Countdown to Bliss

Jason Bobby and Deanna McBrearty

Met: July 24, 2000

Engaged: Aug. 13, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: August 2003

Every New York man dreams of dating a ballerina, but what’s the reality? Let’s go to a Lincoln Center Starbucks for a quick hot chocolate and find out.

“After a while, you get used to the person you see every morning, that you cook breakfast with, that you go out for lunch with or go shopping with-and that’s a wonderful person, and I love spending time with her,” said Jason Bobby, 24, a first-year law student at the University of Pennsylvania who’s engaged to Deanna McBrearty, 28, a 10-year veteran of the New York City Ballet corps. “But then I get tickets to the ballet and I see her come out onstage, and there’s 3,500 people staring at her!”

Ms. McBrearty, a dark-eyed, raven-haired, pointy-chinned beauty, gave a winsome smile. You would never guess from her erect posture-not to mention her appearance on the NYCB’s best-selling workout-video series-that she had suffered from childhood scoliosis and bowed legs. Ms. McBrearty has modeled for Geoffrey Beene, and hopes to wear a geometric white Beene dress to the wedding, at an as-yet-to-be-determined location. Mr. Bobby proposed with a two-carat, platinum-set diamond when they were on vacation in the Dominican Republic.

They grew up eight miles away from each other in small-town Pennsylvania, but didn’t meet until he came to the big city to work for J.P. Morgan and happened to sublet her Upper West Side apartment for a few weeks while she was touring. He walked in and found the place littered with candles, the furniture draped in dark velvet, the curtains drawn. “He thought I was some Goth chick,” Ms. McBrearty said, tittering prettily.

“There was a picture of her on the fridge where she had on very thick eyeliner,” he said. “I didn’t realize that it was just a costume .”

What with her bohemian career and all, Ms. McBrearty wasn’t exactly thrilled to find a row of neatly hung suits and “cedar things” in her tenant’s shoes when she returned. “I’m like, ‘Ugh! A stiff business guy, and I have to, like, deal with this?'” she said.

But after a face-to-face meeting in Central Park, they quickly became mutually entranced. They whiled the afternoon away at a café, and then Mr. Bobby-who hadn’t had much time to consider the arts since he sang a cappella as an undergrad at Cornell-suddenly found himself taking in the Cirque du Soleil movie at the IMAX theater.

The tense attorney-in-training likes it when the dancer scratches his back. “Before I met Deanna, I’d never seen a single ballet,” he said. “Now I could probably choreograph half of them in my head.”

And when her lover is in the audience, Ms. McBrearty’s performances have a special oomph. “It’s just a good feeling,” she said. “It really helps me stay strong and deal with all the little pressures of being in a ballet company.”

Kevyn Aiken and Dennis Popeo

Met: August 1999

Engaged: Sept. 9, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: October 2004

“I work in an environment with many women,” said Kevyn Aiken, 29, the dark-haired director of sales development at the somewhat oxymoronically titled magazine Organic Style , “and there are always women coming in saying, ‘I got engaged! I got engaged! ‘ And I wanted that. I wanted to be able to come in and show off my ring.”

Hisboyfriend,Dennis Popeo, 27, a hulking, dirty-blond second-year psychiatry resident at Mt. Sinai, didn’t quite see things that way. “I felt if we were going to live this alternative lifestyle, why should we do something that seems so normal?” he said. But soon Martha Stewart Weddings began to exert its inexorable glossy pull. “She has some great ideas,” said Dr. Popeo, leaning in closely to The Love Beat’s tape recorder. “Martha will be exonerated!”

So he went to buy the hammered platinum band that Mr. Aiken had already selected from Michael C. Fina, then proposedoverhomemade beefstroganoff(froma Martha recipe) at the dining-room table of the couple’s 16-foot-ceiling loft near Battery Park, in the building where the Saturday Evening Post used to be published. Their big bathroom is full of Mr. Aiken’s collection of rubber duckies.

They met through MSN’s online personals. Mr. Aiken responded because he liked the last line of Dr. Popeo’s ad, which read: “It may be lonely at the top, but the food is better and the people are more interesting.”

Dr.Popeohaddated women throughout his college years, only to find himself in bed one night with his best friend’s brother. Oops!

He turned his cheek on the first date when Mr. Aiken went in for the goodnight kiss-“I was trying to be demure and aloof, leaving him wanting more,” he explained-but then relented and called that very weekend during a Cher concert that they were both watching on HBO. “We chatted briefly,” Dr. Popeo said, “but then she started singing ‘If I Could Turn Back Time,’ so I said, ‘I gotta go!'”

The next week, they were making out in the back seat of a taxi after a Reader’s Digest party, and the cab driver got affronted and asked them to get out. Then he asked for the fare. Only in New York, kids …

They haven’t settled on the ceremony details yet, though Dr. Popeo likes the idea of goldfish-aquarium centerpieces at the Four Seasons’ Pool Room. “You know when you get a balloon when you’re a little kid and there’s a ribbon on the end, and sometimes they put a little plastic anchor on it so that it doesn’t fly away?” he said. “It sounds pathetic, but he’s the plastic anchor that keeps my balloon from flying away-because if the balloon flies up too far, it’ll pop.”

And speaking of ballooning, they’ve both embarked on diets, the better to fit into Helmut Lang and Armani for their big day. “Love,” they said in unison, “has made us fat.”

Ross Glick and Amy Stein

Met: February 2001

Engaged: Sept. 13, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Fall 2003

Amy Stein was diagnosed with 20/400 vision in the second grade, and apparently was so traumatized that she grew up to become an optometrist, writing her own Acuvue prescriptions and breaking out the chunky specs only when alone in her pad in Murray Hill.

She donned black leather pants for her, er, blind date with Ross Glick, chief executive of Indelible, a communications company. They met at the Guggenheim, at the opening of a Picasso show.

“She caught me checking her ass out,” said Mr. Glick, 33, who is 6-foot-2, with a shiny freckled head and massive fingers.

“I’d never gone out with someone more than, like, five-nine!” said the foot-shorter Dr. Stein, also 33. “I was like, ‘Oh my God!'” She has dark hair and flashing green eyes, like a myopic Scarlett O’Hara.

After the show, the two went for a few margaritas at El Parador Café, and then Mr. Glick pulled a Rhett Butler maneuver, scooping his date off the pavement and French-kissing her.

They spent the next week making out in various dimly lit bistros around town. She showed up for one of the sessions in a memorable purple leather skirt. “The leather stuff drives me crazy,” he said.

They share a Murray Hill one-bedroom and enjoy trying to peep at the planets-not to mention their neighbors-with a telescope.

“He sees the positive in people all the time,” said Dr. Stein, “and I think that that’s really attractive.”

The ring he gave her is platinum, with three emerald-cut diamonds-“2.4 carats!” said Mr. Glick, who is going to wear a black T-shirt under his tuxedo to their Manhattan wedding at Loft Eleven on West 37th Street.

“Two-point-four- two ,” corrected Dr. Stein, with the precision her profession demands.

She hasn’t picked a dress yet, but will be blissfully free of eyewear stress, having braved Lasik surgery last year.

“Her eyes just sparkle,” said her future husband.

Countdown to Bliss