Home Floor designer From the beginning, their relationship was “ugly”

From the beginning, their relationship was “ugly”

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When Dieter Demetrios Seelig and Jaclyn Michelle Tokarz first met in 2015 at Plug Uglies, a bar he owns in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood, they both felt an immediate attraction.

“I remember Jaclyn’s beautiful blue eyes,” said Mr Seelig, 41. “His smile stuck with me. His laugh was like hearing your favorite song.

Ms Tokarz, 34, a regular at Plug Uglies, said ‘seeing Dieter was like being struck by lightning’. She pushed aside her friend, Nicole Payne, who was a bartender at the time, and asked about her.

“He’s in a long-term relationship,” Ms. Tokarz recalled, remembering Ms. Payne telling her. “Get it out of your head.”

Although they continued to meet at the bar, where they developed a mutual circle of friends, the two were only acquaintances when Mr Seelig’s relationship ended in March 2017.

Around this time, he was opening a new craft beer bar and shop in downtown Brooklyn called Craft + Carry. He learned from their mutual friends that Ms. Tokarz was a graphic designer and approached her to do some freelance design work.

“I was thrilled,” said Ms Tokarz, 34, after being contacted by Mr Seelig. A graduate of the University of Georgia, she is senior art director at Composed, a digital and creative services agency in Manhattan.

The two set up a meeting to discuss the project weeks later at Goodnight Sonny, a bar in the East Village. “It became clear that we had a great working relationship,” said Fordham graduate Seelig.

Later that evening, they had drinks at the Holiday Cocktail Lounge followed by late-night pierogies at Veselka, both also in the East Village. Then came a late night kiss.

“Jaclyn was unlike any other person I had met,” Mr Seelig said, noting that she “was funny and had a very sexy inner fire.”

“She was passionate about her likes and dislikes,” he added. “I could see on his face when something caught his eye.

They started dating in June, and exactly a year later, in June 2018, Mr Seelig said he told his future best man he was going to marry Ms Tokarz. “It was the first time I said it out loud,” he said.

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On April 1, 2020, as they approached three years of dating, Ms Tokarz moved into Mr Seelig’s Sutton Place apartment. The city had recently closed due to the pandemic, but Mr. Seelig’s Craft + Carry locations, of which there are now eight in New York, remained open for takeout orders. Ms. Tokarz was working remotely from home.

That year, around Thanksgiving, Mr. Seelig rented a house in Pine Plains, NY, on Airbnb for their two families. Although she didn’t know it, a proposal was in the works.

On Nov. 25, 2020, while their families were making cocktails, the couple went hiking up Stissing Mountain, a short drive away. After climbing a 90-foot watchtower along the trail, Mr. Seelig got down on one knee. “I asked if she would make me the happiest man alive,” he said.

Totally surprised, Ms Tokarz said: “All I could say was ‘Are you kidding?’ and a resounding ‘Yes!’ to the simplest question I’ve ever been asked.

They then sat on the floor of the tower and hugged, cried and kissed for 15 minutes. When they returned home, they were greeted by their jubilant families, who were aware of the plan.

The two were married on March 19 at St. Vincent Ferrer Church in Manhattan. Reverend Joseph Hagan, a Roman Catholic priest, officiated before 140 guests. The day before, they had a Greek Orthodox ceremony at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan with 70 guests in attendance. In both cases, all guests were asked to present proof of vaccination.

“The whole weekend has been so full of love,” Ms. Tokarz said. Mr Seelig called the two-day celebration “perfect”.

“I knew our wedding day was going to be special,” he added, “but I wasn’t prepared for the emotions of seeing so many friends and family for the first time in over two years. “