Countdown to Bliss

Natalie Krodel was an entertainment lawyer renting a two-floor two-bedroom with fireplaces and chandeliers in verdant Boerum Hill. “It was

Natalie Krodel was an entertainment lawyer renting a two-floor two-bedroom with fireplaces and chandeliers in verdant Boerum Hill. “It was everything a townhouse should be,” she said. And in this cruel city, that inevitably translates into “too expensive.” So she placed a “Roommate Wanted” ad in a newsletter published by her alma mater, Brooklyn Law School. “It sounds so snobby,” said Ms. Krodel, 31, who also attended Vassar College, “but the first two guys who called had these very sort of New York accents, and I just couldn’t see myself living with them.”

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Then she got a call from Nguyen (pronounced “Win”) Huynh, a blessedly accent-free Berkeley grad, banker and vice president at Gates Capital, who needed a place because he’d just broken up with a live-in girlfriend he’d been seeing since his days at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. “I pictured him listening to classical music in his bedroom,” said Ms. Krodel, who has strawberry-blond hair and pale blue eyes. “I thought he would stay up in his bedroom and not bother me too much. He had these wire-rimmed glasses, and he just seemed very studious and contemplative.” (Little did she know that he dons tight Speedos for his daily swims.)

“I thought she was very attractive,” said Mr. Huynh, a cherub-cheeked 30 who was born in Saigon and raised in Minnesota. “I wondered if she’d be weirded out if I called her up even if I didn’t get the apartment.”

But get the apartment he did. Ms. Krodel made him sign a six-page lease-“as a lawyer, she just couldn’t help herself,” he said-and after a few months of cohabitation, they went for friendly drinks at the Brooklyn Inn, where some jerk began aggressively hitting on Ms. Krodel. “Nguyen got in his face and did one of those machismo, ‘you wanna step outside?’ kind of things,” she said. “I realized he wasn’t just some nerdy guy.” And soon she realized that they didn’t really need two bedrooms after all, if you catch our drift. “My friends all said it was a big mistake,” Ms. Krodel said. “They said we were being stupid, we were being crazy.”

After a year, they wanted to see if the romance could survive the exertion of commuting, so he moved to the West Village. The experiment was a success, she gave up the expensive townhouse, and they found a modest one-bedroom on the Lower East Side. Ms. Krodel, a caffeine junkie who needs at least four cups of coffee per day, was finding it hard to supplement her habit in the area, so in one of those “post-9/11 epiphanies,” she decided to drop law and open a café tentatively named Full City. “She has a spirit of adventure that I like,” said Mr. Huynh, who has helped her scout space near Clinton Street. “Her spontaneity is attractive to me.”

On her last day as an attorney, he picked her up at the office and whisked her off to Lisbon, Portugal, for four days, where he proposed with a round diamond in a square setting with diamond pave, dating from 1910. The wedding will likely be in St. Petersburg, Fla., where Ms. Krodel’s parents live, perhaps incorporating some Vietnamese traditions, like having some well caffeinated friends pour water over the couple’s hands in a sort of mutual cleansing ritual.

Nathan Miles and Karen Weatherwax

Met: Dec. 31, 1998

Engaged: Feb. 28, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 20, 2003

Nathan Miles, 29, is a climate commodities trader for Hess, which we envision as some strange combination of a TV weatherman and a stockbroker. “He was excited that it was a cold winter, because that’s what he predicted,” said his fiancée, Karen Weatherwax (yes, her real name), a 26-year-old aspiring actress. “It’s bizarre.”

They met one frigid New Year’s Eve at a drunken gathering in Times Square-before they became real New Yorkers, obviously. “We went to a party, but it was kind of icky,” said Ms. Weatherwax, a hazel-eyed blonde from San Francisco. The 6-foot-2 Mr. Miles hails from Kansas, and she was slow to warm to his laconic Midwestern charm. “She thought I was boring,” he said. “I was reserved, and she’s more of a social butterfly.”

“He was quiet,” Ms. Weatherwax said. “But as soon as he opened his mouth, he had a dry wit that I liked. He had a strength about him.”

Later that week, he enfolded her in his manly arms at Rudy’s Bar & Grill, that place on Ninth Avenue with the large pig statue in front of the door. After winter break was over, the e-mail lines between California and Houston (where Mr. Miles was then working) began to crackle. “She’s the most amazing woman I’ve ever met, hands down,” he said. “The most kind and caring and thoughtful person-and, at the same time, fun and fiery and very bright. And she’s got a great body: thin but muscular, with great legs and a great back.”

