“Countdown to Bliss”

Michael Raymond and Debora Assis

Met: July 29, 1998

Engaged: Feb. 14, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Aug. 3, 2002

Here’s an example of one of those high-concept proposals.

Mike Raymond sat Debora Assis down on a frigid wintry bench at the South Street Seaport. He pulled out a ring box, and she began to weep.

“I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute, it’s Valentine’s Day, I think I know what this is,'” she said.

Actually, it was just a plain silver band that Mr. Raymond, 26, had picked up at a 99-cent store.

“My heart just stopped ,” she said, remembering. “I had jumped to the conclusion that it was an engagement ring.”

When she told him so, Mr. Raymond chastised her. “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me,” he said. “You know the financial situation we’re in!”

Then he presented her with a second Valentine’s Day gift-a much larger box.

“This must be the matching bracelet,” she said dryly.

Actually, it was 1.5 carats’ worth of diamonds on a white-gold band. Mr. Raymond then put the poor lass out of her misery by telling her that she’d make him the happiest man in the world if she married him.

“My intention was to throw her off-guard,” he said. “I felt that no matter what I could do, she’d be expecting it.”

That’s because they had started using words like “ring” and “forever” a mere few months after they’d met as entry-level employees at an orientation session at Prudential Financial, where she’d heard his “strong, masculine” voice and turned around to find a 6-foot-5 blond hunk. Their first date was a Dave Matthews concert at Madison Square Garden. At the time, Ms. Assis, now 24, was still living with Mom and Dad in Bensonhurst. Mr. Raymond was spending long hours on Metro-North, commuting to work from New Haven.

“I would always say, ‘I can’t wait to marry you,'” she said, “but he’d always say he wasn’t in a financial situation to do that.”

But the kids hung in there and, several promotions later (he’s a training specialist, she’s a public-relations associate), they’re planning a six-day “destination wedding” for 30 on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, complete with a reggae/calypso band. Guests will be footing the bill for the airfare and booze.

– Blair Golson

Nicole Miller

and

Seth Kaplan

Met: Summer 1996

Engaged: Nov. 21, 2001

Projected Wedding Date:

Nov. 23, 2002

In the summer of 1996, Seth Kaplan and Nicole Miller were second-year law students sharing an office as interns at Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, where he amused her all summer long doing impressions of the firm’s partners.

She claimed that she was a big Knicks fan, but you know how sometimes women just pretend to like sports? Suspicious, Mr. Kaplan grilled the five-foot-tall brunette about the team’s starting lineup, which she rattled off with ease.

“She was really cute, and between the sports and her being really intelligent, I thought she was a great combo,” he said. And since he’s 5-foot-9, the two were a good match physically. But since they were both in serious relationships at the time, there’d be no cuddling at basketball games for them that summer.

Two years passed. Mr. Kaplan and Ms. Miller dined one night at a Burritoville in midtown, and he mentioned that he’d just seen the Jack Nicholson movie As Good as It Gets and that it had made him question his current relationship.

“The strong implication was, if I was with Nicole, it would be as good as it gets,” he said.

Alas, Ms. Miller missed Mr. Kaplan’s subtext. “Oh, I’ll have to see the movie,” she said.

Somehow, Mr. Kaplan finished his burrito.

Considering himself rejected, Mr. Kaplan suspended the romantic overtures until about a year later, when-both single by this point-they went bowling at Chelsea Piers. He envisioned it as a date, but it was clear she thought of it as a “friends” thing. At the end of the night, Mr. Kaplan started to hyperventilate. “It had been seven years since I asked a girl out,” he said, “and I was out of practice.” Finally he gave up and just planted one on her. Strike! They started dating.

TheWednesdaybeforelast Thanksgiving, Mr. Kaplan took Ms. Miller to a reunion of his high-school friends at the Stony Hill Inn in Hackensack, N.J. He was now a labor and employment lawyer at Grotta, Glassman and Hoffman; Ms. Miller was a trademark attorney at Pryor, Cashman, Sherman and Flynn. He led her back to a small private room complete with candles, roses and a bottle of red, but Ms. Miller failed to pick up on his subtext once again.

“She wasn’t putting two and two together, and she left to look for the group. It threw off my whole plan,” said Mr. Kaplan, 30.

When she returned and found Mr. Kaplan down on one knee, it was the 29-year-old Ms. Miller’s turn to hyperventilate. They’re going to get married in Bergen County and honeymoon in Hawaii.

– B . G.

Samson Frankel

and

Beth Lusko

Met: Nov. 11, 2000

Engaged: Jan. 8, 2002

Projected Wedding Date:

Oct. 14, 2002

When Beth Lusko announced in the fall of 2000 that she’d posted an ad on the Internet’s top Jewish matchmaking service, JDate.com, her mother exclaimed, “Are you crazy? There could be psychos!”

Sure, Mom, but Jewish psychos!

A bustling account executive at the magazines American Photo and Popular Photography , Miss Lusko, 26, moved here from her hometown of Montreal in 1999 and figured that JDate would be a good way to incorporate some romance into her hectic schedule. (According to JDate, one out of every 10 single Jews is registered on the site.) The first two guys were, well … psychos. But the third was a tall, dark and handsome 28-year-old corporate lawyer with dimples named Samson Frankel. For their first date, he took her to see the Knicks. (What is it with lawyers and the Knicks?) She was 45 minutes late, but once Mr. Frankel laid eyes on the 5-foot-10, athletic brunette, heard her cute Canadian accent and learned that she spoke “aboot” four languages, he knew that he’d scored.

“I definitely had my eyes more on her than on the game,” he said.

At brunch with her girlfriends the next day, Miss Lusko exclaimed, “Can you imagine if anything comes of this, and I’ll have to tell the story of meeting him on JDate till the end of time? It was just a lark! You don’t meet your husband on the Internet !” But the lark lasted.

One Tuesday evening this January, Mr. Frankel swooped by Miss Lusko’s office and picked her up in a limousine equipped with champagne and a diamond ring big enough to satisfy even Mom.

Miss Lusko will be wearing an ivory Givenchy gown when she dances the horah at the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal this fall. After that, they’ll be sharing a spiffy new Upper West Side two-bedroom, which they plan to fill with all the luggage and dishes they’ve registered for at Bloomingdale’s. According to his fiancée, Mr. Frankel wishes he could register for a dog.

– Anna Jane Grossman

The Love Beat can be reached at engagements@observer.com

“Countdown to Bliss”