Cupid’s Arrow in the Form of a Dart

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Emerson Luke bet Chelsea Crowder that he could hit a bull’s-eye on the dart board of a Sacramento bar. He won the bet and another date with her.

Credit...Jami Johnson/Fresh Frame Foto

Vincent M. Mallozzi

April 9, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

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 held a drink in one hand and a dart in the other.

“If I get a bull’s-eye,” Mr. Luke, 33, said to Ms. Crowder, 28, “you will have to let me come visit you in New York, show me around a bit, and then let me take you out on a date.”

Ms. Crowder, now a vice president at J.P. Morgan in Los Angeles, agreed, prompting Mr. Luke, the chief deputy of legal affairs and justice initiatives for Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas in Los Angeles, to toss 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, right,” she continued, laughing, “Bull’s-eye!”

“I think he hustled me there at the end, like one of those hustlers working a pool table,” Ms. Crowder said of Mr. Luke’s modern-day Cupid arrow. “But I liked Emerson for so long that I really didn’t mind.”

Ms. Crowder and Mr. Luke both grew up in Sacramento. She has a bachelor’s degree in engineering and applied science from Columbia. He graduated from Tufts and received a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, as well as a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles.

They became acquainted in 2009 through Mr. Luke’s sister, Evan Luke, a high school friend of Ms. Crowder, as well as Ms. Crowder’s mother, Phyllis Marshall, a mentor to Mr. Luke when he was an aspiring lawyer at the California State Capitol, where they once worked together.

“I think we’ve always sort of liked 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: “The next time we’re in the same city, let’s get a drink.”

A month later they met in Sacramento. And in January 2018, Mr. Luke visited Ms. Crowder at her apartment in Harlem.


Credit...Jami Johnson/Fresh Frame Foto

She took him to Chelsea Market, where they did some wine tasting, and then to the Cloisters. They also walked the High Line before going to Ms. Crowder’s favorite Italian restaurant, in Harlem.

“He was so fluid in every situation,” she said. “He was just funny, super-casual, very easy to get along with 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 really smart and accomplished she is,” he said. “I thought she was going to try and come off as serious and super-polished, but I learned that there was this other side of her. She was a bit 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 tossed out the “L-word,” in her apartment, and she immediately reciprocated.

A year later, in January 2019, Ms. Crowder significantly shortened the distance between them, leaving New York and moving into Mr. Luke’s Los Angeles bachelor pad. “I felt like I wanted to make our relationship work,” she said. “I knew that meant me moving my life back to the West Coast.”

They were engaged in December 2019.

On April 3, they were married before Pastor Kim Evans, a Christian minister, and 12 guests at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel in Santa Monica, Calif. This was the third wedding venue the couple chose after the coronavirus forced them to change plans, though they kept their original date.

Among the guests were the bride’s mother, Ms. Marshall, her father, Charles Crowder, a retired real estate appraiser for the City of San Francisco, and the groom’s father, Robert Luke, a consultant to the consumer goods industry. The groom’s mother, Karen Luke, died from complications of breast cancer in 2005.

“I could be around Emerson all day and every day, and never get tired of him,” Ms. Crowder said.

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