Cheering With (and for) Each Other Through the Years

Belinda Kathryn Smith and William Ryan Huffer were both looking for a physical activity when each joined the cheerleading team Cheer Dallas.

Ms. Smith, who had cheered in high school and as an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Dallas, wanted to continue it as a hobby while in graduate school at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Mr. Huffer, who goes by Ryan, had been a competitive gymnast as an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin, and wanted to stay in shape while completing a master’s degree at the University of Texas at Dallas.

When they met as teammates in August 2010, Ms. Smith said she felt an immediate comfort with Mr. Huffer and made sure he was in her stunt group. “If I was going to fly, I wanted to pick my group,” she said. “I picked Ryan because I trusted him.” Also: “He was cute.”

That September, he posted on Facebook asking if anyone was interested in an extra ticket he had to see the alternative rock band Anberlin at the House of Blues in Dallas.

The post specified that he would give it to the person who guessed a number he had chosen between one and one hundred. Ms. Smith placed the first — and winning — guess: 74. “We still disagree if the number was actually 74 or if Ryan determined that was the number once he saw the guesses,” Ms. Smith said.

Either way, they had a good time together at the concert on Sept. 29, 2010. “She’s clever, and we think in a lot of the same ways,” said Mr. Huffer, 34, who had also noticed that “she was kind of assertive, which is great because I’m not.”

Added Ms. Smith, 35, “We communicate in the same way.”

The two became exclusive within a couple of weeks. The following year, Ms. Smith, a native of Columbia, Md., earned a master’s degree in industrial organizational psychology, and Mr. Huffer, who is from Garland, Texas, received a master’s degree in mechanical engineering.

In 2013, Mr. Huffer began working as a mechanical engineer at Halliburton, a job he held until 2020, when he was laid off. (Since then, he has focused on learning the stock market and day trading.) The year he started at Haliburton, Mr. Huffer and Ms. Smith also left Cheer Dallas, and she joined another team.

She stopped cheerleading in 2018, which was also the year that Ms. Smith and Mr. Huffer decided to move in together in Dallas. In 2021, she returned to Cheer Dallas as a member of its board, on which she serves as the secretary.

That August, Ms. Smith found out she was pregnant, a sooner-than-expected development that sped up the couple’s marriage timeline.

“We knew we would be together,” she said, but “prior to that, there wasn’t a huge reason for us to get married.”

Mr. Huffer proposed months later, on Oct. 27, 2021, while the two were aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship on a trip that featured performances by his favorite band, Coheed and Cambria. After attending a prom-themed event on board, they returned to their stateroom, where, as Ms. Smith recalled, “Ryan got down on one knee and said, ‘We are ending one voyage, but I’d like to start another with you.’”

They were wed on Feb. 2 at their home in Dallas. Bruce Blackman, a friend of the couple who was ordained by Universal Life Church, officiated at the outdoor ceremony, which took place as rain fell on the bride, groom and their 28 guests, all but one of whom were vaccinated.

“We were hoping to beat the rain,” said Mr. Huffer, who held an umbrella over himself and Ms. Smith during the ceremony. “But it didn’t happen.”

Although they had planned for an outdoor reception, the weather led them to move it inside, which Mr. Huffer said wasn’t all bad.

“It felt like a family get-together,” he said, the sort of low-stress scene where people “grabbed food in the kitchen and ate in the living room.”