Countdown to Bliss

Steven Harkins and Wendy Kaufman

Met: September 1976

Engaged: Aug. 29, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: May 22, 2004

The Snapple Lady’s getting hitched- hic! Wendy Kaufman, the bubbly, lovably zaftig star of those famous mid-1990’s television commercials for Snapple drinks, is marrying Steven Harkins, director of marketing at Tube Technologies, a broom-handle and shelving company helmed by his future brothers-in-law. ” Woo-hoo ! Oh my God, I can’t wait!” Ms. Kaufman said.

Both 45, the couple first met as freshman at Syracuse University. He was a tall Grateful Dead fan with waist-length hair; she was the roly-poly nice girl that everyone liked but no one dated (nickname: Mama Kaufman). “She’d be the one who’d always say, ‘Did you have breakfast?'” said Mr. Harkins, who has since cropped his coif. “The mother-hen type.”

Each time the corpulent co-ed had a birthday, Mr. Harkins-whose father was the chief financial officer of Hershey Foods-would give her a 20-pound Hershey bar, just to be friendly. “He was just the nicest man,” she said. “No one was ever as nice to me as he was.”

They lost touch after graduation, and then he noticed one of her commercials in 1993 and had a ” Hey, isn’t that … ? ” moment.

Ms. Kaufman started out in the Snapple orders department in the 80’s and was made a spokeswoman for the company after standing in her chair one day and saying, “I will now be the head of public relations, because I can publicly relate!” (Snapple sales jumped 3,000 percent during her tenure.)

Mr. Harkins called and reminded her about the chocolate bars, and although Ms. Kaufman was happy to hear from him, she didn’t nibble. But then, over lunch with a mutual friend, she found out that ol’ Hershey boy was still single, albeit living in Florida. The two began a year-long old-fashioned paper correspondence, finally meeting in person in Orlando, where she was visiting family.

He found her “cute as hell.”

“Beautiful. Unique!” he said. “The best green eyes in the world.”

A fully smitten Mr. Harkins moved north in 2001, and the couple now lives in a two-bedroom on the Upper West Side, stuffed with tchotchkes from her beverage boom years. Let go when Quaker Oats bought Snapple in 1996 (it’s now owned by Cadbury Schweppes), Ms. Kaufman has remained an off-and-on goodwill ambassador for the company over the years. She’s currently taking classes in criminal justice at John Jay College. “I’m so into death and destruction!” she said. “I’m a psycho! I’m possessed!”

In Mr. Harkins’ eyes, however, she’ll forever be pink lemonade and peach iced tea (actually, he likes the diet lemon tea; she’s on Atkins and favors Snapple water). “She’s hysterical-very, very, very funny,” he said. “And she has the biggest heart of anyone in the world. The kind of person who’ll give 20 bucks to the guy playing a sax on the sidewalk.”

One evening, Ms. Kaufman came home from a performance of Long Day’s Journey into Night to find her Snapple snookums on bended knee, proffering a 2.25-carat round diamond set in white gold. “For the first time ever, Wendy was speechless,” he said.

Their wedding will be held at the Glen Head Country Club on Long Island, near where her parents live. Guests will be treated to Cadbury crème eggs and an endless gush of a special passion-fruit-juice concoction (“Wendy and Steven’s Passion Supreme”) that guess-which-brand is specially formulating for the occasion.

“There’s always Snapple,” Mr. Harkins said. “Everywhere I turn.”

Garrett Brown and Bree Coven

Met: June 2002

Engaged: Oct. 18, 2003

Projected Wedding Day: June 2005

When she was 17 years old, Bree Coven announced to her parents that she was a lesbian. It didn’t go over so well. In fact, they disowned her.

But Ms. Coven is a spunky sprite. She put herself through Sarah Lawrence and began contributing a column for “baby dykes”-a.k.a. gay women under 21-to Curve magazine (this was long before The L Word ). After graduation, she delved more deeply into lesbian erotica, writing pieces with titles like “Adventures in Dick Sucking, or Why I Love to Suck Butch Cock: An Oral History.” She moved to the East Village, got a job as the associate director of development and communications at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and cut a razor-sharp bob.

She was at a karaoke party at Sing Sing when a well-pressed musical-theater actor named Garrett Brown-a man-sidled up.

