Countdown to Bliss

Emma Jane Taylor and Rob Tourtelot

Met: April 2004

Engaged: Dec. 24, 2004

Projected Wedding Date: June 2, 2006

Emma Taylor, 32, one half of the sexpert-columnist duo Em & Lo, plans to marry Rob Tourtelot, 34, a partner at the indie-oriented music-licensing company Pump Audio, at the chic Congress Hall in Cape May, N.J. (down the shore from where she spent her teenage years). The couple met on Nerve.com. Ms. Taylor, a saucy brunette who helped invent the now-standard online-personals questionnaire—“Most Humbling Moment,” etc.—had posted an ad that read, in part: “I don’t talk during previews, and your mother would love me.”

Her most humbling moment, she said, was eating most of her high-school lunches in the stalls of the ladies’ room.

“It was so sweet and vulnerable,” said Mr. Tourtelot, who has close-cropped hair, a fit physique and a gentle manner. Soon after their initial cyber-exchange, he met a mutual friend, an editor at Glamour, for dinner (along with his mother). “ Ohmigod—you and Emma are totally going to have a relationship,” said the Glamour editor. “I can’t believe I never thought of it before.”

“My mom got worked up into a tizzy at that point,” Mr. Tourtelot said.

His first date with Ms. Taylor was at the Sunburnt Cow, a nightspot with vaguely Australian overtones on Avenue C. The writer was sitting at the bar reading P.J. Wodehouse (years of blind dating had taught them both to keep dates short and near a fire exit). “I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just go in for one quick drink,’” she said. Five—yes, five—vodka tonics apiece later, they were making out like a pair of teenagers.

“We were completely at ease with each other,” Mr. Tourtelot said. “And, of course, we had a lot of drinks.” Still, he wound up dropping her discreetly at her doorstop in Williamsburg.

As Ms. Taylor was soon to be spending a month in her native England, the pair forwent the usual Manhattan dance of unavailability and agreed to go out the very next night. “All of our cards were on the table,” Mr. Tourtelot said. When Ms. Taylor returned, they plunged headlong into a full-fledged relationship. “We moved into the next stage without having to deal with that insecurity,” she said.

Strolling the beach of Cape May with her beau one weekend, Ms. Taylor suggested that he consider buying a place in town. Soon afterwards, he put a down payment on a charming two-bedroom with a backyard there. “I remember thinking: ‘That should be weird. I’ve been dating this guy a couple months, and he’s buying a house,’” she said. “But it felt like this was going to be our house.”

Several months later, Ms. Taylor found herself broke and crashing on a friend’s couch. Mr. Tourtelot suggested that she move into his oak-trimmed Fort Greene one-bedroom, which he shares with his mutt Baci, but she demurred. “I’d never lived with anyone before, and I didn’t want to live with anyone until I was sure,” she said. But her co-writer and business partner, Lorelei (Lo) Sharkey, with whom she’s written four books, helped to persuade her otherwise: “I realized that I was not moving in to make a point.”

The couple was visiting her family in Oxford when Mr. Tourtelot suggested a walk in a torrential downpour. “What are you talking about?” Ms. Taylor said. “It’s miserable!”

“Nonsense, take my Wellies,” said her mother.

Magically, the rain let up as they set out for a nearby hill. At the top, Mr. Tourtelot turned to his ladylove. “It makes me so happy to be here in England with you and your family, and to be on the beautiful walk, and to have you living with me,” he said. “But do you know what would make me really happy?” He dropped to one knee and offered a gold band encrusted with brilliant-cut diamonds, formerly owned by his mother.

“Yes!” blurted Ms. Taylor, suddenly light-headed.

Ian Hawkes and Jocelyn Wendt

Met: March 12, 2002

Engaged: June 17, 2005

Projected Wedding Date: June 25, 2006

After two dates with Jocelyn Wendt, a spunky, bespectacled blonde, Ian Hawkes invited her to his Park Slope studio for movies and snuggling on the futon. Ms. Wendt showed up at his door wearing a pair of cat ears (yikes!) and bearing a basket filled with Goobers and Milk Duds and a bag of popcorn.

“I thought it was hysterical,” said Mr. Hawkes, 28.

“I did it just to be funny, because I’m kind of kooky,” said Ms. Wendt, 27.

That’s what you get for meeting on Match.com! Ms. Wendt, then working at a real-estate office, had distributed Mr. Hawkes’ posted photo to family and friends for approval before signing up as a member herself. “I tailored my profile, hoping this cute redhead would e-mail me back,” she said. Alas, she fell one inch shy of his 5-foot-7 minimal height requirement, so she had to take the initiative herself. They arranged what turned out to be a rather meandering rendezvous at the Brooklyn Museum. “We were totally engrossed in each other,” she said.

After some bad Thai food in the Slope, Mr. Hawkes walked Ms. Wendt to her Ford Escort and gave her a peck on the cheek. “I didn’t think he was interested, and I was kind of sad,” she said. “I had been on a whole bunch of dates before with Match.com, and they were disasters,” Mr. Hawkes said. “I told myself, ‘Don’t expect too much right away.’ I was keeping my cards close to my chest.”

He called her the next day.

A few drinks at 444 Lounge finally led to a proper, glasses-fogging kiss. “Wait,” Ms. Wendt whimpered as Mr. Hawkes made as if to head back to his apartment. “More.”

“It was really cute,” he said. His entrancement only grew when she began ferrying his dirty laundry to her basement apartment in her sister’s house in Sheepshead Bay. “Here’s a cute girl with a car and a washer and dryer,” said Mr. Hawkes, then a production assistant at Parents magazine (he has since been promoted to production associate). “I’m not going to be an idiot—I don’t want to pass that up.”

Five months later, he found a two-bedroom luxury apartment in (brace yourself) Hoboken, with its own washer-dryer. After that lease was up, Ms. Wendt, now office manager and assistant to the editor at Fast Company, joined him in a slightly more modest place, with a closet that flooded every time it rained, where they enjoyed hosting friends for raucous games of Risk.

Mr. Hawkes proposed during a vacation in Myrtle Beach, just as Ms. Wendt was preparing to slide ( kersplash) into an outdoor hot tub, giving her an antique-style single-carat, brilliant-cut diamond set in platinum and flanked by two quarter-carat, pear-cut side stones. Though he’d jokingly proposed before, the real thing came as a complete surprise. “I always figured I’d know,” said the bride-to-be, currently planning a wedding at Flanders Valley Farm in Joisey, “and would have to pretend to be shocked.”

Countdown to Bliss