In April of 2010, when Marcellus Hall was strolling through the lobby of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, he overheard Lisa Nichols’s jovial laughter.
Mr. Hall, 53, a Bahamian sportscaster, was staying at the hotel in Kingston, Jamaica, while covering a regional track meet. “It sounded so light, like she was really enjoying herself,” he said.
A motivational speaker and author who has appeared as a relationship expert on shows like “Dr. Phil” and “Steve Harvey,” Ms. Nichols, 55, was also there for business. Her company, Motivating the Masses, based in Carlsbad, California, organises weeklong corporate training events.
Mr. Hall was intrigued by the stranger with the engaging chuckle, but he was too shy to approach him at first. As the elevator ascended to his floor, though, he had second thoughts.
The two had a wonderful mental exchange, he claimed. I wished, “Man, I wish I had had that chat for real.”
The two were still laughing as he turned around and approached Ms. Nichols and her assistant.
Casual conversation in the lobby led to a sit-down on the sofas there. At 9:45 p.m., the two began talking to one another. They stayed for another eleven hours. They discussed “anything but work,” as Mr. Hall phrased it.
Ms. Nichols had to catch a flight back to San Diego, so they said their goodbyes at 8:45 the following morning. Mr. Hall took her number and went. Ms. Nichols went away wondering why he needed it.
Ms. Nichols, who by that time had inspired millions with her story of overcoming poverty, discrimination, and being a single mother, was uninterested in following Mr. Hall because of her own concerns.
Ms. Nichols had a son, Jelani, when he was a teenager; he is now 27 years old. Her heart had been broken more than once in the past, but she hadn’t completely written off the idea of a romantic connection. She also noted that she was “100 pounds overweight” at the time.
Conversely, Mr. Hall appeared to be a model citizen. His career in broadcasting began after he graduated from Castleton University in Vermont in 1994, and he is now an anchor at Cable Bahamas in Nassau, in his native Bahamas. Furthermore, he had a history of bodybuilding.
She described him as “this towering, beautifully dark and attractive man,” and Ms. Nichols agreed. I weighed a total of 224 pounds.
She said, “The minute I left him, I began to tell myself, ‘He’s not real.'”
She went into a protective coma to ensure her own safety. Ms. Nichols made up a more likely scenario, despite Mr. Hall telling her he had a kid from a prior marriage that had ended in divorce in 2009 and was expecting a child from another relationship that had also terminated.
“He didn’t have two children,” she remembered reminding herself, “he had nine,” of which seven were unclaimed. “He was already married with a girlfriend and he wanted me to be his second girlfriend,” I said.
I just made it up,” Ms. Nichols admitted. It was a lie I told myself to justify getting rid of this man.
She returned to California and immediately began receiving texts from Mr. Hall.
On occasion, “I would try to make contact,” Mr. Hall disclosed. When he and Ms. Nichols had children, Brandon, now 17, and Marcia, then 11, he put his dating life on hold to focus on their upbringing. However, he claimed, “I realised she was somebody I wanted to be a part of my life.”
Ms. Nichols frequently disregarded him because she was so committed to the story she had created. But he kept at it anyhow. She estimated that once a month, he would just ask, “Hi, how you doing, how’s Jelani?”
Ms. Nichols reached her limit with one such message in July of 2018. She remarked, “Everything was going wonderfully in my life, except for one thing: I was sick of facilitating other people’s fulfilling romantic relationships while lacking one myself.”
She prayed as she was in the shower at home. I begged the Lord to send me a reliable man. To me, it makes no difference where he comes from or how much money he makes. To have a man who keeps his promise is all I ask. Later that same evening, a message from Mr. Hall popped up on her phone.
She immediately began reading their texts. It took her eight years, but she finally discovered that the same man had been saying hello to her virtually every month. What I mean is, he or she was consistent. She made a gamble around 3 a.m. on the West Coast, or 6 a.m. in the Bahamas.
Ms. Nichols answered, “I phoned Marcellus Hall.” It had been eight years since he’d last heard my voice. Contrarily, I decided to give him a call.
In the course of their early morning chat, she inquired as to his single status. To his credit, she took his word for it when he said he was. Afterward, she asked him if he wanted to go on a date with her.
“My teeth were chattering like a middle school girl,” she remarked of her shaking limbs. What’s more, she achieved the desired reaction.
Mr. Hall remembered telling her, “Yes, I would enjoy that very much.”
Ms. Nichols planned a weeklong motivational conference in October 2018 near his home in Nassau, Bahamas, in the event that they wanted to reconnect in person but sparks didn’t fly.
Ms. Nichols texted him a photo of herself before she came over, showing off her weight loss of 93 pounds in 2016. What she meant was, “I felt really glad that there was less of me to love,” and she seemed to take great pride in that.
Mr. Hall reflected on his response, which was something along the lines of, “That’s really good, I’m glad you had this personal journey where you dropped weight. But 220 was perfect for me.
Ms. Nichols described his reply as mind-blowing.
Upon her arrival in Nassau, the two quickly became inseparable. After years of knowing only that her profession entailed motivating people, as she’d defined it back in 2010, Mr. Hall found her legions of followers on Facebook. He noticed hundreds of comments on a fitness video that he’d helped her prepare for the conference she came to head.
I finally understood, “OK, she’s famous,” Mr. Hall said of his wife. However, this did not faze him at all. She was the kind of person I expected, he added. I never got the impression that she would have a complete change of heart.
After their journey to Nassau together, Ms. Nichols and Mr. Hall settled into a brief phase of long-distance dating, during which they would occasionally visit one another. She was ready to leave San Diego for the Bahamas once they met each other’s kids. In January of the year 2020, she finally made it here.
Eventually, Mr. Hall came to accept what he had already suspected: that he wanted to marry Ms. Nichols, and the house she had moved into in Nassau, where the two had been quarantined together at the start of the pandemic, became their permanent home.
He popped the question on a stroll along the beach the day after his birthday, September 2, 2020. I told him, “A man gets smarter for every year he lives,” he said. In other words, “I gave myself a present by proposing to her.”
Ms. Nichols had been telling herself that she probably wouldn’t get married for a long time. The social discourse was “that blaring, I got lost in it,” she claimed. But at that very second, I realised that I could set my own terms for becoming engaged. It may be 26 or 35 or 60 for you. When I turned 53, I turned mine.
Their wedding took place on March 11 at Casa al Mare, a rented mansion in Nassau, in front of 90 in-person guests and 500 more who watched via live stream.
The marriage was performed by the Rev. Delton Ellis, pastor of Mount Tabor Church in Nassau, and the Rev. Dr. Alex Ellis, a friend of the couple and pastor of Abundant Life Family Worship Church in New Brunswick, N.J., who holds a Ph.D. in ministry from New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
Ms. Nichols was adorned in a strapless burgundy gown with a sweetheart neckline and jewels. She contacted Bahamian designer David Rolle of House of Raphelita after seeing a photo of a similar outfit online and having him create it for her. “It made an impact on me,” she remarked.
James Nichols Jr., her brother, and her son led her to the oceanside altar. Mr. Hall, dressed conservatively in a beige suit, was waiting for her.
They exchanged written vows before the ceremony was officially declared over.
Ms. Nichols informed Mr. Hall, “You are the pinnacle of all my best choices and actions.”
To keep her from getting too far away while she soars, he promised, “I will be the string to your kite.”