See Inside Jelly Roll & His Wife Bunnie XO’s Love Story: From Love At First Sight To Power Couple

From the moment they first met at a concert in Las Vegas to celebrating their 7th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal: See Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO’s love story.

By

Melinda Lorge

Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Music Mayhem, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.

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Posted on January 16, 2024

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Bunnie Xo and Jelly Roll; Photo Courtesy of Getty Images for CMT

Jelly Roll, whose real name is Jason DeFord and his wife Bunnie DeFord, whose stage name is Bunnie XO, have been married since August 2016, but their relationship stems much further back than that. Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO are one of the strongest power couples in country music. The lovebirds, who tied the knot in Las Vegas, Nev., in the fall of 2016, met out of the blue during the “Save Me” singer’s concert at Sin City’s Country Saloon.

Jelly Roll And Bunnie XO’s Love Story: How Did They Meet?

At the time, Bunnie XO happened to be in the joint as a local with a man she was romantically involved with. But that didn’t stop the successful host of The Dumb Blonde Podcast and Jelly Roll from sparking a connection. 

“She was with some abusive douchebag, and they came to a show, and we were backstage,” Jelly Roll recalled during a guest appearance on King and the Sting and the Wing Clips. “They split, and I’m not going to act like I shot my shot. She kind of shot hers. We had mutual friends. She said, ‘Yo. Just plug me in with Jelly.’ And I hit her on some other sh**. I was like, ‘Yo. I’m going to be coming out to shoot some content and video stuff.’ She was like, ‘Yeah! C’mon!’ I was like, ‘Cool. Well. I’m living in my van, so I’ll leave now.’”

After their initial interaction, Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO developed a friendship based on trust. They leaned on each other through some hard times, including when Jelly Roll sought custody of his daughter, Bailee Ann. Bunnie XO stepped up to the plate and offered to assist Jelly Roll. She provided financial support and a secure residence for him to gain custody of Bailee Ann as he was a homeless, broke musician with a history of being in and out of jail.

Jelly Roll and Bunnie DeFord (Bunnie XO); Photo Courtesy of Gilbert Flores for PMC
Jelly Roll and Bunnie DeFord (Bunnie XO); Photo Courtesy of Gilbert Flores for PMC

Who Made The First Move? Bunnie XO Did

Eventually, romantic feelings rose to the surface for the two individuals, to where Bunnie XO made the first move, and Jelly Roll started to question what a future with the two would look like. 

“I asked her for her five-year plan [and] I may have.. was intimidated too… She was like, ‘I really like you.’ I was like, ‘Cool. What are we doing? What are you doing?’ You know what I mean? What’s our plan here?” He said on Andrew Schulz’s Flagrant podcast with Akaash Singhm. 

“[Bunnie] helped me raise my daughter. We’ve had custody of her for the last nine years. It just takes a real selfless person to help raise a child they didn’t birth,” Jelly Roll also shared of his wife.

Fast forward to today, and the two are husband and wife, who have surpassed so many of their goals. In addition to that, their connection runs deep. So much so that Bunnie XO has brought more light into Jelly Roll’s life, having recently introduced fans to his son, Noah Buddy DeFord, from a previous relationship. 

Now that Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO have marked seven years together as a married couple, they took the next step and planned to renew their wedding vows. In celebration of the couple’s recently renewed vows, Music Mayhem is going back to where it all began for Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO by sharing some of the biggest highlights and moments together. 

Check out some memories from Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO’s relationship timeline below!  

How Jelly Roll And Bunnie XO Met In Las Vegas

The couple first locked eyes in 2015 at Sin City’s Country Saloon on historic Fremont Street in Las Vegas. At the time, Jelly Roll was performing a soft ticket show while Bunnie XO was in the same room with her now her ex. 

Although she and Jelly Roll didn’t form a relationship right then, he has previously told Taste of Country, “We hit it off. She said she fell in love with the saddest eyes in the room.”

While appearing on Andrew Schulz’s Flagrant podcast with Akaash Singhm, Jelly Roll further detailed how he met his now wife. 

