Featured in MunaLuchi Bridal Magazine, Issue No. 26, Danielle Brooks shares her love story, details from her “Chocolate Love” themed wedding, and more in this exclusive interview.
We love Danielle Brooks! From her role as Tasha “Taystee” Jefferson on the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black, to her riveting portrayal of Mahalia Jackson in Lifetime’s Robin Roberts Presents: Mahalia, she is transcendent in every character she embodies. In celebration of her taking on a new role as a fiancé, Danielle and her long-time love, Dennis Gelin, had a sexy engagement session in Miami, Florida, and most recently, on January 8th, 2022, she officially upgraded to the role of “wifey” and said “I do” in Miami!
Danielle shared with me she wanted her and Dennis’s wedding to reflect black excellence and ooze chocolate love. Danielle made a post on IG when she dropped her iconic engagement photos and her caption read: “Richer than Godiva, sweeter than the sugar cane of Haiti, hotter than the Carolina sun. Our love is pure and honest …..” And that’s when the light bulb went off for me and I knew the EXACT direction to bring this love story to life. I wanted guests to feel like they were dining inside a box of Godiva chocolates. And working with the Birch team, I truly believe we knocked it out of the park.”
– Darryl Moore of D’Concierge Weddings
To celebrate their nuptials, we are looking back at Danielle’s interview with Angela Washington for Issue No. 26, where they discussed everything love, weddings, and career. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Danielle and her hubby, Dennis!
Keep reading below for the full interview.
- Couple: Danielle Brooks & Dennis Gelin
- Location of Wedding: Miami, Florida
- Wedding Date: January 8, 2022
- Photographer for Wedding: Reem Photography
- Wedding hashtag: #dndeverafter
- Bride & Groom entrance songs: “A Thousand Years” and “We Will Never Break” performed by Jeremy Pope and Amber Iman
- Flower Girl: the couple’s two-year-old daughter, Baby Freeya
- Cultural elements: Jumping the Broom & Wax Ceiling Ceremony in which they ceiled love letters to each other and will open on their 1 year marriage anniversary.
- Reception theme: “Chocolate Love”
- Reception entrance song: “Win” by J Rock
So how did you and Dennis meet? We all love a great love story.
Dennis and I met at my home randomly. We met at my house because I threw a game night, which I loved to do at the time. And I told my friend, who was my trainer at the time who was also single, I said, “Hey, you work at the gym. You have to meet single guys. There’s got to be some eligible bachelors that are attractive. Let’s put something together.” And so he did, and Dennis came as a friend of a friend and he was the last one there. Very Haitian style, came late, probably two hours late. And so me and my guests, we made a joke. We said, “Whoever comes next, we’re going to grill them, look at them. You know, grill them.” We’re going to look at them like, “why are you late?”
And so I opened the door and we all grilled the next person and nobody knew him but the friend that invited him and he was looking like, “what’s going on?” And I was looking like, “this is awkward”. So I scratched the whole grill session. And I did just immediately give him a huge smile and welcomed him in. And wasn’t even really thinking about the potential of dating him until later that night.
So it was probably getting close to midnight and people were starting to leave. And we had a lot of men in the room, but what caught my eye was that Dennis was a gentleman and not just a man. And he asked, “Do you mind if I take out your trash?” And I was like, “What’s your name? Are you single? Do you have kids? Do you have a job?” I literally asked him all three of those, well, four of those questions and he checked correctly on all of the boxes for me.
And I slid him my phone, and he ended up butt-dialing me that night. He says he butt-dialed me on accident. And I’m glad it was an accident, even though I don’t feel to this day a hundred percent believe it was an accident. But we ended up talking for two hours and yeah, I just knew.
But what solidified it for me was the next day. And mind you, I’ve only known this guy for less than 12 hours and he sent me a bouquet of flowers the next day and left a card that said “it was really lovely to meet you. I hope to see you again.” I remember when the guy came to my door to deliver the flowers, I remember saying to myself, “If this card says from Dennis, I know this is my husband.”
And it did. I just got butterflies all from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. I was like, “oh my gosh, this is happening”. In just a short amount of time, I think he was able to show me how he was going to treat me in those few encounters. He was showing me the man that he was. So yeah, that’s how we met.
