedroom and he had more gifts… and then another note that told me to walk back down to the living room,” Arlana recalled.

“And that’s when I had ‘Fortunate’ by Maxwell playing and I was down on one knee holding the ring, and I said, ‘Arlana, will you marry me?’, and she said, ‘yes’. After she said, ‘yes,’ I played another song, ‘Happily Ever After’, by Case, and we slow danced. And after that, I thought we were going to have some alone time, but then she got on the phone with her mom, her aunts, and her friends and forgot about me for the rest of the night,” Trey laughed.

“I kinda had an idea that that’s what [the scavenger hunt] was going to lead to, but it was so sweet and thoughtful the way he set it up and I just had to share that with them. They were so excited they started planning the wedding that night,” said Arlana.

The wedding: At Arlana’s home church, Southside Church of Christ in Opelika, officiated by the church’s pastor, Cleveland Sanders. Their colors were navy blue and silver.

Most memorable for the bride was the peace and contentment she felt all day. “I remember waking up and it just felt like the most peaceful day ever, even down to the weather, it wasn’t cold, it wasn’t hot, the day was calm, I was very calm,” Arlana said. “It just felt right, and anything [involving] peace you know is of God.”

Most memorable for the groom was his nerves getting the best of him.

“I was nervous… I remember waking up and my nerves were bad, but I also remember my grandmother saying it was the quickest wedding she’d ever been to,” Trey laughed. “The ceremony did move kinda fast, but I do remember Arlana coming down the aisle in her dress and I thought she was very beautiful… I had to turn my head to wipe the tears out of my eyes.”

They honeymooned in Atlanta, Georgia. “We had a suite on the 40th floor at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. It was amazing, it had a doorbell, a living room, a separate bedroom, it was very nice. It was a wedding gift from one of Trey’s childhood friends,” Arlana said.

Words of wisdom: “Love is a choice, and it’s unconditional. You get out of it what you put into it, and your garden grows based on how you choose to nourish it,” Arlana said. “Choose to love, that’s what I do. And I choose forgiveness, that’s what makes a successful relationship.”

“Keep God first, keep your marriage business to yourself, and always remember where you came from. We were friends first, and we always keep that foundation of being friends at the forefront of our marriage,” Trey said.

 

Happily ever after: The Torberts attend Regeneration Church in Alabaster where Trey serves on the media team, and Arlana serves as the first lady’s armor bearer. They have one daughter, Taylor, 18 years old.

Arlana, 48, is an Opelika native, and Opelika High School grad. She attended Auburn University at Montgomery, and Faulkner University [Montgomery campus], where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in administrative justice. Arlana runs her own business, Restorative Renovations and Property Management based in Birmingham.

Trey, 50, is an Auburn native and Auburn High School grad. He attended Auburn University at Montgomery where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a minor in business.  He works in the banking industry as a compliance officer.

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