Countdown to Bliss

Chris Buck and Michelle Golden

Met: June 4, 2002

Engaged: Feb. 11, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Spring 2004

Chris Buck, 38, is a celebrity-obsessed portrait photographer whose feats include persuading Premiere to print a shot of Billy Bob Thornton peeing and bullying confessional druggie author Elizabeth Wurtzel into keeping her shirt on for a Newsweek shoot. “Why celebrities?” he said. “It’s a deep psychological problem.”

Maybe that’s why he’s marrying a commoner: Michelle Golden, 28, an associate editor at Photo District News and a budding photographer in her own right (she shoots his contributors’ page pictures).

They met at the Good World Bar & Grill on the Lower East Side after she interviewed him briefly on the phone about an exhibit of his band photos. The dark-haired, soft-spoken Ms. Golden hopped up on a stool next to Mr. Buck, giving him a nice glimpse of shapely rear. “She was just super cute,” he said. “I kind of made a mental note of, ‘O.K., wow.’”

Meanwhile, she was impressed by his height and sexy, dark blond widow’s peak. “I thought he was out of my league,” she said. “He was this good-looking photographer whose work I really liked, and I figured, ‘Oh, he’s so cute, he probably dates like a million supermodels.’” Her tension eased, however, after they moved on to Arlene Grocery, where he plunged enthusiastically into a session of heavy-metal/punk-rock karaoke. “I was a regular,” he said. “When you’re single, you develop these little pastimes.” Ms. Golden said she was “equally impressed and horrified.”

On their second date, they went to Joe’s Pub to see potty-mouthed Sarah Silverman, whom Mr. Buck had shot for Entertainment Weekly .

“I was never a big dater,” said the delicate-featured Ms. Golden, a sporty type who plays soccer on weeknights in Williamsburg. “I just thought I’d end up with lots of plants and dogs and stuff.” But that night, she found herself telling him, “I’m not as against marriage and children as I used to be.” “I said to myself, ‘I’m not letting this girl get away. I’m going to focus on her,’” said Mr. Buck. Spoken like a true photographer!

They began a mellow courtship. “We’ll make plans for a Friday night to just have a drink and play some cards,” Mr. Buck said. “And Michelle will say, ‘Don’t you feel funny that we live in New York and we’re not doing all the cultural stuff?’ And I’ll say, ‘Whatever. We’ll do that tomorrow.”

Tomorrow came about nine months later, when, after a lecture at the Museum of Television & Radio, they settled into leather armchairs at “21″ for martinis. “I always say, when I’m asking Michelle something really practical, ‘I have a really important question for you’-and it’s always like the least important thing, like ‘Where are my socks?’” Mr. Buck said. “And she hates when I do that. So suddenly I said to her, ‘Hey, I have a really important question to ask you: Will you marry me?’”

Ms. Golden flushed and covered her face with her hands. “You’re kidding, right?” she whispered.

Then they had a waiter take their picture.

Ms. Golden is getting a round diamond that belonged to his mother and moving into his Chinatown one-bedroom before the wedding, which will be held at an as-yet-to-be-determined Manhattan location-with good lighting. They’re fantasizing about getting Henri Cartier-Bresson to shoot it.

“She’s the perfect woman,” Mr. Buck said of his bride. He doesn’t, however, plan to make a subject of her anytime soon. “When I’m with Michelle, it’s my downtime,” he said. “I’m just enjoying her as a man .”

Debbie Brill and Michael Fischer

Met: May 2001

Engaged: Jan. 27, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Feb. 28, 2004

It’s Baywatch meets the Upper East Side: Michael Fischer, 35, is a buttoned-up vice president of investments at Salomon Smith Barney who, on warm weekends, strips to blue and gold swimming trunks and climbs into a lifeguard’s chair on Jones Beach, Long Island. He’s been protecting swimmers there for 19 years, a veteran on a team of about 400 people. “It’s like a paid hobby,” said Mr. Fischer, who has David Hasselhoff–ian brown curls and thick chest hair that wafts in the breeze. “It’s like a fraternity.”

And like any fraternity, it has its sorority: the bodacious babes who wear navy and gold maillots with the words “Jones Beach State Park” embroidered on their bosoms, whistles dangling sexily in their cleavage. “They’re in good shape,” Mr. Fischer said. “They can hang with the boys.” We smell a TV deal!