“I got the coolest girl on Earth. We met at a bar dude, like f**king 1972. It was awesome. Old school, just at a bar… Nobody’s there to see me. I’m on stage. People got their back turned to me having conversations. It’s one of those shows,” he shared. “I was just immediately attracted to her.” 

Jelly Roll, Wife Bunnie DeFord; Photos Courtesy of Instagram
Jelly Roll, Wife Bunnie DeFord; Photos Courtesy of Instagram

Despite his attraction to Bunnie XO, it was her who he says ‘shot her shot.’ Bunnie XO ended up linking up with Jelly Roll after she broke it off with her former flame. 

“Dude ended up going to jail,” Jelly Roll says of Bunnie XO’s rocky relationship with her ex. “And when he did, she reached out, and I thought she was just being cool, just in general and I was like, there’s no way and then one night, she shot or shot.”

“She came into the room we were all in and just sat on my lap,” he continued. “And you know, Bunnie’s got that g**damn thing on her. Bunnie’s got that thing on her…. And then we ended up at a little bar that night and had a couple of drinks, and she kissed me.”

A True Love Connection

When Bunnie XO ‘shot her shot,’ she wasn’t just looking for a casual hookup. At the time, she and Jelly Roll were pals. They had formed a important friendship. So, when she made her move, he was insistent on understanding her intentions. 

“We went back to the house, and she tried to f–k me. And I was like hold on, hold on, hold on…,” Jelly Roll recalled the intimate moment. “I need to know what you’re trying to do with your life before I let you put that pu– on me and fu– my life Up.” 

Bunnie XO, Jelly Roll; Photo Courtesy of Bunnie XO/Facebook
Bunnie XO, Jelly Roll; Photo Courtesy of Bunnie XO/Facebook

To his surprise, Bunnie XO admitted true feelings for Jelly Roll. And, he says, the experience turned romantic. 

“We talked for a while,” he said. “She doesn’t want to admit this part, but it turned out kind of romantic… We leveled with each other in a real way. I was like, ‘I’m cool with us, just whatever, but let’s not wake up tomorrow and have to deal with this.’”

“She had already helped me pick out a bed for my daughter, and I’m trying to get custody of the kids. She knows all these other factors,” he said of the pair’s friendship before their sexual encounter. “I’m like, ‘Where are we?’ I’m at, ‘If this ain’t a serious thing, that’s cool too. And just where is this happening from? You know what I mean?’”

“I Knew I Loved Her The Night I Met Her At The Bar”

Even though Jelly Roll let Bunnie XO take the lead on what their relationship was going to be, he confessed, “I knew that I loved that girl. I knew I loved her the night I met her at the bar.”

The duo tied the knot in August 2016. And while they are now romantically involved, Jelly Roll says that the pair are also best friends who work by communicating with each other. 

“I think that’s the charming part of our relationship is that I can be like, ‘Yo, such and such is fu–ing fire,” Jelly Roll says about being honest about other people’s attractive features. “Yo, I’ll send Bunnie Instagrams like, ‘Yo, you seen this girl? Wow.’ It’s never an awkward thing with Bunnie about stuff like that. The problem is most dudes that have that relationship with their girl, it’s not the other way around, but God forbid their girl likes a dude’s picture with his shirt off or something, and this same dude gets possessed.”

Bunnie XO, Jelly Roll; Photo Courtesy of Facebook
Bunnie XO, Jelly Roll; Photo Courtesy of Facebook

Meeting Bunnie XO Was A Blessing For Jelly Roll: Helped Him Get Custody Of Daughter Bailee Ann

Re-visiting their friendship before they became spouses, Bunnie XO was someone who played a pivotal role in Jelly Roll’s life. He could lean on her when he felt helpless and in-need of a place to stay. He credits Bunnie XO for being selfless and helping some of his most life-altering and positive moments come to fruition. One such moment was getting custody of his daughter Bailee Ann at a time when he was living in a ‘96 van. 

