Countdown to Bliss

Leslie Dickstein and Jonathan Levine

Met: Jan. 17, 1993

Engaged: May 24, 2001

Projected Wedding Date: Aug. 24, 2002

It’s Uptown Girl meets Long Island Guy!

Leslie Dickstein, 29, went to Spence (one year behind Gwynnie) and Calhoun. She has caramel-colored hair, a bronzed kewpie-doll face, smart clothes and expertly sculpted brows. She graduated from Marymount College with a B.A. in photography, but not before a brief bohemian foray at N.Y.U.

This put her on a direct collision course with Jonathan Levine, 32, who grew up in Woodmere, went to the University of Vermont and then moved into a Greenwich Village studio to pursue “various artistic projects.”

One night he walked into the Lion’s Den bar on Sullivan Street, where Ms. Dickstein was slumming with a few of her girlfriends, and, well, sha- zam. “I thought she was the most beautiful person I’d ever seen,” he said. “She’s completely stylish. Everything about her-her makeup, her clothing, her hair-everything was just so arranged. Everything was neat and matched .”

Meanwhile, the just-so Ms. Dickstein found herself drawn to Mr. Levine’s disheveled look: dark, mussed hair, wayward eyebrows. He’s the kind of guy who wears T-shirts that look like they’ve been tucked in by his mother against his will. “He had a lot of energy about him,” she said.

They struck up a conversation about Barry Manilow (she likes “Copacabana,” his folks have “Manilow mania”) and exchanged numbers. She called first. On their first date, they saw the cannibalistic movie Alive and then went for sushi.

“We were really young at the time, so it wasn’t like we were thinking in terms of marriage,” says Ms. Dickstein. “But as we got older and were still together, we still felt the same way about each other.”

They moved into a one-bedroom on the Upper East Side.

Mr. Levine, the publisher of Fridge Magazine , which covers “urban lifestyle” matters like hip-hop music and snowboarding, likes to entertain his lover with silly songs and jokes. “He’s very clever in a funny, sweet way,” she said.

“She’s the most honest person I’ve ever met,” said Mr. Levine, “the most direct and to-the-point person. She doesn’t understand the concept of beating around the bush.”

This was apparent to him on her 28th birthday, when he met her at the Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park, gave her a Louis Vuitton change purse containing an emerald-cut diamond with baguettes on a platinum band (total: three carats) … and then just sat there mutely as their Labrador mix, Sophie, loped around their heels.

“I was like, ‘Is there something you’re trying to ask me?'” said Ms. Levine.

She plans to wear Carolina Herrera to their wedding at the Metropolitan Club. There will be 240 guests, including the dog, and one of those big, elaborate sugary cakes from Payard Patisserie.

Ms. Levine, a freelance graphic designer, is making the invitations for the rehearsal dinner at Shun Lee Palace. If broccoli is on the menu, they’ll know what to do: She thinks the heads are icky and bushy, and he hates the stems. “It’s perfect!” he said. “You’ll eat my bottoms, and I’ll eat your tops!”

Lauren Gottlieb and Brent Stehmer

Met: February 2000

Engaged: Jan. 12, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 6, 2003

Brent Stehmer, an equity trader, was at Lush in Tribeca one night when he spotted a pair of pointy-toed red snakeskin mules illuminated by the lights under the bar. He sauntered over to the blue-eyed, long-legged redhead wearing them. “I like your shoes,” he said, “and by the way, I’m not gay.”

Lauren Gottlieb peered up from her Jameson and Coke and met his gaze with some skepticism. It had been a bad date year. There was the guy who used the word “kudos” before their dinner date (she told him it wasn’t going to work out and vamoosed before they were seated) and lots of what she called “dirty-artist types.”

But this guy was clean-cut, dark and muscular. So after that time-honored Tribeca icebreaker-chatting about all the obnoxious celebrities she’d met as a publicist at Miramax-Ms. Gottlieb scribbled her home, work and cell-phone numbers on a cocktail napkin. “I just felt comfortable,” she said.

