Chris Baker was with a group of friends at a nightclub in Hollywood, Calif., over the Thanksgiving weekend of 2013, when he spotted John Federspiel smiling at him from across a crowded dance floor.
But because of the venue — which was not a gay bar — he was unsure how to interpret the overture.
“There was this guy who flashed this magnetic, megawatt smile,” he said, “and I thought, “Wow, he’s so handsome, but maybe he’s drunk or on drugs or something, and just smiles at everyone he sees.’”
Mr. Baker smiled back. Eventually, as the crowd grew, the men were moved closer together. They introduced themselves, and both felt a jolt when they shook hands.
“That electricity from touching him was the moment of my life,” Mr. Baker said. “I couldn’t believe he was a real person.”
The two spent the rest of the night dancing together, and shared a first kiss. They also exchanged numbers and planned to see each other the next day for a proper first date. Mr. Baker told his friend when they left the club, “I’m going to marry him.”
From that date forward, they didn’t waver.
“We had the same values, both grew up Catholic, and had the same goals,” Mr. Baker said. “I couldn’t believe how much sense it made, and both he and I had never dated anybody seriously before. It’s hard to explain, but we just decided that the other was the one, even though we had no idea how to go about having a relationship.”
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“About a month later, I remember being at his apartment and watching ‘21 Jump Street’ together, and I remember saying to him, ‘When does likes a lot become love,’” Mr. Federspiel said. “And he said, ‘I feel the same way.’ I was falling in love with him, really, from day one. Day one was exciting, a lot of adrenaline, but after that first date, I knew he was something special.”
Mr. Baker, 33, is an actor and writer whose feature film “The Estate” (he wrote and stars in it) is to be released in theaters on Oct. 22. He graduated from Harvard. Mr. Federspiel, also 33, is the product engineering director for Starlink, a high-speed internet service being developed by SpaceX. He graduated from the University of Michigan.
On Sept. 25, the couple married, with Michael Michelon, a friend who had become a Universal Life minister for the event, officiating. About 130 guests, all fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, attended. They had originally intended to marry in September 2020, but were forced to postpone because of the pandemic.
When the two men met, the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, had just recently been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. So as their relationship developed, they began to consider their own long-term plan.
“We knew that we were going to get married pretty early on,” Mr. Baker said. “Within the first six months of us dating, we were joking about what we wanted our wedding to be like. Pretty detailed stuff, like D.J. over live band, which would remind us of the club where we met.”
Their event, at Glenmere Mansion in Chester, N.Y., was ultimately special in one other respect as well. “Our first gay wedding was our own,” Mr. Federspiel said.