“Bunnie’s like, ‘I’ll help you… The first thing we have to do is get you somewhere to live in Nashville.’ I’ll never forget this. Bunnie looked at me – and man, it makes me emotional,” Jelly Roll remembered during an interview with Bussin’ With The Boys. “She said, ‘No matter what happens with us, I’m going to help you get this little girl.’ I was like, man, what character? You know what I mean? What character this woman has? She’s like, ‘Look. I’m not 100% sure I’m going to be with you, but I’m going to do everything I can to help you with this little girl.’”

Bailee Ann, Bunnie XO, Jelly Roll; Photo Courtesy of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve via ABC
Bailee Ann, Bunnie XO, Jelly Roll; Photo Courtesy of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve via ABC

After putting their heads together, in 2016, Jelly Roll was granted custody of his daughter. He and Bunnie have been raising Bailee Ann together ever since!

“The single best decision I’ve made in my whole life, second to probably getting custody of Bailee, is marrying Bunnie,” Jelly Roll shares. “And I always say marrying Bunnie was probably the biggest decision that I ever made. I don’t think I’d have got custody of my daughter without her.”

Bunnie XO Introduced Fans To Jelly Roll’s Son

As much love as she has for Jelly Roll, Bunnie XO has a big heart for his kids, Bailee Ann and Noah Buddy. Jelly Roll has kept Noah out of the spotlight out of respect for the child’s mother, but thanks to her blessing, Bunnie XO was able to introduce the sweet kid to fans. Bunnie XO previously took to TikTok to bring Noah into the spotlight, and he is every bit as adorable as expected! 

“My name is Noah, and my favorite color is red,” Noah, who turned seven years old in August, has shared with TikTok users before adding that he also loves Pokémon, soccer, his sister Bailee, cats and dogs, and “to play in the water and let the waves catch me.”

Despite maintaining a low profile with his son, Jelly Roll has captured photos of him with the little guy in the past, posting some of them on social media. Check out a few below! 

Co-Parenting Jelly Roll’s Son And Daughter

Although Jelly Roll doesn’t flaunt little Noah in the spotlight often, he does give Bunnie XO more freedom to make choices regarding his two children. While speaking to Taste of a Country Nights, the Antioch native said his son’s introduction on TikTok was orgnaized by Bunnie XO. 

“That was more on Bunnie and his mother,” Jelly Roll said. “So, they spoke about it, and he was on vacation. He always goes on vacation with us, and we always try to shoot around him. This year, my wife was like, ‘I’m just gonna hit her up and tell her I wanna post,’ and she was like, ‘Yeah, totally cool.”

Of being a co-parent with Noah’s mom, Jelly Roll shared, “With Bailee, I’m the full-time parent. I’m the judge, the jury, and the executioner when it comes to decisions with her. It’s way more a co-parenting [with Noah’s mom]. Actually, it’s just way more of me just supporting her when it comes to my son. So, I try not to get in the way of what she (Melisa) is building over there, and I never want to step on her toes. I’m so proud of her and what she’s doing with him that I want to just respect that boundary.”

Bunnie XO Introduces Fans To Jelly Roll's Son Noah; Photo Courtesy of TikTok
Bunnie XO Introduces Fans To Jelly Roll’s Son Noah; Photo Courtesy of TikTok

“Couldn’t Live Without” The Mom Of Jelly Roll’s Son Noah

Even though Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO have their little family together, they also share a healthy friendship with Noah’s mom. So much so that Bunnie XO has admitted she “couldn’t imagine” life without the boy’s mother. 

Earlier this summer, Bunnie XO took to Facebook to share her enthusiasm for Melisa, writing, “Sweet friends – Meet Noah’s beautiful mommy, Melisa 💖 I wanted y’all to get to see who Babymama #2 is because we have been so public about Bailee’s mama, it’s only fair y’all get to see & love her as well.”

She added, “She’s one stand-up chick & we couldn’t imagine our lives without her – she holds it down for baby Noah & us, especially, because we are on the road so much. It takes a village to raise these babies & luckily, we have her as a part of the family. 💫 Love you girl! ✨.”

