Countdown to Bliss

Anya Schiffrin and Joseph Stiglitz

Met: Feb. 17, 2000

Engaged: N.A.

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 29, 2004

Joseph Stiglitz, 61, the cuddly Columbia economics professor and former chief economist at the World Bank, is engaged to Anya Schiffrin, 41, a journalist, teacher and daughter of publishing eminence Andre Schiffrin. “I’ve met and interviewed lots of famous people,” said the sturdy, brunette Ms. Schiffrin, curled up on the couch in the couple’s airy Riverside Drive four-bedroom rental, “but obviously there are moments when you feel that you’re sitting next to a piece of history.” She handed over two framed snapshots of Dr. Stiglitz in Cuba, blowing out candles at his 59th birthday party next to Fidel Castro, who calls him “Stigli.”

Another such moment occurred in October 2001, when Ms. Schriffin’s cell phone rang with the news that Dr. Stiglitz had just won the Nobel Prize. “Oh, that’s nice,” responded the salt-and-pepper-haired professor.

“It was just very Joe,” said Ms. Schiffrin. “People think of him as a firebrand, but he’s actually quite mild in person.”

Dr. Stiglitz, whose first two marriages ended in divorce, developed that firebrand reputation during his term at the World Bank, when he publicly blamed the International Monetary Fund for exacerbating the 1998 Asian financial crisis. From afar, Ms. Schiffrin admired this ability to “speak truth to power,” as she put it. Two years later, on a journalism fellowship to Columbia, she interviewed him for a term paper she was writing on capital controls in Malaysia. This turned into a lively conversation about capital controls in Vietnam, where Dow Jones had deployed Ms. Schiffrin for two years as Hanoi bureau chief. “The fact that anybody was interested in capital-market liberalization who was not a professional economist was rather striking,” said Dr. Stiglitz, calling from London after a meeting with the president of Madagascar. He also found the student’s brown eyes “sparkling.”

A month later, after one of his talks, he invited her up to his apartment for some hot chocolate from a packet. “At the end of the night, I gave him a little peck,” Ms. Schiffrin volunteered primly.

Soon, she was accompanying him on his many trips to advise foreign dignitaries. “He’s the guy who always wants to try the ostrich steak or the snake or the guinea pig,” said Ms. Schiffrin. He’s less sophisticated, however, about his baggage-more than a dozen plastic bags on one trip they took together to Nepal. “I thought, This guy needs my help with packing badly ,” she said.

After a year of teaching at Stanford, where Dr. Stiglitz had taught before moving to D.C. in 1993 to head President Clinton’s Council of Economic Advisors, he settled in permanently at Columbia. “It just seemed clear that we were going to get married. I can’t really tell you when it became clear,” said the absent-minded professor.

They are planning a City Hall ceremony, to be followed by a luncheon banquet at Grand Szechuan on West 24th Street, a couscous dinner at their apartment, another dinner at the bride’s parents’ apartment and a bagel brunch at a friend’s house. ( Burp .)

Ms. Schiffrin, meanwhile, has drafted 35,000 words of a memoir about what it’s like to be a Nobel laureate’s lover.” It’s too gossipy,” she said. “I think maybe it’s for after I die.”

Bill Boggs and Carol E. Campbell

Met: Feb. 10, 2004

Engaged: Aug. 6, 2004

Projected Wedding Date: 2005

Veteran TV personality and four-time Emmy winner Bill Boggs, currently host of Corner Table on the Food Network, is marrying Carol E. Campbell, the strategic-alliance director at More magazine (a Lear’s for the new millennium) and a former associate publisher of Bon Appétit .

The connoisseur couple met at “a really dismal Spanish wine and food event” at the Rainbow Room. “There was no food. There was no wine. There was nothing but Bill,”‘ said Ms. Campbell, 43, sipping an iced tea on a settee at the Ritz-Carlton the other day.

“We were hitting zingers back and forth,” said the well-tanned, shiny-toothed, 6-foot-1 Mr. Boggs, who declined to divulge his age (ah, showbiz!), though he admits to having seen Elvis perform live in the 1950’s.

He’d brought another date to the event, but finagled Ms. Campbell’s card under the pretext of inviting her to his Off Broadway show, Talk Show Confidential , and dialed her phone number the next morning. “I thought it would seem too early if I called at 9 a.m., so I waited until 10,” he said.

“I felt like we never stopped talking,” said Ms. Campbell, a hazel-eyed blonde with a long, angular face, a wide smile and a body toned by marathons. “I picked up this phone and all of a sudden we were in the middle of the same conversation that we were in last night.”