Mr. Fischer had his beachside flings, of course, but nothing lasted more than a couple of seasons. Then, one late spring morning, he found himself paired on duty with Debbie Brill (no relation to media mogul Steve), a statuesque recruiting manager for Enterprise Rent-a-Car with sun-kissed chestnut curls and a backstroke that would put Yasmine Bleeth to shame. “All I saw was her long hair bouncing against her tush, and her muscular arms,” Mr. Fischer said. “And I’m thinking, ‘This girl is hot! She’s unbelievable!’

“There’s no way to sugar-coat this,” he continued. “I said something like, ‘You have really nice hair. Can I touch it?’”

Ms. Brill played it coy: “I don’t even know how you can look at me, with my lips so chapped,” she cooed.

Then she let him play solitaire on her Palm Pilot. (This is why the private-school kids are taken to Amagansett.)

Fortunately for the Jones Beach swimmers, this was the pair’s first and last day on duty together. But it was the beginning of many private mouth-to-mouth sessions, not to mention grueling 4 a.m. joint workout sessions at a Y 25 blocks from their apartment on 72nd Street. “We don’t just sit around,” said Mr. Fischer somewhat redundantly. “She’s the most positive, energetic person. She forces me to keep up with her.”

“He’s adorable. He has very muscular legs,” said Ms. Brill, 32. Asked to assess his non-physical attributes, she said: “He’s a complete gentleman. He’s thoughtful and considerate, but also spontaneous.”

He took her off-guard by proposing after a 10-mile hike in 95-degree weather during a “vacation” in Argentina. After Ms. Brill slipped on the ring-a two-carat princess-cut diamond surrounded by two smaller stones and baguettes in platinum-the couple wrestled open some champagne and jumped up and down for joy. “We were like two giddy kids,” she said.

They’re considering a beach wedding, of course-”being in the water is second nature to both of us,” she said. Guests will please refrain from horseplay.

Sharmila Shah and Rajat Sil

Met: March 25, 2000

Engaged: Dec. 28, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 10, 2003

Rajat Sil is a hunky financial analyst at U.S. Trust with an identical twin named Rahul (older by two minutes), who is also in finance. The younger Mr. Sil is marrying Sharmila Shah, an attorney at Probono.net with an identical twin, Sangita (older by four minutes), who is also a lawyer. We smell another TV deal!

Ms. Shah first met her fiancé’s twin at an Oxford Circus pub in London, where the brothers Sil were born and raised. Rahul was dating a friend she was visiting on spring break. His brother arrived a few rounds later. “I thought [Rahul] was good-looking, and I know that they look alike,” said Ms. Shah, 27, a golden-skinned brunette with high cheekbones, sexy narrow eyes and a body honed by kick-boxing classes, “but when I saw [Rajat], I thought he was really good-looking. He was really stylish; his hair was all gelled up. He was more trendy, whereas his brother was more conservative. I was more attracted to him.”

But Mr. Sil, as is typical of Englishmen, was cold to her charms. “I was only 25, and I wasn’t really having emotional feelings,” said Mr. Sil, now a ripe old 27.

They met again last summer at brother Rahul’s wedding, and Rajat-perhaps genetically linked to his twin’s marital zeal-suddenly couldn’t keep away from Ms. Shah. “I fell in love at second sight,” he said. “It’s a combination of her attractiveness, her outlook on life, her humor, her intelligence. She’s very sharp and witty and stylish.”

“We just kinda knew that we’d both found the one,” Ms. Shah said, “but no one believed us.”

They spent the next six months flying back and forth between London and New York, where Ms. Shah has been acting as a liaison between lawyers and clients on 9/11-related cases. “Because he lived so far, we had to decide early on whether we were going to pursue a relationship,” Ms. Shah said. “We were running up our phone bills.”

On a stroll by the Thames, he presented her with a 1.2-carat princess-cut diamond flanked with baguettes and set in platinum. This helped them acquire a special visa for foreign fiancés, and in January Mr. Sil moved into a cozy South Street Seaport two-bedroom with Ms. Shah-and her twin. They’re planning a half-Christian, half-Hindu ceremony near their apartment at the scenic Bridgewaters catering facility. Both sets of twins will both be swaddled in ceremonial silk garb.

Ms. Shah has a theory about why this particular relationship works: “As twins growing up, you’re used to having someone there,” she said. “You’re never alone; you always have a playmate. I think Rajat and I are pretty dependent on each other. There’s the same consistency and companionship.”

Mr. Sil has his own theory. “She always puts me first,” he said.