When Ilana Ozernoy was a young girl growing up in the Soviet Union, her father, Leonid Ozernoy, a prominent astrophysicist in Moscow, bought her a telescope.
Ms. Ozernoy and her father, who was a scientist at the P.N. Lebedev Physics Institute in Moscow, along with her older sister and mother, would spend summers in the Baltics. They visited observatories in ancient Estonian cities like Pärnu and Tartu, where Dr. Ozernoy would research astronomical phenomena like quasars and black holes.
“I still remember how it would feel when the dome opened up to reveal an amazing sea of stars,” Ms. Ozernoy said. “I was so small that my dad would have to prop me up on a seat so I could see the constellations through the giant telescope. He taught me all about the stars and the planets and the constellations. It really was a memorable experience.”
In March 2019, Ms. Ozernoy, all grown up and living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, had another memorable experience, this one on Tinder, where she met Nina Mouritzen, a resident of Lower Manhattan by way of Copenhagen.
In what both women feel was their destiny, Ms. Ozernoy, 42, and Ms. Mouritzen, 40, each arrived in New York City in 2000. They spent the next two decades frequenting the same Thai restaurant in NoLIta, drinking the same cheap red wine at Chelsea gallery openings, and going to some of the same downtown parties, crossing paths perhaps hundreds of times without ever meeting.
But along came an algorithm that finally brought them together, inside a dimly lit Williamsburg wine bar, where the couple hit it off.
“There was something about Ilana that felt very much like home,” Ms. Mouritzen said. “We both made it very clear to each other when we first met that we were very independent women, but somehow, all of that went out the window when we started dating, because all we wanted to do was just keep hanging out, and that feeling has never left us.”
Ms. Ozernoy was feeling much the same. “It felt like we just picked up in the middle of a conversation and I did not want to stop talking to this person,” she said.
“I never really understood what people meant when they said, ‘I’m dating my best friend,’” she added. “To me that always sounded like those people just settled, like it was not passionate, it’s just your friend. But then I met Nina, who is my best friend and the love of my life, and then I totally understood what that meant.”
In the ensuing days, Ms. Ozernoy and Ms. Mouritzen discovered the kind of love-was-meant-to-be sign that would make Cupid blush.
They realized that had they not matched on Tinder, they would have likely met anyway at St. Ann’s Warehouse, a 1,500-seat theater in Downtown Brooklyn, where both held tickets to side-by-side seats for the same show, same time, and same day, making it clear to the couple that the stars Ms. Ozernoy knew so well as a child had returned, shining brighter now with Ms. Mouritzen’s name written on them.
“There was no doubt at that point that we were destined to meet,” Ms. Ozernoy said. “The universe was determined to give Nina to me as a gift.”
Ms. Ozernoy, 42, is a senior vice president for public affairs at Blackstone in New York. She was until June the global head of communications at Bloomberg Media in New York. Ms. Mouritzen 40, is the director of postproduction at Bespoke Digital, a postproduction studio in Manhattan specializing in fashion and beauty photography.
Each has had equally fascinating stories to share about the roads they had taken to where they are now and to each other beginning some 20 years ago.
Ms. Ozernoy immigrated to the United States from the former Soviet Union in 1986, at the height of the Cold War, when she was 8 years old. Her father’s renowned research had led to an offer of a visiting professorship at Harvard in 1979. However, the Soviet Union refused to let him travel.
After eight years of fighting the Soviet government (including her father’s hunger strikes and confrontations with the KGB), her family had become political refugees. They were finally permitted to enter the U.S. in 1986 after a personal appeal to President Mikhail Gorbachev from Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.
Moving to the United States also afforded Ms. Ozernoy many opportunities, and she took full advantage of them. In 1998 she served as an intern in the press room at the White House, and in 2001, she covered the war in Afghanistan as a freelance reporter for The Boston Globe.
In February 2002, her father died at age 62 of cancer. In a New York Times obituary, Stuart L. Shapiro, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noted that Dr. Ozernoy had written some of the earliest papers on quasars, or distant starlike objects, and also produced influential papers on the formation of black holes, magnetic stars and pulsars.
From 2003 to 2005, Ms. Ozernoy, who graduated from George Washington University, covered the war in Iraq as a freelance journalist for U.S. News and World Report, during which she served as its Baghdad bureau chief. She was also a journalism professor at Stony Brook University from 2011-2014, and from 2014-2016 worked in various roles in New York city hall, including as chief of staff to the mayor’s counsel.
Ms. Mouritzen’s parents had made a name for themselves in the fashion and music industries in Copenhagen in the 1980s and ’90s. Her mother, Elsebeth Mouritzen, was a fashion writer at the newspaper Ekstra Bladet, and also worked as a fashion editor at ALT for Damerne, a weekly women’s magazine. Her father, Bent Mouritzen, was an executive at CBS (later Sony Music) in the 1980s and with Warner Music in the 1990s.
Through the years, Ms. Mouritzen, who also immigrated to the United States, had worked for the photographers Patrick Demarchelier and Mary Ellen Mark, and shot cultural notables like Kate Moss, Ellen Page, and other artists and musicians for the pages of Nylon, Dazed and Confused, Wallpaper and Elle. Her work has also been exhibited at the National Gallery of Denmark, the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center and the Alvarez Bravo Photographic Center in Oaxaca, Mexico.
One job that does not appear on her résumé, “World’s Greatest Griller,” was a title jokingly given to Ms. Mouritzen by Ms. Ozernoy. “I do the cooking, she does the grilling,” Ms. Ozernoy said. “And I mean, man, everything she grills turns out great.”
Ms. Mouritzen said that their shared cooking/grilling responsibilities is a microcosm of a “true partnership we have in every possible way.”
“We are equal partners in a very fun and exciting and safe relationship,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve ever experienced all of that with the same person.”
The two were married July 4 at the Conservatory Garden in Central Park before Laura Ward, a New York State Supreme Court justice (best known for successfully prosecuting John Gotti).
There were 12 guests (trimmed down from 70), though the couple said that a romantic ceremony in Copenhagen will follow on July 4, 2021, that will include a much greater number of attendees.
Because of the coronavirus, their chosen venue, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Court House, was closed for business. But their scheduled wedding date was always July 4. “Mostly because we want fireworks on our anniversary for the rest of our lives,” Ms. Ozernoy said, jokingly.
And, as it turned out, there were more than just fireworks on their day. The wedding date coincided with a so-called planet parade, a rare occurrence when all planets in the solar system line up on one side of the sun at the same time. The last time this happened was in 1982, and the next occurrences are expected in 2161 and 2492.
“My sister Alisa said it best,” said Ms. Ozernoy, her playful tone flattening briefly. “The planet parade was a sure sign from our dad.”
On This Date
Where The Conservatory Garden in Central Park, New York
When July 4, 2020
What the Brides Wore: Ms. Ozernoy donned a shorts suit by Acne Studios, a shirt by Nili Lotan, and sandals by the Row. Ms. Mouritzen also had on a shirt by Nili Lotan, as well as pants by A.P.C. and loafers by Celine.
Early Risers “On our first date, we stayed up until 3 in the morning, just talking and talking,” Ms. Mouritzen said. “We haven’t stayed up until 3 a.m. since then because as it turned out, we are both early birds.”