When Amina Elise Colter walked into Barcelona Wine Bar 45 minutes late and sat down for her first date with Jason Michael Jones, he sensed that his waitress and nearby tables wanted to cheer. And so did he.
“I’m sitting here by myself,” Mr. Jones said of that night in Atlanta in September 2018. “I had a feeling people were taking bets.”
Mr. Jones, who was working in Detroit at the time, had flown to Atlanta to see Ms. Colter. The two had known each other since July 2006, when they met at a Jack and Jill of America regional teen conference in Ann Arbor, Mich.
They had just finished high school at the time, and were also graduating out of Jack and Jill, an organization founded by 21 mothers in 1938 to promote social, cultural and educational opportunities for Black children, ages 2 to 19.
After traveling to Ann Arbor from St. Louis, “I wanted to call my mother to tell her I arrived safely,” said Ms. Colter. But her phone was out of juice, and her charger was back home. So she knocked on door after door in the hotel in search of a compatible one.
Mr. Jones, from Rochester, Mich., had one.
When Ms. Colter returned the charger a couple of hours later, he jokingly told her he had not expected to see it again. She walked away a bit miffed.
“I knew I liked her,” said Mr. Jones, who texted an apology later, which led to a phone call that lasted a couple of hours and covered everything. (By then her phone had plenty of juice — her parents arrived in Ann Arbor later that day with her charger packed.)
That summer they became long-distance pals via texts and calls, and they continued to connect through college — she at George Washington University and he at Morehouse College, from which they each graduated in 2010, he cum laude.
“We would go months without connecting and would pick up where we left off,” said Ms. Colter, 34, now based in Atlanta as a senior vice president for multicultural health communications at Edelman, a public relations and marketing firm.
Mr. Jones, also 34, received both a master’s in psychology and a doctorate in personality psychology focusing on Black former National Football League players, at Howard University. He is now a postdoctoral research associate in the department of psychological sciences at Winston-Salem State University in North Carolina, where he focuses on intimate partner violence among Black American college students.
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The two typically saw each other once or twice a year, usually briefly. This included a quick hello in October 2006 when she went to Spelman and Morehouse Colleges for “Spelhouse” homecoming with family and friends. In February 2010 they had lunch at a Tex-Mex place in Dallas when they were both in town during the weekend of the National Basketball Association All-Star game.
They spent more time with each other in July 2018, when he was in Atlanta to celebrate a friend’s 30th birthday. Afterward, they met for drinks with friends, and the next day for dinner, followed by a nightcap at his hotel’s bar, along with a kiss.
“Hey, where are we going from here?” he asked that night of their relationship.
She agreed to try dating, on one condition.
“We have to remain friends,” she said, whether things worked romantically or not.
He returned to Atlanta that September for their first “real date” — dinner at Barcelona Wine Bar in the Inman Park neighborhood, to which she showed up 45 minutes late. The reason? She had taken an Uber to another Barcelona Wine Bar location on Howell Mill Road.
Their first “official” kiss as a couple followed two hours later at a rooftop bar, and in December she took the leap and invited him on her family Christmas trip to the Bahamas.
Mr. Jones proposed Dec. 29, 2020, on a windy hotel balcony in West Palm Beach, Fla., where their parents, also in Florida, appeared with champagne after she said “yes.” (Her parents were celebrating their 36th anniversary.)
On June 25, the Rev. Elzie D. Odom Jr., an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, officiated, before 215 vaccinated guests, at St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in Dallas. The bride’s parents had also been married there.
“I love her as my best friend,” he said of Ms. Colter, who will take his last name. And “I love her as my wife.”