Jeezy and Jeannie Mai marry in surprise ceremony

The couple had planned to marry in Italy but COVID meant a change of venue and plans

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Atlanta-born rap star Jeezy and The Real co-host Jeannie Mai have married.

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The couple who first started dating in 2019, has been engaged for a year. They met when Jeezy was a guest on The Real and after Mai’s 2017 divorce from Freddy Harteis, the two started dating.

“Years later, he asked me out on a date,” Mai told Vogue who covered the ceremony. “We shared a romantic sushi dinner in Los Angeles and salsa danced the night away. Later that evening, he asked if I could picture spending the rest of my life with him. And crazy enough, I could.”

Mai, 42, and Jeezy, born Jay Wayne Jenkins, 43, originally planned to get married in Italy or France but COVID changed those plans, as well as Jeezy’s hopes to propose to Mai in Vietnam where her parents are from. He ended up proposing to her at his Los Angeles apartment. They were married on Saturday at the home they share in Atlanta, with friends and family present.

Referring to it as a mini-mony, Mai said an intimate group traveled to the nuptials, with negative COVID-19 tests required 48 hours before the wedding. The couple also provided tests on the day of the ceremony.

One of the reasons they went ahead and tied the knot at home is that Jeezy’s mother, Sharon Denise Jenkins, passed away unexpectedly in February, which Mai said made them recognize that life can change at any minute.

And the couple contended with Mai’s own health scare last year. In the midst of competing on season 29 of Dancing with the Stars, Mai was diagnosed with epiglottitis, a condition that swells the epiglottis, a lid of cartilage on the windpipe, that blocks air from getting into the lungs.

“After Jeezy’s mother unexpectedly passed,” Mai told Vogue, “we quickly learned that life is too short. And at the end of the day, Jeezy and I really just wanted to become husband and wife. So we decided to turn our original wedding into a mini-mony, where we exchanged our vows in front of our immediate family and a few close friends.”

Author and pastor John Maxwell married the couple. Jeezy’s father was there, as were Jeannie’s brother and parents, including her mother Mama Mai, a popular social media personality herself, due to her appearances on Jeannie’s “Hey Hunnay” YouTube channel. Jeezy’s mother was acknowledged with a pink rose laid on a chair to symbolize her presence. 

Jeezy walked down the aisle to Kem’s “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and Mai walked down to the Bee Gees classic “How Deep Is Your Love,” followed by a traditional Vietnamese tea ceremony officiated by her brother, and then an exchange of vows.

The couple’s first dance was to Tyrese’s “Sweet Lady” – and not the recorded version. Mai surprised her new husband by bringing Tyrese there to sing it himself.

“The entire night was filled with speeches and funny memories from all our guests,” Mai said. “Not to be outdone, my mother, Mama Mai, kicked off the after-party with a special performance of her own.” 

Badgley Mischka - Front Row - February 2020 - New York Fashion Week: The Shows
Rapper Jeezy (L) and Jeannie Mai attend the Badgley Mischka front row during New York Fashion Week: on February 08, 2020, in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Badgley Mischka)

The newlyweds ended the night in matching Versace pajamas with the memories of a night celebrating their love story lingering in the air.

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“We both went through enough in our life to connect on the understanding that love should feel safe, honest, and pure,” Mai told PEOPLE last November. “Immediately that was a magnetic attraction. We are very attracted to each other’s passions to serve. So because we have a mutual joy of having purpose, we’re going to find a way to do that together.”

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