Countdown to Bliss

Todd Bender and Christine Perdikaris

Met: September 1996

Engaged: June 23, 2005

Projected Wedding Date: June 16, 2006

Shoes … and views! Christine Perdikaris, 27, a senior photo producer for the leather-goods company Kenneth Cole, plans to marry Todd Bender, also 27, manager of marketing at Digitas, an advertising company, on the roof of Studio 450 on West 31st Street. Interfaith minister Dr. Katherine Kurs will conduct the ceremony. The couple shares a Chelsea one-bedroom with Henry, an adorable Dachshund with a penchant for faux-fur jacket linings (as this reporter learned the hard way).

Ms. Perdikaris and Mr. Bender knew each other as Boston University undergraduates. “Is there anything you regret?” she asked him over coffee the spring of their senior year.

“I regret not going out with you,” said the scruffy, slightly goofy Mr. Bender.

“I was kind of shocked,” recalled Ms. Perdikaris, a slender but curvy brunette with beautiful brown eyes.

Soon afterward, the two collegians got dressed up and went to dinner at Hamersley’s Bistro—“fine dining,” Boston-style.

“It was so awkward,” Ms. Perdikaris said with a laugh. “We were both very, very clumsy.” She slurped soup from his spoon, and he managed to spill most of his bowl on the table.

Returning to Mr. Bender’s room, they eagerly kicked off their shoes, watched TV and digested their bad first date. “We were so glad it was over,” he said.

Shortly after graduation, they moved to New York, with Ms. Perdikaris landing a windowless room in an Upper East Side share (“It was really new for me,” said she, a New Jersey native) and Mr. Bender luxuriating at his parents’ pied-à-terre in midtown. They had their first celebrity sighting—Claire Danes—while dining at Florent. “I’m convinced she was checking you out,” Ms. Perdikaris said. That hussy!

“She was not,” Mr. Bender protested.

The couple resisted cohabitation for two years, for no particular reason.

Ms. Perdikaris returned home from work one day to find their pooch barking like mad. “Henry has something for you,” Mr. Bender told her.

“What are you talking about?”

Close inspection of their pet revealed something sparkly dangling from his collar: a 1930’s antique transitional-cut centerpiece diamond set in platinum and surrounded by beaded diamonds. “Christine, I love you,” Mr. Bender said, falling to one knee as his girlfriend swooned like the Victorian ladies of yore. “Will you marry me?”

Sharon Isenberg and Matt Callahan

Met: 1994

Engaged: Dec. 23, 2005

Projected Wedding Date: Dec. 6, 2006

NYPD nookie! Hunky, buzz-cut Matt Callahan of Brooklyn’s 90th Precinct, 28, is marrying olive-eyed, golden-tressed Sharon Isenberg, 26, content manager for Liz Claiborne’s intranet site. (Can someone please tell us what an “intranet site” is?)

The couple first met in high school back in St. Louis, where they made out a few times. “Always pretty G-rated,” Ms. Isenberg clarified. They reunited years later at a bar following a Halloween-weekend wedding in their hometown—she ditching her date, an old friend, for Officer Callahan, then on the local beat.

When he came to our parts over New Year’s to visit, there were only crickets greeting him at Newark Airport. “It’s an expensive trip!” Ms. Isenberg protested.

“I didn’t know what the hell I was doing,” said Officer Callahan, his Midwestern twang still a bit in evidence.

Five months after that trip, he turned in his St. Louis badge for a New York one, and the couple moved into a one-bedroom in Sunset Park (that’s Brooklyn, possums). “It was like we got married,” Officer Callahan said. Except they weren’t married.

The pair began exploring the city’s culinary delights, Ms. Isenberg adopting Lombardi’s as a particular favorite. “He hated it,” she said.

“I don’t hate it,” Officer Callahan said. “I like their pizza.” But not the salad. “I like a real salad—you know, iceberg lettuce.” Mesclun not masculine enough for you, eh, fella?

“I have a surprise for you,” Officer Callahan told Ms. Isenberg the day before her parents flew in for a visit. “Be ready.” When he got home, she had on fancy duds, including uncomfortable heels.

“Let’s go,” said her friend in the force, ushering her to the subway.

“Do you want to take a carriage ride?” he asked when they arrived at Central Park.

“Sure,” Ms. Isenberg said.

“Do you have any cash?” Officer Callahan inquired.

“ What?” she yelled.

He rushed to an A.T.M., returning with a rose and a package of Sourpatch Kids. Which about describes Ms. Isenberg’s mood at this point. “I was irritated that I had to carry the rose around all night,” she said.

They arrived at the mall, one of Ms. Isenberg’s favorite spots in the city (you can take the girl out of St. Louis, but … ). The space, unfortunately, was cordoned off.

“Honey, I love you. This has been the best year of my life,” Officer Callahan said.

“Yeah, yeah,” Ms. Isenberg said grumpily. “I have to pee.”

After a bunch of ineffectual crosstalk, he got down on one knee, whereupon she threw her bag in the air and melted in his arms. “Of course, of course,” she said, as he brandished a Michael C. Fina princess-cut, one-carat diamond set in white gold.

They’ll marry at the Jewel Box, a greenhouse in Forest Park—the Central Park of St. Louis.

Countdown to Bliss