Mr. Stehmer, a gourmet with a penchant for ordering Grand Marniers after dinner, raised her comfort level still further when he cooked her chicken piccata and cream puffs on their second date. Further along in their relationship, when she was hospitalized with a potentially fatal allergic reaction to an antibiotic, he was there to hold her hand every time the nurses took blood.

“Brent is like ice cream: Everyone likes him,” said Ms. Gottlieb adoringly. “He’d say, ‘I’ll call on Sunday,’ and he would. There was never any of that anxiety of ‘Oh my God , he’s not going to call me!’ He does what he says he’s going to do. He’s honest and loving and caring.”

Mr. Stehmer, 30, proposed to his “schnooky” using baby talk in the living room of their Brooklyn Heights one-bedroom (“She’d kill me if I did something cliché or a public spectacle,” he said), using a cherry-flavored ring pop he’d purchased at Duane Reade. Ms. Gottlieb, 27, started eating the pop, but then decided to store it for safekeeping in a Ziploc baggie. It was eventually replaced with something even tastier: a brilliant-cut diamond with pear-shaped side stones from his family’s jeweler in Connecticut.

They will wed at the Tribeca Rooftop, an event space on Desbrosses Street with panoramic views.

Sherri Strauss and Neil Marks

Met: April 11, 2000

Engaged: March 28, 2001

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 13, 2002

Somewhere, on some TV channel, there’s a game show made for Sherri Strauss, a 1980’s pop-culture trivia freak who can handily rattle off the name of Ally Sheedy’s character in The Breakfast Club , the car Ferris Bueller drives, and the dates of the episodes that George Clooney played Jo’s boyfriend on The Facts of Life (for the rest of us: Allison Reynolds; Ferrari; the ’85 to ’87 seasons).

One night, Ms. Strauss was enjoying a chai with her bearded boyfriend, Neil Marks, outside the Gray Dog’s Coffee place on Carmine Street when he handed her a parchment scroll printed with, among other things, lyrics from pop-standard songs and movie catch-phrases (stuff like “She’ll have the linguine with clam sauce and I’ll have the same” from Fast Times at Ridgemont High ). When she reached the bottom of the scroll, however, she found a line she didn’t know: “Sherri, will you marry me?”

She looked up to find him down on one knee, holding a 1.75-carat solitaire in a platinum setting. In a kissing frenzy, she toppled him onto the sidewalk in front of the café.

Mr. Marks, 29, is a pop-culture geek in his own right, who works in advertising at Comedy Central (he helped with that incessant Crank Yankers campaign). One night he scored a ticket to the screening of an English movie called East Is East , happened to sit down next to Ms. Strauss, and asked her to watch his bag so he could get popcorn. “I remember thinking how odd it was that he asked a complete stranger to watch his valuables,” said Ms. Strauss, 31, a traffic manager at LM&P Advertising. “When he returned he thanked me, and I looked up to see this incredibly handsome and sexy man sitting next to me. I just could not stop looking at him.”

After the movie, the hazel-eyed redhead exhibited a Molly Ringwald–like spunk and asked her seatmate on a date to go see Gossip , starring Dawson Creek ‘s Joshua Jackson. But Mr. Marks found her choice too fluffy. “Mediocrity is the devil,” he said. They wound up seeing Steal This Movie .

“Our love for film, music and general pop culture made for an easy getting-to-know-you period,” said Ms. Strauss, who grew up on Staten Island with big hair and lots of kohl eyeliner (the pair now commutes from Hoboken, N.J.). “He made me mix tapes, and I helped him relive his childhood with my vast-and useless-knowledge of 80’s trivia.”

Mr. Marks wasn’t quite as excited as Ms. Strauss about the announcement that Nick at Nite was going to start airing reruns of The Cosby Show , but he did eventually suck it up and incorporate her Duran Duran and Billy Joel albums into the collection of 1,500 high-quality CD’s. Lest their wedding be like an outtake from The Wedding Singer , they’re hiring the saxophonist from Steely Dan.

They both enjoy South Park , which should help them weather marriage’s occasional dull spots.

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