And was the first date as magical?
Yeah. We went to this restaurant in New York called Beautiful Love, I don’t know if it’s still around, but I think it’s in Midtown. I remember I said, “just don’t be late. I’m a Virgo. So don’t be late.” And he was not late at all. I remember me coming down in this beige bodycon dress. And him being like, whoa.
His face was like, “oh, snap”. And I came down, he was on time. I remember his car smelled good. His car was clean. He was clean. He smelled good. The real kicker, it wasn’t a test per se, but I was interested in how he would take it, I asked him, “Can we pray over this meal?”
And we did. That just showed me, too, what type of man he was going to be and is still to this day. And that’s something that we’ve kept in our relationship is we pray over every meal. For me, that was important because it first showed me, are you connected to God at all? And second of all, it showed me that you are going to be willing to pray over our family if you can pray over this meal. It is important to us, integrating prayer into our relationship because I wanted to make sure that the foundation was solid, you know?
And I think it does manifest in little ways. I think that’s what we tend to ignore sometimes, are those … we talk about red flags or signs of why something didn’t work. But I think sometimes we have to also pay attention to the little signs, too, of why things will work and why things can work. And for me, that was a part of building a foundation of spirituality between us two.
So it wasn’t one thing that let you know that he was the one, that was a number of things? Or was there a moment where you’re just like, “okay, this is it.”
It was a number of things. It was the flowers, it was the prayer, it was opening doors and the two-hour conversations. Just listening to the things that I wanted as far as just being on time. It definitely was his character.
How did he propose, then? I think we saw something on Instagram. Was it during a dinner that you all were having?
It was the day before … it was my parents were having their 35th wedding anniversary and a renewal ceremony. All of the family was there having dinner at the rehearsal dinner for the renewal. I remember being in the church hall, the church fellowship hall, where we were dining. I remember being in that space and cooking fish, trying to help Mama. And he just kept standing around. I’m like, “why do you keep standing around?” Like nervous energy is going on. Like, “You need something to do?” I was trying to find something from him to do so that we could get this going.
And there was a moment after we had eaten that my parents wanted to acknowledge the elders in our family. So they had gifts for everybody. They had a gift for my aunt, my great aunt, and a few cousins and stuff. And I remember all of the bags looked the same color. They were all green. Right. And then there was one bag that was multicolored. And I remember seeing it in the house.
I didn’t think too much of it. I was holding my daughter who was two months at the time while my parents were giving these speeches. And my dad says, “You know what? We want to also thank Danielle and Dennis, they’ve been a big part of this and been very helpful. And we’re going to ask Denis to come up at this time.” Then my mom tries to take my daughter out of my hands.
I’m like, “what is she doing? I got her, she fine.” She’s like, “no, give me the baby.” And all of a sudden he is on one knee and I’m like, “what is going on?” I remember just really being quiet to take this moment and listen to what he had to say, of why he was proposing and why he was on one knee. And I remember specifically just me being silent because my friend had just gotten proposed to a few months before, and all she did was scream the whole time. She screamed the entire time. You can’t hear anything he’s saying. I’m just thinking, “if this ever happens to me I’m not going to say anything. I’m just going to say ‘yes’ when it’s time to say ‘yes’.”
So that’s what I did. He said, “will you marry me?” And I said, “yes I will”. And I remember crying and saying, “but my nails aren’t done, my nails aren’t done”. So upset my nails weren’t done. But yeah. That’s how he proposed. The long version.
Oh, that’s beautiful. And congratulations to your parents on 35 years of marriage. That’s amazing. That’s a blessing. So how has wedding planning been so far? What are you looking forward to for your wedding day? I know two of your vendors, at least. The concierge, Darrell is amazing. And then Reem Photography of course is just the bomb.
I’m really grateful. I found Darrell through Ashley Blaine. She’s a good friend of mine and she recommended him. She first posted him on her Instagram. And I was looking at all of these vendors and these wedding planners, because you don’t know. And so Darrell, he had a beautiful spirit. Looked at his page. It seemed like this could be a good collaboration.
