Countdown to Bliss

Margaret Batiuchok and George Candler

Met: Jan. 6, 1999

Engaged: Jan. 6, 2002

Projected Wedding Date:

July 20, 2002

That annoying Gap commercial has vanished with the 1990′s, but Margaret Batiuchok swings on.

Ms. Batiuchok, a peppy 49, is president and co-founder of the New York Swing Dance Society. She wrote her 100-page master’s thesis on the Lindy Hop. In 1989, she helped launch the first Midsummer Night’s Swing event outside Lincoln Center, a bastion of uncynical fun that persists to this day.

One winter, she got a sweet gig teaching dance for a week in St. John, one of the Virgin Islands. George Candler, an architect and longtime divorcé, was there alone to relax and snorkel, and he encountered the flamboyant, 5-foot-10 blonde on the buffet line one night.

“I first noticed her smile,” said Mr. Candler, 50, who is tall and distinguished-looking, with salt-and-pepper hair and the schmancy title of associate vice president of planning and construction at Rockefeller University. “She had a gleam in her eye.”

She dug him, too: “He was intriguing because he was kind of quiet, and I was interested in drawing him out.” But he never showed up for dance class that week, so she figured he wasn’t interested. (Really, the poor sap was just shy.) But they happened to be on the bus together to the flight out of Paradise, and it wasn’t long before she was giving him private dance lessons back in New York, if you know what we mean.

“He kisses well,” she said.

He liked her “great sense of humor” and “inquisitive nature” enough to bring her back to St. John three years later, where he presented her with a diamond solitaire set in platinum. Then they went swimming in the moonlight.

“Since we’ve been together,” said Ms. Batiuchok, “he’s more active, and I’m more grounded.”

She’s spray-painting a pair of her (size 11) dancing shoes white for the wedding reception, which will take place in the blue and yellow ballroom at Xaviar’s, a restaurant in Garrison, N.Y. Ms. Batiuchok will glide along the dance floor with several of New York’s sultans of swing, but Mr. Candler isn’t concerned: “I think she’ll always want to come back and dance with me.”

Left together, right together, rock step ….

Christopher Forbes and Louise Phillips

Met: Jan. 18, 2001

Engaged: Dec. 9, 2001

Projected Wedding Date:

Aug. 10, 2002

You can take the girl out of the South, but ….

Louise Byrd Phillips, 39, was born in Nashville but has been living in Manhattan since the 80′s. She’s a real-estate broker to the elite, a senior vice president of Halstead Property with plenty of “society” friends and her own places in Bridgehampton and on the Upper West Side (prewar, two bedrooms, maid’s room, two baths, hardwood floors, 10-foot ceilings, big windows, lots of light … ). But she’s held on to certain Southern-belle aspects of herself, like a drawl and going to church most Sundays. “I got it in my blood,” Ms. Phillips said.

She was beginning to feel a bit like Blanche DuBois, though, by the time she was set up on a blind date with Chris Malcolm Forbes-no relation to the late publishing magnate with a penchant for parties (though he does own a technical publishing company). They met at Café des Artistes, the restaurant with the nude-lady murals on the Upper West Side. He showed up with a huge bouquet of tiger lilies, which he’d been briefed were her favorite flower, and did the proverbial double take. “I was a little intimidated,” said Mr. Forbes, 41. “She was very tall, very blond and very successful-but really she’s just a sweet Southern girl.”

Ms. Phillips said she had “butterflies” the entire night, looking at this strapping, 6-foot 2-inch Ken doll with dark sandy hair and blue eyes. “I knew I was in good company when I left the table to go to the bathroom,” she said. “He stood up when I left, and stood up when I got back! I’d gotten used to not expecting that in New York. It was refreshing and familiar.”

He escorted her to church the following Sunday, and then they went for bagels. A lady at an adjacent table asked how long they’d been together. “You look like you’ve been married for years!” she exclaimed.

