It started with a gaze across a crowded room at a business lunch in Manhattan.
"Bravely, we swapped business cards and then we followed up with each other," recalled John Parks of the day—25 years and three months ago—when he first met Dominick Oddo. "It was sort of an affair that turned into a romance, that turned into a marriage."
One month ago, the couple exchanged vows in their picturesque "magical old studio," as Oddo calls it, tucked away on a hill in Briarcliff Manor.
But it's been a long road to the happily ever after for Oddo—a 54-year-old life coach and motivational speaker—and Parks, 52,—who works in equity research for a Wall Street investment bank—who began dating while Oddo was married with two kids.
"I was in the process of getting a divorce," he recalled.
The couple lived in Staten Island with Oddo's children for eight years, and though they had intended on moving to Manhattan, 9/11 put a damper on those plans.
"My firm had been located at 1 World Financial," said Parks. "For me, the whole experience was incredibly devastating. I just felt like it would be good to get out of the city."
And once they set their eyes on the 1910 Studio Hill gem, the rest was history.
Parks and Oddo say they have always talked about getting married and decided to wait until their native New York legalized it for same-sex couples.
"We thought that would be forever," said Oddo, who said he sometimes get frustrated thinking about the rights they missed out on over the years.
Agreed Parks, "We always thought this was inevitable for the United States eventually, but I think we thought we would be much older by the time it happened."
Despite the legality, "From my point of view you couldn't be more spiritually married than we are already," he added.
"We are very fortunate because both of our families have been extraordinarily accepting from the get-go with us," he continued. "So, it was less about the spirituality about getting married and more about, in some degree, the practical aspects of it."
The couple agrees taking advantage of a right and being counted as a married couple by the state is important both philosophically and legally.
"Just by getting married in the state, we gained 1,000-plus state rights," said Parks. "This offers us a lot of legal protection, too."
While the pair does not want to be defined by the same-sex marriage cause, they anticipate it will become federal law soon eough.
"It's a done deal, I think," said Oddo.
"The population has become more accepting of gays in general," pointed out Parks. "Increasingly, people are realizing when you step back and look at the issue, it's just pure bigotry."
And having the opportunity to finally call Parks' mother his mother-in-law is important to Oddo.
"[Before], she almost didn't know what to say," he said. "She didn't want to say I was her son-in-law because I wasn't. I could always see that slight hesitation. It's finally nice to say and do."
Being accepted by each other's families and raising two children have always made the pair feel like a married couple, but it takes more than that to last a quarter of a century.
"We got to know each other slowly," said Parks. "It was always magical when we got together for quite a few years."
Both agree communication is of utmost importance, as is a mutual respect.
"We have always had a respect for our differences, as well as our fundamental similarities," said Parks. "We have a core philosophy about life that's the same."
Oddo said Parks has "taught me to be so much more tolerant of people."
From the beginning, Parks said his husband has been "all the things I wanted to be like. I wanted to love as fiercely as he did, to be as strong as he is. I was drawn to that passion."
Added Oddo, jokingly, "And I have a great sense of humor."
The couple decided to keep the wedding ceremony itself intimate (13 family members and friends), with minimal planning and stress. Oddo even cooked for the reception.
"Our big splurge was the harpist," revealed Parks.
The newlyweds do not have any immediate honeymoon plans, as both had to depart the weekend after the wedding for business, but may head to the west coast next year.
Waking up the next day as a married couple, Oddo and Parks said the biggest change will be the opportunities to speak about each other.
In the past, "We were never the gays that the first thing you have to know about us is we are gay," explained Oddo. "We were just Nick and John and when they did find out, it didn't matter."
"I've begun to think about the fact that I now get to wear a wedding band and that I will also, therefore, be asked about my partner and my marriage," said Parks. "I welcome that. I think it's the right thing to do. Sometimes silence is worse than having an opinion."