Music has always been an important part of this groom’s life. He even made it his career. And when he needed to have the most important discussion of his life, he did it with a song.
Bride: Chelsey Rush, 26, program coordinator – Kennedy Krieger Institute, native of Thomasville, North Carolina
Groom: Jonathan Rush, 26 assistant conductor – Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, native of Windsor, Connecticut
Current Residence: Baltimore, Maryland
Wedding Date: April 8, 2022
Venue/Location: High Point Country Club, High Point, North Carolina.
(Jonathan) We met about eight years ago in church. Our fathers are bishops in the United Holy Church of America, a national Pentecostal organization. We went to different churches, but they’re under an international branching organization with an annual meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina. All the different churches and districts come together there. Chelsey and I met and got to know one another through those meetings. We sang in the choir and were on the worship team together. We often hung out at youth events, but we were just good friends. After about six years, we realized we wanted to be more than friends. We were actually in love with each other.
(Chelsey) I guess I was the first to suggest that we move beyond the friend zone. At the time, I was seeing someone else but started to realize that I might be seeing the wrong person.
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(Jonathan) Our first date wasn’t a date, per se. I had feelings for Chelsea; she probably had feelings for me, but we hadn’t acknowledged it yet. It was late February 2020. I had to sing with a gospel group at an event in Sanford, North Carolina, and invited her to come. Throughout that event, when we were not singing or worshipping, we spent time together, conversing and laughing. We went out to grab a quick bite to eat after that. So, I guess technically, that would count as our first date.
I lived with my family in Connecticut, and Chelsey was in North Carolina. Because we were living in different cities, it took daily phone calls, FaceTime calls and text messaging to get to know each other. The more we talked and learned about each other’s walk with God, interests, and personal habits, the more we fell deeper and deeper in love. I knew in an instant. I was like, “This is the one I’m going to marry. I just know it is.” We kept talking, and on April 6, 2021, I decided to ask her to be my girlfriend, and she agreed. We’ve spent most of our time in a long-distance relationship, but it was a great time.
(Jonathan) I think one of the biggest things that let me know Chelsey was the one for me was the way that she loves me. She loves me in a way that I had never been loved before. What does that mean? She supported me in different ways. She made me want to be a better person. Just seeing her live and walk her walk in life, even inside of her Christianity, made me want to grow. It made me want to become a better man and just be my best self, the best person I could be. No one had ever made me feel that way before.
It was also because of who she was. I mean, she is gorgeous; she’s stunning. And she has such a great personality and sense of humor. She’s always joking around and smiling. She’s a sparkle of joy. That’s one of the things that I relate to and connect with, joy and happiness. I’m always said to be a happy person, and I think I’ve met my match or someone even more so. She is everything I’m not, so she fills every gap. She fits the puzzle piece and picks up where I left off. That’s how I knew I wanted to ask her to marry me.
(Chelsey) He accepted me just as I am — past, present and future aspirations. That was what did it for me. I never had someone care so much about me, as a person, about my spiritual journey, my mental health, and even how I view myself, from a physical aspect to my confidence and self-esteem. I appreciated that he was so graceful and gentle in loving me. That was a huge signifier for me because I’ve gone through many things and had many what-ifs in my life. I was sure that he was my husband.
(Jonathan) It took a long time for me to figure out when and how I would propose. Chelsea’s very observant type, so she would know what I was up to even while she was miles away. So, I had to be very strategic. I asked her sister and my cousin to help me figure out the best time and way to surprise her. We tried to find different events to plan it around but could never figure out when. We finally decided to plan it around Christmas Eve. Her family always gets together on Christmas Eve, so that seemed like the perfect time to propose. Even though I was certain she knew, she didn’t suspect anything.
I went down to North Carolina just before the holiday. My family typically stays in Connecticut for Christmas, but I got them to travel there too. Chelsey had to work during the day on Christmas Eve, but I had the ring, and everything just came together. I had set it up so that my family would show up as Christmas carolers when I got to her family’s home. Christmas carolers were the last thing Chelsey expected to see during the pandemic. When she opened the door, and my family came in singing, it caught her off guard, but I think she started to get the idea of what was getting ready to happen.
