Mr. & Mrs. Radford
Updated: Feb 26
This week’s WeddingCrushWednesday couple goes to a couple I admire and respect so much. This week I feature my pastor and first lady, Mr. & Mrs. Radford. Jesse Radford III and Almeta Radford are such an awesome couple and every time I’m in their presence I feel nothing but genuine love for others as well as for each other. The two, head of The Upper Room Christian Cathedral in Manassas, Virginia, have been a living example to so many couples on how to love and cherish your spouse. Pastor Radford, a 2nd grade teacher, and First Lady, a public communications director for the school board, have two children and reside in the Northern Virginia Area. Almost married for 20 years in May, please take a moment to read how these two, destined by God, graduated, tied the knot, and moved all in one weekend.
How and when did you meet?
“We met in the summer of our junior year in 1990. There was a youth choir of about 8 or 10 churches. In the summer we had a youth revival and all of our churches were a part of it. You have between 150-200 voices of kids in a choir. That’s how we met I was leading a song and she thought I was cute.” –Pastor Radford.
“I did. We lived about 45 minutes from each other so when you start thinking of a district choir its spread out. It wasn’t like we lived in really close proximities of one another. We would gather at the different churches to have these rehearsals. I saw him and I thought he was really cute. I told him later that I used to go home and write about him in my diary. I would call him the boy with glasses because he had these round glasses like Dwayne Wayne. I thought he was really cute and had a nice voice, but I also did not think that I was some one that he would be attracted to or anything. It was kind of like a crush from a distance kind of thing.” –Almeta
“You don’t really know what your ‘type’ is in high school, but technically at that time she would not have been because I liked short yellow girls.” –Pastor Radford
“Yeah, he liked short yellow girls and I was tall and dark. I guess I changed his mind.” –Almeta
“I done came over to Celie and them side.” –Pastor Radford
How long did you all date before you got engaged?
“Oh wow. I have to tell you that when we met that summer we just corresponded by letters as friends over the course of the summer because he had a girl friend at the time. We never really set out to become boyfriend and girlfriend or anything like that. When I met him we really were just friends and kind of talking to him about how to sustain his own relationship. That was over the summer and around late September we kind of started feeling like his relationship was already over and in October of 1990 we officially became boyfriend and girlfriend. We ended up getting scholarships to the same college. I want to say it was our junior year that we got engaged and we didn’t want to get married until after we graduated. We dated a total of six years.” – Almeta
How did you propose?
“It was almost kind of like a scavenger hunt. She came down and spent Christmas Eve and Christmas with my grandparents and my family. It was Christmas morning and she had a couple of gifts and then she had one gift that had a note in it and it was basically telling her to go ‘here’. There was another note and she followed the notes and there was ring at the end of it and then I asked her if she would marry me. Everyone was looking out the window to see her expression because it was in the glove compartment of our car.
Did you have an idea that it was coming and did you cry?
Yeah I did cry. I was excited. I think I was just more surprised. It was something that we had talked about very often, but that kind of made it official. It was exciting and I cried. I didn’t have an idea that it would be that Christmas so I was totally surprised.” –Almeta
How did you know she was the one?
“I had this constant dream where I was an adult and I was coming in and I had two kids that greeted me at the door. I got down on their level to play with them and I see this person standing there in the doorway and she says ‘hello’ and I go up and see this person in a sundress. I never could see the face. No matter how hard I tried I could never see the face. I had this dream for years through two other people I was dating, but I never saw the face. I think it was my freshman year in college and I had the dream again and I saw her face.” –Pastor Radford
“…And it was dark-skinned.” –Almeta
“It was several years after I made the connection that she was the only person I ever dated that really wore an actual sundress. Wow… That dream kind of solidified it for me. That’s how I knew she was my rib.” –Pastor Radford
Wedding Date: May 12, 1996
Inside Ceremony at a church and inside reception with light refreshments
Wedding Colors/Scheme: Pink & Green
What was the inspiration behind your wedding colors?
“I’m an AKA so I wanted my bridesmaids to wear green. A lot of the decorations were shades of pink. The college that we went to was called Southern Arkansas University and it was in Magnolia, Arkansas. The magnolia flower was like everywhere so my dad actually went out and picked the magnolia blossoms and that’s what we used for my decorations. They were kind of hand-picked by him. Because of my AKA affiliation, we used a lot of ivy. One of the ladies from my church was a florist so she brought a lot of different flowers from her shop so that we could use those.” –Almeta
Approximate Expense: $2,500
What was the biggest help with planning the wedding?
