Countdown to Bliss

Julianna Miller and Gene Newman

Met: Dec. 30, 1998

Engaged: June 13, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: March 29, 2003

Why is Gene Newman-the bald, cherubic executive editor of laddie magazine Maxim ‘s online edition-submitting to an organic, spiritual, crystal-laden wedding at the HollyHedge Estate in New Hope, Penn.? Flash back to the late 1990’s, when he was on the staff of TagMag.com, a Web site devoted to “downtown” Manhattan that had published an article about people in the modeling profession. “It was about how models suck,” he said.

Julianna Miller, an “alternative” body model whose various lovely parts have been glimpsed in Victoria’s Secret catalogs (legs), Glamour magazine (tush in thong) and Tiffany print ads (hands), saw the piece and suggested that the site profile her unique career, which has included brandishing Clear Blue pregnancy tests and pouring Progresso soup on TV. The editors asked her to write a retort of sorts entitled “I Am Model, Hear Me Roar.”

And so one frigid afternoon found her having a “story conference” with Mr. Newman at Café Gigi in the Village. “I expected her to be like, ‘Models are artists and make the world go round,'” Mr. Newman said. But she charmed him, declaring she was trying to do work that fought oppression toward women (see above: thongs, Tiffany boxes et al.). They ended up talking for five hours, which is nothing compared to the time lavished on their first sexual foray. “It went on for like 10 hours,” said Mr. Newman, 29, slouched over scrambled eggs at an East Village diner recently, “I hadn’t had sex in three and a half years.” Ms. Miller, a statuesque, blue-eyed redhead with a pleasantly crooked nose, smiled and stuck to coffee. “I didn’t really date or do any of that stuff for a long time. I was just busy,” he continued. “People are just pains in the asses, and I didn’t feel like dealing with them. And I don’t like being touched a lot-but with Julianna it was pretty exciting.”

“Everyone is always bothering me,” Ms. Miller said. “I’ll think they’re stupid or boring. He’s the first man that has never bored me. I always think he’s funny; I always think he’s interesting.”

She didn’t want to disclose her age-industry prejudice, etc.-but copped to being a few years older than he, which apparently hastened the relationship’s pace. “We’d been together a while,” she said, “and I went through that phase where I was like, ‘I’m giving you all the best years of my life! I don’t understand the holdup!'”

As luck would have it, Ms. Miller had gotten a gig modeling a bunch of engagement rings for an InStyle Weddings layout, and this allowed her to handily point out her favorite setting to him: a chunky “hippie-chick amazing” with three channel-set diamonds in platinum, which he presented to her at dusk among scattered roses and candles on the roof of her apartment building. They both live on the sixth floor of East Village walkup one-bedrooms, and plan to move to Pennsylvania next year. Ms. Miller recently redid his bathroom according to the laws of feng shui. “That was where his Prosperity Center was located, and it had cracked walls and holes!” she said disgustedly.

Alas, there was no reprise of their first sexual marathon following the rooftop proposal. “There were too many phone calls to make,” Mr. Newman said.

Rebecca Donnenfeld and Ben Moor

Met: Oct. 12, 2001

Engaged: Dec. 30, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Jan. 3, 2004

Rebecca Donnenfeld is a first-year law student at Columbia with luscious lips, large quantities of brown hair and a thing for the Brits. “I think Hugh Grant is just really, really cute,” she said. “I’m an Anglophile, and I’d always joked that I wanted to meet an English guy.” One day, a friend forwarded a Match.com personal ad posted under the heading “Englishman in New York,” with a photo of a fetching blond, blue-eyed gent.

“I’d never done anything like it before,” said Ms. Donnenfeld, 30, “but I thought, ‘What the hell! He’s English !'”

His name was Ben Moor, he’d moved from London to that British ghetto, the West Village, eight months prior and had gotten hooked on Match.com after ghost-writing responses for a gay cousin. “I was writing to guys, and I was actually pretty good at it,” said Mr. Moor, 33, who works in information technology at Mercer Human Resource Consulting.