From A Dark Place To Dreams Coming True

Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO are a match made for each other. In fact, both of them share a trouble-marked history. However, when they’re together, they become their best selves, having turned their lives around for the better and having accomplished countless goals and dreams that, at one point, seemed out of reach. 

For a bit of backstory, Jelly Roll spent his life in and out of the judicial system. He has never been shy about sharing his prior struggles with addiction and mental illness. Likewise, Bunnie XO has previously shared that she overcame many obstacles as a product of an addict and the child of a mother who had left her on a doorstep as an infant. 

Jelly Roll and Bunnie DeFord (Bunnie XO); Photo Courtesy of Gilbert Flores for PMC
Jelly Roll and Bunnie DeFord (Bunnie XO); Photo Courtesy of Gilbert Flores for PMC

While on Andrew Schulz’s Flagrant podcast with Akaash Singhm, Jelly Roll mentioned that his wife’s history is unlike any other. He also added that the couple would share their dreams with each other out in the open. 

“We met eachother in that dark place, and we would sit out and talk about that five-year plan dog. I don’t want to get emotional talking about it,” he shared. “We would dream of this sh–, bro. We would be like, she’s like, ‘I’m going to start a podcast, and I’m going to do this,’ and ‘This is how I’m going to get out of this’ and ‘I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do this.’ And I’d be like, ‘Cool, and I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do this, and I’m going to do this.’ And then we fu–ing figured that sh–t out together. You know what I’m saying? It’s fu–ing kind of the greatest American story ever told is how I feel about it. You know what I mean?”

Jelly Roll And Bunnie XO Found Success Together (Music And Dumb Blonde Podcast)

Indeed, in fact these days, the couple couldn’t be living more of a charmed life. Jelly Roll, who nabbed three 2023 CMT Music Award trophies, has earned No. 1 hits on country and rock radio, conducted a headlining tour, and released a debut country album, is going into the 2023 CMA Awards with five nominations, marking the most for a male artist and the second-most behind Lainey Wilson, who has nine. 

Bunnie XO has, meanwhile, established her own personal path, building a platform and becoming a successful podcast host of The Dumb Blonde Podcast. Her popularity has also allowed her to tour with her hubby on his Backroad Baptism Tour and take part in her own meet-and-greets with the fans. 

Tribute Song For Bunnie “Kill A Man”

Jelly Roll has shown his deep appreciation for his wife on numerous occasions. And he did it once again with the release of his song, “Kill A Man,” which appears on his 2023 album, WHITSITT CHAPEL

The tune serves as the ultimate thank you message to Bunnie XO, with lyrics that take listeners back to when the couple met. 

“I thought that night in Vegas / the drink I was drinkin’ would finally take me / I thought I wouldn’t make it / that my demons would find me with blue lights behind me / thought my time was up more than a time or two / the enemy begins with you,” Jelly Roll sings throughout the chorus. “Something ’bout you has always been dangerous / I should run, but here I stand / you’re the one thing Heaven can’t save me from / and I’m far past my last chance / I was bulletproof / but baby loving you could kill a man.”

Seven Year Wedding Anniversary

Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary earlier this year by renewing their wedding vows. Before reliving their special day, Jelly Roll announced he was planning to walk down the aisle with Bunnie XO a second time, reasoning that they never knew the exact date they got married. 

“We never really had an anniversary because we can’t remember what date we got married,” Jelly Roll said on the Superstar Power Hour with Audacy’s Katie and Company. “Listen, it gets even wilder. Because of the time we got married, the court said that we got married on [August 30th], but they didn’t file [our marriage certificate] until the 31st. And the marriage license people said it was officially stamped on the 1st.”

Bunnie XO, Jelly Roll; Photos Courtesy Of Instagram
Bunnie XO, Jelly Roll; Photos Courtesy Of Instagram

“We know we got married between the 30th [of August] and the 1st [of September], but we just don’t remember what day, which time anyways because we were partying and drinking in Vegas,” he added. “It was like a four or five-day bender, and the marriage just happened in the middle of it, so, we’re like, ‘Let’s do this right, as adults now.’”