And it has thus far for sure. I’ve really enjoyed working with him. I think he’s made the process much easier. I still don’t enjoy the process, which is why I’m glad it’s going to only happen one time in my life because it’s a lot to do and a lot to think of. And like I mentioned, I’m a Virgo. So we are … it’s true. The label, for me. I am very much a perfectionist and especially for my wedding, so …Darryl is good at helping me with that.
And Reem you know, as you’ve seen with the engagement pictures, they have been nothing but very lovely to work with. They really were able to see the vision that Denis and I wanted to capture for our love story. And they made the process really easy as well. I’d totally work with them again for sure.
My goal is always been to support black artists, black creatives, and remind people who … not remind, but allow somewhat of a blueprint for other couples to know you can use your people, you know what I mean? Like we got to be professional and we know … we have the skillset just as anybody else would, if not greater. So to me, it’s been very important to find as many people of color and women to be a part of this celebration. It’s been really wonderful finding all of these vendors, which Darrell can give you a quite few more names of people that we’ve used when it comes to invitations and the whole nine yards. That’s been really great.
Are you doing it big for your wedding? It’s a Haitian wedding, so are we going big? Are you going to invite everybody you know?
It will be full of family, which in turn makes it a big wedding in some capacity because Haitians roll deep, but we’re trying to keep the number under 200, is what we’re trying to do.
And is your daughter excited?
No. She doesn’t understand anything yet. I do look forward to seeing her in the flower girl dress. I think she does get really excited about twirling in that, but … it’s really cute though when mommy and daddy kiss and her seeing that thing that we have between each other. You can see the sparkle in her, and it’s so rewarding. She wants to hold both of our hands, so it’s just a beautiful thing that happens when your child gets to see what love can look like. And hopefully, she’ll have that too when she comes of age.
So what is your favorite thing to do as a couple or as a family?
Probably just spend time together. Because we’ve both worked so much and a lot of my work does not leave me at home. Like I have to travel for work a lot.
So just getting to spend time together, whether that’s going to the grocery store or watching Carmen’s World together, watching Vivo with Freeya, just us being with one another, I think, is the thing that we love the most because my career has … one of the sacrifices of what I do is being away from family. So that’s important.
And what do you have next that we can look forward to? I know I mentioned The Peacemaker coming to HBO Max, but what are you excited for … that you can share with us?
Yeah, so many exciting things happening, but can’t really talk about them. I am hosting a renovation show for Netflix. I believe that’s safe to say. And I am doing Peacemaker, you mentioned, and voiceover work, but there are a few other things that will happen or be announced by January. That will be very exciting.
Okay. Any music? We want to see some music.
I’m going to try to have music in it, but I don’t know if I can do another album again. But it’ll have music in it. Yeah.
We’ll settle for that. As long as we get some. Well, thank you so much.
*This interview was originally conducted by Angela Washington in the Fall of 2021 and was featured in MunaLuchi Bridal Magazine, Issue No. 26. It has been lightly edited.
Looking for more fall wedding inspiration like Danielle Brooks’s wedding?
- Creative Director/Planning: Darryl Moore of D’Concierge Weddings
- Florals & Event Decor: Birch Event Design
- Photographer: REEM PHOTOGRAPHY
- Lighting/Sound: LG Entertainment
- Videography: Tyson & Lenox Media
- First Look Gown/Jumpsuit: Christian Siriano
- Wedding Ceremony Gown: Alonuko
- Stylist: Kelly Augustine
- Earrings: Chanel
- Shoes: Nina
- Groom Tuxedo: Garcon Couture
- Groomsmen Suits: Garcon Couture
- Bridesmaids: Pantora Bridal
- Venue: Alfred DuPont Building
- Officiant: Danielle’s hometown pastor, Pastor Baldwin
- Musician: Perry Richard (Saxophonist)
- Musician: Byron Johnson
- DJ: DJ F.A.M.E
- Hand sanitizers: Michael Makes Scents
- Catering: CJ’s Masterpiece
- Invitations/Stationery: Oda Creative
- Makeup Artist: Michael Patterson
- Hair: Tish Celestine
- Wedding Cake: Seven-layer vanilla and red velvet cake by Deja Vu Sweets
- Bar: Thierry Isambert
- Favor: Custom Boxes of Godvia Chocolate
- Ceremony Brooms: Bridesnbrooms & Jumpin Brooms