They agreed to meet at Half King, the Sebastian Junger–owned “literary” bar in Chelsea. Mr. Moor wore an overcoat with a copy of The Economist in his pocket and ordered a beer. Ms. Donnenfeld was running late. “She came flying in,” he said. “She was like a chimp on speed.”

That night, they began a very “to-MAY-to, to-MAH-to” affair.

“She uses the word ‘random’ a lot, like ‘This bar is random,’ and I don’t know what it means,” Mr. Moor said. “And she does a bit of a Valley Girl thing sometimes, and it rubs off on me. She talks 19 to the dozen.” Come again? “What I say to my friends is that she’s very American, and American women, to us anally repressed English people, always have a real charm. They don’t have the primness of English women. They’re much more forward and amusing and vivacious.”

Ms. Donnenfeld agreed with this assessment. “I’m kind of, like, a crazy, loud, talkative, say-everything-on-my-mind type,” she said. “I’m the opposite of repressed. Like, I’ll ask someone about their sex life. I tend to go a little too far, but he just doesn’t want to make waves like that. He’s very, you know, British .”

They went on a winter visit to London and Chunneled to Paris for a few days, and she felt The Question looming. “Every time he got dressed, I’d look for bulges-bulges in his pockets, I mean,” she said. In due time the moment came, in the rain on a bridge to the Île de la Cité. “She was blubbering on and on and in the end I was like, ‘Shut up! Please! I have something to say!'” Mr. Moor said. Then they went back to the hotel, where one can only assume they shagged, 19 to the dozen.

Recently, Ms. Donnenfeld picked out a white-gold antique ring with a scattering of small diamonds (the salespeople called it “sweet”) at Stardust Antiques near Gramercy Park.

The wedding will be at a yet-to-be-determined downtown loft with 120 guests. Mr. Moor hopes to serve Old Speckled Hen, the ale of his youth. “He’s just sort of effortless and natural and extremely witty, but in that sort of humble, self-deprecating British way.” said the bride-to-be. “I find him very Hugh Grant–ish.”

Chris Berry and Maggie Pushkar

Met: June 15, 1998

Engaged: Dec. 27, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: May 8, 2004

When he praises Bush, she says, “Hush!” Maggie Pushkar is the daughter of Senator Hillary Clinton’s longtime aide and director of correspondence, Alice Pushkar-and it shows. “I’m definitely a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat-a liberal thinker on social issues, on economic issues,” said Ms. Pushkar, 29, who has long blond hair she keeps tucked behind her ears, Gore-girl style. “I voted for Al Gore.”

“And I’m one of the five people in Manhattan that didn’t,” said her 6-foot-6, pompadoured Republican fiancé, Chris Berry, 28. (Her family calls him “Arnold”-as in Schwarzenegger.) “I’m very conservative, but not like Strom Thurmond or anything. I just think people should go out and earn things. I believe in the Constitution .” The couple was sitting across from one another in a conference room at the Bloomberg Media offices on Park Avenue, where he works in sales and she in business management. They met during training at the company’s famed eight-week summer “boot camp” in Princeton, N.J. Ms. Pushkar was wearing a red sweater and a short black-and-white checkered dress, showing off runner’s legs. “I just remember seeing this blond ball of fun,” Mr. Berry said. “I was sort of half paying attention, and then all of a sudden she stood up and-you know when you take a double look? It was totally like that. I was like, ‘She’s pretty hot!'”

There were no shenanigans at boot camp, but they did begin an e-mail friendship.One Super Bowl Sunday, he invited her to hang out with him and some pals at the Gin Mill, a classy joint on Amsterdam Avenue. “I was there soaked in beer with my buddies, having a rip-roaring good time, and she comes in with her pea coat and yellow pashmina scarf,” said Mr. Berry, who has a sartorial recall uncommon to his sex. “That’s where the relationship began.”

