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‘I Was Smitten with His Proposal … And Of Course, Said ‘Yes’’

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BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY | Special to the Birmingham Times

DESLAND AND EVERETT ROBINSON Sr.

Live: McCalla

Married:  Oct. 4, 2008

Met: Summer 1985, in Desland’s family’s backyard. Their houses were divided by a fence “with one wooden slat missing and we could see each other through the slat,” recalled Everett. “But Desland didn’t like me, she said I was loud and cocky,” he laughed.

They became good friends throughout their childhood and Everett said they had a two-day relationship during their adolescence. Still, Desland doesn’t remember. “He never called my house to seal the deal because he was scared of my mom,” she said.

Soon after, Desland’s family moved, and they kept in touch through mutual friends. However, in the fall of 2006 they reconnected on Myspace [a social networking platform popular in the early 2000s’]. They were now 26-year-old college grads, Desland, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB], and Everett, from Vanderbilt University [Nashville, Tenn.]  when Everett came across Desland’s profile and sent her a message saying, ‘Love of my life, where have you been?’ And I said ‘ol’ Everett Robinson, how’s it been?’ and we chatted for a while and a few days later we exchanged numbers. I was semi-dating someone at the time, but Everett was persistent, he would call or text every day and on occasion, he would invite me out…”

“And it was always ‘I have plans’,” Everett said. But one evening after Desland’s plans fell through she agreed to meet with him and a few of their old friends at Buffalo Wild Wings in Hoover.

First date: November 2006, at Red Lobster in Vestavia. The pair doesn’t remember a lot about their first date, but Desland does remember Everett saying “I think you’re smitten with me” and I thought that was an interesting use of words to describe how I felt, and my response to him was ‘hmm, I could be,” said Desland.

“And that’s when ‘I said, ‘I got her’,” Everett laughed. “On the way home after the date, I was thinking ‘man, [I just went on a date with] Desland from the neighborhood’, because she was the ‘it girl’ growing up, and I was like I’m finally getting my chance at the dream girl,” he said.

The turn: For Everett, it was Christmas 2006. “I invited her to my family Christmas dinner, and we exchanged gifts… I had told my family that I reconnected with Desland and there was lots of anticipation,” Everett said.

“When I walked through that door all eyes were on me,” Desland laughed. “When they got a clear picture of me the open-armed warm greetings began, and I remember falling in love with his family all over again. And when I was leaving his mom gave me the biggest hug and said, ‘remember I love you’.”

“So, in my mind, she was my girl,” Everett said.

But Desland said she didn’t feel committed until spring 2007. “We had an ultimatum type of conversation. We were at that fork in the road where we discussed, ‘Are we gonna be committed or is this casual dating?’” Desland said. “I knew what I wanted and the type of relationship I was looking for, and we were both aligned on our paths and journeys and that’s what changed it for me and sealed the deal.”

The proposal:  Valentine’s Day 2008, at Red Lobster in Vestavia Hills.

Everett said he asked her parents for her hand in marriage a month before the proposal, and to execute his plan, he had Desland meet him at the restaurant so that he could get things in order.

“I had ordered some personalized blue and green M&M’s, which are our favorite colors, and the phrase, ‘will you’ was on some, and “marry me?” was on the others.  So when I arrived, I got the maitre’d to get me our server and I gave the M&M’s to him and let him know that was going to be our special desert, and the code word was ‘special desert.’ We had an awesome dinner and the server asked if we wanted dessert, to which Desland said ‘no’, and the look on my face was priceless,” Everett laughed.

“But the waiter rebounded and insisted that we try this special Valentine’s dessert. He brought them out on a serving platter with a lid and set it in front of Desland and removed it. As he was doing that, I got down on one knee and took the ring out of my pocket and Desland was trying to read the M&M’s and paying no attention to me,” he laughed. “And when she finally looked in my direction and saw me on one knee, I told her she was indeed the love of my life and I wanted to know if she’d spend the rest of my life with me. She said ‘yes’, and the [other guests at the restaurant] cheered.

“I was impressed with his level of creativity because I don’t typically care for traditions or surprises. He truly impressed me, and I was indeed smitten with his whole proposal gesture and of course, said ‘yes’”.

The wedding: At St. Paul Lutheran Church in Titusville, officiated by Pastor, Thomas R. Noon. Their colors were green and cream.

Most memorable for the bride was receiving a letter from her groom before the ceremony.

“We were in our separate spaces getting ready, and somebody brought a letter to the door and said, ‘can you deliver this to Desland?” Everett wrote me the most beautiful letter about how much I meant to him, how much our being married meant, how much spending the rest of our lives together meant, and just how blessed and thankful he was for me and it really drew tears. I still have that letter, I framed it,” Desland said.

Most memorable for the groom was the tight schedule their wedding day had due to his love for Vanderbilt football.

“We got married at 11 am sharp and the reason was that it was football season,” Everett laughed. “Being a Vanderbilt football alumnus and season ticket holder, I made a sacrifice to get married on a Vanderbilt game weekend (a game I would have normally been at), and that day they were playing Auburn at home in Nashville. So we were on a strict schedule, married at 11, and the reception from noon-4 pm. We rented a 1950’ish Bentley and rode around town for a bit and arrived at the hotel [Hotel Indigo, in Five Points South] at 5 p.m. We got food and were in front of the TV for kick-off at 6 p.m. I was the keeper of that schedule and it went off without a hitch,” he laughed. “But the most special moment was seeing the doors open and watching her enter the church. My brother told me I would need tissue, and I did,” said Everett.

They honeymooned in Montego Bay, Jamaica. “My best friend was getting married in Jamaica in November [2008], so we used his destination wedding as our honeymoon,” Everett said.

Words of wisdom: “When we got married, our videographer [interviewed people for words of advice] and our favorite quote was from my brother, Dannye and he said ‘Marriage is good, marriage is great, but marriage is work; never stop working’, and those are words that we have always remembered, and have vowed to live by. We are always working on our marriage,” Everett said.

“The word commitment has always resonated with us, and mastering the art of love in marriage takes a true commitment,” Desland said. “That’s really what our relationship and friendship is rooted and grounded in, it keeps us balanced.”

Happily ever after: The Robinsons attend Grace Life Baptist Church in McCalla, where they both serve in the youth ministry, and have two children, daughter Elise, 10, and Everett Jr. [EJ], 7.

Desland, 44, is a Hueytown native, and McAdory High School grad. She attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham [UAB] where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and a master’s degree in instructional design and development. Desland serves as a talent acquisitions manager for early career talent and diversity programs at SHIPT, in Birmingham.

Everett, 44, is a Hueytown native, and a Shades Valley High School grad. He attended Vanderbilt University [Nashville, Tenn.] where he played football and earned a bachelor’s degree in human and organizational development and health and human services. He also attended ITT Technical Institute [Bessemer campus], where he obtained a master’s degree in business administration, and works at the McWane Science Center in downtown Birmingham where he serves as the member engagement director.

“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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