BY JE’DON HOLLOWAY-TALLEY
Special to the Birmingham Times
“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Barnett Wright firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.
DANNIS AND TEMPESST JOHNSON
Married: Jan. 25, 2014
Met: In 1997 at Crumley Chapel Elementary School [Forestdale] in the third grade. The two weren’t in the same class but knew each other and played together at recess. “Tempesst dissed me in elementary school, she took my little letter asking her to be my girlfriend and tore it up in front of my face so I had to step my game up in high school,” Dannis laughed.
He got another chance in 11th grade while both were at Minor High School  in Adamsville. “We actually had an [English] class together that year … we were talking and flirting the whole semester, and then we had an assignment where we had to write a poem and [Dannis’s] was about me,” Tempesst reminisced, “and it was the sweetest poem I’d ever heard, that’s what got me.”
“I had to read it from my desk… I wasn’t shy, I had [Tempesst’s] name in the poem,” Dannis said. “I had to let it be known to everybody else to back up. We had already been talking, and we knew we was feeling each other so that was my way of solidifying it.”
From that day forward the two were a pair.
First date: In 2005, at the Rave Movie theater in Vestavia Hills to see The Ring II. “I’m not a horror film fan, and I didn’t really want to go see that,” Dannis said, “… And the whole time we’re in the movie I was hoping it wasn’t scary for real because I didn’t want her to see me being scared. And then all of a sudden this thing crept on the screen and we jumped and bumped heads,” he laughed. “But that broke the ice, it allowed me to put my arm around her and [be close].
The turn: In 2007 the couple separated during their freshmen years while in college [Tempesst was at Jacksonville State University, and Dannis at Miles College] but in 2009 reconnected, started hanging out again as friends and in 2012 realized they couldn’t be apart.
“I told her mom at 17 years old that I was going to marry her daughter… [in 2013] Tempesst got pregnant with our oldest daughter and we didn’t want to bring a child into the world out of wedlock; that’s when we knew we were going to be together and raise our family as a unit,” Dannis said.
The proposal: On Tempesst’s birthday, Oct. 14 in 2013, in Savannah, Georgia. “I knew she liked the beach and being outside, and Savannah is real pretty and we had talked about going there before and I had always kept that in the back of my mind,” Dannis said. “I wanted her to have a great memory to tell our daughters when they asked how dad proposed, I wanted them to see that it wasn’t about a crazy fairytale, but about loving that other person and having their best interest at heart and loving them unconditionally.”
Everything about that trip was a surprise for Tempesst, “I had no idea where we were going until we [were almost there], I just knew he was taking me out of town for my birthday. I woke up on my birthday with a ring in my face, and Dannis telling me how much he loved me and how much he wanted us to be together and that he wanted me to be his wife,” Tempesst said. “That moment was really special to me because like he said, we had been friends for so long, and now we were officially about to grow a family together.”
The wedding: At Cornerstone Word of Faith in Center Point, officiated by Dannis’s brother and pastor, Bishop Christopher D. Curry. Their colors were turquoise and blue. The Johnsons had a small wedding with only their parents, Dannis’s brother, and their camera guy.
Most memorable for the bride “was coming out and hearing [my father-in-law-to-be] singing ‘Here and Now’ by Luther Vandross that was the song that I’ve always dreamed of walking down the aisle to . . . [that] was significant because I never mentioned it [during the wedding planning]. And even though I knew us getting married was the right thing to do, and that I wanted to do it, it still felt like more confirmation from God, like He was smiling down on our union,” Tempesst recalled.
Most memorable for the groom was seeing Tempesst that [wedding] day for the first time and watching her walk down the aisle [as my dad sang to her]. “She didn’t know [my dad] was going to do that and listening to him sing to my wife as she came down the aisle was special because my dad really loves Tempesst.
The couple honeymooned in New Orleans, LA. “The food was so good, we ate at this hole in the wall and had the best alligator bites and crawfish I’ve ever had in my life,” Dannis said. “Our honeymoon was lit, we had fun on Bourbon Street,” Tempesst added.
Words of wisdom: “Apologize often. You definitely have to take a step outside of yourself a lot in marriage and not think about how your feel and want to react, but about how your spouse feels,” Tempesst said.
“For young Black couples, the most important thing is allowing your significant other to be who they are and loving them the way they want to be loved and not how you want to love them,” Dannis said. “Find out the things they need as an individual and focus on that, and not what you want from them. Be friends first because if you’re friends first, it’s easier for you to trust the person and have a better understanding of how that person works.”
Happily ever after: The Johnsons have two daughters, Ryleigh, 8, and Marley, 6.
Tempesst, 34, is a Forestdale native, Minor High School grad, and runs a home-based baking business, TJ’s Bakes.
Dannis, 33, is a Forestdale native, Minor School grad, and attended Miles College where he studied communications and played on the basketball team. Dannis runs his family-owned courier business in Birmingham, Ram Speedy Express LLC.