“Damn, girl!” he murmured. “If you weren’t a lesbian, I’d be all over you!”

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Ms. Coven, 31. “He’d been singing show tunes !”

“I thought she was stunning,” said Mr. Brown, 28- himself quite a looker, with his hazel eyes.

And for the first time in her life, Ms. Coven felt “bi-curious.” When her lady lovah’s friends weren’t looking, she got out a business card and tried to slip it under the table. “I got him right in the … ,” she said, trailing off. “It was very embarrassing-very teenage-girl-like.”

Mr. Brown took the card but didn’t have the balls to call. “I’d dated bi women before, but never a full-on lesbian,” he said. Months later, however, he showed up at the Equity office and found Ms. Coven sobbing over a fresh breakup.

“I thought maybe she’d just had her eyebrows waxed,” he said.

Thinking fast, he asked her to go see him sing in a “band in Williamsburg” (sound familiar?) that weekend. “I didn’t know if it was a date or not,” she said.

But she went home with him after the show, and they’ve been inseparable ever since, living with a baby English bulldog named Izabel in a Hell’s Kitchen studio that is such a good deal, the couple was inspired to write Shecky’s NYC Apartment Guide: No Fee Rentals and Everything You Need to Live in NYC together (it’ll be out in April).

Mr. Brown gave Ms. Coven a princess-cut, white-gold-set diamond at the River Café on the eve of her birthday, after singing “Our Love Is Here to Stay” (accompanied by the house pianist). They both fell to their knees. “I sobbed,” said Ms. Coven.

“It’s just the perfect, perfect fit,” said Mr. Brown, speaking of their relationship. In between auditions, he now works as an administrative assistant in the same office as his formerly Sapphic sweetie. They’re planning a small, barefoot wedding in Maui with a swing band. (Her parents aren’t invited.)

“A lot of friends ask if it’s strange to be dating a man, and the strange thing is that it isn’t,” said Ms. Coven, who recently banged out an essay called “Queer I and the Straight Guy.” “Love is love. It just feels right … and there’s no dyke drama!”

Erica Kestenbaum and Jeremy Rosenfeld

Met: April 2002

Engaged: Oct. 26, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: July 5, 2004

They got around!

Erica Kestenbaum, 27, is a publicist for Fodor’s travel guides and the Random House Information Group who used to give all her boyfriends special names: Investment Banking Boy, New Year’s Eve Boy, Intellectual Date Boy.

Jeremy Rosenfeld, 30, wasn’t exactly a monk, either. “Long relationships, short ones, one-date ones-sometimes a few dates a week,” he said.

These two buzzing force fields of love collided at a dinner party thrown by her roommate. “I was like, ‘Oh, she’s cool,'” said Mr. Rosenfeld, who works in human-resource management at the N.B.A. He promptly put the petite, bright-blue-eyed Ms. Kestenbaum on his mental “to-do” list, inviting her to a dinner party of his own a few months later. She stayed afterward to help him clean up, then boldly asked if he’d go to a childhood friend’s wedding with her in two weeks. She had RSVP’d with a plus-one just in case. “He just seemed like he’d be a good person to take to a wedding,” she said. “He probably thought I was from outer space, but you know the way a woman’s mind works.”

Thus he was dubbed “Skinny Wedding Date Boy.”

The occasion went well, and after many meals out at Craft and Nobu (Ms. Kestenbaum’s favorite restaurants), the lanky, bespectacled gent put on about 15 pounds. He also revealed a fondness for a cappella singing, bringing her to the National Collegiate championship last year at the Beacon Theater. “I just think it’s a great way to blend music and storytelling,” he said.

They both live off Columbus Avenue, and one day they were hanging out around Lincoln Center listening to the Columbia University Kingsmen sing “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?”

“Are you a fool?” Mr. Rosenfeld asked his sweetheart tenderly.

“I was like, Har, har, stupid Jeremy line ,” she said. But then the khaki-clad kids lit into another tune: the Beach Boys’ “I Get Around”-with different lyrics.

I was bored dating girls that just weren’t hip

‘Til I met a girl that I call ‘Ric.’