“I guess I started thinking about marrying her right then,” said Mr. Forbes.

The following week, Ms. Phillips was skiing in Vail, Colo., and received word that her father had died-14 years to the day that her mom passed away. Back in Manhattan, Mr. Forbes was packing her suitcases and shipping them to Tennessee unsolicited. Then he sat down and composed a letter of condolence to her family.

“He was such a gentleman to me through that very difficult time,” said Ms. Phillips. “He just hung the moon in my eyes.”

She went ahead with her annual Christmas gala that year for 200 of her closest friends, but the holiday blues hit her harder than usual. One weekend, she was in sweatpants wrapping presents on the floor and burst into tears for no particular reason.

Mr. Forbes gallantly wiped them away, threw his big arms around her and then uncorked a 19th-century “old miner’s cut” estate ring, weighing in at 5 carats.

“I just love her,” he said. “It’s the way she embraces life. It’s the twinkle in her eye. It’s her pout! She inspires me to greatness.”

“I pinch myself everyday-I feel like I’ve got a prince,” she said. “He’s a man cut from the same cloth as my father, and that’s as good as they get.”

Naturally, he’ll be getting one of those chocolate “groom’s cakes” popular below the Mason-Dixon line. She’ll be clad in silk organza. “Being cursed with Southern etiquette is enough to put you over the edge when you’re planning a wedding,” Ms. Phillips said.

Seth Fliegler and Samantha Grebow

Met: October 1993

Engaged: Aug. 10, 2001

Projected Wedding Date:

June 14, 2003

These two sweeties have three things in common: France, Friends and finance.

They met on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, in front of Logan Hall, as freshmen on their way to different sections of Psych 101. It was hard not to notice Samantha Grebow, who is 5-foot-5 and busty, with long, light brown hair. “It sounds cliché, but it was kind of love at first sight, at least for me,” said Seth Fliegler, 26.

They went out occasionally, but Ms. Grebow, 27, saw Mr. Fliegler-who has hazel eyes and a loud, easy laugh-as, you know, “just a friend.”

But by the time they were sophomores, both were French majors and officially dating. They spent their junior year abroad together in Lyon. On weekends, they’d go to Paris and wolf banana-and-Nutella crêpes in the Latin Quarter.

After school, Ms. Grebow got a job working in mutual funds at Société Générale and moved into a Greenwich Village studio decorated with Delacroix prints and a three-foot model of the Eiffel Tower. Meanwhile, Mr. Fliegler began the master’s degree program at Wharton.

On a weekend jaunt back to Penn-around the time that Monica and Chandler tied the knot on their favorite TV program-Mr. Fliegler led his ” chérie ” (as he calls her) to the exact spot on the quad where they’d first met. There he began reading a poem inspired, perhaps, by Phoebe’s strummings in Central Perk:

“It was almost exactly eight years ago,

At the very place where we stand,

That I met the woman of my dreams,

Though then I had nothing planned.

Fate has brought us together,

To remain as one for all time,

For I am surely her lobster [Reader: this is a Friends reference],

And she is surely mine ….

Thus there is only one thing left to ask,

As I get down on one knee,

My dearest Samantha Grebow,

Will you marry me?”

“I was thinking of doing it in French,” Mr. Fliegler later recounted, “but I was worried we wouldn’t understand each other.” But she sure understood the international symbol of a platinum-set sparkly diamond with four baguettes!

Ms. Grebow said she was in such a state that she didn’t actually hear the poem-but she had it laminated and has read it over several times since. She’ll start working soon as a finance manager at American Express; Mr. Fliegler, meanwhile, will be toiling at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “He’s very driven-really motivated- and I admire that a lot,” Ms. Grebow said. “He always has his priorities in line, and I love that I’m the No. 1 priority!”

They’ve registered at Bloomingdale’s for Wedgwood china decorated with mint green and pink flowers. “It reminds me of Provence , ” she said.

The Love Beat can be reached at Engagements@observer.com