Countdown to Bliss

Ivy Altomare and Ignacio Tzoumas

Met: September 1993

Engaged: Nov. 28, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: May 8, 2003

“I’m very anti-marriage,” declared Ignacio Tzoumas. “I think, as an institution, it isn’t what it used to be.”

So what’s up with the rooftop wedding you’re planning at Studio 450, buddy? The rose petals? The classical guitars? That massive raspberry-and-white-chocolate Francine Bove cake?

Meet Ivy Altomare, a fair-skinned resident in internal medicine at Mount Sinai with silky brown hair-and a lot of patience. “We talked about it [getting hitched] once in Year 3 and again in Year 6 of our relationship, and both conversations were terrible ,” she said. “He’d say he wanted to be with me, but didn’t need a piece of paper. I wasn’t thrilled with it, but I never wanted to be with anyone else. Marriage was something I was willing to sacrifice in order to be with him.”

Both 28, they met as undergraduates during a rowdy sophomore year at the University of Pennsylvania. The half-Greek, half-Mexican Mr. Tzoumas had a certain “exotic” cachet. “I thought he was hot, ” Dr. Altomare said. “I thought he was much older. He was just confident, good-looking, tan.”

Their first hook-up took place at a party and was something of a drunken blur. “He asked me where I was from six times, and I asked what his major was like eight times,” she said. “It was terrible.” The next morning at the fraternity house, she had to steal a look at his driver’s license while he was in the bathroom to get his name.

After this shaky beginning, the relationship quickly steadied. The two cohabited in scenic Hoboken while she studied at New Jersey Medical School. “I don’t want to say that he has been my No. 1 cheerleader, because that’s so not him,” said Dr. Altomare, a fan of PlayStation 2. “He’s just always reassured me.”

They’ve since moved to an east midtown one-bedroom where Mr. Tzoumas, a senior partner at Triton Global L.L.C., apparently spends quite a bit of time in the bathroom, modeling his favorite Hugo Boss clothes. “He’s higher-maintenance than I am,” she said.

Indeed, the onetime bioengineering major spent weeks studying physics books in order to determine the most brilliant design for the ring he gave a shocked Dr. Altomare one chilly day by Wollman Rink: a platinum number with three round stones totaling just under four carats. Worth the wait, huh, ladies? “People go into marriage too quickly,” said Mr. Tzoumas, explaining his deliberateness. “People take it very frivolously, and you should be a lot more serious and committed.”

“I was shocked-both that he was asking me and that he had done all this preparation,” Dr. Altomare said.

Kate Edmonds Events is planning a sort of My Big Fat Italian-Greek-Mexican Wedding for the multi-ethnic pair. It will be quite a smorgasbord: prosciutto, guacamole, kebabs, with a shticky toast from the bride’s father, a comedian, and a Greek dance performed by the groom-all unfolding on a Thursday, because of the bride’s limited vacation time. “I honestly thought it would never happen,” she said. “I have no idea what changed his mind. Maybe it was my cooking?”

“I feel there is always a chance that marriage won’t work,” Mr. Tzoumas said. “Anything can happen. But right now, I’m very optimistic.”

Brendan Fay and Tom Moulton

Met: Jan. 28, 1996

Engaged: June 28, 1997

Projected Wedding Date: May 24, 2003

Brendan Fay, a 5-foot-2 fellow from Drogheda, Ireland, with a passion for waistcoats-one might call him “leprechaun-like”-is an outspoken gay-rights activist and an expert on homosexual Irish literature dating back to the fifth century. He used to teach religion at a Catholic school in Queens, but was let go in 1991 after he was spotted on TV marching with then-Mayor David Dinkins in the St. Patrick Day’s Parade. “I’m a theologian,” he said recently, nibbling a fruit-and-nut ball at 71 Irving Place Coffee and Tea Bar. His hand rested on the knee of his boyfriend, Tom Moulton, a pediatric oncologist at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx.

“He’s a troublemaker ,” interjected the slender, black-bearded Dr. Moulton. At their joint bachelor party, they’re going to make sure to hit both a gay bar and an Irish pub.

The couple met through Dignity, an organization that holds masses for gay Roman Catholics. “Put a few hundred gay men in a room, and sometimes our minds and eyes will drift,” Mr. Fay said. When they reconnoitered for noodles at Sammy’s in the West Village, he made a special effort to be early. “I wanted to pick a table where there could be easy contact underneath,” he said, “so we could play ‘knees.'”