A couple of weeks later, he saw one of her messages popping up on his screen and thought suddenly, “I’m going to marry this girl!”

He gave her an Asscher-cut diamond with baguettes set in platinum during a visit to her parents in Washington, D.C. (He’s too conservative to reveal the number of carats, but let’s just put it this way: It’s big enough to make her look like a well-groomed, anti-welfare Republican wife.) The ceremony will be at a Georgetown church, followed by a reception at a country club in Chevy Chase, Md., that they’re hoping to give a Southern twang-he’s from Virginia-with magnolia blossoms, mint juleps and lots of slowly spoken small words for any Bushies who may be in attendance.

You can expect it to be fractious post-wedding, when they move in together, probably downtown.

“My parents instilled in me the desire to always be involved and passionate about politics,” Ms. Pushkar said.

“I can’t tell you how many dinner conversations we’ve had where my toes will be, like, curling under the table,” Mr. Berry said, “and I’m thinking, I can’t believe I’m listening to this! ”

Jeremy Abarno and Eve Colavito

Met : Jan. 15, 2001

Engaged: Dec. 21, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: June 2004

Eve Colavito, 28, and Jeremy Abarno, 23, are both teachers at River East, the East Harlem elementary school known for its music program ever since Meryl Streep and a passel of young charges fiddled away in the saccharine-titled movie, Music of the Heart . Some of these real-life junior violinists will likely be serenading the pair when they are married at the New York Botanical Gardens, in the shadow of six Japanese cherry trees planted in honor of Ms. Colavito’s late mother.

When they met, the pretty Brown graduate was a three-year teaching veteran and he was a NYU undergrad student teaching in one of her friend’s classrooms. She first glimpsed him in the school cafeteria, among the Jamaican beef patties and ketchup. “I was helping the kids getting their Styrofoam trays,” she said, “and Jeremy ran in to ask where else he could get food for himself.” He began popping up in her dreams, with his sideburns, tattoos and sexy cleft chin. “I’d come to school and see his face and get so embarrassed,” she said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Abarno was having a Dangerous Minds moment of his own toward his toned, ponytailed senior colleague. “At school, everyone would talk about how superior her curriculum was,” he said. “She’d be in a classroom with 25 loud kids, and she’d just nod her head and the whole class would stop. She just has that kind of presence. She doesn’t falter. She’s a very powerful, focused person.”

One night, they went to a bar after work, and Ms. Colavito lost some of her remove. “I know exactly what I want, and I’m scared I’ll never have it,” she told him. “I want a family. I want to be a mom!”

“I was thinking, ‘I can give that to you!'” Mr. Abarno said. And yet, he said, “with all that respect I had for her, it was hard for me to ever think of stepping beyond that line, as nuts for her as I was.”

But things started to heat up one afternoon when he was helping her set up an experiment in the library. “We were talking about conductors, and he kneels down right in front of me and said, ‘I wonder if my tongue would conduct electricity,'” Ms. Colavito said. “And then he holds a wire up and said, ‘Should I try it?'”

Good to know where our tax money is going!

They moved into a three-bedroom parlor-floor apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, commuting daily to school together in their little white Mazda, accumulating lots of parking tickets. One day, after a shopping spree at J. Crew, Ms. Colavito found yet another orange envelope on the windshield. When she reached inside, she found a red ribbon attached to a poem and a ring made of jade, her favorite stone (she later had it reinforced with white gold). “He asked me to spend the rest of my life with him and the children we make together,” she said. “We want to have kids, like tomorrow .”

“When she’s around tiny kids, it’s like … it makes me want to be a kid again,” Mr. Abarno said. “Seeing how she lights up with children makes me feel like I want to be like that, too. And she’s like that because she has a uterus, I guess. I want one, too!” Countdown to Bliss