Chelsea Chatman wasn’t looking for love when it found her. After moving to Atlanta from small-town Opelika, Alabama, in 2013, the 23-year-old accountant was busy adjusting to life in a new city. This meant meeting new people, finding a new church and exploring the well-populated town a little more. The following year, Chelsea joined Mount Paran Church and was invited to volunteer at SafeHouse Outreach with the church’s Young Professionals group. Eager to engage with fresh faces and to help the less fortunate, she said yes to the invitation and met up with the other churchgoers.
Enter Wendell Smith. As a SafeHouse leader, his job is to welcome the newcomers. “I’m an introvert. I didn’t go out much before Mount Paran,” Chelsea shares. “I stayed inside my four walls because it was a safe place. But Wendell helped me with that by inviting me out to different events to get me out of that shell.” Indeed, Wendell gave Chelsea the lowdown on the evening, and from there, a lasting friendship formed. Their first meetup was at Piedmont Park.
Though they continued to get to know each other more, something happened. “He just stopped communicating with me,” says Chelsea. “Wendell ghosted me!” Chelsea chose to focus her time and efforts on studying for the CPA exam. And Wendell, well, he spent this time trying to figure out what he truly wanted.
“During that time, I had an opportunity to grow and learn what I wanted and what I did not want,” Wendell says. “I know I wanted someone who would accept me for who I am — someone who wouldn’t want to change my ways and someone who could love me despite my flaws. We needed to know what we did not want, what we needed and what God wanted us to have.”
Nearly a year went by before the two reconnected. In March 2016, Chelsea’s apartment caught on fire, a time when she says “I was at my most vulnerable moment, but that’s when God really shows up and shows out.” Just a few days after the fire, Wendell sent her a message on Facebook. After Chelsea filled him in on what had been going on, Wendell jumped in to help. “When Wendell came, I really needed it. To have somebody going through this with me was priceless,” Chelsea shares. “He went apartment shopping with me. He looked at me like a survivor and never looked at me like a victim, which meant a lot to me. As we were going through that situation, that helped us pick up where we left off.”
They say timing is everything, and for Chelsea and Wendell, the time was right. After dating for about 18 months, the two decided to go on a two-week mission trip with their church to Ethiopia in 2017. It was there that Wendell surprised his girlfriend with a proposal. “It caught me off guard,” Chelsea says. “I did not see it coming … I normally see things coming but that one, I did not see coming.” So with Lake Zway as the backdrop, Wendell got on one knee. “I said, ‘I love you. Will you marry me?’,” Wendell shares.
Of course Chelsea said yes, and the two have been inseparable ever since.
On Saturday, October 27, 2018, 220 friends and family members gathered as the couple exchanging vows at the Buford Community Center Town Park & Theatre in Buford, GA. The bride wore a beautiful lace Sottero and Midgley gown she found at Charme Bridal in Buford, and the groom sported a handsome Calvin Klein suit. The couple were each surrounded by their eight-person wedding party who helped them celebrate the special day.
Following the ceremony, the couple and their guests enjoyed a seated dinner and plenty of dancing and laughter. Food was provided by Tastefully Southern out of Atlanta, and DJ Justin Richmond kept the crowd on their feet. The bridesmaids and groomsmen even had a dance battle. Spoiler alert: The groomsmen won!
At the end of the evening, the couple departed through a tunnel of sparklers and into their happily ever after, spending the night at W Atlanta – Buckhead before departing for Europe to honeymoon in London and Paris.
Thanks for giving us an inside look at your love story and beautiful wedding, Chelsea and Wendell. Here’s to a wonderful life together!
- Caterer/coordinator: Dina Farmer of Tastefully Southern
- Location/manager: Amy Brown of Buford Community Center Town Park & Theatre
- Bride’s gown: Charme Bridal & Prom
- Bridesmaids’ dresses: David’s Bridal
- Groom’s and groomsmen’s formalwear: Men’s Wearhouse
- Photo booth: Steven Peterson of Say Cheese Atlanta
- Photographer: Holly Perkins of Vita Dolce Images
- Wedding cake: Publix at Toco Hills Shopping Center
- Stationery: Kemp and Sons Printing
- Florist: Simply Elegant Events
- DJ: Justin Richmond
- Hair: Tye Atkinson (@TyeAtkinson)
- Makeup: JoShama Mornan (@JMornanBeauty)
Explore more stunning Southern weddings HERE!