Et cetera. At the end, following some line rhyming “wife” and “life,” the entire male chorus pulled red roses from behind their backs. Whereupon Mr. Rosenfeld dropped to one knee and pulled out a platinum band with a round diamond and four baguettes, totaling two carats. “I was so flustered, so confused-I handed it back to him,” Ms. Kestenbaum said. “The whole time, I’m like, ‘Is this it? Is this the moment that you wait for your entire life?'” Only if you buy into the whole capitalist patriarchy, sister.

The entire spectacle was captured on video. “We watch it again and again and again ,” Mr. Rosenfeld said proudly.

Their wedding will be a black-tie event for 350 guests at the Westmount Country Club in West Paterson, N.J., not far from where the bride grew up-and yes, there will probably be some a cappella entertainment.

Mr. Rosenfeld, meanwhile, is working on transforming himself into Buff Groom Boy, with the help of his bride-to-be. “She’s whipping me into shape,” he said. “She’s like my personal P.R. person. She makes me look good-always brushing me up and making me smoother around the edges.”

Daniel P. Donnelly and Alison Meredith

Met: Nov. 12, 1999

Engaged: Nov. 29, 2002

Projected Wedding Date: May 1, 2004

Alison Meredith had waxed, polished, shaved, dyed and even gotten a flu shot for her third-anniversary dinner with Daniel Donnelly at Rocco DiSpirito’s Union Pacific. “I was soooo sure [a ring] was going to be in the food,” said Ms. Meredith, 28, a pretty bottle-blonde Georgia girl who’s the staffing coordinator for “personal care” at Limited Brands. And she just kept ordering: cheese plates, dessert, champagne. But no rock appeared (and no Rocco, either). “I’m thinking, I’m not getting any younger ,” she said. “I am from the South, my Lord!” After the check came, she broke down in tears.

Little did she know that a two-carat emerald-cut diamond set in platinum with baguettes had been shipped to her sweetheart that very day from Ashford.com. However, Mr. Donnelly, a level-headed vice president in marketing communications at the Columbia Management Group-who’d rather sadistically teased her with fake proposals for months (sort of like Lucy snatching away the football from poor Charlie Brown)-wanted to hold off and really do it right, in her hometown of Saint Simons Island.

They were sitting at a dock there above a marsh-“grass, muddiness, kind of like New Jersey,” he said-when Mr. Donnelly suddenly uttered her name in low, sonorous tones. Ms. Meredith knew not to get her hopes up. “I’m like, ‘Daniel? What? What ?'” she said. “‘Did you test positive for an S.T.D.?'”

Out came the ring. “Are you sure?” Ms. Meredith asked him. “I’m never going to change, you know. I’m always going to be this flighty person.”

“Yeah, I’ve taken that into consideration,” said Mr. Donnelly, a charmer to the end.

When Ms. Meredith first espied her 6-foot-3 Rhett, he was slurping the infamous “swamp water” at Brother Jimmy’s Bait Shack on Amsterdam. “He seemed very deep, holding this giant fishbowl of liquor,” she said. “Deep, but in a shallow kind of way. A jerk, but like a funny jerk, you know?”

Mr. Donnelly woke up the next day with a pounding hangover and her number in both of his pockets (he still keeps one of the scraps in his wallet at all times).

The two quickly discovered a shared love of literature. On Date 1 he bought her a copy of John Irving’s The Cider House Rules and bragged about finishing David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest . “He had this cute Elvis-like sneer and this sardonic wit,” Ms. Meredith said.

“I had just gotten out of a five-year relationship and was pretty intent on being a single guy for a while, but then I met Alison and that never worked out,” said Mr. Donnelly, 32, who looks (and apparently acts) a bit like James Woods. “She’s attractive, but goofy. She’s very funny. It’s endearing.”

They live in a one-bedroom just north of 10021, where she tries to keep him amused, walking around the house singing commercial jingles and Etta James songs at the top of her lungs. A wedding is planned under the great oak trees near the dock where he finally proposed, with a bagpiper playing to honor their mutual Celtic heritage. The rehearsal dinner will feature a “low country boil”: a hot pot full of sausage, shrimp, crab, potatoes and corn upended on a table-sounds kinda like Rocco’s litigation-plagued reality show!

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Countdown to Bliss