Countdown to Bliss

Esther Blum and Jeremy Horn

Met: Sept. 5, 2001

Engaged: Dec. 30, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Nov. 1, 2003

At Devachan, a Soho beauty salon that specializes in curly hair, the stylists apparently moonlight as matchmakers. (Because, let’s face it, our friends with ‘fros need all the help they can get. Kidding. Kidding! )

Esther Blum, 33, a “holistic” nutritionist in private practice, has been a client since 1995. Her locks are brown and Pre-Raphaelite: “kind of like Sarah Jessica Parker or Debra Messing or, on a bad day, like Elaine’s on Seinfeld ,” she said. When her love life wasn’t going well, she would blow them out straight. “That was breakup hair,” she said. And it made the salon’s pro-curl owner, Lorraine Massey, very angry.

One day, Ms. Blum was receiving a trim when she suddenly announced that she’d had it with men. “I said I was done,” she said. “I was feeling very comfortable being single and realized that I just wanted to spend the rest of my time on this earth as a single person.” But her hairdresser had other ideas. She scribbled down the number of another client, Jeremy Horn, a vice president in media and communications at Credit Lyonnais and (gasp) a straighty.

Brown on top with sexy red sideburns and a red goatee, this fellow had been set up by Ms. Massey half a dozen times before. “I never minded it at all! Gee whiz!” said Mr. Horn, 33, a General Hospital fan who had a “Charlie Sheen– Wall Street swoop” before he discovered Devachan. “I thought blind-dating was like interactive dinner theater, you know?”

The two customers set a date to show off their do’s at Ike, a restaurant in the East Village. “He was the first guy in a long time on a date to ask me about myself,” Ms. Blum said. “It was really refreshing.”

“I thought she was pretty sassy,” Mr. Horn said, using one of two adjectives dreaded by our female curly-headed friends. “She carried herself with a lot of spunk.” (Oh God, there’s the other one.)

They scheduled a second date for Sept. 11. This was 2001. She ended up that evening watching TV at his Gramercy Park studio rather than walking back from her downtown office to her East 90’s two-bedroom in high heels. “I remember looking around the apartment that night and wondering if I was going to be spending a lot of time there,” she said.

He actually wound up moving into her apartment. The disaster, which had such a chilling effect on many New York relationships, seemed to make this one warmer and more nurturing. Ms. Blum quickly put her banker beau on a regimen of bok choy, brown rice and ostrich burgers. And her dietary patterns changed as well. “I love his tiny tush and his adorable ears,” she said. “I just want to eat them up.

“I love how my head fits perfectly against his shoulder when we’re asleep,” she added.

Mr. Horn proposed at the pool in the National hotel in Miami, giving her a “promise ring”: a white gold band containing two small sapphires and a diamond. It was later replaced with a one-carat diamond that had belonged to his mother, surrounded by two half-carat ones in a platinum bezel setting.

Yes, it’s buh-bye to “breakup hair”-forever! They will marry in Ms. Blum’s native Fairfield, Conn., with gratis coifs from Ms. Massey.

Jonathan Bond and Rebecca Bradshaw

Met: Fall 1999

Engaged: Sept. 15, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 11, 2003

Jon Bond, 46, co-owner of the independent ad agency Kirshenbaum and Bond and a hard-core native New Yorker (is there any other kind?), is marrying cute, pert Rebecca Bradshaw, 37, who hails from …Minnesota. “WhenIfirstarrived here”-in 1995-“I didn’t like this city atall ,”shesaid, wide-eyedover eggs at Balthazar one recent morning. She hadahelmetof blondhair,ataut smile and a periwinklesweatertied neatly around her neck. “I felt like Dorothy,” shesaid.”Ijust wanted to click my heels and go home.”

But back home, her family is in the funeralbusiness, which isn’t exactly jolly for a young ingenue, so Ms. Bradshawgrittedher (verywhite)teeth and started a marketing company, which she calledRedShoe Inc.-referringto The Wizard of Oz , not the great Michael Powell–Emeric Pressburger movie or the dumb Tom Hanks one. She met the sharp, dark-eyed Mr. Bond in his Soho offices when she had business there with Cablevision. “He came in, introduced himself and said: ‘I wrote a book! Let me get you a copy!'” Ms. Bradshaw recalled. “And then he signs it and is like, ‘Nice to meet ya! Take a brownie before you go!'”

The book, Under the Radar , was about unconventional ways of marketing, and the title was unfortunately apt. “Not that many people were buying it,” Mr. Bond said. “And she still hasn’t read it.”

