For Valentine’s Day, these Atlanta couples share their love stories

R&B and soul singer Avery Sunshine swore she would never marry again.

So did her musical writing partner, Dana Johnson.

Not only did they fall in love, but the Atlanta couple exchanged vows — twice.

Joel Alvarado and Karcheik Sims-Alvarado met in class when both were students at Clark Atlanta University. On their first date, they went to an Atlanta soul food restaurant and talked until 2 a.m.

For Valentine’s Day, these two Atlanta couples share their stories of courtship, love and making marriage work.

Avery Sunshine and Dana Johnson

Both Sunshine and Johnson had been married before and never were expecting to say “I do” again.

One of the big selling points to marry was when they realized their children supported the union. In fact, their children “felt it would make things kinda whole for them.”

“We weren’t looking for it,” said Sunshine. “I knew (he was the one) but it became really clear just a couple of years ago. What was clear was that we never really got tired of each other. We worked together, we did everything together and it just seemed that everyone connected to us was better for it, including us.”

They met in college and worked at the same church. She was minister of music at a church where he was a musician.

Their work took them beyond the church.

He proposed during Atlanta rush-hour traffic while both were in separate cars coming back from a meeting.

Johnson said by the time he got to the house, he had gotten several phone calls congratulating him.

“It was all planned out in 30 minutes,” he said.

“Something happened when he said we’re going to get married, it just all made sense,” she said.

RelatedAmazing love story began with a blind date

They exchanged vows once at the hospital bed of her ailing father and the second time during a destination wedding in front of friends, family and, they suspect, one or two strangers.

What makes their marriage strong?

“Well, for starters, we like each other! I could say that we’re like minded and that our goals are aligned... but when I really think about it, the truth is: existing with him is easy and natural. I’m just better with him,” she said.

Sunshine’s latest project, “Twenty Sixty Four,” is a testament to their love with songs like “Kiss” and “Heaven Is Right Here.”

Blending work and love can be hard at times.

“It is very difficult,” said Johnson. “The lines between work and home are very blurry. With that said, it is always important for us to communicate and listen to each other to make sure our needs are being met.”

Karcheik Sims-Alvarado and Joel Alvarado

Karcheik Sims-Alvarado had a list of what she wanted in a man.

“I didn’t want to continue making the wrong choices as I was coming into my own and understanding who I really was,” she said. “I didn’t want to partner with someone who would take me off my path. If I’m going to have someone to roll with me, it has to be someone who can help build me up on my journey but also enjoy the ride with me.”

Her future husband ”was smart with good DNA,” said Sims-Alvarado, author of “Atlanta and the Civil Rights Movement: 1944-1968.” She admired his political and social consciousness. A bonus was ”he was also genuinely nice.”

“We respect each other dearly,” she said. “It’s about respect and being kind to one another.”

Alvarado planned a stunning proposal. He would pop the question while both attended a visit by then-South African Bishop Desmond Tutu. Tutu, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, blessed the ring and the future union.

Both say communication and respect are keys to making a marriage work.

Joel Alvarado, a higher education professional, wants their relationship to be a model for their son, Nation, to emulate.

“I want my son to embrace love and recognize its power,” he said. “I want him to find a person who will treasure his love, nurture his spirit and inspire him to be great. That is what his parents aspire to do every day.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Living

What covering the 2017 NRA convention was like

Last year’s National Rifle Association convention brought 80,000 people to downtown Atlanta, and on opening day I interviewed some of the nicest people I’d ever met . Given the heated protests that preceded the April 2017 event at the Georgia World Congress Center and the “fake news media&rdquo...
16th Street Baptist Church: Site of tragedy galvanized a movement
16th Street Baptist Church: Site of tragedy galvanized a movement

The importance of the 16th Street Baptist Church in the annals of African-American history can’t be overestimated. Not only was it the first black church to organize in Birmingham, Ala., it was the target in 1963 of the racially motivated bombing that killed four young girls and galvanized the civil rights movement. As a kid growing up in Philadelphia...
Insurance plans push healthier choices at grocery store
Insurance plans push healthier choices at grocery store

MINNEAPOLIS — Sandy Brezinski savored the savings last week when her preferred brand of organic tortilla chips went on sale. Not only did her grocery store discount the item to $2.99, a program offered through her employer’s health insurance knocked another $2 off the price. “You get that for 99 cents,” Brezinski said. &ldquo...
Walkability luring homebuyers to small town centers
Walkability luring homebuyers to small town centers

Anyone who has been tormented by Atlanta’s traffic may have wished for the option of ditching the car, if at least for the evening or weekend. Yet the metro area’s sprawl often means going for a gallon of milk or out to a movie means getting back behind the wheel. The dependency on vehicles that sprawl has created is a habit many homebuyers...
Flu shots less effective than normal, CDC report says

It turns out the rumors were true: This year’s flu shot is indeed less effective than usual. An unusually resilient strain of influenza called H3N2 has been the predominant assailant this season, and the vaccine rolled out last year was ill-suited to protect against it. While previous analyses from Canada and Australia on its H3N2 effectiveness...
More Stories