Don't believe in love at first sight? Neither did Kimberly Crowell when she first met her husband, NFL player Angelo Crowell, when they were freshmen at the University of Virginia. But he wasn't deterred by her initial rejection, and the football player eventually sealed a connection with his favorite cheerleader over fries and a Coke at McDonald's.
"The first time I saw her, she definitely caught my eye. Our first year we didn't want to jump into a relationship, so we just talked and got to know each other as friends. I knew we could build from that," he says.
And build they did. The lovebirds will soon celebrate their first wedding anniversary and excitedly anticipate Angelo's next chapter in football now that he is a free agent, after six years with the Buffalo Bills.
"It's been a lot of fun," Kimberly says of their journey. "I fell more in love with him since getting married. He understands me and what I need without me having to say it, and that allows me to be completely open. He really is my best friend."
The two became husband and wife in a lavish love-filled ceremony on May 31, 2008, in Charlotte, North Carolina. The groom's father, a reverend who served as a loving husband and strong father for Angelo and his four brothers, presided over the service. Wedding planner Ivy Robinson shares the couple were a dream to work with and their love and respect for one another evident.
Right before Angelo's entrance, the Boys' Choir of Tallahasse, a special import from Kimberly's hometown, performed "Never Would Have Made It."
"That was my breaking moment," Angelo says. "That's when I realized I'm about to marry my wife. Me and Kim are the real thing. When she came down the aisle, she was so beautiful. I felt like it took forever."
Kimberly also felt the walk was long and admits she wanted to run to her groom in her custom Vera Wang gown, after being apart from the love of her life for most of the week.
With friends and family comprising their 20-person wedding party, the newlyweds made their grand entrance at the reception in style. The three-part event opened with a happy hour, followed by a sit-down formal dinner featuring a live band and finished with a dance party with a DJ which didn't end until after 2 A.M.
The two spend almost every day together now that Angelo is training, but that wasn't always the case. After graduation, the college sweethearts had to adjust to a long-distance relationship for five years as Angelo began his life in the league and Kimberly started law school. She now practices real estate law.
"I was never going to put my dreams on hold, even with his NFL contract. We both nurtured each other's goals," she says. "We were committed and you really can make a long-distance relationship work. It was nice knowing it was a light at the end of the tunnel."
And after law school, things to a thrilling turn as Kimberly and Angelo became engaged-much to her surprise. Though the two had discussed marriage, Angelo had made it clear he wanted to accomplish more before wedding bells. Kimberly resolved herself to his cold feet, until family made him realize he already had everything he wanted. So he planned the perfect beachside proposal during their Caribbean vacation-completely blowing Kimberly away as she said "yes" with tears in both their eyes. The surprises didn't stop there as friends and family from all over the country helped Angelo throw a secret engagement party when they returned, no easy feat as Kimberly prides herself on being in the know.
Well, what she and Angelo both know is their first year of marriage has been a blast and they look forward to many more.
"We knew what we were getting into and shaped our lives around each other," he says. "I didn't want a woman who was caught up in me, but had her own dreams. And I found her. She's my wife, I depend on her and she depends on me."