Countdown to Bliss

Vanessa June Marshall and Jeff Parvin

Met: August 2001 Engaged: Nov. 30, 2003 Projected Wedding Date: Aug. 6, 2004

How’s this for a fairy-tale romance?

While rehearsing the role of Cinderella for a Vista, Calif., production of Into the Woods , singer-actress Vanessa

June Marshall couldn’t help noticing Jeff Parvin, a strapping, 6-foot-1

assistant stage manager. “The chemistry was there from the very beginning,”

said the blue-eyed Ms. Marshall, 26. “The girl who played Little Red Riding

Hood totally noticed it.”

This was a summer job for Mr. Parvin, who was working toward an

M.F.A. in stage management at the University of California at Irvine. At the

end of their first rehearsal, he offered Ms. Marshall a ride back to her home

in Long Beach, the well-known hub for JetBlue flights of desperate,

Manhattan-bound Angelenos. “The conversation in the car, that was really

magical,” Ms. Marshall said. “Really intense-about philosophy and life. We

really stimulated each other intellectually.”

That’s not all that was

getting stimulated. “Working in the theater, I’m around beautiful women all the

time,” said the soft-spoken Mr. Parvin, also 26. “Vanessa is so much more than

her beautiful face, and it makes all the difference in the world. She had this

light in her eye, thinking and listening and being interested in what we were

talking about.” He invited her back to his apartment in Irvine for a

home-cooked meal and a bottle of Pinot Grigio. “It wasn’t a ‘come back to my

place’ move,” Mr. Parvin insisted.

Whatever it was, it worked. “There was this one point that first

night when I lay my head down in that nook in between his head and chest, and

it felt like I had done it every day for the past 10 years,” Ms. Marshall said.

“I know it sounds so cheesy, but he felt like home.”

After he completed his degree in 2003, the couple moved to a new

home: a one-bedroom apartment in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Mr. Parvin got a

job in development for Disney Theatrical (where callers on hold are treated to Beauty and the Beast in Korean) and Ms.

Marshall enrolled for her own M.F.A. at Brooklyn College, teaching private

voice lessons and “Little Maestros”-a music class popular among Upper East Side

mommies and kids ages 3 and under-to pay the bills.

He proposed on her birthday at Village 247, a restaurant on Smith

Street known for its chocolate-jalapeño ice cream, first enlisting the owner to

scatter roses and candles throughout the joint. “It was unbelievably romantic,”

Ms. Marshall said. “We had a conversation that got more and more intense. I

think we ended up proposing to each other .”

There was particular poignancy behind the ring, a single large diamond with

smaller diamonds wrapped around a gold band: It had been picked out by Mr.

Parvin’s late father for a hypothetical future daughter-in-law.

The wedding will be an intimate affair for 75 at the Gardens on

Caitlin Creek, an estate outside of Middletown, N.Y. The bride allows that she

will wear a Maggie Suttero gown but is keeping the other details hush-hush. “I

want to surprise him,” said Ms. Marshall, ever the dramatist.

“I used to tell my friends that I would never date an actress

because of that whole thing about them being all crazy and emotional,” said Mr.

Parvin. “It’s not that the perception is wrong-it’s the idea that it’s a bad thing.”

Noah Arnow and Tamara Reiss

Met: Jan. 29, 2002 Engaged: Jan. 24, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: Dec. 5, 2004

Cupid rides the C train! Noah Arnow was

waiting on the 86th Street downtown platform, en route to his job as

communications director for City Councilman Eric Gioia, when he spied comely

Tamara Reiss, a familiar face from his Jewish prayer group, reading Newsweek . “She looked friendly,” he

said, “and I had nothing to lose.”

Ms. Reiss didn’t recognize him, but fortunately didn’t snap into

the default karate-chop stance of the Manhattan female subway passenger. “Noah

isn’t exactly the most threatening of characters,” she said of the 5-foot-8,

dark-eyed Mr. Arnow.

They rattled downtown together, discussing food (“We both like

cilantro-not everyone does,” Mr. Arnow said) and discovering that they lived

cater-corner to one another on West 90th Street.

A decorous six weeks later,

he crossed the street and picked her up to go see Kissing Jessica Stein in Lincoln Square, followed by a nosh of

blintzes at Artie’s Deli. “It was so easy,” said Ms. Reiss, 27, a Medicare

education associate. “There were never stops and starts in the conversation.”

At the end of the date, Mr. Arnow synchronized his watch with hers so they

would be sure to be on the same train the following morning.

The next two years passed in a blur of good food, baseball (she

roots for the Cardinals, he for the Mets) and joint sessions with The New York Times. “I knew that this

was different and special,” Ms. Reiss said. Mr. Arnow, 25, used the adjectives

“wonderful” and “adorable” to describe her. Also, he said, “she laughs at my

jokes.” Men are suckers for that.

One frigid night, he took her to Ben’s Best-his favorite spot for

kosher hamburgers-in Rego Park, then schlepped her to the Algonquin to see

Andrea Marcovicci, a favorite of theirs, sing Cole Porter’s love songs. Ms.

Reiss was growing suspicious. “I kept wondering if Ms. Marcovicci was going to

call me out of the audience, or if the empty table next to us meant something,”

she said. After the show, Mr. Arnow insisted they get on the subway rather than

a cab. A few transfers later, they were back near the spot where they first

met, whereupon he dropped on bended knee and broke into a rendition of “All of

My Life” by Irving Berlin.

