“He made a video and said how much he loved me…and wanted to marry me”

BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY

Special for the Birmingham Times

“You Had Me at Hello” highlights married couples and the love that unites them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello” column, or know someone, please send applications to Barnett Wright bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their romance unique.

ALPHONSE AND AURI UNDERBOIS

Live: McCalla

Married: March 25, 2016

Meet: January 2012, at AIDS Alabama on Birmingham’s Southside.

Alphonso was in graduate school at the University of Alabama and Auri was finishing his senior year at Miles College when they met during their respective internships with the organization.

“One day a week, all the interns would meet with the clinical director and talk about the progress [of our cases] … In social work, there are not many guys, and the clinic director kept talking about Alphonso and his [accomplishments] and we were like ‘yeah whatever, who cares? But Alphonso was the only black guy in there, he was wearing a nice suit, so my friend and I kept watching him…” Auri said.

“After monitoring [discussions with the director]he walked around the building to see where I was because I saw him drive by, he leaned over to look at me,” she laughed.

The next day, Auri found a business card on his car with a note: “He’s the guy you were watching in supervision, when you get the chance call me.” I thought that was very arrogant, but I called him and told him that someone told me you were trying to break into my car,” Auri said with a laugh.

“I’ll be honest, I wasn’t trying to find out what car she was driving, I wanted her to see the car I was driving; I was in a foreign whip! She fell for the bait, that’s why she called,” he laughed. “Based on physical attraction, we both felt…when you see an attractive woman, you automatically assume she’s spoken, so you’re trying to be subtle, you don’t want to be a creep…We worked in two different [areas] that’s why I left the note. It would have been too obvious to do that after our oversight meetings…” Alphonso said.

First date: January 2012, at Taziki’s on the Southside. “We met there, he was moving into a new apartment and we talked about that and his new job,” Auri recalled.

“It got us talking about being social workers and why we wanted to become social workers. I told her about my experiences in foster care, and she had an experience that was relatable,” Alphonso said.

“We realized early on that we had a lot in common. That first date was really

fine, but somehow we stopped talking…” Auri said.

“We both had just gotten out of serious relationships and it was still very fresh,” Auri added. “We continued to complete the internship, but we never had another appointment.”

In May, Auri invited Alphonso to her graduation party.

“I went to the party because she invited me, but I wasn’t sure [where we stood] … I felt comfortable enough to go, but I had no intention of staying. I bought him a bottle of [whisky] as a present and was planning to go out but when i arrived she made me a plate and started introducing me to everyone [and it caught him off guard] …she never left me…” Alphonso said.

“There was only family there, I treated him like he was my guest. I was nice to him, but I didn’t necessarily take care of him, I just made sure that he was good. I guess he wasn’t used to that,” Auri said.

Two weeks later, Auri began his graduate studies at the University of Alabama, where Alphonso was also in graduate school and in the same program. The two started dating and seeing each other frequently.

Round“A month after we met, my nephew came to live with me. My sister had a son, and she was in a bad place at the time, so my nephew stayed with me over the summer, and Auri really helped me,” Alphonso said. “She helped me find daycare for him, helped me get him to and from daycare. . . We became a kind of family overnight. It was like she was a mom, and I was a dad, and that’s how we got serious.

“We both had crazy childhoods, so kids have always bonded us. Whenever a child is the focus, they unite us,” Auri said.

Proposal: February 7, 2016, during the Super Bowl halftime show at Alphonso’s father’s house in Forestdale.

“I should have known something was up, everyone was there. We’re known for throwing epic house parties, before the kids we used to throw Christmas, Halloween parties…but [friends and family] traveled to come to this party, and it wasn’t unusual to have a big Super Bowl party, it was unusual to have him at his dad’s house,” Auri said. “That was the year Beyonce’ performed the halftime show with Bruno Mars, and I love Beyonce’, so by halftime I was ready [for her performance]. But [at halftime] instead of seeing Beyoncé on screen, it was Alphonso on screen. He made a video, and he said how much he loved me, and why he wanted to be with me and marry me… that was really cool,” Auri said.

“When the video came out, I obviously knew what he was about to do at the time, and he started trying to [do some more talking] And I was like ‘Nah, go on and get down there [on your knee] if that’s what you’re about to do, go ahead and do it right,” she laughed.

The wedding: At the Shelby County Courthouse in Columbiana. Auri wore a white lace dress and Alphonso wore a white suit.

“We were planning to have a big wedding in September, we had a wedding planner, we had chosen a venue and everything, but one day in March I woke up and said I wanted to get married this week next. So, we went to the Columbiana courthouse. We had family and close friends there,” Auri said.

The most memorable for the bride was a conversation with her father. “My dad lived in Atlanta, and that morning he picked me up and we went to lunch. [before the wedding]. He said I know I was probably the only consistent person in your life, and I’m glad you found someone as consistent as me. At that time, I didn’t realize or appreciate [Alphonso’s consistency], but I do now . . . I was in good hands,” Auri said.

Most memorable for the groom was seeing his sister’s display of emotions.

“My sister is one of the toughest people I know, and I’ve never seen her cry, but the day I got married, she booed like a baby… [My sister] was the number one woman in my life. If I called her, she took care of me. Fed me when I was hungry, washed my clothes…It was like his son was getting married, we rocked hard for years,” Alphonso said. “Auri is the only girl she’s ever loved, and she didn’t have to worry about me anymore the way Auri’s dad didn’t have to worry about her anymore.”

The couple honeymooned on a cruise in the Bahamas for four days and ashore in Miami for two days after the cruise.

words of wisdom“Be intentional. Give grace, be forgiving and understanding. You need forgiveness and you want that same grace in return,” Auri said. “Every day you have to actually want to get married, it’s not easy, so you have to be intentional. It’s so easy to say I don’t want to do this anymore, but being intentional and doing it, no matter how you feel, gets easier over time after you stay at it and work.

Alphonso said: “You need to give your significant other time to become a wife or a husband. By saying “yes” on your wedding day, the magic dust does not fall on you and now you become that enchanted person. I was never a husband before being a husband, so I made several mistakes as an individual and as a husband. But [my wife] gave me grace and what did I do? I became a better husband and she became a better wife. But she had to figure out for herself what [being a wife] meant to her.

“A lot of times we say we want a thing or an experience, but we don’t know what it takes to have it. People look at us all the time and say ‘wow you look so happy,’ [There are] intentional sacrifices we make to experience that happiness.

Happy forever: The Underwoods have two children, a son, Alphonso Jr., 3, and a daughter, Arial, 1.

Auri, 32, is from Pratt City and Atlanta GA who attended Chapel Hill High School [Douglasville, GA], Miles College, and the University of Alabama, where she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work, respectively. Auri is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Inc. and works as a social worker at the Birmingham Veteran’s Administration.

Alphonso, 34, is a Montgomery native and a graduate of Robert E. Lee High School [Montgomery]. He attended Alabama State University and the University of Alabama, where he earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work, respectively. He is a school social worker [care specialist] for the Jefferson County School Board.

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