Thus began a feeding frenzy upon Manhattan’s restaurants. First date: Le Cirque. “One of the greatest dinners of my life,” declared Mr. Boggs. Second date: San Domenico, where they shared their first kiss, in a lemon-Jello-induced stupor. “It’s truth serum, is what it is,” Ms. Campbell said. Third date: Osteria del Circo. “We have exactly the same eating and exercise habits,” she said. “We’ve been on the early-bird special since we were 17.”

“If we don’t get food at a certain point-unlike normal people who just get hungry -our moods change. It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” said Mr. Boggs, popping an almond into his mouth.

He invited her to join him on a culinary tour of Northern Italy, where they went on to profess their love at a sleepy eatery in Veneto. After that trip, things moved very fast. Back at the Rainbow Room, Mr. Boggs forked over a whopping 2.17-carat round-cut diamond flanked by two half-carat diamonds and three baguettes, set in white gold. Ms. Campbell put her East 79th Street one-bedroom on the market and is planning to move with her Welsh corgi, Carl, and cat, Bella, into her fiancé’s leopard-print-decorated Central Park South two-bedroom (much to Bella’s disgruntlement).

This is neither party’s first brush with wedlock. Mr. Boggs was married briefly twice before, once in 1970, once in 1984, and has a 19-year-old son from his second marriage. Ms. Campbell walked down the aisle at some point in the early 1990’s. (“I have an Etch-a-Sketch brain for unpleasant details,” she said.) Their own nuptials will probably not be that elaborate. “I’m not about planning a big party,” Ms. Campbell said. “I’m about having a happy life at home with Bill.”

The groom’s new pilot, Home-Cooked Classics , airs on PBS this fall.

-Ronda Kaysen

Michael Schreiber and Vanessa Thompson

Met: 1999

Engaged: May 1, 2004

Projected Wedding Date: July 30, 2005

“Are you sick?” Vanessa Thompson drowsily asked her boyfriend, Michael Schreiber. It was the middle of the night in their Park Slope one-bedroom, and Mr. Schreiber had been trying to slip a ring on her finger for about half an hour. It was a beautiful emerald-cut sapphire set in white gold-“Vanessa doesn’t approve of the diamond trade,” he said-but it was half a size too small. “I couldn’t get it over the knuckle,” he said. “I was just jamming the thing as hard as I could. I didn’t know what to do-should I lick her finger? Should I just keep pushing it? It was the most anxiety-provoking situation ever .”

“He looked all weird and sweaty,” said Ms. Thompson, 38, a branch manager at the human-resources firm Adecco. Concerns quashed, she rolled over and re-entered the Land of Nod, tucking her hands inconveniently under a pillow. Mr. Schreiber stayed awake till dawn. “She’s a heavy snorer,” he said. At 5:30 a.m., he cracked. “He woke me up, his eyes like giant blue saucers,” Ms. Thompson said. “And then he finally just asked me, and I realized how raw my ring finger was. He should’ve used moisturizer .”

They will marry in the Catskills, the bride in an antique-gold Vera Wang dress savvily selected from the lower-priced bridesmaid’s collection.

It was from afar in an Eastern-philosophy seminar at the World Trade Center that Ms. Thompson first admired Mr. Schreiber’s lean, 5-foot-9 frame, while he thrilled to her dusky skin and striking green eyes.

After the course ended, Mr. Schreiber was “moving my crap” into a new pad in Park Slope when Ms. Thompson came sauntering down the street; by coincidence, she lived a block away. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. A few days later, she dropped by with the perfect New Yorker’s housewarming present: a binder of neighborhood take-out menus. They began going out to dinner casually. “I don’t know if those count as dates or not,” said Mr. Schreiber, a still-guileless 29. Then one night they broke out a bottle of wine in her one-bedroom (which she wisely bought “before the Park Slope craze”) and he went for “the old foot-massage move.”

The relationship hit a speed bump when Mr. Schreiber was accepted to a seven-month artist’s residency in Arad, Israel, but all doubts dissolved when they reunited in Turkey at the end of the program: “One of the all-time best trips of my life,” said Mr. Schreiber. He returned to New York forthwith, moving into Ms. Thompson’s apartment and landing a job as an associate producer at New York Times Television.

He bought the ring secretly (“I barely said a word at the jeweler’s …. I don’t know from rings!”) and had planned to pop the question over dinner, but a friend of Ms. Thompson’s vetoed that idea. “She kept telling me I had to do something special,” Mr. Schreiber said. “I was a basket case. At one point, I seriously considered cooking the ring in some meat. “

But that probably wouldn’t have suited the super-fit Ms. Thompson, who celebrated his imperfect proposal by leaping out of bed and strapping on skates (while he got some well-earned slumber). “I must have Rollerbladed over 10 miles,” she said, “hooting and hollering all over Prospect Park.”

Countdown to Bliss