Countdown to Bliss

Samantha Greene and Jack Woodruff

Met: January 2003

Engaged: Feb. 3, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: Jan. 14, 2007

Samantha Greene and Jack Woodruff, both 32-year-old M.B.A.’s, will attempt a merger of their souls at Peter White Studio in Chelsea, brokered by the wedding-planning company Always a Bridesmaid. Ms. Greene is the sleek, brunette senior director of strategy and business development for Nickelodeon. Mr. Woodruff is a super-fancy senior analyst for Trivium Capital Management.

The couple met halfway through their first year at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business. The aloofly handsome Mr. Woodruff had a “player” reputation that preceded him: Ms. Greene was convinced he had wronged one of her friends, and when they were introduced one evening, she muttered through gritted teeth: “I know who you are, and I hate you.”

Woo-hoo! Mr. Woodruff thought. The game is on! And he spent the rest of the semester trying to “win” her.

By the last day of classes, they were batting eyes over Budweisers at Off the Wagon, a dive in the West Village. “I think Jack’s flirting with me,” Ms. Greene said to her supposedly spurned friend in the ladies’ room.

“Go for it!” the friend snorted.

When Ms. Greene got back to the table, Mr. Woodruff told her he was about to go on vacation with another woman. “I was like, ‘O.K., back off,’” Ms. Greene said. “‘We can be friends, we can chat, but nothing will ever happen between us if you’re dating someone else.’” That’s tellin’ him, sister ….

Still, they e-mailed all summer from their respective internships, and one day Mr. Woodruff invited Ms. Greene to dinner at an Upper East Side bar. She brought colleagues along to chaperone. “I was very attracted to him at this point, so it was dangerous, because I would never want to be the root of someone else’s cheating,” she said. But it was an unnecessary precaution; he and his chica had split.

On another occasion, Mr. Woodruff asked Ms. Greene to give a tour of the West Village to a sports-agent friend and his quarterback client, Carson Palmer from the Cincinnati Bengals. The group wound up at the Blind Tiger Ale House, the sudden sweethearts from the Stern school drunkenly groping one another.

Ms. Greene had been living in a walkup on Perry Street for half a dozen years, and after two more dating Mr. Woodruff, she was impatient to trade up. Though they co-hosted a graduation party, their mothers eagerly anticipating “the announcement,” the relationship abruptly ended soon thereafter.

“I was very much in the mind-set that I’m not getting any younger,” Ms. Greene said. “I thought either this is going to go the distance or it wasn’t, and Jack kept hedging and hedging and hedging.”

Three months later, Mr. Woodruff began a campaign to win her back. But neither daily delivery of flowers nor an engraved invitation to dinner at Daniel moved her.

“I was always a firm believer that if you break up, you break up for a reason, and you don’t get back together,” Ms. Greene said.

Finally, she agreed to meet him for brunch at L’Express. And the moment she saw his face, her resolve melted like butter on hotcakes.

After a six-month “probation period,” while they were vacationing in Venice, Italy, Ms. Greene again broached the topic of marriage. “Look, I’m waiting for my next bonus,” Mr. Woodruff said. She agreed to wait until the first quarter of ’06 for his proposal (gotta love those M.B.A.’s), which arrived during a surprise trip to London, after they had checked into the Ritz.

“You look beautiful,” Mr. Woodruff told her as she readied herself for dinner at Le Gavroche. “Just one thing’s missing.” Namely: the two-carat, cushion-cut, platinum-set diamond from Fabrikant he was proffering.

“Couldn’t you have asked me before I put on my mascara?” Ms. Greene sobbed.

Anonda Bell and Jeffrey Pzena

Met: April 2004

Engaged: October 2005

Projected Wedding Date: May 20, 2006

It was an evening of “speed dating” at the Bubble Lounge, and the place was atwitter with single gals parked at tables, waiting for a musical-chairs-style progression of men, each allowed only three minutes to pitch his particular brand of woo. When Jeffrey Pzena sat down across from Anonda Bell, an audacious Aussie (is there any other kind?), he was immediately charmed by her accent, slender figure and brown bobbed hair. Likewise, she found herself taken by his impish grin and bald pate—and so they exchanged e-mail addresses.

Soon afterward, Mr. Pzena, the C.F.A. of Humble Monkey, a technology consulting firm, went to Belize to help set up an eco-resort. When he returned, he got in touch with Ms. Bell, and they met for drinks at the Rocking Horse Mexican Café in Chelsea. It went well. Date No. 2: a car rally in New Jersey (we don’t even want to ask what a “car rally” is, but we suspect it isn’t very eco-friendly!).

Then reality hit: Ms. Bell, a curator, was only in town on business, returning Down Under, where she worked for the National Gallery of Victoria, in a matter of weeks; Mr. Pzena, meanwhile, had further business in Belize.

“Why don’t you come with me?” he asked.

“I didn’t even know where Belize was,” Ms. Bell, 36, told the Love Beat. But after consulting her mother—“Give it a go!” Ma Bell’s sage counsel—the young woman boarded a plane before the week was out, finding herself “in the middle of the jungle in Central America.”

On their first night there together, they ambled through swamps and fell asleep in a tent to the sound of screeching monkeys. “It was an interesting third date,” said Ms. Bell, understating things.

Later in the trip, Mr. Pzena’s company held a good old-fashioned pig roast, cooking the poor animal alive. Throughout the day, Ms. Bell was playing with the Belizean children he’d invited, taking their pictures and letting them play with her camera. By the end of the evening, though somewhat carnophobic, she was hacking up leftovers for doggie bags to give to the natives. “There aren’t too many people who could get dropped into just anywhere in the world and be completely fine,” admiringly said Mr. Pzena, 39, speaking as another veteran of the dating jungle. “It was kind of nice.”

When he saw her fixing a generator with a paper clip, he could no longer contain himself and declared, “I love you!”

Four months later, Ms. Bell’s job contract ended, and she hopped on another plane and moved into Mr. Pzena’s one-bedroom in the Flatiron district, later landing a gig as curator at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island.

The couple was hiking in a Pennsylvanian state park one weekend when Mr. Pzena dropped to one knee in front of a stunning mountain vista, held up a platinum-set, diamond-flanked ruby ring and asked, “Will you marry me?”

Despite the gimmicky way they met, they’re planning an old-fashioned wedding in the backyard of his brother’s house in Short Hills, N.J.

“It’s a big strain to move halfway around the world to be with someone,” said the groom-to-be, “and after a while you want to know what’s going to be happening. I knew that we were good for each other.”