From the very first time Keith White looked up and saw Tiffany Harris singing in the choir at Bethel Temple Church of Christ, he couldn't get her face out of his mind.
It was July 1996, shortly after Keith moved to Baltimore from Boston. Sitting in a front pew with a friend on his first visit to the church, Keith glanced at the choir. Out of all the women raising their voices in song, it was Tiffany who immediately caught Keith's attention.
Keith didn't know why he was so struck by the 20-year-old with the broad smile. But every time he returned to the church, his eye would be drawn to Tiffany before he even realized it.
Finally, after one service, Keith struck up a conversation with her. Tiffany was polite, but not very forthcoming. A short time later, Keith officially joined Bethel Temple. As he attended services and became active in the church's ministries, he continued to notice Tiffany. What he saw impressed him greatly. Tiffany was a woman of purpose, Keith explains. She was always conscious of how she carried herself, had impeccable manners and made very clear choices about the company she kept.
Unfortunately, Keith couldn't find a way to join Tiffany's circle of friends. In desperation, he poured his heart out to Tiffany's roommate, who also belonged to the church. "There's this young lady who really has my heart and my mind and I don't know how to approach her," he remembers saying.
And so her roommate broached the subject with Tiffany. In spring 1997, Keith and Tiffany finally had their first date: a movie followed by a late supper. The date went well, but Keith could see that Tiffany was not about to rush into anything. He continued to ask her out occasionally. And they continued to see each other at church services, activities and group outings.
In Tiffany's mind, Keith was nice, but he was still just "one of the guys," she recalls now.
But when Keith began ditching his buddies to spend time with Tiffany, they both knew their relationship was moving to a higher plane. In the spring of 1998, Keith asked Tiffany if she thought they might have a future together.
"She told me, 'If you're going to be the one I'm going to marry, it's time for you to make some choices,' " Keith recalls.
He had a good job as an administrative assist-ant for Countrywide Home Loans in Columbia. (Tiffany is a data processor at Chesapeake Appraisals in Linthicum.) And Keith had worked out other issues in his life, including his now long-distance relationship with his young son, who still lived in Boston with the child's mother.
But in Tiffany's mind, if marriage was the next step she and Keith should take, it would be one that Keith would have to consciously commit to taking. "Marriage is a big step," she says with characteristic directness. "It's something you don't play with and you don't take it lightly."
Though she didn't let on, Tiffany was a little nervous about the way things might go. And she wondered if Keith did decide he wanted to marry her, would that be the right long-term decision for her? So Tiffany looked for comfort and wisdom the same place she has always sought it: her Bible. And as she read through the well-thumbed pages, a certain peace settled over her. "I decided Keith was the right one," she says simply.
Keith proposed the Friday before Father's Day 1998 in such a nonchalant manner -- placing the wrapped ring box on the seat of her car while she went in to pick up some take-out food -- that Tiffany was completely surprised.
On March 13, Keith, 29, and Tiffany, 23, were married at the church where they met, Bethel Temple Church of Christ in Baltimore. The wedding party included Tiffany's sister, Sherrie Harris, and her brother, Wesley Harris.
The 250 guests included Tiffany's parents, Dolly D. Williams-Harris of Baltimore and Bernard Harris of White Marsh; as well as her grandmothers, Gladys Williams and Rose Porter. Keith's father, Leon White of Boston, attended. And though Keith regretted that his late mother, Irene White, did not live to see this day, he was cheered by the joy she would have taken in the occasion. A reception at the Forum in Baltimore followed the ceremony.
Now that all the festivities are over, Keith and Tiffany said they expect to enjoy the real excitement that comes with marriage: spending the rest of their lives "being an example of what a godly marriage should be."
Pub Date: 03/21/99