'Fast and furious' relationship led to fairy-tale wedding
By Catherine E. Toth
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Catherine E. Toth
It took a chance encounter at a bar in Waikiki for Ashley Adleta and Gary Biffle to meet, yet they lived their entire lives on the Mainland just three hours apart.
After a University of Hawai'i football game one Saturday night in September 2004, Adleta and a friend went to Nashville Waikiki to take in some country music.
That's where she spotted the blue-eyed Biffle wearing an Oklahoma University baseball cap.
That should've deterred the Dallas native's attraction to him, since OU and Texas University are longtime rivals. But she overlooked that minor flaw and announced to her friend, "I want that one!"
Little did she know that Biffle had spotted her, too.
The two wound up talking and dancing that night — the details are hazy, Adleta admitted — with the evening ending at 4 a.m. at Denny's in Waikiki.
"We really connected that first night," said Adleta, 35, the head coach for the women's golf program at UH. "I don't know what it was about him. It was just everything."
After exchanging numbers, Biffle, a 31-year-old navigator on a U.S. Navy nuclear submarine stationed at Pearl Harbor, invited Adleta to a Labor Day barbecue at a friend's house at Barbers Point. She agreed to go and immediately called her hairdresser.
"I was telling (him) about this guy I had met that weekend who was in the Navy," Adleta said. "And he said to me, 'You're gonna marry this guy.' And I said, 'What are you talking about? It's only our first date!' "
Nervous, Adleta went to the party determined to play hard-to-get. But she overdid it and practically avoided him the whole night.
Biffle almost never called her again.
"I was feeling this energy, something drawing us together," Adleta said. "It made me really nervous."
The two planned another date, this time alone, at Dave & Buster's. It turned out to be the perfect date spot for the two competition-lovers.
She was upset after losing to him at Pop-A-Shot. And as she walked away, Biffle grabbed her hand and never let go.
"From that moment, I was hooked," Adleta said, smiling.
The relationship got really serious, really fast. By October they were inseparable.
"It was very fast and very furious," Adleta said, laughing.
The next month they spent the Thanksgiving holiday with her family in Dallas and his in Oklahoma. And though they had started talking about marriage, Adleta didn't expect — at all — his proposal on Dec. 14, 2004, just three months after meeting in Waikiki.
"I had told him before if he was going to ask me, he'd better mean it," Adleta said.
It was close to 10 p.m. and they were hanging out in her kitchen in Hawai'i Kai.
Biffle pulled out a ring box and opened it.
"Well, what's your answer?" he asked, holding up the ring.
"Well," replied Adleta, "what's your question?"
A few weeks later Biffle moved into her two-bedroom rental in Hawai'i Kai, and the couple began planning their wedding.
A year later, on Dec. 17, they were married at the Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, with a reception at the Belo Mansion and Pavilion. Biffle's 8-year-old son from his first marriage, Hunter, served as ring bearer.
More than 500 guests attended the Christmas-themed wedding.
"It was such a fairy-tale wedding," Adleta said.
A few months after their nuptials and honeymoon on Maui and the Big Island, Biffle was sent on a six-month deployment.
He won't return to Hawai'i and to his new bride until November.
"It's been hard," Adleta said. "It's nice to change the calendar."
Though they hope to stay in Hawai'i for a few more years, they both miss their families on the Mainland. But they can't decide on where to live.
"He's from a small town and I'm from a big city," Adleta said. "So he wants a ranch and I need to be 30 minutes from Neiman's."
Adleta can't believe her luck. She left an assistant coaching position as Arizona State University, where she was part of five national championship teams, to take a job in Hawai'i, far from her family and friends. She never expected to meet her husband here.
"We are truly blessed to have found each other," Adleta said. "He's the reason I'm here."
Reach Catherine E. Toth at email@example.com.