Countdown to Bliss

Brittany Hague and Jim Sanders

Met: September 1996

Engaged: Sept. 25, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Aug. 23, 2003

These modish lovebirds share a loft on Bedford Street in Williamsburg with two exotic short hair cats and four computers. Both designers-slash-filmmakers, they have their own amorphous design and film company, Posterchildren, as well as a penchant for Japanese horror movies and a Web site called JimandBrittany.com, on which they display a lot of their childlike, Henry Darger–esque artwork. They sure seem “hip” to us, and yet ….

“We’re not hip. We’re pretty normal,” said Jim Sanders, who has lots of plaid shirts, deep-set blue eyes and floppy yellow hair that his sweetie cuts herself. “We’re just a couple . We rent videos and make dinner, whereas for some younger people”-he’s 24-“the true Williamsburg hipsters, there’s an active nightlife.” “We spend most of our time together, and we rarely get sick of each other,” said Brittany Hague, 25, a pallid beauty with prematurely salt-and-pepperish, constantly morphing dark blond hair that is currently bobbed and black. “Sometimes we’ll have a silly fight. Then we’ll each go play our own video games alone.”

They met at the Rhode Island School of Design and grew close editing together in Video 1. At the time, Ms. Hague was sporting a modified Mohawk. “A lot of college girls are bound to overalls and Calvin Klein black tank tops, but she had a lot of style,” Mr. Sanders said. “She was the first person I knew who wore Helmut Lang clothes. It didn’t even happen where I’m from, and I’m from Connecticut .”

Ms. Hague found him sweet and “gentle,” and gradually they eased into a relationship. “We hung out so much, it just kind of happened,” she said. “I hung out one night at his place and he played Willie Nelson, and I just stayed over.”

After graduating, they briefly moved with some art-school chums to Austin, Tex., (hipness alert suddenly amber!), but soon returned East. “Everyone was really friendly there,” Ms. Hague said with some distaste. “It was a different scene. We missed that keep-to-yourself kind of feeling you have in New York.”

Mr. Sanders proposed while she was rocking in a chair one night on his father’s porch in Old Lyme, Conn. The ring-yellow gold with a solitaire round diamond-had belonged to his mother, who drowned when he was in his teens.

Not all their chic friends dug this new development. “There were some immature boy-male-artist kind of views, like: ‘You can’t get married! Your life will be over!'” Ms. Hague said. “I think it’s absurd.”

Their wedding, at the “91” event space in the West Village, has enough haute-bourgeois flourishes to turn Greenpoint green. The cake, inspired by one in InStyle , is a Gail Watson orchid-decorated tower of vellum-wrapped cupcakes with raspberry cream. The bride’s blinding white gown with pink bows and bustle was designed by Christian Lacroix. And they’ve registered for a heart-shaped pancake skillet from Martha Stewart.

But it’s not like they won’t be blessed by bohemians, too. A fellow RISD graduate is going to bang out the Lohengrin on a Casio. Another, ordained for the occasion, will perform the ceremony with a digital video camera strapped to his head. Departing guests will receive special copies of The Nutcracker dedicated to the couple and illustrated by the bride’s father, Michael Hague, who designed the 1984 illustrated edition of that hipster manifesto, The Hobbit .

Mr. Sanders seemed pleased with the compromise. “I’m just so happy where I am,” he said. “This is ideal.”

Ray Brahmi and Elyse Singer

Met: May 19, 2002

Engaged: Oct. 13, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: May 17, 2003

Ray Brahmi and Elyse Singer had their personal Nora Ephron moment during a second-date screening of Y Tu Mamá También . They were chatting about movies-Mr. Brahmi, 36, works as an educator at the American Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria-and he told her how he’d just tried to borrow the Barbara Stanwyck 1933 film Baby Face from the New York Public Library, but its only copy wasn’t on the shelves.

“That’s because I have it at the moment!” Ms. Singer shrieked.

“I was like, ‘Holy shit!'” Mr. Brahmi said. “It was total fate.” He invited himself over for a private viewing in her Chelsea one-bedroom the following night, and the rest is “her”-story.

Ms. Singer, 35, is the artistic director and a founder of the Hourglass Group, an avant-garde lady troika that produces Off Broadway shows “interested in raising questions about the feminine icon” (past performance subjects include Mae West and Courtney Love). Hers will be a vintage wedding, held at Capitale, the Stanford White–designed former bank on the Bowery. The engagement ring is a one-carat princess-cut diamond with tulip-shaped baguettes, circa 1915; the gown, a beaded, cowl-necked, champagne-colored number from the 1930’s. Calla lilies will adorn the tables (named for the city’s great 1950’s nightclub), and the bride’s childhood friend, the actress Stockard Channing, is among the many thea-tuh folk invited. “The whole thing will be like Jean Harlow meets Sweet Smell of Success ,” said Ms. Singer, who has a black Bettie Page hairdo, prominent cheekbones, and teeth that her fiancé calls “nice and big and white.”