Turns out that Dr. Moulton was something of an expert at this game. “I’ve never been one for verbiage,” he told The Love Beat. “I go more for body language.” Flash-forward to the next morning, when he baked Mr. Fay raisin bread.

The topic of marriage was broached after only a month and continued on and off for years. “I thought it was a civil right that only heterosexuals could enjoy,” said Mr. Fay, 45. Inspired one scorching summer’s day after the Gay Pride Parade, however, he threw himself down on the grass next to a sweaty Dr. Moulton and asked if they could spend all of their Pride Sundays together. “I had to ask him if this was a proposal,” said the latter, also 45, who later picked out a white-gold ring with eight sapphires from an artist back in Mr. Fay’s hometown.

“It’s an Irish style to be indirect,” Mr. Fay said.

The pair share a house in Astoria with four cats: Missy, Jumpy, Bashful and Oscar Romero Wilde (jointly named for the writer and the assassinated archbishop of El Salvador). Clad in lavender-and-green kilts, they will affirm their domestic partnership at the Episcopal Church of St. Ann and the Holy Trinity in Brooklyn Heights. A gardenia-bedecked reception will follow at the adjacent church hall. Senator Tom Duane is expected to be among the 400 to 500 guests (Mr. Fay has six siblings; Dr. Moulton, seven) digging into a massive chocolate cake decorated with shamrocks and pansies. “It helps being gay,” Mr. Fay said. “We have immediate connections to the florist, the decorator and the priest.

“There is nobody that can make me laugh like Tom,” he added. “The life of an activist or of someone in religion can get so serious, and Tom has brought uncontrollable laughter into my life.”

Tara Bradley and Philippe Greenberg

Met: August 1997

Engaged: Aug. 26, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: June 1, 2003

Tara Bradley, a lawyer turned party planner, is marrying Philippe Greenberg, a party planner turned lawyer. We’re not making this up. “He calls me for advice on law things, and I call him for advice on event issues,” said Ms. Bradley, a youthful 30 with long, honey-blond hair and smart Lafonte glasses that give her an uncanny resemblance to Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde. “She’s much smarter than I am,” said her golden-skinned, chiseled fiancé. ” Much .”

Mr. Greenberg catered for pocket money as an undergrad at SUNY Stonybrook. When the roving-waiter company for which he worked wouldn’t give him a $2 an hour raise, he started up a rival business called Serving Elegance. It became so successful that it nearly ran his original employer into the ground. After a while, he tired of pigs-in-blankets, magnanimously sold his company back to his old boss, and used the money to put himself through Brooklyn Law School. He now works in banking and finance law at Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft.

Ms. Bradley also attended Brooklyn Law. (The pair met at a orientation event put on by the school’s welcoming committee.) She worked for a while as an entertainment attorney, but found her true calling after throwing parties pro bono for several charities. Last month, she quit her firm and got a job at 4PM Events, a company that arranges upscale benefits and other bashes.

An enthusiastic amateur painter, Mr. Greenberg had been working for close to a year on an “Impressionistic, Toulouse-Lautrec-style” portrait of Ms. Bradley in their Upper East Side one-bedroom. One night, he pasted a cubic zirconium stone on the left hand of his canvas subject and slipped an engagement ring of his own design into his pocket. (It was something of a tight squeeze, since the six small side diamonds surrounding the large round one ring in at an impressive two-plus carats.) Then he had his lover come look at the painting, announcing that the chef d’oeuvre was finally complete.

She scanned the painting, blank-faced. “I thought, ‘Uh-oh! What the hell is different about it?'” Ms. Bradley said. “I knew if I couldn’t figure out what he’d done to it, I was going to be in big trouble.”

Theirs will be a super-well-organized black-tie affair for 300 at the Water’s Edge restaurant in Queens. “In planning and looking through all the magazines, I just felt like I could do better,” said the bride, who will wear a white-on-white strapless “banded” Vera Wang gown. Mr. Greenberg, meanwhile, is busy worrying about the music choices-after all, his sweetie did drag him to a Backstreet Boys concert on her birthday. “She just has the worst taste in music,” he said. “She loves Barry Manilow. I’m more into Bob Marley, U2, classic rock. Our tastes couldn’t be farther apart.”

Luckily, they’re on the same page about another, more crucial issue. “One thing is that I’ve always wanted to have kids,” Ms. Bradley said. “And when we started dating, he told me that the one thing he’s known all his life was that his reason for living was to be a father.”

“She loves the fact that I’m lovable. I’m open and warm,” Mr. Greenberg said. And, somewhat contradictorily: “In the end, we’re both lawyers, so we see the world in the same way.”

Countdown to Bliss