“She’s so smart. And always had the right thing to say,” he recalls. “She was my rock. She’s the most capable, supportive, loyal person in the world.”
The lengthy divorce proceedings weighed on them both, especially as it became clear that their relationship was heading for a permanent commitment. “The closer we got to [the divorce] being done and over, the more solidified it was for us that we wanted to move forward,” Owens says.
They celebrated when the divorce became final in April 2010, and later that year Owens moved into Ylitalo’s home. As Ylitalo recovered financially and emotionally in the year that followed, he and Owens began to talk about marriage.
In May 2012, he showed up at the office where Owens works as a human resources executive and brought a fancy lunch. Not knowing Ylitalo planned to propose, Owens invited a co-worker to join them. Once they were finally alone two hours later, Ylitalo closed Owen’s office door and got down on one knee.
“Timing is a big part of it,” Ylitalo said as he described what makes their relationship work. “And I think it helps that we’re older. We’ve been through whatever we’ve been through, and we’re pretty realistic.”
On Nov. 4, the music-loving couple exchanged vows at the Fillmore in Silver Spring. Their names lit up on the marquee outside the concert venue, and guests were greeted by drag queens dressed up as Patti LaBelle and Tina Turner. Before the ceremony began, a video of the couple recounting their relationship played on a big screen. As they told their story, the video cut to clips of the couple dressed up as Michael Jackson, Prince, Slash and Axl Rose, illustrating the story. Guests ate popcorn and sat in the balcony sipping cocktails as they watched the ceremony on the stage below.
“We’re both really equals,” Owens says. “I’ve been in a lot of relationships where I’ve had to adapt to someone’s dominant ideas. We both want to drive and explore, but we can do it together and really enjoy it. I don’t feel any limitation in our relationship.”