They met after Ms. Singer, coming off a six-year relationship with a video producer, logged onto the Bust.com personals. She met her share of boring dorks. “They’d just stop in the middle of the drink and say, ‘How would you rate this date so far?'” she said. “I was pretty fed up.” Then she happened upon Mr. Brahmi’s profile, that of a studly Bard grad and “reformed actor” with Moroccan heritage and a gleaming white smile. He reminded her of Chet Baker. “I was kind of, like, stunned,” she said. “He mentioned that in his living room”-also a bedroom, she later learned-“he had a poster of Samuel Beckett sitting on a pile of garbage, and I thought that was really great.”

Mr. Brahmi, who said he placed the ad only after a “social intervention” from his male friends, was equally delighted with Ms. Singer, an alumna of Choate and Yale. They brunched at Pain Quotidien and talked animatedly about politics and religion and Blowup . “She was definitely dynamic,” he said. “My sense early on was that she would be willing to work on everything-any problem we had. I knew as long as that was there, I’d want to marry her.”

He proposed after she returned from a three-week retreat at Yaddo, while they were drinking coffee on her couch. The scene was appropriately Beckettesque. “He said, ‘I want to ask you to marry me,'” Ms. Singer said. “So I said, ‘Well, then you should.’ And then he said, ‘No, I’m asking you now! I want you to spend the rest of your life with me.’ And I said, ‘I didn’t realize you were asking me!'”

Alexandra Levit and Stewart Shankman

Met: Jan. 24, 1997

Engaged: Jan. 11, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: March 27, 2004

Enter this couple’s cozy Islandia, N.Y., bedroom any night of the week, and you’ll be in for an aural treat-no, not the oooohs and aaaahs of frenetic lovemaking; what do you take us for?-but a low, subtle shhhhh. It’s that black, sleek HoMedics Sound Spa Relaxation Machine in the corner.

Stew Shankman, 29, a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at SUNY Stonybrook, has been addicted to the white-noise contraptions since the age of 10. “He had one that went zdzzdzdzdzdzdddzzz after a while because it was broken,” said his fiancée, Alex Levit, 27, a P.R. woman at the software company Computer Associates, who is writing both a novel (about the life of a celebrity in cyberspace) and a handbook for twentysomethings on surviving corporate America. “He doesn’t like anything new,” she added. “He’ll wear underwear until it disintegrates .”

They met at Northwestern when he was a fifth-year senior and she was a junior, and his fraternity was serenading her sorority with “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You.” “Kind of stupid,” Ms. Levit said. The dark, round-cheeked Mr. Shankman-something of a “legend” in the organization-was the only one not drinking that night. “You look like the guy who’s in charge,” she cooed, sidling up to him.

“Ugh, we hate this story,” Mr. Shankman said. “It’s really lame to meet your future bride at a fraternity party.”

The next week, though, the canny coed snuck him up to the room of her no-men-upstairs house-um, we thought this was Northwestern, not the Deep South-whereupon he saw that she had the exact same circa 1975 cream-colored Hammacher Schlemmer white-noise machine that he owned. “He started jumping up and down and saying, ‘Oh my God! This was meant to be!'” said Ms. Levit, a freckled brunette.

“It was unusual for me to connect with someone so early and so easily,” Mr. Shankman said. “We were just very, very, very similar. We’re both intelligent, honest, straightforward and ambitious. We’re the opposite of laid-back; we’re laid- forward .” (At 5-foot and 5-foot-7, respectively, they’re also well matched physically.)

“He has that disgusting guy sense of humor,” Ms. Levit said. “A lot of guys don’t share stuff like that with their girlfriends, but he’ll tell me everything he thinks is funny-like farting.”

Years of such familiarity ran them into something of a rut. “We’d settled into a companionship/best friend relationship,” Ms. Levit said. “You’re lovers, but you’re not in love. Marriage seemed more like something we needed to do rather than, ‘Oh, we need to do this so we can get it on right now or we won’t be able to stand it.'” So Mr. Shankman applied some special oomph to his proposal, setting up a two-hour-long treasure hunt that eventually led her to the Robert Moses beach on Fire Island, where he presented the booty: a one-carat round-cut diamond with five channel-set diamonds on each side, set in yellow gold. “The sand and the wind were blowing,” he said. “And there was the noise of the waves crashing. It was kind of like our sleep sound.”

They’ll be married at the Troutbeck Country Inn near the Berkshires, against the chirping of crickets.

Countdown to Bliss