Chelsea Crowder stood several feet from a dart board hanging on the wall of a Sacramento bar in December 2017. She was on a first date with Emerson Luke, who was holding a glass in one hand and a dart in the ‘other.
“If I have a bull’s eye,” Mr. Luke, 33, told Ms. Crowder, 28, “you’ll have to let me come and visit you in New York, show me around a bit, then let me. take you. go out on a date. “
Ms Crowder, now vice president of JP Morgan in Los Angeles, agreed, prompting Mr Luke, the deputy chief of legal affairs and justice initiatives for Councilor Mark Ridley-Thomas in Los Angeles, to throw his dart.
“We had both been playing darts all night, and let me tell you, we weren’t playing very well,” Ms. Crowder said. “I mean, what were the odds?”
“You know what happened next, okay,” she continued laughing, “Bull’s-eye!”
“I think he hustled me out there at the end, like one of those scammers working on a pool table,” Ms. Crowder said of Mr. Luke’s modern Cupid’s arrow. “But I loved Emerson for so long that I really didn’t mind.
Ms. Crowder and Mr. Luke both grew up in Sacramento. She holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering and applied science from Columbia. He graduated from Tufts and received a master’s degree in divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, as well as a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.
They got to know each other in 2009 through Mr. Luke’s sister Evan Luke, a high school friend of Ms. Crowder’s, as well as Ms. Crowder’s mother, Phyllis Marshall, Mr. Luke’s mentor as he was an aspiring lawyer in the state of California. Capitol, where they once worked together.
“I think we’ve always loved each other but never acted on it,” Ms. Crowder said. “When I moved to New York in 2010, we started following each other on social media.”
Then one day in November 2017, Ms. Crowder sent Mr. Luke a direct message on Instagram: “Next time we’re in the same town, let’s go have a drink.”
A month later, they met in Sacramento. And in January 2018, Mr. Luke visited Ms. Crowder at her apartment in Harlem.
She took him to Chelsea Market, where they did a wine tasting, and then to The Cloisters. They also walked the High Line before heading to Ms. Crowder’s favorite Italian restaurant in Harlem.
“He was so fluid in every situation,” she said. “He was just funny, super laid back, very easy going and he loved good food just as much as I did.”
Mr. Luke felt much the same. “You can look at Chelsea’s professional profile and see how smart and accomplished she really is,” he said. “I thought she was going to try to be serious and super polite, but I learned that there was this other side of her. She was a little crazy and a lot of fun to hang out with.
A long distance relationship was soon underway. On Mr. Luke’s second trip to New York, he threw the “L-word” into her apartment, and she immediately returned the favor.
A year later, in January 2019, Ms. Crowder shortened the distance between them considerably, leaving New York City and moving into Mr. Luke’s bachelor apartment in Los Angeles. “I wanted to make our relationship work,” she said. “I knew this meant putting my life back on the West Coast.”
They got engaged in December 2019.
On April 3, they were married before Pastor Kim Evans, a Christian minister, and 12 guests at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel in Santa Monica, California. It was the third wedding location the couple chose after the coronavirus forced them to change plans, although they kept their original date.
Among the guests were the mother of the bride, Ms Marshall, her father, Charles Crowder, a retired real estate appraiser for the city of San Francisco, and the father of the groom, Robert Luke, a consultant in the consumer goods industry. The groom’s mother, Karen Luke, died of complications from breast cancer in 2005.
“I could be around Emerson all day and every day and never get tired of him,” Ms. Crowder said.