A pastor and a pole dancer get married. Quite the unexpected pairing, right?
However, for Dalijah, the Founder of Black Girls Pole and Co-Founder of SADA Wellness, and Willie, the Senior Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Pleasantville, New Jersey, their connection proved to be the perfect pairing and ultimately led to lifelong love!
The couple first met outside the First Corinthian Baptist Church (FCBC) in Harlem in December 2013. Dalijah shares, “Willie was the new associate pastor at my church and after hearing him preach, I walked up to him to introduce myself and welcome him to NYC.”
While Dalijah initially resisted Willie as a romantic interest (he was her Pastor, after all!) that initial introduction eventually led to their first date at one of Dalijah’s favorite food spots: Cafeteria.
From that day forward, they knew they had found something special.
After starting a family together and building a strong foundation vested in faith and love, Willie surprised Dalijah by proposing at the exact spot outside the church where they first met.
With love in his eyes, Willie said to her: “We have built a beautiful life with each other. You help me be my true authentic self and I can take off the mask. I want to ask you if you would please do life with me and Marry me!”
Dalijah said yes without hesitation! The pair wed on September 8th, 2023, at the Cloud 9 Yacht Charter in New York. Surrounded by friends and family, their favorite moments were… EVERYTHING! From their first look to exchanging vows and performing their choreographed first dance, it was a day they’ll never forget!
Read more of Dalijah and Willie’s love story below.
- Couple: Dalijah Amelia Franklin & Willie Dwayne Francois III
- Occupations: Dalijah is the Founder of Black Girls Pole and Co-Founder of SADA Wellness. Willie is the Senior Pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Pleasantville NJ, Associate Professor at New York Theological Seminary teaching liberation theology.
- Wedding date: Friday, September 8th, 2023
- Wedding location: Cloud 9 Yacht Charter (New York, NY)
- Bridesmaids and groomsmen gifts: I gave the bridesmaids Monogrammed Bags with robes, slippers, candles, and self-care products!
- Gifts for one another: The wedding!
- Ceremony entrance song: “I Do” by Rotimi
- First dance song: “Find Someone Like You” by Snoh Allegra and “Suit and Tie” by Justin Timberlake
How did you meet?
We met outside of First Corinthian Baptist Church (FCBC) in Harlem in December 2013.
Willie was the new associate pastor at my church and after hearing him preach, I walked up to him to introduce myself and welcome him to NYC. I told him my name but when I asked for his or what I should call him, he mumbled over his words and said “You can call me whatever you like” I laughed to myself and said, “Okay I will just call you Pastor Willie!”
A few days later a mutual friend of ours Lawrence Young mentioned to me that I should hang out with Willie to which I replied, “THE PASTOR?? No No, I can’t hang out with him!” After seeing each other over the next few weeks and having some harmless flirting, he asked me out on Super Bowl Sunday and we went out the following Wednesday to one of my favorite spots, Cafeteria.
The bridal party…
Tell us about the proposal:
Willie’s friend Marquis randomly came into town from Atlanta. We were driving to go to dinner that evening with Marquis in the car when Willie said, “Oh, we have to stop by FCBC so I can talk to Pastor Mike real quick.”
It was late and when we arrived, no one was there. Willie asked me to get out of the car to check and see if maybe Pastor Mike was there. I was FREEZING but I got out anyway.
I could tell he was acting a little weird and when Marquis jumped out of the back seat with his camera out, I knew something was up. Willie stopped me in the exact spot we met outside of FCBC 9 years ago and got down on one knee.
He said “It only seemed fitting to bring you back to the exact place where we first laid eyes on each other, where we shared so many memories, where we worshiped God together, where we dedicated our son in front of our family and friends. We have built a beautiful life with each other. You help me be my true authentic self and I can take off the mask. I want to ask you if you would please do life with me and Marry me!”
Describe your wedding attire and shopping experience.
Wedding dress shopping was a lot of fun. I brought my Mom, Aunt, best guy friend Jaron, and bridesmaid/business partner Sammy. We went to RK Bridals in NYC. I tried on 4 dresses before I found “theeee dress”. I tried on a few more after it but then came back to this dress. When my dress specialist said let’s try a veil with it and gave me a bouquet, I started crying. Everyone knew right then!
I had another appointment at Kleinfeld’s, but I was not excited about any dress that my dress specialist brought out. My friend finally said, “You are still thinking about the other dress?” I then showed the specialist a photo of me in the dress and she was so sweet and said “Girl why are you even here? This is the dress, go get that dress boo!” It was such a great moment.
I ran back to RK Bridal and my mom surprised me and paid the deposit. The dress is a Morilee by Madeline Gardner. It was a fit a flare fit with crystal beading and lace appliques cascading down from the plunging bodice to the sheer train. I wanted to feel beautiful and sexy in my bridal Bliss.
Did you incorporate any culture into your wedding?
We had a jumping-the-broom ceremony. I spent hours decorating the broom to match our black and white wedding and in the middle of the ceremony, the broom was nowhere to be found.
Instead of being upset, our Pastor said let’s make due and pulled out some of the long flowers from the floral arrangements and we jumped over those!
It was very special because they included our 3-year-old son to jump the broom with us.
Also during the reception, Willie’s Morehouse brothers all circled around me to sing the Morehouse Hymn a tradition done by Morehouse men to welcome the new bride into the family. He is also a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, so he and his brothers performed the Hymn of the Fraternity.
What is your best memory from your wedding?
EVERYTHING. From getting ready with my bridesmaids, to Willie and I’s first look with each other to hearing him say his vows to me. Performing our first dance together (which we choreographed in our living room while watching Netflix two days before the wedding!) was also so fun! I could relive the day a million times.
What is the best wedding advice you can give to engaged couples?
Do not sweat the small stuff. We literally jumped over a bunch of flowers because the broom was missing in action! No one is going to remember the flowers or if you had on a $100 dress or a $10,000 dress. They are coming to celebrate you and your love so slow down and take in every moment. Also…if you can, get a day of coordinator so you’re not stressing yourself out.
Looking for unique love stories seen in MunaLuchi Magazine Issue 30?