Countdown to Bliss

092506 article engagements Countdown to BlissJennifer Thurston and Carl Neuhaus

Met: August 2003

Engaged: March 3, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: Nov. 25, 2006

It’s a capital idea! Carl Neuhaus, 28, a manager at Barclays Capital, is marrying Jennifer Thurston, 30, an account supervisor at Zenithdirect, an advertising firm, at Capitale, the cavernous boîte in a former bank on the Bowery. The Reverend Vic Furman will preside over the ceremony.

The beefy 6-foot-3 Mr. Neuhaus first encountered his future bride at King’s Head Tavern, right below the apartment he was sharing in Union Square. “It was my living room,” he said. Ms. Thurston, who is redheaded, freckled and downright adorable, was playing pool with a gaggle of scantily dressed girlfriends—none too skillfully, Mr. Neuhaus pointed out to her. “At least the suckers will end up buying us drinks!” she snorted.

Right she was. After a few kettle sodas, Ms. Thurston asked how old Mr. Neuhaus was. “Twenty-seven,” he fibbed, adding two years. Later that evening, he left his wallet on the bar and she peeked at his driver’s license. “Awww, you’re already lying about your age?” she said, slurring a bit. Then she saw that he had the same birthday as her dad. “I’m very close with my father,” she said, “so I figured, ‘I’ll give him a second chance.’”

After closing out the bar, they exchanged numbers and a clandestine kiss on the street, out of eyeshot from their nosy friends.

A week later, they met at a now-defunct sushi restaurant, also in Union Square.

“Try this eel,” Ms. Thurston suggested, shoving a piece into Mr. Neuhaus’ mouth with her chopsticks. He was repulsed, but graciously chewed along. “That’s how he is,” she said. “He kind of goes with things and is willing to try anything.”

A week later, the great blackout of 2003 hit New York. Ms. Thurston was coming back from La Guardia, having given up on a much-anticipated Florida vacation, when Mr. Neuhaus called to see how she was. You always find out who really likes you in a crisis.

But she didn’t take the relationship 100 percent seriously until a drive the two of them took upstate to Lake George turned into a rainy, traffic-filled, eight-hour ordeal. “I was like, ‘If we make it through this, we can make it through anything,’” Ms. Thurston said. “It was a test of our love—whether or not we could stand each other.”

Last May, Mr. Neuhaus moved into her one-bedroom in the East Village. The couple split the cost of new cabinets, but Ms. Thurston has managed to hold on to most of the drawer space. “I still bring it up,” he said, “and then she makes fun of me.”

Cohabitation inevitably led to the topic of marriage. An anal-retentive, list-making type, Ms. Thurston instructed her boyfriend to “break it down to quarters.”

Mr. Neuhaus, something of a perfectionist himself, was sympathetic. “She’s a big planner,” he said.

Indeed, the day before they took a trip to Tulum, Mexico, Ms. Thurston was in the midst of a planning spree: shopping for the right S.P.F. and getting a manicure.

“When are you coming home?” Mr. Neuhaus asked.

“I’ll get there when I get there!” Ms. Thurston said, annoyed.

“But I ordered food.”

“You didn’t even ask me what I want! And we can’t eat meat …. ” It was Lent.

Luckily, Mr. Neuhaus had gotten her one of her favorites: a seafood-pasta dish from Il Bagatto. He was visibly shaken and sweaty during the meal. “The pasta was spicy!” he told the Love Beat.

Ms. Thurston didn’t notice. “Remind me to pick up some cheesy magazines for the plane,” she said absent-mindedly.

Whereupon Mr. Neuhaus got up, went into the bedroom and returned with a gift-wrapped package. Inside was a pile of glossy bridal publications.

“Will you marry me?” he asked, presenting her with an antique-style, cushion-cut diamond, set in a platinum pavé band and purchased from Norman Landsberg in the diamond district.

“Yes,” Ms. Thurston said. And then, slightly reprovingly: “Didn’t you have a little speech prepared?”

They proceeded to celebrate with friends at their old haunt, the King’s Head, until the wee hours, causing them to miss their flight the next morning.