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‘The Ring I Thought Was Too Big … I’m Like, ‘He Loves Me This Much?’’  



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 bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.


Live: East Thomas

Married: April 2, 2022

Met: February 2018, at Tanisha’s job at a credit union inside Princeton Hospital. Leslie was coming to cash his check and Tanisha was the bank teller.

“He had never actually come into the branch before [because] he always went to the ATM, but this particular day he came inside and I asked him why [he looked] so mean,” Tanisha recalled.

“I told her I wasn’t aware I was looking mean, I just came in here to my little change [cash his check], and she gave me a sermon saying ‘if you have anything in the bank that’s a blessing because some people come in here and don’t have any money to withdraw’… I was thrown off because I wasn’t used to dating professional women, and I couldn’t be sure she was flirting with me,” Leslie laughed. “Needless to say, I never went to the ATM anymore.”

“When he first asked me for my number, I gave him my business card and what really caught my heart was that he called and left three or four messages on my work voicemail,” Tanisha said.

Leslie continued to visit the branch to do his transactions and soon began bringing lunch and the two would sit in the hospital cafeteria and eat. “I was up there buying lunch every day for the next three or four months spending my workman’s comp check,” he laughed. “Everybody [all his friends] knew I was going to have lunch with bae at 12 o’clock…,” Leslie said.

Despite daily lunches, Tanisha wanted to take it slow. “I had been married twice, and at that time I wasn’t looking for anything, I was recovering from my second divorce and making sure I was providing for me and the girls [her daughters, Victory, then 17, and Serenity then 15] … [over the three-four months] we really built a friendship… I wasn’t sure if he was too good to be true. I [questioned] whether I was really healed. I had to go into prayer because I didn’t want to make another move and it wasn’t God’s move,” Tanisha said.  “Eventually we started texting…”

Leslie was also a divorcee, and after a total of eight months, countless lunch dates, and text conversations … they went on their first date.

First date: October 2018, Tanisha had gotten tickets from her job to a rock concert held at UAB. “That was different for me,” Leslie said. “[White people] party different than us,” he laughed.

“Watching him embrace a different atmosphere and different music was nice. I introduced him to my coworkers as the guy I was dating… [but we were not in a committed relationship] …,” Tanisha said.

The turn: October 2020, after a gradual courtship, Tanisha and Leslie became an official couple. “I wore her down,” Leslie said. “She got more comfortable after she realized I wasn’t going nowhere.”

“He found out things that I was doing and making his presence known in our lives and incorporated himself into things I was actively doing at that moment.,” Tanisha said. “He knew I really loved the Lord, I don’t go out, and at this time I was still raising the girls and doing their activities…. I started taking some ministry classes and started praise dancing and he showed up and brought me roses. He knew I spent a lot of time at church, and he joined my church… Our connection was strong,” Tanisha said.

“I was persistent and consistent,” Leslie said.

The proposal: Christmas 2020, at Tanisha’s sister-in-law’s home in East Lake.

“I had already talked to the pastor, her brothers, her sister-in-law, and I asked her daughters [for their blessing],” Leslie said.

“…we were sitting in the den having dinner and she was getting up to go do something and I got down on one knee, and when she looked around and saw me she burst into tears and I popped the question. All the phones came out and Tanisha stood there for a couple of minutes staring at me and I thought she was about to embarrass me,” he laughed. “…and then she said ‘yes.’”

“I was just in awe because all of my family that are close to my heart were there… I was wondering what was going on because we had never come together [as a whole family on Christmas night], and it was a major shock that he put [my family together] to surprise me. The ring, oh my gosh, I thought it was too big, I’m like ‘OMG, he loves me this much?’ I was elated, I said ‘yes,” said Tanisha.

The wedding: At their church Soul Harbor Deliverance Center in Ensley, in the pastor’s study, officiated by Pastor Billy Baker Sr. Their colors were black and cream.

“It was an intimate ceremony with just a few of our close friends and family,” Tanisha said.

Most memorable for the bride was “the wedding vows he wrote unto me. When he said that he would protect me, it was so beautiful to hear that he would be my protector for the rest of my life along with loving me,” Tanisha said.

Most memorable for the groom was “how beautiful Tanisha looked on our wedding day,” Leslie said. “I already knew she was beautiful, but to know that I would be able to partake in that beauty for the rest of my life was mind-blowing. She looked like the princess [Prince Akim was supposed to marry] in ‘Coming to America’ [the Eddie Murphy movie]” he joked.

They honeymooned at a Bed and Breakfast at Lake Guntersville, Ala.

“They made some homemade biscuits that put you in the mind of your mama,” Leslie said.

“The atmosphere was enchanting because they knew we had just gotten married…the suite was beautiful, the champagne, the roses, it was everything,” Tanisha.

Words of wisdom: “Communicate and listen. ‘Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right?’ If you wanna be happy, stop trying to be right all the time. We don’t hold grudges. [We both say] what we have to say and move on. We disagree without being disagreeable. We come from two different walks of life and we’re going to look at things differently, but the qualities that Tanisha brings to the relationship outweigh any little flaws that she has,” Leslie said.

“We went through relationship group counseling with Impact Counseling [in Birmingham], we had homework and everything… we also got a chance to listen to the other couples in there and hear how they handle disagreements. Then we went to our pastor to have his input and got that spiritual counseling. We had gotten to know each other really well and we knew it was time to get married… Always love, always listen, always laugh,” Tanisha said.

Happily ever after: The Kings attend Soul Harbor Deliverance Center, in Ensley, where they both serve in multiple capacities. They are a blended family with four daughters, Akeria, 23, Victory, 23, Uneek, 22, and Serenity, 19.

Tanisha, 50, is a Detroit, Michigan native, by way of North Birmingham. She’s a John Herbert Phillips High School grad, and Faulkner University [Birmingham campus], where she earned a bachelor of science degree in human resource management. Tanisha works for the federal government as a customer service rep.

Leslie, 47, is a Mobile, Ala. native, an S.S. Murphy High School grad [Mobile, Ala.], and works as a butter processor at Ventura Foods, in Birmingham.

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