Countdown to Bliss

Michael Nisenson and Nancy Spiegel

Met: January 2000

Engaged: Sept. 1, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Nov. 8, 2003

Meet Snugglebear and Munchkin, formerly Mikey and Spiegy, a.k.a. Michael Nisenson and Nancy Spiegel. He keeps a list of the reasons he loves her (“She is my best friend, my munchkin … “) on the fridge of their Hell’s Kitchen one-bedroom, where she Tivos every episode of American Idol and American Juniors . “I’m obsessed. I voted 10 times last night,” she said. The first dance at their wedding will be to “This Is the Night,” which was sung by Clay Aiken last season.

He proposed during a vacation stroll in Savannah, Ga. “I looked back and-not to be crude-but it looked like he was playing with himself,” she said. “I turned around to yell at him about it, and there he was down on one knee.” Instead of his manhood, he was clutching a pear-shaped 3.8-carat diamond with two baguettes set in platinum. You know what they say about the size of the rock ….

Ms. Spiegel, 29, is a buxom, brunette publicist at Dan Klores Communications, a job she likens to her original passion, musical theater. “But now I only sing in the shower,” she said, “or in the car when Michael’s mom puts on the Les Miz CD.” Mr. Nisenson, 30, is a real-estate agent and golf enthusiast who showers three times a day and is contemplating getting a manicure for his wedding. “And he’s a big hand-washer,” said his lady. “Like, he doesn’t like to take a bill, from a cab driver.”

Originally she was set up with his roommate, a stockbroker, by an acquaintance of hers who lived in their building. She thought he was kind of eh . “But I went out with him for a second time because, you know, I didn’t have much to do,” she said. Date No. 2 was at the Joshua Tree, an East Side sports bar, and the stockbroker committed the classic error of inviting unattached male friends along, including the well-groomed, broad-shouldered Mr. Nisenson. “It was like there was no one else in the room,” Ms. Spiegel said.

The bland romance with the other fellow ended shortly thereafter, but not wanting to offend him, she kept contact with her new crush to a minimum. “I’d get butterflies every time we talked,” she said.

When Dan Klores hooked her up with a box of seats for the U.S. Open, she invited both roommates, arranging to drop the tickets off with Mr. Nisenson at the W Hotel on Lexington Avenue the evening before. “I saw her come in across the room, and everything just stopped,” he said. “That was the moment I fell in love with her.”

They’ll be married at Headquarters Plaza in Morristown, N.J. Mr. Nisenson is from Edison and Ms. Spiegel, a native of Boca Raton, Fla., has adopted the Garden State with the effusion one might expect of a publicist. She plans to wear a halter-top Christos gown that she bought there (sans sales tax) which is roughly the shade of Paramus fog. “I love New Jersey!” she twittered. “I’m in love with the Jersey Turnpike. I’m a big fan of the EZ Pass …. You say ‘Jersey’ and everyone is just like, ‘Jersey? Newark? It’s the armpit of the world!’ But I always tell everyone that I’m from Jersey. It’s just an infatuation.”

Linda Alexander and Truman (Tar) Beaty

Met: May 11, 2002

Engaged: May 11, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Aug. 29, 2003

It’s marriage No. 3 for Linda Alexander, a jovial 51. “Hello, expensive divorces!” she said. A former jingle singer and music therapist, she now owns the real-estate P.R. company Alexander Marketing (yes, another publicist-look, it’s August). On this trip to the altar, she will wear Ferragamo pumps, a lacy white Carmen Marc Valvo dress from Saks and a shit-eating grin. “I smile a lot,” she said. “Just like every other flack in town.”

The new man is Tar Beaty, 57, a bearded hunk with his own eponymous graphic-design company and two prior marriages on his résumé, too. He’s a repeat customer at Sam Lehr Designer in Scarsdale, where he bought Ms. Alexander a yellow-gold ring with four diamonds and an emerald. “As a publicist, she really has the ability to bring out the positive in everything,” he said. “She encompasses everything that I was looking for in a woman. She has a lot of self-confidence and self-esteem, and she’s a go-getter who says what’s on her mind. I love that.”

They met on Matchmaker.com. Mr. Beaty logged on one afternoon from his Elk Lake cottage in Michigan-he needed a date for a friend’s wedding in New York City-and happened across a photo of Ms. Alexander, a petite woman with expensively highlighted brown hair. “I look like every other short, middle-aged Jewish woman in this city,” she told The Love Beat. But Mr. Beaty saw somethin’ special. “Her eyes just sparkled,” he said. “You know how sometimes you walk down the street, and you see someone beautiful and you take another look? It was like that. I wrote and said, ‘You’re gorgeous, but don’t bother writing back because I’m 1,500 miles away.'”