The first carol my family sang was ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas.’ Then they started to sing a version of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You.’ They sang, “I don’t want a lot for Christmas. There’s just one thing I need.” Then I sang, “So tonight I have one question. Chelsea, will you marry me” I had all her friends and other people on Zoom, so they all got to witness this beautiful and fun event. She said yes.
(Chelsey) I did not have a clue what he was planning. I do remember that he was on his phone a lot that day. That should have been the first clue, but I thought maybe he was extra busy. He didn’t seem nervous or anything. When I saw his family, I knew that this was that moment because there was no other reason for them to come this way. I was shocked. I didn’t know whether to cry, smile or scream.
(Chelsey) Overall, wedding planning was a very calm and easy process. It was a little hectic the closer we got to the wedding date as we made last-minute payments and things of that nature. We had decided to relocate to Baltimore, and it was tough planning a wedding while in another state. We had a wedding planner, and she did a lot of the work in North Carolina and ensured everything was set in stone and like it needed to be.
(Chelsey) We planned our wedding date for April 8, 2022, but we ended up getting married a little earlier. We were married on December 13, 2021, in Baltimore, at the justice of the peace. It was a small, intimate ceremony with our parents, marriage counselors, siblings and pastors. We are Christians and try to honor God in everything we do. When we moved to Maryland, we lived with family for a while. When we decided it was time to find our own space, we wanted to ensure that it would honor God and our covenant. We wanted to be married. Our formal wedding proceeded as planned on April 8, 2022.
(Jonathan) We had about 200 guests. There was so much going on that day; it was non-stop until after the ceremony. Our guests didn’t know that we were married, so it was a big shock to them when our officiant announced it at the ceremony. It felt different than what we did with the justice of the peace. It still felt magical, like we were walking into something new. It felt like our wedding day, and I still bawled my eyes out. We were both still nervous even though we were already married.
(Chelsey) We wrote our vows and took communion. Both of our fathers, who are pastors, prayed for us. Having them pray over us was a very special moment. The other memorable moment was walking in and seeing my husband.
(Jonathan) For me, seeing Chelsey walk down the aisle was my most memorable moment. I don’t remember anyone else that was there. It was like I had tunnel vision. I have never seen anyone that beautiful in my life. I was crying, but I remember seeing how gracefully she walked down; I still can’t get it out of my mind. It was just a fun time with friends and family.
(Jonathan) We both have a lot of things going on with work. We’re also now parents of a golden doodle puppy named Miko. Things tend to lighten up around mid-August, so we’re going to take our honeymoon then.
(Jonathan) The best advice I could give someone planning a wedding is to trust the process. We often think we must have everything under our control, or it will fall apart. We found that on the wedding day, everything falls into place. Not everything’s going to be perfect, but it’s not meant to be perfect. It’s still going to be one of the most beautiful days ever. Just trust the process and let things flow. Also, trust the people that you have around you. We were extremely intentional in selecting our wedding party. If you make the right decision with that, you will not have anything to worry about. Ours were absolutely phenomenal.
(Chelsey) Stay open-minded and be confident, whatever happens. Everything happens for a reason, and your day will be just as you intended for it to be, if not better.
Venue: High Point Country Club
Planning: Kristen Pinkney Events
Floral & Design: Designs by Devereux
Wedding Photography: Morgan Crutchfield Photography
Engagement Photographer: Kiara Harris Photography
Videography: AJ Elliott
Cake Designer: Sweet It Is – Charlotte
Rentals: Pomp Posh Event Rentals
MUA: Bella Beauty Bar
Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Paul Andre Boutique
Brides Attire: New York Bride & Groom
Bridesmaid Attire: Bella Bridesmaids- Charlotte
Officiants: Pastors Kendall & Quierra McDowell