Countdown to Bliss

011507 article lovebeat Countdown to BlissMarc Ricks and Elisa Strauss

Met: April 4, 2005

Engaged: July 20, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 6, 2007

How sweet it is! Elisa Strauss, the popular Upper West Side–based cake designer responsible for the elaborate pink-and-white confection at Kimora Lee Simmons’ 30th birthday, plans to marry Marc Ricks, chief of staff for Daniel Doctoroff, New York City’s deputy mayor of economic development and rebuilding, at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in the Pocantico Hills.

The bride, 30, and the groom, 31, were originally set up by a mutual friend, though it took nearly four months for them to connect. “This one had sworn off blind dates,” Ms. Strauss said, jabbing an affectionate finger at the redheaded Mr. Ricks as they sat together over drinks at Bubby’s Pie Company in Tribeca, the Love Beat trying to fend off a major carb attack.

“I found a lot of people playing Jewish geography,” he explained. “You know, you’re both single, you’re Jewish, you’re within four years of age and within 60 miles as the crow flies.”

Then Mr. Ricks looked up Ms. Strauss’ company, Confetti Cakes, online. “I found it pretty impressive,” he said. “Her cakes were obviously artistry, and she runs her own business, and it’s such an interesting combination that I thought, at a minimum, it’s a person I wanted to meet.” Nor did it hurt that Ms. Strauss’ Web-site picture revealed her to be a total knockout.

They got together at the now-defunct club Fez on the Upper West Side. “I asked her a lot of questions about her business,” Mr. Ricks said. “I thought they were great questions, but she’d probably answered them 100 times before.”

Ms. Strauss didn’t mind. “He was funny, but with a point,” she said.

On their second date, they went to dinner at Viceroy in Chelsea, and then for café au lait at Le Gamin. In between stops, Mr. Ricks pulled her over for a kiss. “Then we got there and had more,” she said.

But when he tried to set up a third meeting, Ms. Strauss said she was busy. Which, in fairness, she was: Bizbash, the trade magazine for event planners, was giving her an award for Best Food Presentation. Undaunted, Mr. Ricks bought a surprise ticket to the ceremony. “We liked him from then on,” Ms. Strauss said.

“That’s something your father would have done!” her mother exulted.

Still, Ms. Strauss was reluctant to commit. One day, Mr. Ricks asked about her plans for that evening. “I’m … having … dinner with a friend,” she said haltingly.

“You’re going on a date, aren’t you?” he said.

Busted!

A few days later, Ms. Strauss returned to her Upper West Side one-bedroom to find a reproving letter from Mr. Ricks: To Elisa Strauss, CEO of Confetti Cakes. The purpose of this letter is to follow up on our recent telephone conversation, and to confirm our status as being engaged in an exclusive relationship as defined in section 4, subsection 32, lines E through J of the official Relationship Handbook. “I still have it,” she said proudly.

That year, the couple enjoyed several vacations: Paris, L.A., the Caribbean …. “To this day, I love being on planes with him,” Ms. Strauss said. They celebrated his 30th birthday the following year rock-climbing in Idaho, sharing a canister of icing and lighting sparklers in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, and hers with a seven-hour hike in Banff, Canada, where Mr. Ricks made several abortive attempts to get down on one knee: first on a canoe (which nearly capsized); then on the balcony of their hotel (near where their neighbors were having a noisy al fresco dinner); until finally he found a peaceful moment on a bench by Lake Louise.

“I want this more than anything else in the world,” he whispered, pulling out a brilliant-cut, white-gold-set diamond, which Ms. Strauss has since had reset in an 18-carat-gold, pavé-adorned band from Albert’s Fine Jewelry. “Will you marry me?”

ruleLong Countdown to Bliss

Chris Marciani and Stephanie Morse

Met: August 2004

Engaged: Oct. 28, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: Fall 2007

When a friend invited Stephanie Morse, a slender, gregarious brunette, to a NASCAR- race-viewing party at Buster’s Garage, her first thought was: Men! Her second thought was: Free booze!

“I went thinking it would be this big party at a bar,” she said, “and it was literally 10 people around a picnic table.”

One of them was Chris Marciani, a NASCAR senior account manager with Jack Nicholson eyebrows and a gentle Mississippi drawl. “We were making googly eyes at each other,” he said.

When a photographer hired by the company came by to snap a picture for a trade publication, Mr. Marciani ducked under the table. “I thought it was kind of cheesy,” he said. “Like, ‘NASCAR watches a race in Manhattan.’ I wanted no part of it.” Ms. Morse thought this was hysterically funny.

Their first official date was at 515, a bar near their respective Murray Hill apartments. When M.C. Hammer’s “Can’t Touch This” came on, Ms. Morse started shaking her booty. “She had some routine memorized,” recalled Mr. Marciani, who is 33. “I got a kick out of that, like, ‘Wow, she’s fun.’”

Later on, he began to tease her for being a Yankee. “What’s that silly little town you’re from called?” he asked, referring to Branford, Conn.

“It’s great,” Ms. Morse protested, and then added rashly (she was somewhat inebriated): “Come with me to this wedding—see it for yourself.”

Date No. 2 was at Il Bagatto in the East Village.

“So how ’bout that wedding? We’re still going to that, right?” Mr. Marciani asked between mouthfuls of spaghetti Bolognese.

“Um … yeah, I guess,” Ms. Morse said.

And that’s how Mr. Marciani came to meet her parents the first month they were dating. “I think that’s kind of fast … but I do work for NASCAR.” Vroom, vroom!

The next year, Ms. Morse, who is 28, decided that she wanted to go to culinary school at night, while also working 40-hour weeks doing P.R. for a record label. “It was pretty admirable—most people don’t work that hard,” Mr. Marciani cooed. “My little slave driver!” Shortly thereafter, she moved her few possessions into his one-bedroom. “I knew we were going to get married,” he said.

On their two-year anniversary, after traveling to Connecticut to secure his father’s blessing (Ms. Morse, Nancy Drew–like, busted them via text message) and booking a room at the Gramercy Park Hotel, Mr. Marciani proposed in the neighborhood’s beloved private park, sliding a two-carat, emerald-cut, platinum-set diamond on his girlfriend’s—oops!—right ring finger. Afterwards, they repaired to the Union Square Café for dinner.

“It was a rock-star night,” he said.