Countdown to Bliss

Susannah Meadows and Darin Strauss Met: October 1998 Engaged: April 2003 Projected Wedding Date: June 12, 2004 Darin Strauss, author

Susannah Meadows and Darin Strauss

Met: October 1998

Engaged: April 2003

Projected Wedding Date: June 12, 2004

Darin Strauss, author of Chang and Eng (an internationally best-selling novel about conjoined twins) and a contributor to the Brooklyn literary magazine McSweeney’s , is making like the magazine’s founder Dave Eggers before him and taking a bride: Newsweek national-affairs writer Susannah Meadows.

When Mr. Strauss, 33, was a struggling writer in the late 1990’s, he submitted a short story to GQ . Ms. Meadows, 30, was an assistant there, reading unsolicited manuscripts and writing a lot of form rejection letters (she later “graduated” to writing about men’s grooming). “Darin got the third level of note,” Ms. Meadows said, “where I explained that it couldn’t be published but we wanted to see more of his work.”

“She rejected me,” said Mr. Strauss, who has blue eyes and a graying widow’s peak. He still has the letter.

This was an immediate icebreaker when they met through a mutual friend at an Elvis Costello–Burt Bacharach concert at Radio City Music Hall. After the show, they went for beers at P.J. O’Rourke’s, then shared a chaste cab home (they both lived in Soho, nabe of the starving literati). “Three times in the taxi he said, ‘That was really fun! Let’s do it again!'” Ms. Meadows said. ” Three times! It was kind of cute.”

Later that month, there was a Halloween party at McSweeney’s moll Elizabeth Gilbert’s house. The ironic clique ditched their scruffy corduroys for costumes. Mr. Strauss was dressed as Andy Warhol. Ms. Meadows went as “corn,” her rust-colored hair in a ponytail like corn silk, yellow kernels glued to her face. “It looked like really big acne,” he said.

They began dating in earnest, and their careers took off. They bought a Park Slope two-bedroom together and went on the occasional golf trip. Mr. Strauss is currently working on his third book, a novel about his native land (Long Island); Disney also bought his screenplay version of Chang and Eng , which faces some stiff competition in the forthcoming Farrelly brothers flick Stuck on You . The couple did a joint stint as restaurant critics for Time Out New York ‘s “Eat Out” guides. “Being writers, I think we can understand each other’s jobs,” Mr. Strauss said. “She’s also a good critic. On my last book, she circled an entire chapter and drew a picture of a guy sleeping and wrote ‘zzzzzz’ over his head.”

Because he was nervous about buying a ring without Ms. Meadows’ input, Mr. Strauss instead purchased a DVD of the movie The Ring , handing it over when he picked her up at La Guardia airport after she returned from a visit to her parents.

But she didn’t “get” it, so he went to Plan B, kneeling down in front of their Honda outside and presenting her with a lollipop ring. “People were honking like, ‘O.K., it’s sweet, but we’re in line here,'” he said. The candy was later replaced by a lip-smacking round diamond that had belonged to her mother, reset in matte yellow gold.

They’ll be married at a South Carolina fishing club by Ms. Meadows’ sister, who was ordained online, in front of a smattering of unsnarky McSweeney’s brethren.

Ms. Meadows is not just a bride, she’s a muse: In Mr. Strauss’ latest novel, The Real McCoy , about a boxer from the early 1900’s, there’s a character named Susan Fields. (Get it? Meadows? Fields?) “At the last minute, he needed to spice her up a little,” she said, “so he started stealing character traits from me.”

Beau Lescott and Jennifer Vogt

Met: June 2002

Engaged: March 7, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: June 12, 2004

Beau Lescott and Jennifer Vogt, both 29 and Harvard Business School grads, will be married in her hometown of Ottumwa, Iowa, with a reception in a barn. Oh, the simple life! “We’re trying to capitalize on what’s beautiful about Iowa,” Mr. Lescott said in a faultless B-school patois. “The outdoor landscape, the cornfields-all that’s good about middle America.”

He’s an associate at the investment management firm Blackstone Group and co-writes a satirical news Web site, The Rash Report , on the side; she’s the director of finance and strategy at Insight Communications, a cable company. “But there’s more to life than work,” said Mr. Lescott, who with his strawberry-blond hair and eyelashes is a dead ringer for Ron Howard as the lisping Winthrop in The Music Man .

“Yes,” piped up Ms. Vogt, a brunette with eyes that matched her blue blazer. “For sure.” Such as?

“Well, she cooks,” he said. And? “I have a lotion that she likes a lot. Aqua Sport. It smells like a man.”

