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‘How He Handled Me That Day … I Felt Overwhelmed With Love’

BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY

Particular to the Birmingham Instances

“You Had Me at Good day” highlights married {couples} and the love that binds them. If you want to be thought of for a future “Good day” column, or know somebody, please ship nominations to Barnett Wright bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Embody the couple’s title, contact quantity(s) and what makes their love story distinctive.

LEONARD AND ASHLEI STEPHENS

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married: August 6, 2016

met: August 1996, Ashlei and Leonard had been in the identical kindergarten class at Avondale Elementary. Nevertheless, in August 2002, they met once more at Huffman Center Faculty in PE class and realized they knew one another from kindergarten.

“Bianca Lewis, [a classmate] instructed me that Ashlei had a crush on me and that is the way it began,” Leonard stated. “I used to be a bit nervous to speak to her, I believed she was cute.”

“…we ended up calling one another boyfriend and girlfriend,” Ashlei recalled. “…however he left the college after [6th grade] and completed center and highschool [at Daniel Payne Middle School and Hueytown High School]. It is like we met up once more each 5 years. In 2009, on the finish of my senior 12 months [at Huffman High School] I used to be on Fb and he got here up in my [friend suggestions] and I stated ‘oh, I bear in mind him, that is Leonard Stephens from Huffman Center Faculty’, and I DM’d [direct messaged] him and we chatted forwards and backwards a bit bit, exchanged numbers and began having principally textual content conversations.”

Leonard stated the conversations went from textual content messages to telephone conversations and “that is after I requested her to return to my commencement.”

First date: Might 2009, after Ashlei accepted the invitation to look at him cross the stage.

“That was the primary time we noticed one another because the sixth grade, and the primary time she met my mother’s household… I requested my mom if she might include us to dinner, and he or she went with us to [now closed] Prime Of The River restaurant in Hoover,” Leonard stated.

“I bear in mind it being a superb date, I bear in mind being so nervous. He was sitting subsequent to me and he was so cute. We had fun, he was placing his arm round me. We talked, we laughed, and he was a gentleman. When he drove me again to my automobile downtown [at the Boutwell Auditorium], my automobile would not crank, and he made certain I used to be good. I do not know what he did to make it crank up however he bought it to begin, and I used to be pondering he was like a ‘manly man,’” she laughed. “How he handled me that day, holding my hand, opening up my door, he would not depart me at my automobile till he bought it began, I might inform he was any person I might really feel protected with.”

The flip: For Leonard, it was the belief of their kismet timing. “It is one thing in regards to the five-year factor, each 5 years we might run into one another and that did not seem to be a coincidence to me, and that is what made our relationship so intriguing and one thing we wished to dive into.,” Leonard stated.

“…and the way we coincidentally ended up going to the identical faculty [Jacksonville State University],” Ashlei added, “we did not plan that.” The school admissions/acceptance interval had already handed by the point the 2 met again up.

For Ashlei, it was the summer time of 2009. “We had made it official on July 27, and from there we have been critical ever since.,” she stated. “We just about helped one another navigate freshmen 12 months, it was each of our first occasions being out on our personal and having to deal with ourselves. We helped one another navigate funds, and transportation and held one another accountable for staying on observe with our objectives.”

A mile marker for Leonard was in 2011 after he had surgical procedure on his ACL. “My coronary heart truly stopped twice they usually needed to deliver me again [to life] and after I awoke I bear in mind seeing Ashlei sitting on the fringe of the mattress with my mom and grandfather. [Ashlei] was working at Publix on the time, and he or she slept subsequent to me on the sofa in her Publix uniform each night time. That is after I knew she had my again from her,” Leonard stated.

The proposal: Summer season 2015, at their dwelling in Roebuck. “We had been at dwelling and Ashlei’s finest good friend, Shvonne, was there and I instructed her that I used to be going to suggest to Ashlei … and when Ashlei walked off for a second I bought down on one knee and when she got here again she walked proper previous me, and I simply stayed there [on bended knee] with the ring in my hand wanting loopy,” Leonard laughed. “So Shvonne was like ‘Ashlei, woman, look, look!’ and when [Ashlei] checked out me all of us began laughing, and [Ashlei] was like what’s going on, and I stated ‘woman, will you marry me?’ and he or she stated ‘sure’.

“I used to be excited, and I used to be truly unhappy that I did not see him on his knee, so I kinda did not get the complete expertise of [getting proposed to]however I used to be excited that it occurred, and we had been engaged,” Ashlei stated.

The marriage: In Bessemer, on the Bessemer Civic Heart, officiated by Leonard’s finest good friend’s father, Pastor Donald Sq. Sr. of I Care Christian Ministries in Birmingham. Their colours had been child pink and navy blue.

Most memorable for the bride was a shock second throughout their vow change. “We did not agree to write down our personal vows, so when he shocked me with the gorgeous poem throughout our nuptials, I believed it was so candy,” Ashlei stated. “It was

about us, our relationship, our ups and downs, and the way we grew collectively and the poem summed us up completely. I cried, and I felt so overwhelmed with love.”

Most memorable for the groom was their entrance at their marriage ceremony reception.

“Once we walked into our reception they usually reintroduced us as husband and spouse [the disk jockey was playing] ‘I Bought The Key’s, by Jay Z, that includes Dj Khalid, and we danced all the best way to the stage, and that was bizarre as a result of neither one in every of us had ever danced in entrance of such a big crowd,” Leonard stated. “We had enjoyable doing it, and we truly did not have any nerves as a result of we felt like we had been alone in that second collectively.”

They honeymooned in Panama Metropolis, Florida. “We had a rental for per week, and we loved the peace and quiet alone as a result of it was uncommon with having a [then] 4-year-old are again dwelling,” Leonard stated.

Phrases of knowledge: “Know do life collectively. Generally life will get arduous, and realizing lean on one another and work as a staff as a substitute of letting life break up you aside is necessary,” Ashlei stated. “When issues get tough, it’s important to assault it collectively since you’re a staff; work it collectively as a substitute of individually.”

“It is necessary for {couples} to make use of emotional intelligence. Perceive that it’s best to develop together with your associate, it needs to be contemporary and thrilling. Perceive that [your partners’] likes and dislikes will change, and it’s important to learn to evolve with them and never in opposition to them.

Fortunately ever after: The Stephens have three kids, sons Lathen, 11, and Lelan Jay, 4, and daughter, Alaya, 5.

Ashlei, 31, is an East Birmingham native, and Huffman Excessive Faculty grad. She attended Jacksonville (AL) State College the place she earned a bachelor’s diploma in human useful resource administration. Ashlei is the executive assistant at their family-owned fitness center, Step by Step Sports activities Coaching, in Birmingham’s Crestwood space, and serves because the Director for his or her non-profit group, the Step by Step Basis.

Leonard, 32, is a Pratt Metropolis native, a Hueytown Excessive Faculty grad, and attended Jacksonville State College, the place he studied kinesiology and performed on their soccer, and is at the moment finishing his bachelor’s diploma on the identical institute. Leonard is the proprietor/founding father of Step by Step Sports activities Coaching and their non-profit, Step by Step Basis in Birmingham’s Crestwood space.

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