Countdown to Bliss

Ted Demmon and Melissa Shea

Met: Oct. 5, 2002

Engaged: Nov. 2, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 11, 2004

Stumbling past the finish line after finishing the New York City Marathon in five hours and three minutes, Melissa Shea-clad in purple short-shorts and an orange tanktop-wrapped herself in a shiny Mylar blanket, and then got something even shinier: a 1.5-carat solitaire diamond set in white gold, thrust in her face by her boyfriend, Ted Demmon. Talk about a runner’s high …

“I’m like, ‘You’re going to do this now? ‘” said Ms. Shea, 30, an insurance defense lawyer with creamy skin and hazel eyes. Plus, Mr. Demmon hadn’t dropped to one knee. “I don’t blame him,” she said. “It was full of mud that could’ve been Gatorade or water or, uh, anything else that happens at the end of a race.”

“I went to give her a kiss and she’s like, ‘No! I’m all sweaty!'” said Mr. Demmon, 33, an energy trader and asset manager at the Public Service Enterprise Group in New Jersey who enjoys fantasy football. “She wasn’t really paying much attention to me.”

“I was mainly thinking that I was annoyed at myself for not doing it in under five hours,” Ms. Shea said.

They first met at a mutual friend’s “Stumble into Fall” party at the bar West 8th. The sturdy, 5-foot-9 Mr. Demmon almost plummeted to the floor himself when he saw the athletic young woman. “She just came out of nowhere and was so-how do I put it? Striking,” he said. “I mean, the guys I was with were like, ‘Yeah, whatever, she’s cute,’ but I was speechless . I just knew I had to get to know her.”

He sauntered over and asked if she had a boyfriend.

“It was extraordinarily forward!” Ms. Shea said. “I think, historically, I’d have been totally put off-but this time, I don’t know why, but I wasn’t. So I said, ‘No, I don’t have a boyfriend .'”

He promptly offered himself up for the role. She suggested they try going on a date first.

While eating peekytoe crab at the Mercer Kitchen, they discovered that they were both originally from Greenwich, Conn. “The same bloody hospital!” Mr. Demmon said. “I was immediately put at ease and relaxed and myself,” Ms. Shea said.

By springtime, he’d coaxed her into leaving her place on the Upper West Side and moving in with him-it must really be true love-to Hoboken, N.J. “He has this great giggle. Like a cartoon character,” she said. “I tend to be a very serious person-some might even say uptight-but he makes me see the fun in the world.”

Their wedding will be at a historical property near Stockbridge, Mass., where her father has a country house, the date honoring a close friend of Mr. Demmon’s who perished in the World Trade Center’s North Tower along with several of Ms. Shea’s co-workers (her firm was on that building’s 85th floor).

It will not be a day for feminine exertions. “The boys are going to play golf,” Mr. Demmon said, “and the girls-they’ll just do whatever girls do.”

Anna Barie and Deron Pulley

Met: March 1998

Engaged: Dec. 23, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: April 9, 2004

Two vegan valentines! Anna Barie and her paramour, Deron Pulley, don’t eat meat, chicken, fish or dairy-but guests at their wedding reception (at an as-yet-to-be-chosen Thai restaurant following their vows at City Hall; Ms. Barie is half-Thai) need not fear some kind of weird soy-oriented spread.

“We’re not big preachers,” said Mr. Pulley, 31, a freelance sound engineer.

“We might even have a meat option,” said Ms. Barie, 25, an administrator at the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

They met in the college town of Denton, Tex. He was bumming around after going to school there and playing in a “trashy punk” band, and she was studying humanities at the local university and working at the Cupboard, the only health-food store in the area. “It was a place mainly for hippie weirdoes,” she said. “People who would come in and put aluminum foil on the scanners because they thought it would give them cancer.”

The 6-foot-6 Mr. Pulley walked in one day, and Ms. Barie-who is six feet tall herself-turned to Jell-O … or the vegan equivalent. “Yeah, I was checking him out,” she said. “He was tall and skinny and dorky. I tend to go for those Crispin Glover types.”