They live in a one-bedroom on Gramercy Park that they bought together-“Owning something was a real personal goal for me,” she said-where she enjoys taking in reality-TV shows. “Have you seen The Bachelor ?” Ms. Vogt asked. Must we?

Somehow, they never met at Harvard and only started dating after graduation, when they went on an African safari with 14 of their classmates. “I was told that she was the female equivalent of me,” Mr. Lescott said. “I found that a bit troubling.”

“All my friends who’d experienced troubles and break-ups had always turned to him for a shoulder to cry on,” Ms. Vogt said. “So I knew he was someone who was patient and generous.” She was exhausted after a group hike up Table Mountain in Cape Town, so he escorted her to her hotel room while the others went to the bar in the lobby. “I put her to bed that night. That’s when we had our first kiss,” he said. “And physically, it actually hasn’t gone any further than that yet. But I’m hoping it will.” Hot stuff!

He proposed after dinner together at Aix, during a chilly walk in Central Park, dropping to one knee in the snow with a loud crunching sound and handing over a large emerald-cut diamond set in platinum. A policeman walking by gave them the exact time, for their records. The couple then proceeded to the Stanhope hotel, where family and friends were waiting under the impression that they were attending an early surprise birthday party for Ms. Vogt.

Apparently, Mr. Lescott always has fun like that up his sleeve. “He’s very entertaining,” Ms. Vogt said. “The minute he’s home, he has some quirky look on his face. He’s always doing voices and dances and things that I think the people he works with would be shocked to see.”

Michael Ferrara and Kristin Oestreicher

Met: March 1999

Engaged: Jan. 31, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 2, 2004

It’s a big fat Greek-as in fraternity -wedding! And that’s the last time we’re ever going to use that phrase.

Michael Ferrara was a member of the preppy Delta Sigma Phi at Penn State. Kristen Oestreicher was in Kappa Alpha Theta, which Mr. Ferrera-a dark-eyed, dark-haired rogue-called “the sorority of hot girls.” (Indeed, both Laura Bush and Rue McClanahan were Thetas. Hubba, hubba!) They collided at a Girls Gone Wild –style nipple-baring, binge-drinking spring-break trip to Cancun, Mexico. (Grandma Ferrara, please note: They assured us they did nothing naughty, and also asked that we mention that they go to church every week.) Nevertheless, some fun was had. “I wasn’t attached anywhere,” said Mr. Ferrara, 25. “I was really into it.” After a night of dancing, he asked the pretty co-ed-a delicate-limbed brunette one year his junior, with long curls and almond-shaped brown eyes-to go watch the sunset with him. “I thought she was hot,” he said. But she didn’t want to “commit.”

“I was like, ‘Man! I blew a night!'” he said.

The next year, the two were paired on a “canister solicitation” outing to raise money for children with cancer, assigned to stand off the ramp of a highway in Philadelphia rattling large cans full of coins. (Good practice for the current economy … ) The partnership was a hit, collecting about $500 in one day. “Girls always made more than guys,” Mr. Ferrara said somewhat bitterly. “All they had to do was stand on a corner and wave their asses.”

Ms. Oestreicher, coming off a “bad break-up” (question: When are they ever good?), was attracted to the frat boy’s nice-guy charm. “I was really down and didn’t want to deal with guys for the rest of my life. And then he came along,” she said, “and we were just like best friends from the moment we started hanging out together.”

After graduation, they moved to New York, where they now live in a midtown one-bedroom but still return to Penn State every year for the homecoming. Mr. Ferrara is an analyst at Goldman Sachs; Ms. Oestreicher, who majored in industrial engineering, is a project manager at Lindab, a manufacturer of ventilation systems in Stamford, Conn.

They got engaged on his birthday, atop the Empire State Building. It was a cold and rainy night. “Totally disgusting,” she said. “No one was up there, and I just wanted to go down. And the next thing I know, he’s kneeling on the concrete in his suit, fiddling in his pocket, saying: ‘Hmmm, where’re my gloves?'” Out came a cockles-warming 1.7-carat modified rectangular brilliant-cut diamond in a Lucida platinum setting. Mr. Ferrara remained on his knees for a good two or three minutes, waiting for the yes. (“She was crying,” he said. “There was makeup flying everywhere.”) When it came, he whisked her off to Tavern on the Green for a soggy dinner.

They’ll be married at St. Patrick’s Cathedral by the priest who baptized Mr. Ferrara, followed by a lavish reception at the InterContinental the Barclay New York hotel.

“She accepts me; she tolerates me,” said the groom-to-be. “I don’t have to try and change the way I am when I’m around her. I’m at ease.”

“He was the prince that swept me off my feet,” Ms. Oestreicher said. Countdown to Bliss