“The lady from my church took a big role in helping with the wedding planning.” –Almeta
“We almost went to the justice of the peace if we didn’t have the help.” –Pastor Radford
“Yeah, we did because we were so tied up with everything going on. We graduated May 10th, had our rehearsal May 11th, had the wedding on May 12th, and then he told me that we were leaving to move to Virginia, so we were tied up in so much. Plus it was Mother’s Day. We actually got married on Mother’s Day. I really did not feel like I needed to worry myself too much about the intricate details of the wedding. I do remember my sister, she was my Matron of Honor at the time, calling me asking certain questions like what color did I want the forks to be and I was pretty much like, ‘I don’t care about none of that as long as myself, my new husband, and the preacher are there’ that was really all that mattered to me. Another person that really helped was my dad. My dad was a carpenter and all around renaissance guy so while I was away he was coordinating things at the church and making it work. A funny story about him was that he was into betting on horses and right before my wedding he hit big for about $36k and he of course had things that he needed to do, but he told me that he was going help pay for my wedding. He paid half for my bridesmaids dresses and certain things so he was a big help.” –Almeta
What was the most stressful part of planning?
“I think the most stressful was not being in the place where we were going to be married. Our college was like 90 miles away from home. I felt like I wasn’t connected entirely to the process because I felt like I was so far away. It was just challenging to get free to go look at things. It’s hard because most women want it to be like a fairy tale and what you see on TV, but in reality I couldn’t make it be that. It wasn’t really so much the financial piece, but it was just more about not knowing. People would ask me questions about things and I honestly just didn’t know.” –Almeta
“I remember reading an article and it was listing that some of the top 10 stressors and some of them were graduating, getting married, and moving. Those were in like the top 5 and we were doing 3 of them at the same time. We knew we were going to get married and we knew we were made for each other, but I think for me it was more about getting things prepared for her as my new wife. Coming up here to Virginia was not really guaranteed. I had a phone interview and that was the extent of it. I honestly think the most stress for me was thinking about the day after. My dad and I talked and I understood the responsibility of taking this woman from her father and family and it was just stressful to think about what happens next.” –Pastor Radford
“I think because I knew him very well at that point I think he really wanted me to be happy. I think that moment of uncertainty was stressful to him as a man because we didn’t have a honeymoon. Our honeymoon was literally driving to Virginia. I kept telling him that I didn’t care about a honeymoon or any of that stuff, but I think he still wanted me to feel like we did something. I was just happy to be with him, but I know his heart and I feel like he really just wanted to do more for me. I’m a simple girl when it comes to stuff like that.” –Almeta
What was your best/favorite memory from your wedding day?
“I think just having my family there. My mom and dad saw us grow up together. She was already like family and just to have them there with all my family was just good.” –Pastor Radford
“Besides saying ‘I do’ of course, I think the fondest memory was my dad. My father was just very even. He never smiled. We used to call him the black Bob Newhart because he had a dry sense of humor. To have him at my wedding and see him happy was nice. I was a daddy’s girls so seeing that be one of his happiest times was really nice to see. I actually never knew if my parents would live to see me married. My grandparents had all passed away by then and my parents were older when they had me. I always had that concern about them living to see me get married and have children. Also with my mom being there was nice. She had some mental illness, so to capture the fact that she was there to help me get dressed and stuff was a good memory.” –Almeta
What was your worst memory from your wedding day?
“For me, the officiant. He did not come to the rehearsal.” –Almeta
“I take that so serious and that dude was…” –Pastor Radford
“On the actual day he was basically looking at us like what’s next. That was a little challenging. My husband talks about it and there’s a picture captured of me and I kind of got that side eye look. It was a serious side eye like are you kidding me.” –Almeta
“I think that was about 65% of it for me. There was a friend of mine who was supposed to be an usher and he was acting crazy. I thought I was going to have to lay hands on him.” –Pastor Radford
If you could get married all over again, would you, and would you do it the same way?
"I would do it again and we’ve talked about that. We would like to do it again this year. It’ll be 20 years for us, but I think we’ll wait until 25 years. There are some things I would do differently because we would have more resources. On the same token I was pretty happy about the outcome of everything.”- Almeta
“Our resources would definitely change because we didn’t have any. I would like to do an outdoor wedding. I would try to have Anita Baker there.” –Pastor Radford
“I would do that for him. Our wedding invitation said that we were getting married at 4:03. It didn’t say why, but the reason was because he was giving Anita Baker three minutes to come claim him.” –Almeta
Are there any pictures that you wish your photographer would have captured, but didn’t?
