Christopher McBride and Jennifer Usdan
Met: October 2002
Engaged: Oct. 24, 2004
Projected Wedding Date: June 25, 2005
Here come the McBrides! Jennifer Usdan, a pretty, dark-haired VH1 producer who wouldn’t disclose her age (ah, showbiz), is marrying Christopher McBride, 32, a tall, hazel-eyed senior product manager for eMusic.com, an online mp3 distribution service.
Call their tale Sleepless in San Francisco: Ms. Usdan, a native Manhattanite, first heard of Mr. McBride after her best friend paid a visit to that foggy burg. “She told me she’d met the perfect guy for me-smart, handsome and kind,” Ms. Usdan said. “I heard he lived in San Francisco and told her not to tell me any more.”
Meanwhile, some 2,600 miles away, Mr. McBride was having a similar conversation. “My friend told me he had met the perfect girl for me,” he said. “But when I heard that this supposed ‘perfect girl’ lived in New York City, I put it out of mind.”
When their two friends got married in Manhattan, Ms. Usdan and Mr. McBride finally met as members of the respective wedding parties. “She came up, introduced herself to me, and we started talking,” he said. “All I could think was that my friend had been telling the truth.”
“He has this amazing smile, and he was just wonderful to talk to,” she said. “It was like, O.K., I get it.”
A few weeks later, she punted a greeting through cyberspace (gotta love the modern woman), and they began an e-pistolary courtship. “We realized that we had a lot of the same goals and a similar outlook on life,” Ms. Usdan said. After several months, Mr. McBride got on a plane and flew to New York City for a romantic snow-blanketed weekend. “It was so gorgeous-all sepia-toned and beautiful,” Ms. Usdan said.
All of a sudden, San Francisco wasn’t looking so swell to Mr. McBride. “I knew this was the one for me,” he said. After a few more months, he secured a transfer to his company’s New York office and a sublet on a Hell’s Kitchen studio (out-of-towner luck). The relationship wasn’t instant perfection. “There are some things we differ on,” Mr. McBride said. “We voted for different people. I’m a Red Sox fan, she’s a Yankee’s. But we always have fun together and we value the same things. We want to live the same kind of life.”
A year later, he proposed marriage while visiting the Usdan family home in Norwalk, Conn. (she was in jeans, hair unwashed), pretending to find a platinum ring with a solitaire diamond in a flower box. “I had to think on my feet,” Mr. McBride said. “I wanted to do it on the dock, but when we got there, it had been knocked over by a recent storm.”
Soon after, he moved into her West Village one-bedroom, and Ms. Usdan became abustle with wedding plans. “I’m a producer!” she said. “Of course I’m going to be all over the organizing.”
Izzet Bensusan and Selda Gulcan
Met: Summer 1992
Engaged: May 2004
Projected Wedding Date: July 3, 2005
Izzet Bensusan first laid eyes on Selda Gulcan 12 years ago, when the two were vacationing at a Club Med on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Then 14, the dramatic, dark-locked lass was performing a flamboyant solo dance to the Flashdance theme song (“What a Feeling”) at the resort’s variety show. “The energy, the confidence, the smile-the life in her!” marveled Mr. Bensusan, who is one year older.
It turned out that they shared many friends back in Istanbul, where they both lived, and that both their families summered on the same Princess Island in the Bosphorus. But Ms. Gulcan wasn’t interested in any adolescent gropings. “I was hanging out with four-years-older people, and he has a very baby face,” she said. “He really looks younger than his age.”
After high school, Mr. Bensusan left Istanbul to attend Brandeis University, moving to New York in 1999, where he began to work as a business development manager at an IT consulting firm. Ms. Gulcan, who had gone to college in Turkey, also arrived in New York that year, to study at F.I.T. They reunited at an intimate birthday dinner thrown by her sister. Ms. Gulcan took one look at the not-so-young-anymore Turk, who has light brown hair and eyes, and thought, Oh my God, he grew up!
The couple met a few days later for a casual lunch at Terramare, a Eurochic café off Madison. They returned to his apartment for a backgammon match, which Mr. Bensusan won. The prize: dinner at the place of his choice.
At Mr. Chow a few days later, the pair was happily chatting when a fellow diner interrupted to comment on their “incredible electricity.” He instructed them to “go home” together, predicting that they’d “be together for the rest of their lives.”
“I was like, Did he pay him?” said Ms. Gulcan, before succumbing to the stranger’s instructions. “It was such a strange night-I had the goosebumps. It was like God sending a message.”
Two and a half years later, sitting at a Passover seder chez some relatives in Tel Aviv, she realized she was waiting not only for Elijah, but also Izzet. “I think it was a big clue for me that he was the one,” said Ms. Gulcan, now 26 and the director of public relations for Cesare Paciotti, the shoe manufacturer.
They just moved in to an Upper East Side two-bedroom together and are planning a wedding at Neve Shalom Synagogue in Istanbul, with a party at the Hotel Kempinski to follow. The bride will wear a big-skirted, beaded Monique Lhuillier strapless gown.
Mr. Bensusan proposed after another dinner at Mr. Chow, first presenting his intended with a decoy gift: tickets for a trip to water-skiing camp in Orlando. “So not romantic-so not him,” said Ms. Gulcan, good and fooled even as her swain led her out to a post-prandial horse and carriage containing champagne and a sweater to keep her warm. (“He’s so detail-oriented,” she cooed. “I love, love, love that.”)
The question finally popped out as they were standing near Cherry Hill in Central Park-along with a brilliant round-cut stone in a modern Tiffany-style setting purchased from Ms. Gulcan’s cousin in the diamond district. Mr. Bensusan had hooked up his iPod to speakers for a soundtrack and brought a digital tape recorder to capture the moment. “I wired myself like in the movies,” he said. “I thought it would come in handy in the next 50 years.”
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