Local Love: Meet Columbia’s Cutest Couples

Photos by L.G. Patterson

When spring is in the air, love is in the air. And we wanted to share some love stories. 

So we asked you to nominate some of the cutest couples in Columbia, and you came through! Sixteen of the cutest CoMo couples we’ve ever seen were nominated and more than 450 votes were cast to determine the top three couples to be featured in Inside Columbia. 

Are you ready to hear some love stories?

Trey and Anna BarrowAnna & Trey Barrow

“We always have fun and take the craziest pictures!”

Anna and Trey Barrow first set eyes on each other at Moberly’s annual Railroad Days Heritage Festival. That was it for Trey. “I remember thinking at the time that she was the one,” Trey says. Anna had always known of Trey — she went to the same church as his grandparents and he was well known for his football prowess — but never had any encounters with him. 

Until the day after Railroad Days when Trey showed up at church and walked over to Anna (technically, it was his grandmother who talked to her first). But it would take more than a simple conversation to win her over. It wasn’t until months later, and after many attempts by Trey’s grandmother to play matchmaker, that Anna agreed to be his girlfriend. 

“I had always known who Trey was growing up since he’s pretty famous in our neck of the woods (Go Tigers!), but I never thought I would be lucky enough to be his girl,” Anna says.

After a year-and-a-half of dating, the couple traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, to watch Mizzou at the December 2018 Liberty Bowl. After the game, they went to the Peabody Hotel for a New Year’s Eve celebration, but Trey had a more romantic surprise in mind.

“Just seconds before midnight, Trey got down on one knee and asked me to marry him as the balloons were falling down to ring in the New Year,” Anna says. “I can’t imagine experiencing this with anyone else; it was a great beginning to our forever together. I love our story!”

Trey says Anna is fun, sweet and caring, calling her the best wife and mom. “Anna is the most amazing person in the world,” he says. Anna says family and faith are priorities for Trey, which is one of the things she loves about him. “He knows how to have fun but has the most calming soul, which is what my loud and wild spirit needed,” Anna says.

When asked what makes the Barrows a cute couple, Anna says it’s simply “because we love each other so much. We always have fun and see the best in every situation.” 

The couple will celebrate their three-year wedding anniversary in May and have welcomed their first child, Cayde, who is not quite 1 year old.

Adam and Ally WillisAlly & Adam Willis

“We’re coming up on a year of marriage and still laugh at what a great adventure we’re on together.”

Ally and Adam Willis met thanks to some mutual friends who saw the potential in this particular match. Ally and Adam were invited over for lunch, where they met and quickly hit it off. But Adam says he didn’t want to come on too strong and “moved too slow. Once I figured that out though, our relationship bloomed.”

As they began to spend more time together, it became more apparent that things were right. “I began to understand the kind of woman she is and fell in love with that that,” Adam says, adding that he appreciated the way Ally accepts people for who they are. For Ally, she began to see the patience, kindness and caring for others in Adam that she had always admired about her father. 

“When I saw all of these qualities in Adam over time, plus even more, like his ability to make me laugh, the way he encourages me, his humility and generosity, I couldn’t help but consider whether he’d make a great husband,” Ally says.

After several months, Ally and Adam got engaged in what Ally describes as an almost disaster. The planned proposal involved a boat to the site where Adam would pop the question, but the boat wouldn’t start. The couple then kayaked across, but Adam was worried about the timing and, as Ally recalls, at one point asked if she was even paddling! 

“Thankfully, there were no more emergencies and I said ‘yes,’” Ally says.

After nearly one year of marriage, Ally says the couple continues to go on dates and makes sure they keep having fun together. “Throughout the day, Adam will sometimes send me silly jokes just to make me smile or surprise me with my favorite drink,” she says. 

From dance parties in the kitchen to road trips for new restaurants to try, the Willis’ look for ways to find joy in every day. “We like to laugh and share fun traditions together, like popcorn on Sunday Funday and building forts in the living room to watch movies in,” Adam says.

Cameron and Kate WhittakerKate & Cameron Whittaker

“This year marks a decade for our relationship. While not easy, it’s our love story and we are so very proud of it.”

Kate and Cameron Whittaker first met when they both worked at Burrell Behavioral Health. For Cameron, it was his first job out of college and, as he puts it, “my first real step into adulthood.” The pair quickly hit it off, but it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. Kate’s 11 years older than Cameron and was divorced with a child. That, combined with the couple’s racial difference, led Kate to initially hide the relationship from her father.

“You hear the cliché, the heart wants what it wants, right? Well, it was true,” Kate says. “I was ready to walk away from my father because I was in love. Cameron was my ‘person;’ he got me and I got him. It was like the rest of the world didn’t exist when we were together.”

The obstacles they had from the start weren’t enough to deter Kate or Cameron. “None of that mattered when we were together,” Cameron says. “It was truly the first time I ever experienced true love.”

So they tackled every challenge they met. Kate says her father came around as soon as he met Cameron, and the two even become “the best of friends” until Kate’s father passed away about five years ago.

“As hard as that period was when we felt we had to ‘prove’ our relationship; I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Kate says. “My father learned a lot from Cameron about race and Cameron gained the father figure that he himself never had.”

After 10 years, Kate says their love has only gotten stronger as they’ve grown their family and shared more together. Cameron says they have their own little language and genuinely love being with each other. “We know what the other is thinking and we tend to respond almost the exact same way to different situations,” Cameron says. 

Kate always has gone above and beyond for Cameron, he says, pushing him to do better for himself. “She saw potential in me before I saw it in myself to be honest,” he says. “I don’t know where I’d be in life if it weren’t for her.” Kate says she knows that Cameron came into her life “during the perfect season for the right reason so that we can spend a lifetime together.”  

Relationship advice from the cutest couples of CoMo

Trey Barrow: “Your wife is right even when she is wrong.”

Anna Barrow: “I would encourage others to always put your significant other first. When we got married, we made that commitment to each other. Remember to slow down and enjoy the little moments. Never take life too seriously and when times get tough remember that’s why you have each other.”

Cameron Whittaker: “Find someone that will tell you what you need to hear vs what you want to hear. Find someone that makes you a better person. Never get complacent and always date your partner.”

Kate Whittaker: “People always told us don’t go to bed mad at each other, we never mastered that. Take that time to process and then talk it out when you’re ready if that’s what you need. Always talk it out and hear the other person’s side.”

Adam Willis: “Don’t be afraid to be yourself and show up in the relationship. Care for your partner, but sometimes one of the best ways you can serve them is to connect heart-to-heart, not just hand-in-hand.”

Ally Willis: “Make sure you are truly communicating and working through things. Sometimes having hard conversations actually brings you closer! Remember you are a team and always try to think the best of the other person.”

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