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Rehearsal and Welcome dinner
Friday, September 12, 2014
246 10th Avenue
New York, New York 10001
This event is casual.
Wear something that makes you happy.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Drop in between 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
The home of Mark Cohen and Jerry Hyman
201 West 17th Street
New York, New York 10011
This event is casual.
Wear something that makes you happy.
These two events are by special invitation only
101 Graphics © 2014
A native New Yorker, Michael grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, in East Northport. The youngest of 13 siblings, he has 33 nieces and nephews. Michael’s lifelong passion for sports led him to the New York City Gay Basketball League. He served as Men’s League Commissioner from 2008-2013, providing players a safe and welcoming environment free from harassment and discrimination to play basketball and build community on and off the court. He remains an active player. Michael currently sells print and digital advertising for Davler Media, a local magazine publishing company.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Stephen eventually made his way to New York City via Chicago for university, and many years in Los Angeles spent working in the entertainment industry. He currently leads the communications team serving the global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, one of the “Big 4” global advisory and accountancy firms. When he’s not adding stamps to his passport due to his business travel, Stephen loves working from Deloitte’s global headquarters at the iconic 30 Rockefeller Center, also home to the Rainbow Room restaurant and NBC television studios.
Not exactly our Wedding Party
While no formal “wedding party” has been called into action, the following are some of the significant people in Michael and Stephen’s lives who will play a role at their wedding.
Patrick Bowers and David Poulad
During Stephen’s first summer in New York, he met Pat as part of a summer share house on Fire Island, off the coast of Long Island, New York. They were the two new guys joining a long-established group of friends, bonding quickly as a result. David and Pat became a couple soon after, and David and Stephen became close confidants. When Mike arrived on scene years later, he passed David’s inspection with flying colors. And over time, this foursome has enjoyed countless dinners, nights out and vacations together.
In 2003, Marcie and Stephen became founding co-chairs of the New York City area chapter of Out & Equal, the largest nonprofit dedicated to creating safe and equitable workplaces for lesbian and gay employees. More recently and for the past two years, Michael, Stephen, Marcie and their two dogs, Dexter and Eli, have enjoyed almost monthly visits to Marcie’s weekend home in upstate New York. Stephen cooks. Marcie cleans. And Mike does everything else.
Regina and Phill LoFaso
Michael’s sister, Regina (Gi), and he are the youngest of the 13 siblings. No matter what the situation, Gi offers unconditional love and support to Michael and other family members. Gi is married to Phill LoFaso who’s a constant source of creativity, compassion and humor. For many years, Michael lived with them and their two girls, Cassidhe and Madison, becoming an extension of their family. After meeting Stephen for the first time, Gi called Michael to tell him Stephen was the most normal guy he had ever dated, and he better not screw it up.
From an early age, Michael viewed his sister, Cathy (aka “Mom”), as a stabilizing force in his family. He gravitated toward her for help and advice growing up. To this day, Cathy is the heart and backbone of the Kokell family. Married for 43 years, she began dating her husband, Craig, while still in high school. Stephen and Craig have bonded over their mutual love of ice cream cake.
Darlene and Andy Selesnik
Having met in first grade, Andy is Stephen’s oldest friend. They’ve created and shared significant life events too many to mention (But thankfully, Andy’s memory is rock solid for archival purposes). In 2006, Michael and Stephen folded every napkin for Darlene and Andy’s wedding reception. Together with several other close friends from high school, Andy, and now Darlene, form the ties that bind Michael and Stephen to Cleveland.
Shirley and Stephen met while working for Deloitte on the west coast—Shirley lived in San Francisco and Stephen in Los Angeles. They both accepted offers to temporarily relocate with Deloitte to New York City. When Stephen’s relocation package was rescinded at last minute, Shirley had a suggestion. Stephen loaded his belongings into a U-Haul and drove them to San Francisco, where they snuck them onto the back of Shirley’s moving truck.
Tell Us How You're Really Feeling
Not exactly our Registry
Michael and Stephen are fortunate to have established a home together over the past 10 years (i.e., they have pretty much everything they need).
For those interested, cash gifts to offset the expenses of their wedding and honeymoon would be the most helpful.
THINGS TO DO
The official New York City Guide to NYC attractions and things to do
Michael and Stephen have arranged for a group discount
at a hotel convenient to all wedding event venues:
Hampton Inn - Chelsea
108 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011
The following rates will be honoured for reservations
made before August 29, 2014
King size bed - $279.00/night (+taxes)
Two double beds - $309.00/night (+taxes)
There are two ways to book rooms:
Call the hotel directly at 212. 414. 1000
and provide the group rate code: SKW (Soyland Kokell Wedding).
Michael and Stephen became engaged in Paris on February 1, 2013.
While preparing for a business trip to Switzerland and then the UK, Stephen decided to spend two extra days in Paris for pleasure before returning home. Michael had never been to Paris. Knowing Paris would be more fun together, they bought a ticket for Michael to join Stephen in London for a few days before heading to Paris together.
Having previously spoken about possibly getting married in celebration of their 10-year anniversary, Stephen began thinking. How could they travel to Paris together and not become engaged while there? With less than a week before his two-week business trip began, Stephen didn’t have a ring. He put a plan in motion.
Without Michael knowing, Stephen visited two of Michael’s sisters, Cathy and Regina (Gi), to ask for their blessing. They were both thrilled with the idea of Stephen proposing. With neither a ring to present to Mike nor even knowing his ring size, instead Stephen asked Gi and her family to decorate a “love lock” that he could take with him to Paris. A love lock is a padlock which two people in love lock to a bridge, fence, or other public fixture to symbolize their love. Typically their names or initials are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away to symbolize unbreakable love.
Once in Paris, Michael and Stephen spent an afternoon exploring the sights along the river Seine—Notre-Dame Cathedral, the grounds of the Louvre Museum and the Tuileries Garden. In the distance as day was turning to dusk, Michael saw the lights of the giant Ferris wheel at Place de la Concorde. Michael suggested they take a ride if the line wasn’t too long. It was cold and rainy that day. Finding no one on line once they arrived, they hopped aboard.
Knowing he would not have a better opportunity that evening than this, Stephen knew he had to make the proposal happen here. Once settled in their cabin and with the Eiffel tower in the distance, Stephen dropped to one knee and asked Michael to marry him (he said yes...). In lieu of a ring, Stephen presented and explained the significance of the love lock. The following afternoon Michael and Stephen visited the well-known Pont des Arts (Bridge of the Arts)—as thousands of couples had done before them—to affix their lock and throw the key into the waters of the Seine.
How this all got started
In the 1990s and early 2000s, if you were a gay man living in New York City who liked club music, you most likely spent countless Saturday nights at the legendary Roxy nightclub. Michael and Stephen were no different. On Memorial Day weekend 2004, they met as strangers on the dance floor at a decidedly unrespectable hour of the evening (i.e., morning).
The space occupied by the Roxy originally opened as a roller skating rink and roller disco in 1978, but became infamous as a dance club. A sign outside read “If you’re good to the Roxy, the Roxy will be good to you.” Although it closed its doors forever in March 2007, the Roxy gave Michael and Stephen their future. More than 10 years after first meeting there, they will be married on the very same street on which they met, just a few avenue blocks away.
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