For Ms. Alexander, that may as well have been 1,500 feet. “It’s slim pickings out there,” she said. “And I liked his writing. I was impressed that he was an art director who could actually spell.”

They learned they both adored Jack Russell terriers and enjoyed tennis and bike-riding-and that her 50th-birthday party was the same night as his event in New York. They arranged to meet his first afternoon in the city on a park bench near the Planetarium. “I knew right away when I saw him walking towards me,” she said. “Wow. He has this shock of silver hair, and a great, very smooth walk. Like a masculine sashay.”

He left his pal’s wedding early and sashayed to her party, still in his tuxedo, and helped her carry presents home to her Upper West Side one-bedroom co-op. After a while, he reported, “the friend I was supposed to be staying with said, ‘Should I just take the pillow and sheets off the couch or what ?'”

Three months later, he moved to Manhattan. His Jack Russell, Buddy, had died the year before, but they dote upon hers, Bessie Smith. Last summer they bought a house in the Hudson Valley (he proposed at a restaurant nearby), writing a song for their answering machine about their ardor. Mr. Beaty barks in the chorus. They plan to sing a variation at their reception, a cocktail party for 30 at the Mediterranean restaurant Aleo in the Flatiron district. “We embarrass and bore people with it everywhere we go,” Ms. Alexander said.

Domenic Gambino and Leonora Scala

Met: May 1, 2000

Engaged: Dec. 24, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 7, 2003

Leonora Scala, 42, was married at 26, then widowed at 29 when her husband, a chef, died of lymphoma. “The first year was a relief-he’d been so sick,” said Ms. Scala, a senior merchandiser for Avon who lives in Mill Basin (that’s Brooklyn). “The second year was more like a pie in the face …. I thought I’d have a house and this great career and wonderful kids, but then God came and took it all out from under me.”

Then her father died. One of her aunts who attended the funeral suggested that she meet a family acquaintance, Domenic Gambino, an electrical engineer for New York City Transit whose wife of 12 years had perished of breast cancer in 1999, leaving him with a young son. Ms. Scala was skeptical. “You’re always being set up when you’re a widow,” she said. “More so than when you’re divorced or separated, because when you’re a widow it clearly isn’t a choice that you’re now single.”

They rendezvoused at Howard Beach, ambling down to a Starbucks near the water. “My first reaction was-and everyone always laughs when I say this-but I just thought he was so old !” she said. “His looks are mature. He was wearing black jeans and leather penny loafers, and I see myself as more fashionable. More Manhattan. It’s not that he wasn’t fashionable. He was just, you know, older.”

The stiff-haired Mr. Gambino, who is 47, may have looked mature, but he displayed the dating savvy of a preteen.” I had no experience,” he said. He asked her what they were supposed to talk about.

“I could tell he was shy,” said Ms. Scala. “He was out of the dating circle and was trying to get back in, and it seemed very sweet. He was trying to be very proper. I knew he wasn’t going to just throw me B.S.”

On the third date, he took her back to his three-bedroom house in Staten Island to meet his son, Vincent, and the deer head in his den (Mr. Gambino is fond of hunting). “I was like, ‘Oh, how nice! It’s very … masculine?'” she said.

“Did she tell you about the eight-pointer I keep in my study?” he asked.

Ms. Scala refined her Davy Crockett slowly, taking him to operas and musicals.

Driving back from a midnight mass in Maryland, where they were visiting her sisters, Mr. Gambino pulled over his beloved Infinity S.U.V.-despite his line of work, he hasn’t been on a subway in six months-and produced a two-carat round diamond set in platinum with baguettes. “I said yes, and then I looked at him and said, ‘Are you sure?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, are you sure?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, are you sure?'” Ms. Scala said. “It’s a scary step to marry again after losing a spouse.”

Vincent, who calls her “Mom,” will usher at their wedding ceremony at St. Bernard’s, which will be followed by a reception at the Carltun Palm Court in East Meadow. Ms. Scala’s dress is a Grace Kelly–inspired asymmetrical gown by Lisa Gowing, an Australian designer. “To love someone and have them die and to then find love again is the most special thing,” she said.

Countdown to Bliss