Countdown to Bliss

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Kevin Fisher and Robin Marchisio

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Met: January 1999

Engaged: June 25, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 4, 2003

Cue up Tommy Dorsey and his orchestra: Robin Marchisio’s fiancé, Kevin Fisher, has joined the Army Reserves, and there’s a chance he could be sent to Iraq before the year is out. “Why would I want to send someone I love to war?” asked Ms. Marchisio the other day at Le Pain Quotidien, plaintively opening her big brown eyes. “It feels so Vietnam-ish.”

Mr. Fisher, 23, a day trader with Assent, was sipping a latte. “I wanted to look back in 20 years and feel like I’d done something that mattered,” he said. “I wanted to know that I’d given back to my country.”

His original plan involved enlisting for five years of active duty, but Ms. Marchisio, 25, a third-year law student at St. John’s, talked him out of it. “We negotiated,” she said. “There was a lot of crying involved …. I didn’t want him to do it, but it was something he wanted. And I want to be with him.”

They met in her Washington Square Park dorm at N.Y.U. The plump lipped Mr. Fisher came from Rochester, N.Y.; Ms. Marchisio, originally from Rome, has lived in Manhattan since her teens. “I’d see her all the time, but it took me a while to work up the courage to actually talk to her,” he said. “But I’d tell my friends, ‘I’m going to go out with that girl.'”

“We did the modern thing. You know, you hang out as friends, and then it turns into something more serious,” Ms. Marchisio said. After graduation, they moved into a cozy Upper East Side one-bedroom, stocking the living room with Mr. Fisher’s 200-plus DVD collection. “He’s something of a movie buff,” Ms. Marchisio said. “He likes artsy stuff, like Igby Goes Down .” That ain’t gonna fly in the barracks, son ….

Six days after returning from a five-month training period at Fort Benning, Ga., Mr. Fisher took his sweetie for an ice-cream feast at Serendipity 3. Then he took her on a Central Park hansom cab ride, where he proposed with a diamond-pave platinum band holding an emerald cut diamond surrounded by tiny sapphires.

“She’s my best friend and my lover-I want to share my life with her,” he explained, punctuating the point by planting a wet one on her mouth. “I love her.”

Ms. Marchisio started to weep.

“Not being his wife just isn’t an option for me,” she said. “The idea of life without him just doesn’t make sense.”

They were originally planning to wed next year after her graduation from law school, but late this summer there was some speculation that Mr. Fisher’s deployment could be sooner than expected. So, in two days flat, Ms. Marchisio planned a lunchtime wedding for 100 at the Yale Club, swiftly choosing a dress from Kleinfeld’s and an Italian love song for the first dance.

Mr. Fisher, who will wear his civvies to the ceremony, credits the Army with pushing him to be all he that could be to his girl. “The military life really gives you perspective and makes you think about what you want and what you don’t want in life,” he said. “It’s funny because it benefited Robin in that way, even though she didn’t want me going in the first place.”

Heather Leahy and Vinoo Zachariah

Met: March 23, 2003

Engaged: April 23, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Dec. 27, 2003

Heather Leahy, the art director of Home magazine, had hit 34 without finding domestic bliss with another and was considering just asking a male friend for some spare sperm. “I thought, ‘Maybe this just isn’t happening,'” she said. “At my age, most people are married; we’re the leftovers.”

But then a graphic-designercolleague told heraboutanother, pretty-tasty-sounding “leftover”:Vin Zachariah, 33, a divorced executive in the cable division of Time Warner with degrees from Cornell and Yale. Incredibly, the fact that Mr.Zachariahhad just been transferred from ManhattantoCincinnati, Ohio, wasn’t a deal-breaker;Ms.Leahyherselfwas borninShaker Heights.

And so they met on the Brooklyn Promenade. The slender, wavy-haired brunette had donned a black boa and written his name on a cardboard sign, airport-limo-driver style. Mr. Zachariah, a native of India with a convivial smile, had also scrawled her name on a cardboard sign (no boa, though). “He says to me, ‘We’re going to do some illegal things tonight,'” Ms. Leahy said. “And I’m like, ‘Huh? Are we going to expose ourselves?'” Well, nooo, not quite yet, but he had brought a bottle of wine and a couple of candles to enjoy al fresco. “We kissed for the first time within the first 15 minutes,” he said. “It was just this spontaneous thing. I had this constant urge to hold her hand.”

