In 2020, entertainment publicist Christal Jordan did something many people don’t have the guts to do: she appeared on national television to have her love life “fixed” by the one and only Iyanla Vanzant.
In the episode “Taking Care of Business, Losing in Love” from the final season of Iyanla: Fix My Life, she appeared alongside her friend, radio personality Shyneka Richardson, and fellow media figures DJ Traci Steele and radio host Erin Rae as they attempted to figure out why they were excelling professionally but striking out in their personal lives. Christal, who’d been married before and has two children, had been single for 12 years before doing the show.
“Going on Iyanla Fix my Life was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done,” she tells ESSENCE. “After going through yet another disappointing attempt at a relationship, one of my sister friends asked me if I would be willing to go on the show with her. We candidly talked about our relationships and she was honest with me: ‘Girl we need help! It’s probably us.’”
Never one to shy away from self-improvement, Christal set aside her fear and took the leap. She was surprised by what she learned about herself with Vanzant’s help.
“I learned that I’d used work to hide my personal insecurities and hurt. I’d built walls too high for anyone to jump over and too thick for me to break through,” she says. “She helped me see that although that defense served its purpose and helped me get over heartbreak and childhood trauma, it was no longer needed.”
It wasn’t an easy transition to make, to start breaking down her walls and stop hiding behind her workload to completely put herself out there. But when Christal did, with more of an open mind than ever before, she had greater luck than she thought she would. Taking part in a Facebook group for singles put together by a friend, she met Adrian Jennings, a retired military veteran and truck company owner and fellow divorcée and parent. The first time they connected off of the social media site, they FaceTimed for two hours. When he asked her out on their first date, he had done his research and asked the right questions beforehand, finding out she was a horse lover. They went horseback riding.
“We went riding that first date and have been inseparable since,” she says.
Realizing how attentive and caring he was, she soon realized she’d found someone special. She didn’t have to put her walls up to protect herself, and Adrian allowed her to be her career driven self while also lovingly helping her be a better version of herself.
“Other men I dated would always try to change me or complain about my work schedule and/or ambition. Adrian celebrated my strengths but was patient with my weaknesses,” she says. “His patience allowed me to let my walls down naturally and his consistency allowed me to feel safe enough to fall in love with him completely.”
Christal’s presence had the same effect on Adrian. They made each other better.
“Not only did she make me a better person she encouraged me to be a better man,” he says of knowing she was the one for him. “She has made my life and my heart to have a smile on it every day.”
Their love story would quickly culminate in a proposal in Puerto Rico (more on that later) and a wedding in Atlanta in front of family and friends on October 4, 2021. Christal, who was so down on her luck in love not too long ago, was finally receiving the happily ever after she deserved — professionally and personally.
“If you want love, you can have it,” she says, “but you may have to do some work on you to be ready to receive it.”
See the joy of their big day and learn more about the journey of the Jennings below.
Makeup artist: Jessica Ammons of Glam Boss
Photographer: Aaron Frank
Photo Experience: Jay Productions Agency
Bridal Hair: Pennae Akpuru
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The Bride’s Tribe
Christal had nine bridesmaids present, including her maid of honor, her daughter, Chanelle. Her son, Stone, walked her down the aisle.
The Groom and His Men
The groom and his groomsmen passed on the usual dark tuxedo look for suits in chic, neutral shades.
“My advice is stop listening to anyone around you. In fact you may have to stop listening to you!” she says. “I taught myself a narrative that suggested I wouldn’t find love for the second time and that my value and worth were directly connected to my ability to be successful in my career. For me, throwing myself into motherhood and work felt rewarding but left me very imbalanced.”
After a month of planning, Adrian decided to pop the question during a trip he and Christal were taking to Puerto Rico with friends. He planned to send off sky lanterns one night as the sun set, and would follow that up by asking for her hand. But things didn’t go as planned because she wanted to go back to their room to take a nap.
“I was able to convince her friends to help me and eventually, we got her back downstairs,” he says. “After we got her to participate, we all gathered in a group to get the lanterns ready for lift off. There was a small wall that we were standing on to let the lanterns go. As each of us let go of the lanterns, we said what we were grateful for. When Christal let hers go, I acted like I was preparing to do the same right after. When she turned around from the small wall, I was on one knee asking her to be my forever and she accepted. When she turned around it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. She truly melts my heart every time she smiles.”
Self-Work Leads to Success
“Instead of focusing on what others aren’t doing right, focus on healing and being open,” she says of what she learned from her experience on ‘Fix My Life.’ “I believe that energy attracts like-minded individuals. Never give up on love. Allow yourself to be so vulnerable that you believe in the possibility. Then and only then will love show up.”
Second Time Around
“This second time around it was all about happiness and a bright love that I hope would encourage others to know it’s possible for them,” Christal says of she and Adrian saying “I do” after both previously being married. “Our scripture was 1 Corinthians 13:13. ‘And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’”
The Moments the Bride Will Never Forget
“The most memorable moments for me were the moments with our family,” she says. “My son and daughter both spoke to my husband from their hearts and two of my husband’s daughters spoke to me from their heart. It was beautiful seeing our families celebrate our love and start the blending process.”
The Groom’s Favorite Moments
“For me, knowing that the woman that I’ve always needed in my life was finally walking down the aisle to become my wife was humbling,” Adrian says. “One thing that I will never forget is that we said our own vows instead of the traditional vows. We said things to each other from the heart. Knowing that our words came from our own feelings and heart will always be the most memorable moment for me.”
The Significance of Sunflowers
The cake was just one of many things adorned with sunflowers on the big day.
“Instead of rose petals, the flower girls threw sunflower blossoms so I would walk on sunshine down the aisle to my groom,” Christal says. “Also, sunflowers represent happiness, optimism, honesty, longevity, peace, admiration, and devotion. With their round face and bright yellow petals that resemble rays of sunshine, the sunflower has important cultural and spiritual significance to people around the world.”
Christal and Adrian said “I do” and celebrated their big day at The Piedmont Room & Piedmont Garden Tent in Atlanta.
Christal and her son Stone shared a sweet moment on the dance floor in place of the traditional father-daughter dance.
The Groom’s Girls
Adrian is pictured with his two beautiful daughters during the reception.
If you were wondering what became of Shyneka, she too found love.
“My girlfriend radio personality Ms Shyneka was at the wedding with her new ‘forever love,’” Christal says. “She was initially supposed to be a bridesmaid but her dress didn’t come in time.”
Two-Stepping into the Forever
Could they look more in love?