Countdown to Bliss

Brendan Cahill and Ann Campbell

Met: Sept. 8, 2003

Engaged: May 6, 2005

Projected Wedding Date: June 10, 2006

Ann Campbell, an editor at Broadway Books, has dated her fair share of lawyers and investment bankers during a decade in the city. But she found most of them intellectually vapid. “I said, ‘You know what? At the end of the day, I need a book person,’” said the porcelain-skinned, dark-brown-haired Ms. Campbell, 31, slurping yakisoba at Dojo on St. Mark’s Place the other day, a few blocks from her tidy one-bedroom. “Books are my passion, and I knew I need a word person. Oh, and I wanted a traveler.”

But her personal Baedeker strictly prohibited dating someone in the same field. “I always had this philosophy,” she said: “Whatever people say about me in this business, good or bad, let it be about something I’ve done for professional reasons.”

All that changed when Brendan Cahill, a bespectacled, ambitious editor at Gotham Books, showed up late at an intimate industry dinner at an Upper East Side Italian restaurant. “I’m so sorry,” Mr. Cahill said, arching his Jack Nicholson eyebrows. “I just got back from vacation. I was at a wedding in Mauritius … on safari.” Ding ding ding!

At the end of the evening, Ms. Campbell handed him her card. “Let’s get together sometime for drinks,” she said.

“I wasn’t really even thinking of it as anything date-y at all,” she swore to The Love Beat. “People in publishing go out for drinks all the time!”

When the captivating Mr. Cahill e-mailed Ms. Campbell the next day, she didn’t write back. “I was editing Simon Cowell’s book,” she said. “It was the most intensive work period I ever had.” (Who says literature is dead?)

Three weeks later, they met at Art Bar in the West Village, where she stuck to one businesslike glass of white wine. But her body language told a different story. “I’ve probably never seen somebody smile so much in my life,” said Mr. Cahill, also 31. “I wanted to keep making that smile happen.”

Afterward, they shared a cab—even though he lived in Williamsburg—and a chaste embrace. “He gave a really good hug, which I noticed, because I like good huggers,” Ms. Campbell said. And when he asked her out to dinner a few days later, “I was like, ‘Oh! Now I understand what’s going on.’”

Still, she tried to keep the relationship secret in their professional circle—until Mr. Cahill brought her along to meet Duran Duran and the band’s literary agent in Atlantic City after a concert at the Borgata. “They were my favorite band back when I was 10!” she crowed. (He later signed them to a book deal.)

After a little over a year of dating, the couple vacationed in Argentina, where they learned to tango. Mr. Cahill’s colleagues had an office pool betting that he would propose on that trip, but “I hadn’t bowed down to the inevitable,” said the editor.

A couple of months after they returned, Mr. Cahill arranged an evening at La Belle Epoque, a dimly lit Argentine restaurant near Union Square offering live music and tango lessons. “Years ago, when I moved to New York, I had all of these ideas and images in my head of New York things I wanted to do with a guy, or someone I was madly in love with, and if I’d known about this place, this definitely would have been at the top of my list,” she told him over steak and Malbec wine. “I’m so happy I’m here right now and doing it with you.”

“That kind of took the pressure off,” Mr. Cahill said.

After several strenuous dance sessions, he slid to one knee and presented her with a 2.65-carat, cushion-cut diamond that her great-great-great-great-grandfather had mined himself during the Gold Rush, set in platinum and secretly secured from her parents. “Oh my God! Oh my God!” Ms. Campbell said, turning bright red.

After the engagement, he moved into her apartment. They will marry at St. Ignatius Loyola on the Upper East Side, followed by a reception at the Mark Hotel—cha cha cha!

Sonya Kolowrat and Johnny North

Met: June 2001

Engaged: Sept. 24, 2005

Projected Wedding Date: October 2006

When Johnny North turned 30 recently, his girlfriend, Sonya Kolowrat, threw him a big, boozy party at Daddy’s in Williamsburg. “I couldn’t have done this without her,” the bearded, skinny Mr. North told the 75 guests. “In fact, I can’t do anything without her, and I don’t want to do anything without her again!” Then he dropped to one knee and brandished a miner’s-cut diamond, just under a carat and set in a Deco-style band, from the Clay Pot in Park Slope. It was a true rock ’n’ roll proposal.

They met after both joined the Williamsburg softball league’s Arena Rock team, made up mostly of musicians and record-label types. Ms. Kolowrat is the national publicist for the Beggars Group, a record label. Mr. North, a freelance director of photography and amateur musician, was also a bit of a career Casanova at the time. “It was the ‘Summer of Johnny,’ we all liked to call it,” said his now-fiancée. “Johnny was kissing a lot of ladies that summer.”

But Mr. North saw something special in Ms. Kolowrat, who is four years his senior and would flirt skillfully with him by the bleachers—“especially while I was stretching,” he said. “She had her hair kind of in her face, and this gap in her teeth, and it kind of turned me on a little bit.”

Early one evening, the team went to the Brooklyn Ale House to celebrate winning a double-header. “I think I should kiss Johnny,” Ms. Kolowrat told some of the other girls on the team, as if they were at the sock hop circa 1956 or something. “I think he’s kinda cute.”

“Yeah! Do it!” they cheered.

But, alas, it didn’t prove to be “the make-out session to end all make-out sessions,” Ms. Kolowrat admitted. Indeed, after smooching her, that scoundrel Mr. North quickly moved on to another lass. “I was sort of like, ‘Oh, whatever. If he wants to hang out with her, then fuck him,’” recalled the spunky Ms. Kolowrat.

The next day, Mr. North remembered nothing of their beer-fueled interaction until reminded by his buddies. “I thought they were kidding me at first,” he said. “I knew that I liked her, and I didn’t want her to think that it was just something that happened.”

Shortly afterwards, he broke his foot during another softball game (hello, karma?). Leaving another group outing, he told Ms. Kolowrat, “I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it home. I just need a hand.”

“Oh, you’re just trying to get me to go home with you,” she said.

“Well, maybe.”

They began dating in earnest, though from time to time Mr. North would tell her lame, commitment-phobic things like “I’m not your quote-unquote boyfriend.”

He had just emerged from a long, failed relationship, and there were scars. “I was really, really wary of starting up something new with someone I really liked, and I really liked her,” he told The Love Beat. “I was trying to be careful not to put her in a bad situation or hurt her. I just felt very protective.”

Then that great catalyst of New York City romance—real estate—finally forced his hand. When they both lost their roommates, Mr. North left his apartment in the ’burg for her loft in Greenpoint, which they now share with his cats, Slash and Ravioli, and hers, Emmylou. It’s the ideal place for the groom-to-be’s “poetry-rock” band, Hide the Knives, to practice.

“She displayed infinite patience with me,” he said.

“He’s smart, he’s well-read, and he’s cultured—all the things I knew I sort of wanted in a boyfriend,” Ms. Kolowrat cooed. “He’s a Renaissance man. That’s why I love him.”

Countdown to Bliss