Countdown to Bliss

Joshua Mason and Anique Olivier

Met: August 1998

Engaged: Spring 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 5, 2004

Liberal arts and private parts …. Josh Mason and Anique Olivier, both 23, met the very first day of their freshman year at Oberlin College. “I’d just ushered my parents off and was immediately struck by how beautiful Anique was-totally overwhelmed,” said Mr. Mason, a writing teacher at Soundview Preparatory School in Mt. Kisco. “And when I’m nervous, I tend to get very outgoing and gregarious.” They chatted their way through the vegetarian line. Then she vanished.

Mr. Mason spent an entire freshman social (ice cream, Woody Allen movies) searching for the raven-haired, azure-eyed co-ed. “When I finally found her, I pretended it was a coincidence,” he said. “I thought she was out of my league.”

Yet Ms. Olivier proved equally besotted-enough to attend all the performances given by his a cappella group, the Obertones, even sending tapes of his solos to her older sister studying in Paris. “I’d had boyfriends, but he was my first crush,” she said. “And somehow my radar was down, and I didn’t pick up that he was into me, too.”

They began going steady. Then Ms. Olivier, a chemistry major who’s now a forensic scientist at New York’s chief medical examiner’s lab, began getting a bit too analytical. “She was always asking me what I was thinking-and I wasn’t thinking anything!” Mr. Mason said. “I felt shallow, like she was more into it than I was. She was more open to her emotions.”

He told her she was great, but that it was all too much, that he didn’t know who he was yet, and all that freshman-guy jabberwocky. “Very generic,” Ms. Olivier said.

Early the next semester, while reciting a love poem he’d written to another girl, Mr. Mason suddenly realized that Ms. Olivier was his one and only. And she took him back, because love means never having to say you’re a douche bag.

After surviving his semester in London and hers working at an organic-strawberry farm upstate, their relationship now thrives in the basement of her sister’s house in Marmaroneck, where they do yoga together, are filling out joint applications to the Peace Corps and planning a wedding at her parents’ house in New Hampshire (with a reception to follow at a local winery).

They were in a heated argument about some long-forgotten housekeeping issue when Mr. Mason suddenly announced, “Well, fine ! But I just bought you a ring!”

Because his enlightened sweetie has moral issues about the diamond market, he’d selected an opal (his birthstone) set in yellow gold. Well, O.K., it’s surrounded by a few diamonds. “But they’re really small,” Ms. Olivier said.

He presented it to her formally after creating a treasure hunt through the verdant woods of Larchmont and Mamaroneck in their white Chevrolet Cavalier. At the end of the trail, she found two champagne flutes on a picnic table and a note that said “Turn around.” When she did, Mr. Mason-who still seems to think that Ms. Olivier’s a little out of his league-was waiting on one knee.

“In a lot of ways, I aspire to be more like Anique,” he said. “She has a beautiful spirit. She’s the one everyone focuses on when they walk into a room.”

Brent Cox and Kelley O’Donnell

Met: Nov. 26, 2002

Engaged: Nov. 9, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: Spring 2005

Kelley O’Donnell, 28, and Brent Cox, 34, met during the 24-Hour Plays at the Atlantic Theater Company-a periodic Manhattan “event” during which writers and directors stay up all night to create one-acts for a bunch of eager, unpaid thespians. “It’s like summer camp in one day,” said the burly, swarthy Mr. Cox, a paralegal and actor perhaps best known for his work as the big rabbit in commercials for Crunch.

He has participated in about 35 of these theatrical happenings. But Ms. O’Donnell was a 24-Hour virgin when they were cast as brother and sister, respectively, in a play about a Fourth of July celebration involving sparklers, a stuffed bunny and a fire. Mr. Cox took one look at her massive blue peepers during audition and was mesmerized. “I was like, ‘Hello, nurse!'” he said. “I thought she was way too nice and talented and smart to ever like me.”

