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An Awkward Elevator Ride Leads to Love

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An Awkward Elevator Ride Leads to Love

An awkward elevator ride was all Rosemary Kalonaros and Christena Pyle needed to kick-start their relationship.

They recalled meeting in passing at Omnicom, an advertising firm on Madison Avenue in New York City, where they both worked in 2018. But when Ms. Kalonaros switched departments and began working as the global manager for content and culture on Ms. Pyle’s floor that August, Ms. Pyle, then the director of diversity and inclusion, took note.

“Everybody notices Rosemary,” Ms. Pyle, 41, said. Because the two worked on separate teams, it took them a month to have their first one-on-one conversation at a co-worker’s farewell party. Both of them acknowledged that something had clicked during their interaction, Ms. Pyle said, but neither “knew what it was.”

A few weeks later, they walked into the elevator together. “We just immediately started talking and talking and talking, like word vomiting,” Ms. Kalonaros, 31, said. When the doors opened, they realized that neither had pressed a floor button.

“We were just so nervous and so enthralled with each other,” Ms. Kalonaros said. “I remember it being my first moment of awareness, like, ‘Oh, I really like her.’”

But nothing transpired until December at a company holiday party, which started at the Lotte New York Palace hotel and ended with an after-party at the Lobby Bar at the Dream Downtown hotel. Hours of conversation later, the two found themselves alone and shared their first kiss. “Rosemary gave me this ‘you better kiss me’ look, and I finally built up the confidence to do it,” Ms. Pyle said. “It was one of those kisses that makes you believe in the movies.”

The next morning, Ms. Pyle brought her version of a hangover cure — an egg sandwich and black coffee — to Ms. Kalonaros’s desk. She asked Ms. Kalonaros out to drinks that night before they headed home for the holidays. They went to the now-closed Lexington Brass, an American bistro, where the awkwardness between them finally dissipated.

Ms. Kalonaros is now the global director for growth and experience at Omnicom. She graduated from the George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in English.

Ms. Pyle originally attended Western Michigan University before pausing her studies to appear on “Road Rules: South Pacific” and “Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno,” both on MTV. After her stint on reality television, she graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in media and communications. She now works in New York as the first chief equity officer at Dentsu, a Japanese marketing and advertising agency.

The couple’s relationship steadily progressed with casual conversations about marriage and children sprinkled in. Then the Covid-19 pandemic began and “accelerated us as a family,” Ms. Pyle said.

In March 2020, the two quarantined in Ms. Kalonaros’s studio apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side for two weeks, until her father suggested they live on Long Island with her family. What they thought would be two weeks ended up being more than four months. Living together as part of Ms. Kalonaros’s family solidified their relationship, and Ms. Pyle decided she was ready to propose.

In August 2021, the couple bought a home in Long Beach, N.Y. Six months later, with the help of Ms. Kalonaros’s sister, Anita, Ms. Pyle proposed privately in a room — decorated with their photos — at the Allegria Hotel in Long Beach. After Ms. Kalonaros said yes, Ms. Pyle guided her into another room where family and friends were waiting to celebrate. “I called it #GettingRosemarried,” Ms. Pyle said.

A few months later, in August, this time with the help of Ms. Pyle’s sister, Shayla, and her cousin Elise Banks, Ms. Kalonaros proposed back in their Long Beach home with a ring sitting in a gilded oyster shell.

The two wanted their families, both chosen and blood, present for their proposals. But the subject of their sexualities has not always been an easy one to broach with their families. Having never had serious relationships with other women before, the two came out to their parents within the first year of dating each other. These conversations, they recalled, did not go well initially.

“They’re like, ‘Well, why didn’t I know this sooner? Why didn’t you come and share this?’” Ms. Pyle said. “It was challenging.”

The couple eventually received support from both sides. But Ms. Pyle said that her mother was still on a “journey to be fully supportive” and did not attend the wedding.

The couple were married at the city clerk’s office in Manhattan on July 25. Michael McSweeney, the New York City clerk, officiated. The couple had celebrated 10 days earlier with a ceremony before 113 guests at the Garza Blanca Resort in Cancún, Mexico.

Ms. Pyle’s uncle, Phillip Pyle, walked her down the aisle in place of her late father, Morris V. Pyle III. Peter Sherman, a friend and former co-worker of the couple, led the ceremony and read a heartwarming note of encouragement that Ms. Pyle wrote to him eight years ago before a big meeting. Afterward, he passed around the note for guests to read.

“I think that was a testament to the way that everyone showed up for us,” Ms. Kalonaros said of the note. “People really came to the wedding with their whole hearts.”

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