Their relationship was ‘ugly’ from the start

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 were instantly drawn.

“I remember Jaclyn’s beautiful blue eyes,” said Mr. Seelig, 41. “Her smile stayed with me. Her laugh was like listening to your favorite song.”

Ms Tokarz, 34, a regular at Plug Uglies, said: “Seeing Dieter was like being struck by lightning.” She pulled aside her friend Nicole Payne, who was then working as a bartender, to ask about him.

“He’s been in a long-term relationship,” Ms Tokarz recalled, which Ms Payne had told her. “Get him out of your head.”

Although they continued to meet at the bar, where they developed a circle of mutual friends, the two were no longer than acquaintances when Mr. Seelig’s relationship ended in March 2017.

It was around this time that he opened a new craft beer bar and store in downtown Brooklyn called Craft + Carry. He learned from their mutual friends that Ms. Tokarz was a graphic designer and contacted her about freelance design work.

“I was thrilled,” says Ms. Tokarz, 34, about Mr. Seelig’s contact. A graduate of the University of Georgia, she is the 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 Mr. Seelig, who graduated from Fordham.

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

“Jaclyn was unlike anyone I’d ever met,” said Mr. Seelig, 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 her face when something caught her eye.

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

[Click here to binge read this week’s featured couples.]

On April 1, 2020, as their three-year relationship approached, Ms Tokarz moved into Mr Seelig’s home on Sutton Place. The city had recently shut down 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. Mrs. Tokarz worked remotely from home.

That year, as Thanksgiving approached, Mr. Seelig rented a home in Pine Plains, NY on Airbnb for their two families. Though she didn’t know, a proposal was in the works.

On November 25, 2020, while their families were preparing cocktails, the couple set out to hike Stissing Mountain, just a short drive away. After climbing a 90-foot lookout tower along the trail route, Mr. Seelig got on one knee. “I asked if she would make me the happiest man alive,” he said.

Completely 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.”

Then they sat on the floor of the tower and hugged and cried and kissed for 15 minutes. When they returned to the house, they were greeted by their jubilant families involved in the plan.

The two wed on March 19 at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer in Manhattan. Rev. Joseph Hagan, a Roman Catholic priest, officiated in front of 140 guests. The day before, they had a Greek Orthodox ceremony at the Holy Trinity Cathedral of the Archdiocese in Manhattan with 70 guests in attendance. All guests were asked to provide proof of vaccination.

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

“I knew our anniversary was going to be special,” he added, “but I wasn’t prepared to see so many friends and family for the first time in more than two years.” Their relationship was ‘ugly’ from the start

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