Countdown to Bliss

Alice Lee and Alex Soong

Met: August 2002 Engaged: Feb. 14, 2005 Projected Wedding Date: Summer 2006

Age gap? What age gap? Alice Lee, 21, a political-science major at Stony Brook who has modeled for Panasonic and Avon (seen in China), is marrying Alex Soong, 30, who runs his own information-technology consulting firm. Ms. Lee dispelled any notion of an Elektra complex. “He doesn’t act like my father,” she said. “He acts like my older, wiser best friend. He brings out the best in me. “This sly old dog first approached the 5-foot-7 1¼2, perfectly complected Ms. Lee after spotting her across the Rainbow Room during a mutual friend’s birthday party. “I didn’t feel geeky or stupid around her,” said Mr. Soong, who is 5-foot-11 and resembles Keanu Reeves. “She was very easygoing. “But Ms. Lee played hard-to-get at first, giving him a bum cell phone number. Mr. Soong came back to double-check it, unsure he’d heard her correctly over the din. Extra points for being persistent, she thought to herself. Their first date was at Forbidden City, a pan-Asian lounge in the East Village. That’s where Mr. Soong, who had his own apartment on the Upper West Side, discovered this babe really was a babe: 19, to be exact. “She was-how shall I say?-well beyond her years, very intelligent, very mature,” said Mr. Soong. Oh yeah, that’s what they all say, you cradle-robber! A bunch of his friends joined them for karaoke. “I’m kind of shy, and I only sing in the shower,” Ms. Lee said. But Mr. Soong’s enthusiasm for the Backstreet Boys tracks quickly loosened her up. “I thought that he was a very sincere person,” she said. There followed a few of months tearing through what Mr. Soong calls “the trendy lounges in New York”: Pangea, Open, the Park. “Going out a lot,” he said. “Four times out of the week. “The first time Mr. Soong ventured to her dorm, Ms. Lee said, “he was completely appalled. He’s a neat freak; I’m very sloppy.” Unfazed, he began organizing things on her desk. “I thought it was a really kind gesture,” she said. Last year, seeking more filing space, Mr. Soong moved to a two-bedroom across the Hudson in (gasp) Edgewater, N.J. The increased distance from Ms. Lee kindled his marriage lust, and the couple began casually hunting for a ring in the diamond district.On Valentine’s Day, Ms. Lee awoke to find an envelope containing an itinerary written in calligraphy. “Mademoiselle Alice, you are cordially invited to an evening of enchantment … ,” it began. A limousine dropped her off at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel, which the couple had been investigating as a potential wedding site. Mr. Soong led her to a ballroom filled with candles arranged in the shape of a massive heart where Tony Bennett’s “The Way You Look Tonight” was playing over the loudspeakers. After leading Ms. Lee in a “slow dance,” he dropped to one knee and presented her with a 3.1-carat round-cut diamond set in a classic six-prong setting. Then he whisked her off for dinner at Daniel and a performance of Verdi’s Nabucco at the Metropolitan Opera. The comely Ms. Lee plans to wear a form-fitting mermaid-style gown to her wedding ceremony and a traditional Mandarin qipao for the reception. “I don’t want to look like Scarlett O’Hara,” she said.

Robert Edgar McNeill and Delphine Rubin

Met: April 12, 2003 Engaged: March 21, 2005 Projected Wedding Date: Aug. 5, 2006

Delphine Rubin, the elegant blond P.R. director for the fashion house Tuleh, is marrying a strapping Scotsman, Robert Edgar McNeill, an analyst for Forrester Research, at her family’s French vineyard in the Alsace region of France. They’re both 28. The pair first met when Mr. McNeill, visiting New York from Boston, phoned an old Glenalmond College chum inquiring if he knew anyone who might know good places to go out. His friend immediately recommended the fun-loving and outgoing Ms. Rubin, and a plan was struck to meet in a group at Jefferson, a restaurant in the West Village.Ms. Rubin was impressed with Mr. McNeill’s phone manner (“He’s incredibly polite,” she said) but utterly captivated at his physical presence. “He’s stunning,” she gushed, of her rugby-playing future husband. The evening continued at APT, the Park and Bungalow 8. “It was amazing,” Mr. McNeill said in his charming Scot burr. By 6 a.m., the rest of the clan had called it a night. Ms. Rubin invited him back to her one-bedroom apartment in the East Village, where they continued talking till noon. “We didn’t really do anything,” she hastened to add. “I’m kind of old-fashioned when it comes to a guy I like. “On his train ride home to Boston, Mr. McNeill’s cell phone battery dropped out, and he couldn’t retrieve Ms. Rubin’s number for a couple of days. “I still give him crap about that,” she said fondly. But he quickly redeemed himself. On their many subsequent visits-thank heaven for the Fung Wah bus-“I made all the moves,” Mr. McNeill said (arranging for champagne and chocolate-covered almonds to greet her in Beantown, for example). “It was quite good fun. “In deference to Ms. Rubin’s more New York centric line of work, he eventually moved to New York, into the apartment where they spent their first night. “I’ve become neater, cleaner and more organized,” he said proudly. Ms. Rubin was frequenting a favorite antique shop on University Place a couple of months ago when she stumbled upon an estate ring from the early 1900’s, a yellow-gold band with three diamonds in high crowns that was worn by three generations of women in the same family. “I’ve been looking for the ring since my freshman year of college,” she said. This is it, she thought, putting it on hold. She then called Mr. McNeill, on business in Bombay, and told him that she’d found the perfect ring. “But darling, I haven’t asked you yet,” he said. “I just wanted to let you know in case you wanted to,” his sweetie replied unflappably. “The ring” magically appeared while they were vacationing in Key West, during champagne on the roof of their bed-and-breakfast. The blazer-and-sweater-clad Mr. McNeil dropped to one knee and asked Ms. Rubin to be his wife. “Will you be my husband?” she said between tears. “I’m the one asking questions,” he said. Ms. Rubin has already planned minute details of their wedding, from the green-thistle (Scotland’s national flower) matching her groom’s kilt to the tartan sashes and napkin rings. Mr. McNeill is optimistic about their union. “Historically, the French and Scottish have always got on,” he said philosophically.

Countdown to Bliss