Countdown to Bliss

Matthew A. Gohd and Dini von Muefffling

Met: February 1998

Engaged: July 6, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Summer 2003

Dini von Mueffling, 36, is a toned, taut Hamptons fixture, the founder of a couple of not-for-profit organizations and the co-author of The Art and Power of Being a Lady , a book of maxims such as “A lady pays attention” and “A lady is a hostess with the mostest” and “A lady knows there’s no accessory like confidence.” Apparently, a lady also knows how to work it : The book’s jacket blurbs are from Julianna Margulies (Ms. von Mueffling met the former ER star while waiting tables in the Hamptons in the 80’s) and Steve Martin (Ms. von Mueffling went on a blind date with him once), and the feminist tennis legend Billie Jean King.

Ms. von Mueffling was previously married once, to a journalist, and shares custody of their daughter, Tatiana, now 7. The dating scene for Manhattan divorcées is enough to make a screaming banshee out of any would-be lady, but this one handled it with aplomb, blithely informing prospective mates that she was a “committed mother” who had a policy of not going out two nights in a row.

She was signing copies of her book at Paradise, a café and bookstore in Sag Harbor, when she ran into Matt Gohd, an investor and Democratic Party schmoozer whom she’d met at a dinner party three years earlier. Back then, Mr. Gohd was in the process of divorcing his first wife, an interior designer. But now he was free! He asked Ms. von Mueffling to sign one of her books.

On their first date, they attended a human-rights fund-raiser thrown by his dear friend Kerry Kennedy Cuomo. The very next night, he schlepped to a Washington Life magazine party for The Art and Power of Being a Lady, though he left early to catch The West Wing . During another TV-viewing session, he happened to catch the authoress on Oprah , discussing her relationship with her daughter after Sept. 11. The segment made him tear up. “I thought she was this wonderful mother who was generous of spirit, kind and dedicated to trying to make a difference to people,” said Mr. Gohd, 46. “And she was gorgeous .” By the third date, he’d told her she was the one.

“I was like, ‘Oh, shhhhhhhii–ooot !'” recalled Ms. von Mueffling, who learned how to cuss at Nightingale-Bamford and Vassar. “I mean, it was lovely that he felt so certain so quickly, but I had just had a bad breakup before that, so I was a little more trepidatious.”

But Mr. Gohd-whom she called “the most handsome man in the world for me”-charmed her child, and anyone who’s seen Jerry Maguire knows how quickly that can melt a woman’s heart. Mother and daughter alike enjoyed excursions on the 50-foot yacht he keeps docked on Shelter Island. Then, on a trip to the Hotel du Cap in the Cap d’Antibes, Mr. Gohd extracted a diamond-encrusted Cartier ring with rose, white and yellow gold bands from his bathing trunks and asked Ms. von Mueffling to spend “forever and a day” with him.

“When he proposed, I wept, and that surprised me,” she said. “We’re both Geminis-I can’t imagine dating a Gemini, and here I am marrying one!”

The new family is now comfortably ensconced in a three-bedroom on Central Park West with a view of the park. On a recent visit, The Love Beat asked little Tati, who is getting a small rhinestone replica of her mother’s engagement ring, if she would ever get married.

“No!” said the tyke. “Boys are awful! They’re annoying! Girls are better!”

 

Monica Lippman and Jim McSweeney

Met: 1988

Engaged: April 13, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Nov. 5, 2002

At 7:34 p.m., April 13, Monica Lippman and her boyfriend, Jim McSweeney, were standing in Times Square craning their heads up at the L.C.D. screens on the Reuters building, where he works as an account manager. They were on their way to dinner with the folks, but Mr. McSweeney wanted a quick gander at the photos from that day’s Mets game … or so he claimed.

At 7:35, the screen went white, then filled with Ms. Lippman’s name and image. Then, like something out of Orwell, it flashed: Monica. Yes, you, Monica. What are you doing for the rest of your life? Will you share it with me? I love you. Will you marry me?