Vow Renewal

The pair headed back to Las Vegas. And on Thursday (Aug. 31), they said “I Do” once again at the same chapel, A Stained Glass Wedding Chapel, where they married in 2016. The pair were also met with the same woman who conducted their first ceremony, turning the moment into a full-circle memory. 

Bunnie XO documented the emotional occasion on Instagram, sharing photos of the unforgettable moment in time and writing a meaningful message alongside the snapshots. 

“Who knew a chance encounter in 2015 would lead to our stars colliding a year later in the cutest, tiniest chapel in Vegas, exchanging vows of forever when neither one of [us] even knew what forever meant. I had no idea who you were, yet my soul felt like I knew you for ten lifetimes,” Bunnie XO wrote. “Before we stumbled in that chapel, you grabbed my hands & looked me straight in the eyes & said, ‘Bunnie, our lives won’t always be like this. You won’t have to do what you do for much longer. We’re going to figure this out. I promise you.’ “

“These past seven years have been a whirlwind dark fairytale,” she continued. “Nothing we have accomplished as lovers & friends was easy. We fought to become the people we are, to break the childhood traumas we were ‘blessed’ with & learn to love in a healthy way. To right all our wrongs & create a home to raise Bailee in that she can be proud of. No matter what life has thrown our way, we walked through the fire together, hand in hand, with a smile… You are my missing puzzle piece. My safe space. The man that makes me dance in my feminine energy. My best friend, my hero & the greatest man I’ve ever known. They don’t make ‘em like you anymore, Jason DeFord. Cheers to lucky #7 & so many more. & like I’ve always told you – The house always wins, baby.”

And Their Love Story Is “The Greatest American Story Ever Told….”

As previously shared, Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO have come from difficult upbringings. But despite that, they managed to come out the other side in what some might only describe as the American dream. 

Despite having some hard knocks, they both continued to look ahead. After meeting one another, they developed a trusted friendship that allowed them to lean on each other through thick and thin. That evolved into a full-fledged relationship and accomplished a 5-year-plan. 

“She jokes that first night that I asked for a five-year plan,” Jelly Roll shares. “That next morning, we really did make a five-year plan and knocked that motherfu–er out of the park.” 

Bunnie XO, Jelly Roll; Photos Courtesy Of Instagram
Bunnie XO, Jelly Roll; Photos Courtesy Of Instagram

“Forever Plans”

After planning and following through with their 5-year-plan, Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO continue to maintain a clear path to what they want to achieve, personally and together. And Jelly Roll shares that he intends to include Bunnie XO in his plans for the rest of his life. 

“We sit down every year. Now we have a joke. Every year, we look at each other and go, ‘We still into this?’ And this year was the first year that she looked at me and was like, ‘We still into this?’ And I was like, ‘Bunnie, I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m making forever plans for us now.’ I’m not even in five years, no more. The decisions I’m making for our family right now, where I’m putting my money and the investments I’m making on behalf of our family, even outside of the investments you’re making, I’m planning on us doing this forever. I’m thinking about Bailee’s kids. You know what I mean? That’s where my thoughts are. I couldn’t imagine being with nobody else but my wife.”

The couple have been married for 7 years and have forever to go…

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Melinda Lorge is a Nashville-based freelance writer who specializes in covering country music. Along with Music Mayhem, her work has appeared in publications, including Rare Country, Rolling Stone Country, Nashville Lifestyles Magazine, Wide Open Country and more. After joining Rare Country in early 2016, Lorge was presented with the opportunity to lead coverage on late-night television programs, including “The Voice” and “American Idol,” which helped her to sharpen her writing skills even more. Lorge earned her degree at Middle Tennessee State University, following the completion of five internships within the country music industry. She has an undeniable love for music and entertainment. When she isn’t living and breathing country music, she can be found enjoying time outdoors with family and friends.

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