Countdown to Bliss

Sarah Coombs and Andy Pratt

Met: May 2001

Engagement: July 15, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: Fall 2007

Andy Pratt, 29, a laidback graphic designer who recently started an eponymous greeting-card company, is marrying Sarah Coombs, 28, a bubbly candidate for an MFA at Tisch, specializing in set and production design. Wedding plans have not yet been finalized—but we just know those invitations are gonna be groovy!

The couple met while playing street hockey on opposing teams: The lovely, milky-skinned Ms. Coombs was the goalie for Black Top, an artsy-fartsy Lower East Side league, while Mr. Pratt, who has unruly red curls and a beard to match, played center for the Recessions. She made her move during a post-game soirée at Welcome to the Johnsons, using a twisted ankle as an opening gambit. They agreed to go out the following night for a beer tasting at Blind Tiger, a now-defunct spot in the West Village where Mr. Pratt was such a regular, he’d earned a commemorative plaque on the wall.

Engrossed in conversation there, they didn’t notice when someone nicked Ms. Coombs’ orange-vinyl messenger bag. Mr. Pratt, then a resident of Astoria, lent her cab fare home to Carroll Gardens, where she was living with five female roommates—practically a brothel.

Date No. 2 was at the Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg ( belch). Mr. Pratt brought along a gift: a new vinyl bag emblazoned with the image of Pee-wee Herman on TV. “It definitely won points with my friends,” said Ms. Coombs, who also gratefully accepted a goodnight kiss.

“Who is that guy that makes you so happy?” asked her cab driver that night, observing her goofy post-smooch smile.

In Connecticut visiting his folks for Thanksgiving, Mr. Pratt uttered those three special little words. “It wasn’t like, ‘Baby, I love you all the time,’” he said, doing a pretty good Barry White impression. “It wasn’t my line. I wouldn’t say it unless I meant it.”

After two years of enduring the G train, the couple decided to move on up to a spacious one-bedroom in the East Village, adopting two cats which they named Sidney Bristo, in homage to Jennifer Garner’s character on Alias, and the Butler. (The latter is fond of prowling around the apartment with his head stuck in a tissue box.)

During their first month in the new apartment, a friend of Mr. Pratt’s inquired if he could crash on the couch—along with several members of a British rock band. “Normally I would have been like, ‘Sure, you have 10 people coming over, we’ll all get drunk—it won’t matter,’” said Mr. Pratt, who had grown accustomed to the bachelor life. “I realized living with someone is respecting what they’re used to and what they’re comfortable with.” He said no. (Still, the couple woke up to find the place littered with musicians.)

One evening, after Ms. Coombs came home late from a long day at school, Mr. Pratt suggested dinner on the roof, which has a breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline. Along with Venezuelan take-out, champagne and a flashlight, he smuggled up a copy of Ready Made, the crafting ’zine. “ There it is—I’ve been looking for this everywhere!” he said, none too convincingly. “Check out the ad I put in.”

It was a small miracle of graphic design: a half heart holding out a diamond ring to its other half, under the words Sarah, will you marry me? Ms. Coombs looked up, speechless, to find Mr. Pratt holding an enormous plastic novelty ring. After she accepted his proposal, he busted out a bottle of champagne—somewhat the worse for the heat. “We still drank it all,” he said.

James Graves and Allisen Modder

Met: February 2001

Engaged: Nov. 4, 2005

Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 30, 2006

Financial flirtation! James Graves and Allisen Modder used to work together at Smith Barney, where they engaged in frequent business-related badinage. The dark, handsome and clean-cut Mr. Graves was attracted to the petite, tomboyish, Titian-haired Ms. Modder, but she was in a long-term relationship with another banker type and, after two years at the company, he moved to Los Angeles to advise entertainment clients and work on his tan.

One day, the phone rang. It was Ms. Modder’s partner. “You know,” she said, “Alli broke up with her boyfriend.”

“I’m 3,000 miles away,” protested Mr. Graves amiably. “I’m not moving back to New York.” Still, he couldn’t resist calling his former colleague for a date, pretending to have a business meeting back East.

His plane was delayed, so their much-anticipated dinner turned into late-night drinks at McFadden’s in midtown. Ms. Modder didn’t succumb to his charms that night, but Mr. Graves persuaded her to meet for breakfast the next morning at Googie’s—8 a.m. sharp! “I should have known that he was an early bird,” she groaned, passive-aggressively donning sweatpants and a Devils cap for the rendezvous.

But after Mr. Graves returned to the West Coast, they began calling each other constantly. Ms. Modder adopted a pet name for him: G.U. “He didn’t understand what that meant, and I wasn’t going to tell him, but it stood for ‘geographically undesirable,’” she said. Four months later, she uprooted to Beverly Hills, with a job at Smith Barney’s satellite office there.

“It was very out of character for me,” said Ms. Modder, 29. “I’m one of those people who assess risk and look at everything before making a decision.” And this was a bad risk. “After two days, I hated it,” she said. “I’m just not a Beverly Hills girl. It was clear that it was really not us. It wasn’t that we were fighting, it’s just that I wasn’t happy. He knew that I was normally a very upbeat person, and that there I just wasn’t myself.”

She lasted eight months—then, back East visiting her grandmother, she decided on a whim to apply to Citigroup for a position as a vice president in the private bank division. She got the job, on the condition that she started work in two weeks.

And poof, just like that: Mr. Graves decided he’d had enough of La-la land.

The couple stayed with her brother’s family in Hoboken ( yikes) for a few months before happily landing a one-bedroom with a balcony on the Upper East Side. Mr. Graves started working at Merrill Lynch.

One Saturday morning at 7 a.m., he began jostling his sleeping sweetie, who was recovering from a night of birthday drinks with her office mates. He had planned a day of endearingly cheesy local tourist activities, starting with breakfast at the Marriott Marquis, followed by a double-decker bus tour and a gondola ride on the lake in Central Park. As Ms. Modder sat back and enjoyed the view of fall’s golden leaves, the gondolier belting out old Italian love songs underneath the Bow Bridge, Mr. Graves maneuvered to one knee and presented her with a 1.32-carat platinum-set, brilliant-cut solitaire diamond from Ben Dora.

When they got back to land, she called her mother, who was waiting at Brooklyn’s River Café along with six other members of her family for a surprise birthday-cum-engagement party (sneaky!). “Are you good at planning weddings?” Ms. Modder asked.

Apparently so: Their nuptials at Saint Ignatius Loyola will be followed by a glam party at the Pegasus Suite at the Rainbow Room.

The 35-year-old groom-to-be is sanguine about his return to New York. “You have to be in the same city,” he said. “No matter how much you love somebody, it gets old if you’re not there.”