“I took such a deep breath, my shirt popped open!” said the lithe, pale, dark-haired Ms. Lippman, 32. “So I had to turn back around, and Jim’s like, ‘Button your shirt, for God’s sake!’ But I was shaking so much, he had to do it for me.”

By 7:36, Ms. Lippman had a two-carat diamond ring, the promise of spending eternity with the man she loves, and scores of fat tourists snapping her photo.

By 8:15, they were scarfing down celebratory sushi at Yama. They’re inviting 200 people to their wedding at Tappan Hill in Tarrytown, N.Y.

It was the first time Reuters ever broadcast such a proposal. “It was a bigger production than I thought it was going to be,” said Mr. McSweeney, a long-lashed, long-nosed 35 with bright blue eyes and thinning hair. “Women loved it, but men hated it, because whatever way men have proposed in the past, this tops all of that.”

The two lived in the same dorm during their days at SUNY Brockport. “We never officially met, but we knew of each other,” said Mr. McSweeney. (Which is to say, he noticed her prancing around campus in her spandex.) They ran into each other a decade later at a bar in midtown and exchanged business cards. He called her under the pretext of needing someone to help him decorate his new apartment in Hoboken. “At the time, she was wearing these artsy glasses, so I thought she was an artsy girl,” he said.

On the contrary: Ms. Lippman is a regional sales manager for Capstone Apparel, a promotional baseball-cap manufacturer. In her spare time, she likes to go to horse races. “I love to cook, and I love that he loves that I love to cook!” she said. “I like having his big, strong arms around me.”

 

Craig Avedisian and Carla Van de Walle

Met: May 1999

Engaged: April 6, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 29, 2002

He calls her “Sunny Bunny.” She calls him “Funny Bunny.” Are you sick yet?

Their wedding at the St. Regis will have a double theme of beaches and puppies: tables decorated with gold-painted seashells and William Wegman photos. The cake, designed by Gail Watson, will incorporate sugar models of the couple’s little red Shiba Inu, Paget (a.k.a. Honey Bunny), and the other family dog, a husky-Rottweiler mix named Fella (a.k.a. Goofy Bunny). They’re already referring to their honeymoon, which is planned for the Berkshires, as their “bunnymoon.”

Carla Van de Walle, 36, graduated from Dalton and Vassar and is a senior director of internal audit and management for New York City’s Department of Finance. In the late 90’s, she and her elder sister Alexa (“Spicy Bunny”-she cooks) gave a sign-up party at the Mesa Grill for the “down-to-earthy” summer share house they were administering in Amagansett. Craig Avedisian, a former flight instructor with his own law practice, read about the party in The Village Voice . When he walked in, he was instantly dazzled by Carla’s champagne-colored hair, blue eyes and “symmetrical” face. “I thought to myself, ‘Whoa! We got a candidate here!'” he said. “I immediately thought she’d be a great girlfriend-and hopefully more .” He snapped up a part-time share.

Ms. Van de Walle dug her new housemate instantly-he’s 6-foot-2 and preppy-looking-but she had concerns. “There’s kind of an unwritten code that you don’t date people in your house if you’re running it,” she said, “especially the first weekend of the summer.” But we all know how quickly those “codes” can get scrambled after a little wind-surfing, a few clambakes and bike rides, some tawny exposed flesh ….

Come fall, their relationship faded along with their tan lines. She was working for a dot-com at the time and traveling to Asia a lot, and he was busy doing lawyer stuff. However, Mr. Avedisian took a three-week-long “personal retreat” in Germany’s Black Forest, where he hiked alone and reflected on his life, and then decided to e-mail his summer love.

Ten months later, they were sitting in a restaurant in Bermuda, where he recited a poem and presented her with a 4.6-carat sapphire set in platinum.

“He’s the most thoughtful, caring, loving, smart, funny person I’ve ever met,” said Ms. Van de Walle, who doesn’t mind his topaz Jaguar, either. “He does everything to 110 percent.”

“I think we think alike,” said Mr. Avedisian. “I can’t tell you how many times I’m about to say something and she says the same thing.”

P.S.: He refers to his future mother-in-law as “Alpha Bunny.”

Countdown to Bliss