By the following New Year’s Eve, Ms. Weatherwax had moved to Manhattan in order to pursue her acting career, and Mr. Miles decided to head north for a reunion. Our fluctuating climate seduced him: Within a year, he was living with his sunny girl in a West Village one-bedroom walk-up with its own wine refrigerator, where he helps her perfect her lines for various Off Off Broadway productions. “He’s very meticulous,” she said.

Mr. Miles enjoys watching her stretch and flex that lithe bod around the house. “I think it’s great that she’s following her dream,” he said. “But we haven’t had to go through her having a passionate sex scene yet. That’ll be interesting.”

He proposed while the couple was vacationing in St. Lucia, with a two-carat emerald-cut diamond set in platinum. It was warm and clear. with a high of 87 degrees. “I said, ‘I want you to tell me that you love me as much as I love you and you want to be my wife,'” he said.

“My knees were so weak that I couldn’t walk for an hour; it was the happiest I’ve ever been,” Ms. Weatherwax said. “I accepted the role of a lifetime.” Sing it, sister!

Their wedding will be in Sonoma County, Calif., and the couple’s last dance will be to the strains of the Frank Loesser classic, “What Are You Doing New Year’s?”

Motoko Rich and Mark Topping

Met: Sept. 9, 2000

Engaged: April 11, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: April 26, 2003

Motoko Rich, a Wall Street Journal reporter who covers the commercial real-estate beat, is marrying Mark Topping, a brown-eyed, long-lashed deputy commissioner at the New York City Department of Buildings. But her Rolodex is no fatter for it. “We’ll talk about work in an emotional or personal sense, but I think it’s only fair that I not try to use him to get stories,” said Ms. Rich, 33, a svelte, chestnut-haired alumna of Yale and Cambridge.

They met at the Cape Cod wedding of Journal news editor John Edwards to former Journal reporter Rebecca Lowell. The bride and groom had thoughtfully created a “Singles Mix and Match” section for guests without escorts. We don’t-repeat, don’t -recommend this practice, but in this instance, it worked. “It was a high-prospect table,” said Mr. Topping, 33, a rare “square” Oberlin grad.

When he asked Ms. Rich for a dance, she informed him that she was a chocoholic and needed to secure a piece of the wedding cake first. After she shoved it down, they danced for the remainder of the evening, finishing up with the proverbial walk on the beach under a full moon. “I said that he was a ‘New York guy’ so he probably wouldn’t call me, but I’d give him my number anyway,” she said.

But men like it when you eat: The smitten Mr. Topping not only called the next day, but showed up at their first date-a reading given by McSweeney’s fixture Neal Pollock, another wedding guest, at a Murray Hill bar-clutching a sonnet. “It was about our meeting and walking on the beach and such,” Ms. Rich said. “Nobody had ever written me a poem before. It was … very romantic.” It almost makes up for being taken to a Neal Pollock reading!

Four months later, in yet another example of high rent expediting relationships, he moved from the East Village into her Brooklyn Heights studio. Brooklyn then sucked them farther in, to Park Slope, where he proposed one night in their living room, dropping to his knee as she erupted in giggles. “No, no, this is a serious proposal,” he said, presenting a 10-cent pink flower-shaped plastic ring he’d gotten at the supermarket.

“What I like about Mark is, he’s what I call ‘diagonal,'” Ms. Rich said. “You never know quite where he’s coming from.”

The plastic bauble was later replaced with two of his grandmother’s platinum rings, which were soldered together and contain a single large diamond surrounded by smaller encrusted ones.

“She can always read between the lines of whatever I’m saying,” Mr. Topping said of his journalist fiancée. “She gets behind the fluff.”

Their wedding will be at the Picnic House in Prospect Park, with wedding rings from the Clay Pot, a favorite of Oberlin alumni. The cake, by Brooklyn’s Naturally Delicious caterers, will be chocolate, of course.

Though her husband-to-be may never be a source, Ms. Rich said that he’s her biggest career cheerleader. “He’s very sweet,” she said. “He sends out e-mails to friends and family when I have a page-1 story.”

Mr. Topping confessed that he reads the Journal online-but only to see his fiancée’s articles. “I prefer The Times ,” he said.

Countdown to Bliss