The Smooch That Sealed the Deal

By the end of their first date at Mother Burger, a restaurant in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood, in late June 2015, Megan Cunningham O’Conor had sensed something special in Thomas Peter Cordell.

“I’m not always the easiest person to get along with,” said Ms. O’Conor, 30, “but he seemed like the perfect man for me.”

“No man had ever spoken to me as sweetly as he had on a first date,” added Ms. O’Conor, the director of customer intelligence for North America at the Ralph Lauren Corporation in New York. “No man had ever been more attentive.”

Mr. Cordell, 32, a senior project manager at McCann Health New York, a health care communications and marketing agency, said of Ms. O’Conor: “Where Megan was concerned, there was a lot to be attentive about.”

The pair had met earlier that month at the Belmont Park racetrack, where each had gone with separate friend groups to watch the annual running of the Belmont Stakes. A friend who came with Ms. O’Conor also knew Mr. Cordell and introduced them. Both soon learned that they had each graduated from Fordham in the Bronx — Mr. Cordell in 2011 and Ms. O’Conor, who attended on a soccer scholarship, in 2014 — and were living in Manhattan.

Afterward, Mr. Cordell said, “I couldn’t get her off my mind.” Weeks later came that first date, where they “hit it off spectacularly,” Ms. O’Conor said.

But later that evening, after Mr. Cordell walked Ms. O’Conor home, she said he gave her a pleasant “good night,” and nothing more.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she added. “He didn’t even try to kiss me.”

The following month she accepted his invitation to a golf outing at the Cherry Valley Club in Garden City, N.Y., where Mr. Cordell was born and raised.

When it was over, they took a train back to Manhattan, and made their way to the front door of Ms. O’Conor’s apartment building, where she said Mr. Cordell wished her another “good night,” and watched as she stepped inside the building — still without a goodbye kiss.

“The whole thing just didn’t make sense,” Ms. O’Conor added. When yet another date in late July ended without a kiss, she decided it was time to say something to Mr. Cordell.

He wasn’t a block away when his cellphone began buzzing, and when he answered it, Ms. O’Conor told him, “If you don’t plant one on me the next time I see you, I won’t be seeing you anymore.”

When asked what kept him from kissing her on those dates, Mr. Cordell said, “I guess I was a little bit nervous and was just trying to feel out each situation.”

Both then took lengthy vacations, he with his family to Lake George, and she with her family to their home in Bethany Beach, Del. They met again that September, at a Fordham homecoming event.

Ms. O’Conor was in the company of friends and former classmates when Mr. Cordell, there with his own entourage, suddenly swooped in and, at long last, began smooching with her.

“We had not really told anyone that we were already dating,” Ms. O’Conor said, “so we had a lot of explaining to do after that.”

The following year, they met each other’s families, and in 2017, the couple moved into an apartment together in Astoria, Queens. That same year, Ms. O’Conor ran in the New York City Marathon.

“I think every friend Tom had got married in 2017,” she said, “because it seemed like every time I came home tired after training for the marathon that year, I had to hurry up and get dressed for another wedding.”

Mr. Cordell had planned to return to the Fordham campus in April 2020 to propose to Ms. O’Conor, with family and friends in attendance. But the emergence of the coronavirus changed that plan, and he asked her to marry him nearly nine months later, on Christmas morning in 2020, at her parents’ home in Bethany Beach.

The two were married April 2 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan before the Rev. Enrique Salvo, a Roman Catholic priest, and 148 fully vaccinated guests.

“At this moment in time, I look at our lives as a blank canvas,” the groom said. “In the coming years, it’s going to be very exciting to see all of the beautiful things our love for each other will fill that canvas with.”

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