“I could’ve eaten him up,” Ms. Leahy said. First, though, the two stopped to fill up on sweetbreads at Peasant. They then spent the night “talking” in his borrowed apartment, if you know what we mean. “After that first date, he said to me, ‘I’m done.'” she said. “And I’m like, ‘Oh, you’re done with me ? Well, it was nice to meet you.’ And he’s like, ‘No, I’m done dating. I think this is it!'”

Mr. Zachariah returned to Cincinnati the next day. The rapidly cleaving couple spent the following week wearing out the batteries on their phones and falling asleep with receivers in hand. “It was a good week to be an AT&T shareholder,” he said.

By the second week, they’d decided they would have four kids and join a church.

By the third, she’d brought him to meet her parents, who rented Monsoon Wedding for the occasion to make him “feel comfortable.”

And on the one-month anniversary of their first date, Ms. Leahy opened her e-mail account and found a message that read “Will you marry me?” “I stutter, so I thought I’d just type it,” Mr. Zachariah said. She proceeded to go out and buy her own ring-a platinum-set 1.5-carat round diamond-on her credit card.

“He did pay me back,” she said.

The wedding will be at the Shaker Heights Presbyterian church where her father is deacon, with a rehearsal dinner at the one local Indian place. Time Warner is transferring Mr. Zachariah somewhere new at the end of the year, so it’s an open question where they’re going to set up house. But as long as they’re together, who cares?

“People always used to say to me that when you know, you know,” Ms. Leahy said. “I’d ask my friends, ‘Do you think I know now? Is this knowing ?’ And they’d say, ‘Look, you’ll just know when you know!’ And then I met Vin and I’m like, ‘Oh! Now I know!’ There was no question. Now I know I know.”

Elise Derenzo and Nick Toren

Met: June 1997

Engaged: Aug. 20, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: June 27, 2004

Nick Toren, 30, an actor, is marrying Elise DeRenzo, 32, the manager of Sarah Bouissou Catering-and his former boss. Kinky!

They met when he took a summer job as a cater-waiter so he could support his acting habit. “I didn’t know from these big-city women,” said Mr. Toren, who grew up in Oregon and attended Middlebury College. “She had this raspy, Italian-sounding voice. She seemed very cool and untouchable-very quintessential New York chic.”

The 5-foot-10, raven-haired Ms. DeRenzo lost her cool, however, after flipping over a tray during a party in a private home in New Jersey. She went outside to sulk. Mr. Toren followed. “He could tell that I was upset, and he was like, ‘You shouldn’t get so down on yourself, because people really like you. And guys? They really dig you.'” she said. “And then he tried to kiss me. I’m like, ‘Wow, they build ’em different in Oregon!'” She swiftly turned her cheek.

Flash-forward two years, when Ms. DeRenzo had a 29th birthday party at El Teddy’s in Tribeca with a dress-up-as-your-favorite-rock-star theme. Mr. Toren, who has light brown hair and a pointy nose, showed up to the party as John Lennon. At some point he had also acquired a shiny red Mazda convertible. It took Ms. DeRenzo no time at all to decide all she needed was love.

The support of a good woman appears to have helped Mr. Toren’s acting career somewhat. Last year he appeared on Broadway in The Elephant Man (with the Love Beat’s own future husband, Billy Crudup), and he’s moved with his fiancée into a Washington Heights two-bedroom, where she consults closely with him on that oh-so-critical audition wardrobe. “She has me in all these gay-guy tight clothes now,” he said. “No more baggy jeans, only boot-cut ones.”

Late this summer, they took a vacation to his native state and hit some of the local Indian-reservation casinos. At a lookout point on Route 1, Mr. Toren suggested-in grand narcissist-actor style-that Ms. DeRenzo take his photo. As she was squinting to find the best view, he made the ultimate theatrical gesture: dropping to one knee and handing over a platinum ring set with two small diamonds surrounding a larger one that had belonged to her great-grandmother-about three carats in all. “She just kept saying, ‘Oh my God, oh my God , oh my God ,” he said. “I’m like, ‘Damn! Can I get off my knee now?'”

Their ceremony will be at St. Paul the Apostle near Columbus Circle. Guests will then be shipped by Greyhound to a reception at the Cass Gilbert Garden House in Ridgefield, Conn. (catered by another company, natch).

The pair will honeymoon in Tuscany. Mr. Toren spent his junior year abroad in Florence and tutors Italian between acting gigs. “She knows a little, too,” he said, “But only stuff from The Godfather .”

“He’s a Renaissance man!” Ms. DeRenzo cooed. “There’s nothing he’s not fantastic at.”

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