Ms. O’Donnell’s first impression was, Oh, he’s going to be a really great friend . “I was in a state of mind where I wasn’t thinking about anyone-was having me time,” she said. But then he took her to see Debbie Does Dallas; they found out that they had a mutual friend in actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (Mr. Cox had dated his sister in high school in Rochester; Ms. O’Donnell, who’s concentrating on independent film these days, has done work for Mr. Hoffman’s theater company, LABryinth); and she began to soften. “Brent is very commanding when he acts,” she said. “There’s something about his eyes and his arms and the way he carries himself …. “

“She’s just so freakin’ cool to be around,” Mr. Cox effused.

Yet it was she who first popped the question, in a room at the Flamingo Hilton during a trip to Las Vegas. “I told him he reminded me of my grandfather, who has always been an angel in my life-very calming,” Ms. O’Donnell said. “They both give me this crazy feeling of overwhelming love.”

When he heard her proposal, Mr. Cox began to bawl. “No, we’ll do it right,” he said. “I want to ask you .”

And so he did, standing in his Williamsburg railroad apartment (she’s moving in) after a trip to Home Depot, handing over one very important prop: a vintage ring with a round diamond surrounded by smaller ones that he’d seen her admire at a store near her family’s house in Easton, Penn. “It looks like all the diamonds in the world,” he said.

They are still debating the size and venue of the wedding. It will be “not crazy-hippie, but also not black ties,” Mr. Cox said. “But there will be ties.”

The couple is also starting a production company of their own, which they plan to call Boom Boom.

Giorgos (George) Mouzouris and Lisa French

Met: Jan. 10, 1999

Engaged: June 8, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: September 2004

A fashionable mathematician! George Mouzouris, a Cyprus-born Fulbright scholar who creates finance models for banks, wore a black Dolce and Gabbana scarf to his first date-a blind one-with Lisa French at the Cornelia Street Café. “It was exactly five years, one month and six days ago,” said the numerically obsessed Romeo, 37, who arrived carrying a huge bouquet of red roses with Hershey kisses nestled inside. “I was trying to seem substantial.”

No worries there: Ms. French is a multimedia producer and writer who describes herself as a “word” person. Mr. Mouzouris began gallantly teaching her differential equations-which are about describing something in terms of the way it changes, he explained-at the table. “He was patient and kind and not condescending and never assumed I couldn’t do it because I was female or didn’t have a Ph.D.,” said Ms. French, 37.

When they finally left the table after about 16 cups of coffee, she found she was chilly, and he lent her the designer scarf. Ms. French, who had found her new acquaintance “handsome and polite and sweet and a little shy,” joked that she’d keep it as collateral. She’s yet to return it.

Three years, 11 months and 26 days after that first meeting, the couple moved into a two-bedroom apartment near the Museum of Natural History, merging his television (she hadn’t owned one) with what Mr. Mouzouris calculates are her 1,500 books. The apartment features that rare Manhattan luxury and noted relationship-saver: an extra bathroom, which is reserved for Ms. French’s two cats, Charlotte and Emily, named for the Brontë sisters.

One morning, Mr. Mouzouris locked the lady of the house in their bedroom (we’re sure the cats wouldn’t stand for that), set up an array of roses and candles, and placed a Whitney Boin diamond ring inside a series of nested boxes. “I don’t like the obvious,” he said. When Ms. French was finally released from her prison, wearing chicken-printed flannel pajamas, he was down on one knee. Love to the nth power!

Their wedding will be in Cyprus. The bride will wear a charmeuse platinum gown from Soho designer Eleni Lambros, beaded with Stephanotis wreaths-the traditional head gear at a Greek Orthodox wedding-at the knees, with the couple’s initials stitched in Cyrillic inside. But probably no Manolos, since she’s a few millimeters shy of six feet tall. “We used to be the same height,” Mr. Mouzouris said. “But I’ve shrunk a third of a centimeter since I stopped working out.” Whatever, dude.

“I’m his golden mean,” Ms. French said.

Why is she The One? “I can put it in a concise form,” said the mathematician. “She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s nice and she’s pretty.”

Countdown to Bliss