“I did too! It just took me a while,” Ms. Bradshaw insisted. “It was just that I was put off by Jon’s ‘New York’ approach. In the Midwest, we’re much more about interpersonal relationships and getting to know people.”

They began having “business” lunches at the Cub Room, and she started calling him “the crazy man in advertising.” And that crazy man showered his little shiksa with gifts: Atlas Shrugged (uh-oh), The Celestine Prophecy (double uh-oh!), a pair of high-heeled sparkly red shoes (now we’re talkin’).

A year after they met, our Dorothy suddenly glimpsed the relationship in blazing Technicolor. “I realized that I kept talking about him,” she said, “and I realized I’d fallen in love.” One night, while he had his back turned to her getting on an elevator, she decided to share those three special words. But they were almost inaudible. “My theory about Rebecca,” said Mr. Bond-his mother is a psychoanalyst-“was that she was a repressed Midwesterner who was really something other than she seemed. I saw how independent and optimistic and not controlling she was. I hate people who are controlling.” (His late father, Rudy Bond, was a character actor who appeared in many Elia Kazan films and played the guy shot in the revolving door in The Godfather .)

The couple’s two dogs and Mr. Bond’s two sons from a previous marriage were all present at their West Village brownstone when he proposed, handing over a box from Magnolia Bakery containing a three-carat emerald-cut diamond. “But I didn’t get a cupcake,” she said.

Their wedding will be at a hall at the American Museum of Natural History, with brown and blue trimmings and fancy photography by Daphne Borowski. Ms. Bradshaw, who is converting to Judiasm, has bought a conservative Richard Tyler gown from Barneys. She’s planning to walk down the aisle to the strains of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

Bari Cayne and Jory Cener

Met: Dec. 30, 2000

Engaged: July 26, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Feb. 14, 2004

It’s a Time Inc. twosome-not uncommon for this rather in loco parentis company, which has been known to throw celebratory “pours,” or parties, when its employees get hitched. Bari Cayne, 27, is the assistant to the managing editor at InStyle , and her fiancé, Jory Cener, 28, sells ads for Field and Stream and Outdoor Life magazines.

They met not in the underrated Time Inc. company cafeteria, but on the online Jewish matchmaking service, JDate. The golden-haired Ms. Cayne, who’d just broken up with a boyfriend of three years, begrudgingly logged on to placate her mother and aunt-because much like trying to pass up gefilte fish, sometimes it’s just easier to give in and pretend to enjoy. “They were like, ‘You have to do it, everyone is doing it,'” Ms. Cayne said. “I’m like, ‘Online dating? I’ll meet the freaks of the world!'” (Yes, but freaks sans foreskin.) She created an account, put up a profile and then never logged on again. “I figured I’d never meet anyone else,” she said. “Manhattan is just so big. I thought I’d be alone.”

But then a J-man swooped in for the rescue: the bespectacled, stocky Mr. Cener, then working at an Internet advertising company.

They met one snowy morning at an Upper East Side Starbucks.

“He’s obsessed with Starbucks,” Ms. Cayne said. “He used to manage one after college.” So you know he’ll always have something to fall back on, toots …. “He was totally in his element,” she continued. “And I just thought he was so cute! So, so cute. I was just like, ‘Wow!'”

“I remember her in this white snowsuit, and I just thought she was the cutest snow bunny I’d ever seen-super adorable,” Mr. Cener said. “I was totally attracted to her.”

The next weekend, they went to Pesce Pasta on Third Avenue. Besides Italian food, they discovered they both like Yankee games and camping.

Last year, they moved into an Upper East Side one-bedroom, which they share with a pug named Petey. “He just has the most wonderful smile. It’s very warm. I love opening up the door and seeing him there. I’m totally wild about him,” said Ms. Cayne, referring to her boyfriend, not the dog-we think . “He’s always making sure we’re a team. We don’t need a lot-just each other. It’s very fairy-tale.”

And Mr. Cener’s proposal was indeed fairy-tale: at a pond near the carousel in Central Park, he handed over a cushion-cut two-carat diamond in an antique platinum diamond pavé setting. When they returned to their apartment, Ms. Cayne opened the door to find her entire family inside kvelling.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God!'” she said.

She’ll wear a Paula Varsalona gown to the wedding, which will be at a temple in Cedarhurst, N.Y. Working at InStyle , which covers celebrity nuptials in such lavish detail, she said, “I’ve become a photo snob, so looking at photographers has been hard. I’m driving my parents crazy.”

Mr. Cener has saved every issue since Ms. Cayne began appearing on the masthead. “I read them sometimes,” he said. “But she’s the one who’s very well read-they should put ‘well-read’ on her tombstone. She reads an inordinate amount of magazines.” Countdown to Bliss