“I was sobbing,” Ms. Reiss said.

The ring he gave her used stones previously owned by her maternal

great-grandmother, set in a new platinum band (Mr. Arnow had secretly asked for

Ms. Reiss’ hand when they were visiting her parents in St. Louis for

Thanksgiving). “She didn’t want a rock,” he said. “She wanted a story.”

They’re marrying in Scarsdale, N.Y., where Mr. Arnow grew up, and

have just closed on a new two-bedroom on the Upper West Side, mere steps from

the site of their first rendezvous. Come fall, Mr. Arnow will enroll in a

six-year program at the The Jewish Theological Seminary. “He’ll be an amazing

rabbi,” kvelled Ms. Reiss. “And I think we’ll be a great team.”

Cooper Lawrence and Sean Lee

Met: Aug. 3, 2002 Engaged: Feb. 3, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: March 26, 2005

Sexy as hell , thought radio host Cooper Lawrence upon spotting rock singer

and voiceover artist Sean Lee sipping a beer at their agent’s housewarming

party in Hoboken. The Korean-Irish-French-Swiss-American Mr. Lee has big blue

eyes, sandy-brown hair and a voice he describes as “everyday guy, mixed in with

some announcer,” which can be heard on spots for McDonald’s and Time Warner

cable.

“I trusted him immediately,” said Ms. Lawrence, a boisterous,

dark-haired Sarah Jessica Parker type. “He’s incredibly beautiful, and yet he

has this sweet, vulnerable quality”-rare in New York men. “Either a guy is

incredibly sweet and vulnerable and they’re ‘kind of attractive,'” she said,

“or they’re incredibly sexy and they know it and you’re just another girl to

them.”

The couple, who will admit only to being in their 30’s (ah,

showbiz!), hit it off immediately. They took a New Jersey Transit bus back to

the city together, caught a showing of My

Big Fat Greek Wedding and shared a taxi back to Hell’s Kitchen, where Ms.

Lawrence lives, and where Mr. Lee, a resident of Stamford, Conn., was crashing

with a friend for the night. When they reached his corner, Mr. Lee dashed out

of the cab without asking for her number, leaving Ms. Lawrence wondering if

perhaps they were on different frequencies.

A day later, however, her phone went brrring . (Mr. Lee had gotten the digits from their agent.)

Their first official date was a stroll through Poet’s Walk in

Central Park, followed by dinner at a Thai restaurant, where they bonded over

having divorced parents.

Ms. Lawrence, who was finishing up her doctorate in developmental

psychology at the time, had been having trouble sleeping. About a month into

their relationship, Mr. Lee called as she was going to bed and crooned a

lullaby he’d written called “Goodnight, Beautiful.” “He wasn’t trying to get

into my pants,” Ms. Lawrence said. “From the beginning, he was a very good

friend.”

A while later, they were cooking dinner in her apartment when the

endearment “Weetie” (short for sweetie) slipped from his lips. “I remember

thinking, Oh, this is it-I’ve overstepped

my bounds here ,” Mr. Lee said. Au

contraire : An amused Ms. Lawrence swiftly dubbed him “Weetles” (insert

obligatory gagging motion here).

When they reached their one-and-a-half-year “anniversary,” Mr.

Lee suggested that they go to a favorite Upper West Side diner for breakfast,

as per their custom.

“Call me your boyfriend,” he said to her on the way over, during

a cloudy walk through Poet’s Walk.

“O.K., you’re my boyfriend,” replied Weetie, a little confused.

“That’s the last time you’ll

ever have to call me that,” said Weetles triumphantly, falling to one knee and

presenting a family heirloom dating back to the 1890’s, a platinum band

containing a cornflower-blue sapphire surrounded by small diamonds-“not a dish-doing

ring,” said Ms. Lawrence, who found herself having that “horrible Meg Griffin

moment where you start bawling.” (She meant Meg Ryan , she clarified later.)

They’ll be married at the Players, the private-theater club

founded by Edwin Booth, with the bride in a strapless white silk Vera Wang with

antique buttons down the back. She’s also busily planning her new syndicated

talk show, Cooper .

Mr. Lee, meanwhile, is looking forward to moving out of the

‘burbs. “When I’m not around her,” he said, “I get confused.”

Born Yesterday

Felix Henry Smith

June 28, 2004 4:08 a.m. 7 pounds, 12 ounces St. Luke’s–Roosevelt

Hospital

New York Post reporter Samuel Smith, 34, has his first child with Christine Smith,

33, a nurse, after a tabloid twist: When Ms. Smith was 26 weeks pregnant and

crossing Sixth Avenue in Park Slope on a green light, she was struck by a jeep

hurtling around a left turn. “Ironically, a few weeks before that, I thought to

myself, ‘I should really stop jaywalking-I’m pregnant,'” Ms. Smith recalled. It

was a harrowing third trimester for the couple, with the mom-to-be on crutches

after surgery to repair a broken shinbone (with minimal anesthesia and

painkillers), shimmying backwards on her bum up the stairs to their

fourth-floor walk-up. But the baby survived the hard knock intact, emerging

with brown peach fuzz, a sweet disposition, and gangly arms and legs that made

him look “like a frog,” Mr. Smith said. “It was a great relief when he came out

healthy.”

Countdown to Bliss