By Charreah Jackson
Welcome back to our weekly wedding feature, Bridal Bliss. Meet Bishop Joseph Walker and Stephaine Hale, MD, a preacher and medical doctor who got the love they prayed for. View photos from their dream wedding.
Bride: Stephaine Hale, MD, 33
Groom: Joseph W. Walker III, 41
Occupations: Stephaine, neonatologist and professor ; Joseph, Bishop
Homebase: Nashville, TN
Wedding Date: May 23, 2009
Wedding Location: Nashville, TN
Success is Nothing . . . Dr. Stephaine Michelle Hale was continuing to rise to the top of her field as a Neonatologist and Instructor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Boston two years ago. And like many successful Black women over 30, she spent many nights wondering where her special guy was hiding. Hundreds of miles away Joseph Walker, Pastor of the Mount Zion Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee, was also ready for love. After healing from his first wife's death from cancer three years before, he was extra careful when it came to dating as a single minister. "I know a lot of women wonder if men can do all the things you dream about, and the answer is yes," he says. "At the right time and the right place God will connect you. Have faith."
When Love Calls. And ladies, cupid can come in all clothing - including a preacher's collar, which Stephaine soon discovered. She thought 'No Way 'when her minister in Boston said he had a friend he wanted her to meet. The California native was even more taken aback when she discovered it was Joseph, whose church she attended while attending Vanderbilt. "I never met Joseph then, and would not have dated him if I had. That was divine order," she says. Though she was convinced there was no potential with the young preacher, after their first conversation on the phone she was hooked, relying on their daily chats to learn about him instead of Google. "I didn't want to know the Bishop, I needed to know Joseph - the person he is behind closed doors," she says. "This is the person I would be coming home to, not the image."
Answer to My Prayers. Stephaine and Joseph both realized right away they had found their match. "We are intellectual twins," he says. "She was doing fine by herself, and didn't need me to complete her. I'm here to complement." After three months of dating and meeting each other's parents, Joseph showered his special lady with 33 presents for her 33rd birthday - and a marriage proposal. Stephaine belted back "Absolutely" with a twang, and was certain he was her husband from the start. A month before meeting Joseph, she felt God dare her to write down what she wanted in a mate and to then believe it would happen. "As women, we sometimes say what we want, and don't believe it will come to past, thinking our expectations are too high. We have to put it out there and believe." Shortly after meeting Joseph, she stumbled back to her list and realized he fulfilled every one of her wants.
The Preacher's Wife. Joseph's congregation welcomed Stephaine with open arms, and were pleased to see their leader so happy. Even though a wedding is traditionally in the bride's hometown, Stephanie decided to have the wedding in Nashville instead of heading home to Los Angeles. "The church had been there for him during the passing of his wife and was so welcoming to me," she says. "I felt it was important they be a part of our day." The two lovebirds were married by minister John Borders III, who introduced them and enjoyed a lavish ceremony with their church family and loved ones.
Budget Bridal Bite. The Walkers remembered teamwork makes the dream work for their special day, and didn't turn down any offers of assistance. They tapped into the church's thousands of members, who happily volunteered for the rehearsal dinner and other duties. "We're very down to earth people," Joseph says. "I waited on God and he has taken care of everything else."
Would you like your wedding to be featured in Bridal Bliss on ESSENCE.com? Submit a 100-word synopsis of the nuptials along with ten pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org. Only weddings that have taken place in the last six months will be considered.