When Hoda Kotb met her long-term boyfriend, Joel Schiffman, he was just a fan. It took years and the birth of their two children for him to propose, but in the end, the couple separated.
By July 2015, Hoda Kotb was already dating Joel Schiffman for two years. During an appearance that month on "Watch What Happens Live," the television personality shared the story of how they met.
The star recalled being invited to speak at an event with some boring guys from Wall Street. After the event, Hoda stayed to sign some autographs and wasn't expecting anything special to happen.
A few autographs later, a man appeared in the line asking for one, and when the "Today" co-host asked who she should make it out to, the man told her to make it to him, and she replied, "'How 'bout to you?'"
Hoda was smitten, but she took the precaution to do a background check on the mysterious man. She recalled that he didn't have a wedding ring on, but that was all she knew about it.
Hoda Kotb at the Garden of Dreams Foundation Children Talent Show at Radio City Music Hall on June 18, 2015, in New York City | Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images
Someone from the event emailed the man who was named Joel Schiffman. He then emailed Hoda back, and they eventually set up a date where they clicked and started seeing each other full-time.
The pair initially dated in secret until their relationship had been established. She explained to Andy Cohen that the relationship was now solid, and she felt comfortable; before describing her boyfriend as "adorable."
In November 2019, after the couple had been together for six years, Schiffman finally proposed! The co-anchor announced the surprising news on live television with her engagement ring secretly slipped on her finger just before.
Hoda confessed that her heart was pounding hard as she revealed her boyfriend proposed over the weekend during dinner while they were away on a tropical vacation. The pair had dinner on the beach.
Schiffman told her he had something to say and said some touching things before getting down on one knee and asking her to be his wife. Hoda wasn't expecting the proposal and confessed:
"I was totally shocked. He had a good poker face."
By the time Schiffman proposed, the couple had already become parents together. They welcomed two baby daughters via adoption – little Haley Joy and Hope Catherine.
WHAT STOPPED THE WEDDING
Hoda and her fiancé wanted to host their beachside wedding ceremony in August 2020 but postponed it to November. In October 2020, she revealed to People that she'd hoped to marry her fiancé in a destination wedding the following month.
However, the pandemic outbreak put a spanner in the couple's plans again. The television anchor had to tell one of her guests, Maria Shriver, who called to confirm the date, that the wedding was postponed again.
Hoda still wished to have a beach wedding or one in Mexico, but instead, she and Schiffman would host the ceremony closer to home in summer 2021. She still saw herself having a beach wedding and anticipated being held somewhere in New York.
The star explained that they didn't want to travel during the pandemic and worried guests wouldn't be able to make it because of restrictions. Hoda thought the ceremony would end up becoming more intimate because of COVID.
In July 2021, while co-hosting "Today with Hoda & Jenna," the bride explained that they were trying to make sure all their invited guests could travel to their ceremony. The couple tried to avoid their guests catching COVID just to be at their wedding.
SETTLING FOR A NEW DATE
Ultimately, the "This Just Speaks to Me" author settled for a wedding in November 2021, as she announced in February 2021 on her show with Jenna Bush Hager. She also shared that she hoped her wedding song would be Van Morrison's "Someone Like You."
GOING SEPARATE WAYS
By January 2022, Hoda's wedding still hadn't happened, and she was spotted without her engagement ring explained why. In an emotional statement, she told Hager that she and Schiffman had some serious conversations over the holidays.
She said they'd decided that they were better off as co-parents and friends instead of an engaged couple. They chose to start the year on a different path, with the focus being on their daughters and friendship.
THE KIDS THEY CO-PARENT
The first child they adopted, Haley Joy Kotb, during their eight-year relationship was welcomed in 2017. During a phone call to her "Today" colleagues, Hoda revealed that her daughter was born on Valentine's Day.
She also described the little girl as "the love of my life!" The news anchor was already 52 when she welcomed her first child and had her boyfriend's support, but she wasn't done with her parenting journey.
[Karen] Swensen and her daughter [Catherine Swensen] have previously visited “Today's” fourth hour as part of their first Best Friend Friday.
Hoda also explained that her daughter was named after Halley's Comet because she pictured the little girl sailing across the sky. The name was also an alliteration the star shared with her sister, Hala, and her niece, Hannah.
Haley's middle name reflected all the joy she brought to her parents. In 2019, a new addition was added to the family when the couple adopted little Hope Catherine Kotb.
The little girl got her first name from her adoptive mother seeing the word "hope" appearing 10 million times in her journal as she wrote about her desire to have a second child. Her second name honored Hoda's best friend.
The star met Karen Swensen in 1994 when they were working at WWL-TV and became friends. Swensen supported Hoda with her breast cancer battle in her 40s, and the anchor did the same when her friend lost her husband.
Hope's middle name, Catherine, honors her best friend, who has a daughter by the same name. Swensen and her daughter have previously visited "Today's" fourth hour as part of their first Best Friend Friday.