After a Marathon First Date, a Warp-Speed Romance

Kimberly Chexnayder, the N.F.L. host known as Kimmi Chex, had recently moved from New York to Los Angeles when her best friend Mario Williams texted her in May 2020 to say he had just encountered her future husband.

She wasn’t in the market for a relationship. “It was early in the pandemic and I was happy being unshowered in my pajamas in my new apartment, getting my bearings,” she said.

But when she looked up Jason White, the man Mr. Williams wanted her to meet, on LinkedIn, she had to admit: Mr. Williams’s description of Mr. White as smart and sexy had been spot on.

Mr. White, 45, had met Mr. Williams during “Monday Night Mentorship,” a free online program that Mr. White and several other mostly Black and brown executives put together at the start of Covid.

“We figured we were all sitting at home, so let’s at least mentor people,” said Mr. White, then the head of marketing at the cannabis company Curaleaf and now the chief marketing officer at MTV Entertainment. From Hartford, Conn., he graduated from Georgetown with the goal of becoming an advertising executive.

A graduate of the University of Iowa, Ms. Chexnayder, 25, grew up in Kansas City, Mo. She admired Mr. White’s altruism as much as his profile on LinkedIn, where she eventually requested to connect with him. He accepted, then she followed him on Instagram and asked if she could meet with him to talk careers. By late May, she had arranged a Zoom meeting with him through his assistant. Then, at Ms. Chexnayder’s suggestion, Mr. White postponed it.

On May 25, George Floyd had been murdered. “I know I was feeling the heaviness of it, and I couldn’t imagine the burden of stress he was feeling,” she said. He appreciated her giving him an out. “It was so selfless of her,” he said.

Credit…Callaway Gable
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Their rescheduled video meetup on June 7, 2020, left Mr. White feeling conflicted. Afterward, he recalled telling a mentee, “I just met this incredible woman, but she’s too young for me.” But a weeklong flurry of texts and phone calls with Ms. Chexnayder convinced him otherwise.

“As corny as it sounds, when I was talking to Jason I felt like I had known him my entire life,” she said. He felt it, too. “At one point he said he felt like he had already been in my presence. I didn’t want to be overly forward, but I confidently said, ‘Well, why don’t I be in your presence?’”

Their first date, on June 14, 2020, was dinner at his house in L.A. It lasted six hours and ended with a kiss. Within a week, they had said “I love you.” By the end of June, Ms. Chexnayder had packed up her new apartment and moved into Mr. White’s house. Each was getting good at confronting raised eyebrows about their age difference and the warp speed of their love affair.

“We recognized it wasn’t commonplace, and we talked about it,” Mr. White said. “Then people started telling us that when you see us together, you get it. It makes sense.”

On July 18, 2020, just a few short weeks after they had been living together, Mr. White proposed on the floor of his bedroom while putting together a night stand for Ms. Chexnayder’s side of the bed. “I said, ‘This life is only going to be perfect if you’re in it with me,’” said Mr. White. Her yes, like everything in their relationship, came fast. But their wedding at Calamigos Ranch in Malibu, Calif., took more than a year to plan.

On Dec. 31, 2021, Ms. Chexnayder and Mr. White were married by their friend Teron Beal, a songwriter and photographer ordained by the Universal Life Church for the occasion, in front of 130 vaccinated guests. When they said they missed the 20 guests who canceled at the last minute because of Omicron, they meant it.

“We got the best piece of advice from our wedding planner, Slomique Hawrylo, which was, don’t feel obligated to invite anybody,” Ms. Chexnayder said. “Just invite the people you want to bring into your marriage. That helped us to be really intentional about who was there. And it became the most magical evening.”

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