Shakeema Jones and Tyler Mapp
May 18, 2019, in Chester
Tyler stepped off the bus from his 2009 summer job installing projectors at his high school, Gloucester County Institute of Technology, to catch a second bus home to Logan Township. Then he saw Shakeema selling Jersey fruits and vegetables at a stand in front of her high school, Woodbury. She was gorgeous.
Tyler bought peaches. He bought something every day, and then one day, he spoke to her:
“Is it OK if I buy a peach or a pear?”
Shakeema smiled. “Why are you asking me if it’s OK for you to buy something? You can buy anything you want.”
Tyler smiled back. He introduced himself, and Shakeema did, too. “You’re beautiful,” he told her. “Would you like to go to dinner with me?”
“Why would I want to go to dinner with you when I don’t even know you?” she asked, matter-of-factly.
Tyler wasn’t too disappointed; he figured he’d keep buying produce and hoped that after enough short conversations, Shakeema would feel more comfortable. Alas, despite many purchases, summer ended without a date.
A few weeks into the school year, Shakeema’s friend Thomas said there was someone he wanted her to meet, called him, and handed her his phone. Shakeema was astonished to hear Tyler’s voice. The two kept talking through fall and winter. When he asked her out near Valentine’s Day, Shakeema said yes. He brought her chocolates and a teddy bear.
“He was very persistent,” she laughs, then adds, “the more that I talked with him, the more I could see that he was a really genuine person. He is very funny and very kind.”
Tyler loved her positive energy, her big smile, and her big heart.
They were together until the start of her second year at Rowan University, where she majored in psychology, and his second year at Gloucester County College, where he earned an associate’s degree in engineering before completing his bachelor’s in business at Wilmington University.
They struggled to make life at two separate schools and a relationship with each other work. Shakeema realized things were going nowhere and broke it off. It hit Tyler hard, but they both moved on, and eventually, dated other people.
in December 2015, Tyler ran into Thomas and asked how Shakeema was doing. Thomas called Shakeema. “I have something to tell you!” he said excitedly. “I have something to tell you!” she said. Thomas went first: “Tyler asked about you,” he said. “Tyler messaged me on Instagram,” she told him.
Shakeema, who is now a children’s intervention specialist for Oaks Integrated Care, gave Tyler, now an Allstate claims adjuster, her number. They talked and talked and talked.
Despite all the feelings that were coming back, Tyler was nervous about seeing Shakeema again — hadn’t they tried this once already? But in March 2016, he asked her to dinner at a soul food spot in Lawnside called Rochester’s. “We talked about a lot, what we were doing, and our future goals,” she remembered. “And then we just laughed about the past relationship we had with each other.”
“I had a good time,” she texted him the next morning. “I’m looking forward to other times we can hang out.”
Shakeema loves to cook, and began inviting him over for barbecue chicken or spaghetti. Then she made the next big move: She asked Tyler to go to church with her.
“I have to work this weekend, but I will go with you next time,” he told her. But a few days later, Tyler told her he took the day off to go. They’ve been together ever since — much to the delight of Shakeema’s mother, Toni, who always thought Tyler was right for her daughter.
“He has a lot of patience. He’s very understanding. And he just makes me feel like a queen,” Shakeema said. “He always encourages me to go after whatever it is I want to do in life. He believes that my happiness is also his happiness.”
“I love Shakeema because of her love for others and her passion for things that matter to her,” Tyler said. “I love how driven she is, and how compassionate she is. She cares about me. She makes sure I’m OK.”
In early September 2016, the couple, who are now both 27, joined Tyler’s best friend Darrell and his then-girlfriend at Warm Daddy’s in Philadelphia. The band began playing Maxwell’s “This Woman’s Work,” one of Shakeema’s favorites, and Tyler started telling her how very much he loves her.
“I’ll never forget that day when I got off of the bus and first laid eyes on you at the produce stand,” he said. He knelt beside her and asked whether she would marry him.
Shakeema was completely shocked. “Are you sure?” she asked. Tyler laughed. “I’m sure. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.”
Unable to speak, she nodded her yes. Tyler put the ring on her finger, and the entire restaurant clapped and cheered.
His mother, Carmen, already knew Tyler was going to propose. Afterward, he called his father, Keith, with the good news.
A few months later the couple got an apartment in West Deptford. In 2018, they bought a house in Logan Township.
When the ceremony was set to start, Tyler was still waiting in a small room behind the altar with Darrell, who was best man. “My anxiety was at an all-time high,” he said. So was Shakeema’s — makeup was taking longer than anticipated. Finally, Shakeema’s sister Tehesha texted they were on their way.
“We were an hour late!” Shakeema said. “I was upset. I was heated.”
But then it was her turn to walk down the aisle at Shiloh Baptist Church in Chester, and she took her Grandpa Edwin’s arm, “I saw Tyler. And I saw that he started to cry. And then we locked eyes with each other, and I was just so overjoyed.”
“I knew we were getting married, but I still wasn’t prepared to see Shakeema in a dress and walking down the aisle,” Tyler said. “That was the moment I started to tear up, because it was finally happening.”
A pianist, drummer, and soloist provided the music for the traditional Baptist ceremony. There was a prayer, and some Scripture, and then the Rev. Robin Carter told the couple’s story.
Tyler’s mother helped them plan the reception for 130, which was held at the Waterfall in Claymont, Del. The couple entered and began their first dance to “Love Ballad” by LTD featuring Jeffrey Osborne. “I was very excited to have married the love of my life,” Tyler said. “So excited that I stepped on her dress, and she fell.”
Shakeema wasn’t hurt. Her fall and Tyler-assisted recovery were so graceful that many thought it was part of their dance.
“We had a lot of fun moments,” Shakeema said. “I think my favorite part of the reception was the garter removal — Tyler actually got down on the floor and went under my dress. And when we did the cake, Tyler did the airplane movements you do when you feed a baby. Everyone was cracking up.”
During their ceremony, Rev. Carter described marriage as a garden. “She said that Tyler and I are the gardeners, and we have to water it to make it grow.”
Walking out of the church together after the ceremony was so meaningful for Tyler. “It signified that we were officially married, and that we were meant to be.”
The two enjoyed a six-day cruise from Fort Lauderdale to the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, and Grand Turk Island, including a walking tour of Puerto Plata and beach time in the Bahamas.
Officiant: The Rev. Robin Carter, Shiloh Baptist Church, Chester
Ceremony: Shiloh Baptist Church
Reception: The Waterfall, Claymont, Del.
Music: DJ James Gordy, New Castle, Del.
Dress: Claire’s Fashions Bridal Boutique, Wilmington
Makeup: Shae, Philadelphia Makeup Artist
Hair: April Scott
Groom’s attire: Lifestyle Tuxedos, Blackwood, N.J.
Planners: Carmen Morgan-Mapp, mother of the groom, and Karen Owens-Jones, aunt of the bride