Most couples spend several years dating before deciding to tie the knot. For Tia Ewing-Walker and Early Walker’s case, however, it took just six short months to realize they were meant to be. The couple’s Black love flames ignited—literally—during an accidental car fire while they were on a date. The spark was so strong that it moved them to get married soon after.

They met in 2017, when Tia—a reporter for Fox Chicago—interviewed Early live on air about winter car safety tips. The two became friends, but it wasn’t until four years later that their feelings for one another “sparked.”

It was three days before Christmas in 2020,” Tia says. “I was looking for a second car. I reached out to Early because he owned a tow truck business and had cars all the time. We were driving around on his tow lot in his brand-new Jeep Gladiator. I had been in the car for about five to seven minutes when I saw it start to smoke on my side.”

Alarmed, Tia exited the car and urged Early to do the same. He initially hesitated, convinced there was no way his new truck could be on fire. The smoke persisted, and it became clear to him something was not right. Finally, he jumped out of the car, which soon burst into flames. 

After the fire, Tia began calling Early more than usual. At first, he was baffled as to why she suddenly desired to talk to him so much.

“Long story short, she wanted to tell me she loved me,” says Early. “I asked ‘what?’ In the beginning, when we first became friends, I tried to shoot my shot and was put in the friend zone. So it was weird. I didn't know how to answer because she had never told me she loved me, even as friends. I was confused. She was like, ‘yeah, I really like you.’ I guess maybe it was a wake-up call.”

From left: Early Walker and Tia Ewing-Walker. Image: Blake Martin.

Brought closer together by the car fire, Tia and Early started talking every day and soon realized they never wanted to part. Despite having only been dating for six months, they had been friends for years and felt like they knew enough about one another to take the leap.

“I felt like I knew everything about her,” Early shares. “I loved how smart she was. She is very assertive, very intelligent, very opinionated. And I really loved how we both shared interests in bettering our community. But above all, I loved that we both love to laugh. That is why you see us doing a lot of skits online bringing awareness to things that are important in a relationship but are funny as well. We were friends. She would call me with advice. I would call her with advice. The best part about it was that I felt like I wanted to marry my friend.”

“I felt that since we had the fundamentals down of knowing each other, it could only go up from there,” adds Tia. “That's how I saw it. So, we figured, ‘let's go full throttle.’ And that's what happened.”

Not everyone was initially on board with the couple’s decision to marry. Many of their friends, family and coworkers were shocked to hear the news and thought they were moving way too fast. Though they had known one another for some time, they hadn’t been romantically involved for long at all. 

“It was definitely a shock to both our families that we were moving so fast,” Early explains. “But they understood that we were going to move forward with or without their blessings.”

Not stopping the power of Black love, Tia and Early continued on with their plans, undeterred by the opinions of others. They were married on September 25, 2021, in a beautiful and uniquely-themed ceremony.

"Because we're taking a life journey into Black love, I patterned the wedding around us going on a trip," shares Early. “As a result, we planned an airport wedding on an actual airport runway at Rochelle Airport. We had flight attendants that checked people in. You received a boarding pass when you arrived. You received airport snacks, and we had Tia’s voice over the PA giving announcements regarding directions for what was going to happen next.”

The groom arrived on a trike and the rings arrived by air as a skydiver parachuted from a plane to deliver them to Early’s son, the ring bearer. Once the newlyweds said, “I do,” there was a fireworks show, and during the reception, a performance by Grammy-nominated singer Kim Stratton. 

Tia and Early have now been married for a year and five months, and they could not be happier. Their families accepted one another with love and open arms. The couple is a true testament to Black love and the importance of following your heart and not letting anyone deter you from what you feel is right for you.