“If I could have changed one thing it would have been the capturing of the photos in a little more professional way. We have the pictures now, but I would have loved to have something a little more elaborate because you can’t get those moments back. I don’t blame her because she did good, but I just wish she could have set up things differently.” –Pastor Radford
“Yeah, as much as we like photography that’s true. We honestly just didn’t have the time to focus on that. We were so focused on the fact that we were about to tell everyone that we were about to leave.” –Almeta
What would you say, in your opinion, is one of the biggest misconceptions in regards to getting married?
“I would say that often times people think that once they get married that all of their problems or challenges are going to just go away. I think so many have had previous bad relationship or have had children before they got married, so sometimes people are looking for a person to satisfy a void. I’ve heard people say I want someone that will be a good mother to my kid(s) or good father to my kid(s) or I didn’t have a good relationship with my mom or dad, so I want this person to come in and be that. I think people just overall have expectations that are not realistic. We put this large amount of pressure on the other person to be something or someone that they really can’t be for them and I think that puts a lot of strain on the relationship. On the flip side of that I think some people think that if they have been dating someone or living with them for a certain amount of time that nothing is going to change. In a lot of ways things do change.” –Almeta
“My answer runs very close with my wife. I think expectations that may not always be founded in reality. I know a lot single people, particularly our young ladies that are looking for someone with no previous life. Saying ‘I don’t want someone that already has kids’ is not realistic because that’s not always going to be the case especially at a certain age. If that right there is the criteria then it may lead you somewhere that you don’t necessarily want to be. I think it’s just about having real expectations and thinking that everything is going to change. While it is a wonderful experience, marriage is work. It is the institution that is established and ordained by God. You need him and the anointing that he has placed on your life to deal with the spouse that you have been given.” –Pastor Radford
What would be the best advice you would give to a couple planning their wedding and also for them to remember while they start their new marriage?
“I’m not sure if this fits into planning, but I’m a strong proponent of counseling and knowing what you are getting into. You love each other, but I use this example: The same way that you have to study to get a driver’s license you have to get a marriage license, so there needs to be some type of preparation for that as well.” –Pastor Radford
“We have the privilege of counseling people a lot with premarital counseling and offering advice. One of the things that I think is so important is that they stay focused on relationships and building a life together. I think now there are some expectations and things that have come up from reality TV so these people get additional ideas. Student loan debt and all that is already enough and then to put themselves into even more debt for a single wedding day; I just can’t justify that. I do believe it can be nice and people should do what’s in their heart, but within reason.” -Almeta
“Know that the girl or boy that you fell in love with is still there. You have to keep looking for them. We let life, bills, work, school, and all these external things kind of bury that person. Yes being my wife’s husband is the greatest honor, but I was her boyfriend first. You have to keep that aspect in your relationship. Sometimes she will go to give me a peck on the cheek and I say no kiss me like my girlfriend. For me it literally transforms me back to our dating days. She used to wear a lot of baseball caps and now when she puts on a cap I say ‘there goes my girlfriend’. You have to just rediscover that person that you first fell in love with. That would be my number one piece of advice. Another one would be how you do on the job with continuing education. The market is constantly changing so you have to keep up and adjust. As both of you guys grow together, believe it or not, you’re changing. We always say in counseling that the person that you fall in love with is not necessarily the person that you end up marrying basically meaning that we are always changing. You have to upgrade the software and continue your education. Keep learning each other. If you don’t keep learning each other then you become rigid.” –Pastor Radford.
“Certainly both of us can agree that the key factor is Christ. I know that there are a lot people that are leery because they say that the statistics for divorce is as high in Christian based relationships as they are in non-faith-based relationships. I feel like you have more of a fighting chance when you have Christ. In church the pastor plans to talk about agape love in his next sermon; which is the love that seeks the person’s highest good. I feel like if both people in a marriage are seeking each other’s highest good then there should be success in their relationship. If I want what’s best for my husband and he wants what’s best for me and we have Christ in the center then we can’t lose. There should be no option for divorce.” -Almeta
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this week’s #WCW and I hope that you tune in every Wednesday for new couples, stories, advice, tips, and guidance. Also, if you or someone that you know is interested in being featured as a future WeddingCrushWednesday couple, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org