Mr. Pulley began coming up with daily reasons to visit the Cupboard. “I’d always try to get into her line,” he said. One day, as she rang up packages of bean dip, he noted her green plastic checker tag and mentioned that his sister’s name was Anna, too.

“I asked him if it’d be incestuous to go out,” Ms. Barie said. “I guess I was being a little forward.” You Texans sure are dainty.

Mr. Pulley blushed and ran out of the store. Later that day, however, he gave her a flyer for his band and then, in a display of Popeye-like courage, asked her out to a local vegetarian restaurant and then to watch a Kiss video over at his place. He found his catch “creative and really sweet and different. She’s just not like the normal going-to-the-office/watch-TV-all-the-time kind of person,” he said. “She’s interested in seeing things in different ways.”

After Ms. Barie graduated, they packed up a van and moved to Williamsburg, seeking a more liberal, artsy life. They share a loft with his massive collection of drum kits, amplifiers and electric guitars. “He’ll do laundry without complaining,” she said proudly. “He’s just this goofy, good-natured guy-practical but sincere.”

Mr. Pulley proposed at Rockefeller Center-where the couple was admiring the tree and munching on chocolate (not carob?) truffles-giving her a small diamond set into an industrial stainless-steel band from TeNo, a store in Soho.

Ms. Barie is “everything I ever wanted in one great package,” he said. “Tall, beautiful and vegetarian.”

Todd Hirsch and Tracy McNamara

Met: Oct. 1, 1999

Engaged: June 14, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 2, 2004

Meat-eating main squeezes! Todd Hirsch and Tracy McNamara met at a mutual friend’s party at Riodizio, a now-defunct Brazilian restaurant on Lafayette Street that specialized in all-you-can-eat meat on sticks. They were seated next to each other and traded cracks all night about the immense amount of carcass they were consuming.

“She had a radiant smile,” said Mr. Hirsch, 29, an executive at a private equity firm in Greenwich, Conn., with tight brown curls and very round brown eyes. Another girl, seated a bit further down the table, had an amazingly similar radiant smile: Ms. McNamara, a senior associate editor at Hallmark (a Time Inc. custom publication about crafts and relationships that is co-published by the card company), had brought her identical twin sister to the party. Both have freckles, too. “But we’re very different,” she said.

Emboldened by all the animal flesh, perhaps, Ms. McNamara e-mailed Mr. Hirsch the next day, getting his address from the E-vite that their friend had issued for the party. “Was it a dream?” she asked, referring to the copious amounts of lamb, pork and beef.

He promptly asked her to a Carole King concert at Madison Square Garden sponsored by People Magazine . “But actually, neither of us knew who Carole King was,” he said. (Oh sir, don’t admit that …. ) “We knew our parents liked her. But then she started singing ‘You’ve got the earth moving under my feet’ [sic] and we’re like, ‘Oh yeah! We know this!'”

They moved into a one-bedroom love nest on the Upper West Side a year ago. “I feel like among the couples we know, we’re among the happiest,” Mr. Hirsch said. “We laugh all the time.”

“I’m always so excited to come home from work and see him,” gushed Ms. McNamara, also 29.

But will she still love you tomorrow? Mr. Hirsch was counting on it when he bought a 3.3-carat diamond from a cousin on 47th Street and then an extra ticket for a weekend business trip he was taking to Ireland. (Ms. McNamara is half-Jewish, half-Irish.) “She was surprised, because she’s a journalist and is always figuring out my surprises,” he said. Our Brenda Starr was indeed suspicious when, walking around the grassy knolls of Trinity College in Dublin, she noticed that he was wearing the same tan shirt he’d worn on their first date, untucked to disguise the conspicuously large lump in his pocket …. Hey, is that a big engagement ring, or are you just happy to see me?

They’ll be married at the Harold Pratt House-Sis will be the maid of honor, to the confusion and delight of the guests-with make-your-own sundaes and at least one hearty meat dish.

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Countdown to Bliss