Mike Coleman Gets Married

Dave Ghose

In early September, Mike Coleman did something that would have been impossible until recently: He got married and almost nobody noticed. Over Labor Day weekend, the former Columbus mayor and his longtime companion, Janelle Simmons, were wed at a low-key ceremony at the Columbus Museum of Art.

Well, low-key is a relative term. About 250 to 300 people attended the wedding-plenty big for most people but small potatoes for Coleman, who hosted nearly 4,000 people for his 60th birthday party at the Renaissance Columbus Hotel in 2015. "I wanted it to be intimate and small," Coleman told Columbus Monthly recently. "Or at least smaller than what it could have been. For someone who had almost 4,000 people at his birthday party, it was a small wedding."

Coleman's children from his first marriage walked him down the aisle, while Simmons, the president of the L Brands Foundation, was escorted by her brothers. The minister was Bishop Timothy Clarke, senior pastor for First Church of God. Coleman and Simmons honeymooned in Italy. When asked about who was in attendance, Coleman declines to name names. "I don't want to get into it because some people weren't there," he says with a laugh. "That's the problem with being a former mayor. We tried to keep it tight."

The wedding occurred nine months after Coleman left office, and the timing was intentional. "We wanted to do it out of the public eye," he says. Coleman relishes his privacy these days. "I'm making an exception for you," he says with a laugh.

That doesn't mean adjusting to his new civilian life has been easy. He uses email ("the worst thing in the world") and drives himself around town. On his first post-City Hall day, he got a parking ticket, and he spent the first few months of the year getting lost as he tried to figure out how to get around the city (he was chauffeured throughout most of his 16 years in office). He loves his new job at the Ice Miller law firm, and he praises his successor, Andy Ginther. But Coleman admits to missing the chance to weigh in on national and local issues. That's why he's looking forward to January's Martin Luther King Day breakfast, where he'll be the keynote speaker. "I can unload," he says with a laugh.

(Photo: Comfort Photography)