Countdown to Bliss

Aimee Kelley and Brett Fletcher Lauer

Met: September 2001

Engaged: Dec. 13, 2003

Projected Wedding Date: May 21, 2005

R oses are red, / Violets are blue, / What’s better than one poet in love / But two? Aimee Kelley, membership associate at the Academy of American Poets, is marrying Brett Fletcher Lauer, director of “Poetry in Motion” (that moment of Zen on the F train) for the Poetry Society of America. Joint editors of the freshly published anthology Isn’t It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger American Poets, they are planning a wedding in Ojai, Calif., near the bride’s hometown.

The two bards first met back at a party in Williamsburg held in an abandoned pencil factory. The long-haired Mr. Lauer was wearing big Gucci sunglasses with clear lenses. “I knew who Brett was, but I had never formally met him,” said Ms. Kelley, 25, a tall brunette. “I was watching him all night. He was leaning against a wall, smoking, and just looked mysterious and cool.” When Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” started playing, she walked up to Mr. Lauer and asked him to dance. “He turned around, looked at me and said no,” Ms. Kelley remembered. “I thought, O.K., so he’s a jerk.”

“I was shocked!” protested Mr. Lauer, 26 (and no relation to Matt). “I was on my way out and saying goodbye to people, and this person who I had noticed earlier in the night to be quite beautiful approached me. I remember going home and asking my roommate if I should go back to the party.” Luckily, the circle of young poets in New York City is quite small, and several weeks later Mr. Lauer got word of a publication party for Crowd, the literary magazine that Ms. Kelley edits and publishes in her spare time. “I was sort of waiting for the right time to talk to her again,” he said. “My temperament is not the kind that I could have contacted her and said, ‘Hey, remember that time you asked me to dance?'” He missed the party, but sent her an e-mail requesting a copy, which she delivered at a subsequent reading held by his office. The scribes then made plans for a hipster pilgrimage to an art exhibit at P.S. 1 in Queens. Sitting in a small room with a Janet Cardiff installation involving choral music playing through speakers, Ms. Kelley realized that she had stumbled into something big. “It was so beautiful, and I think we ended up just sort of staring at each other,” she said. “It had this very personal and intimate feel to it,” Mr. Lauer recalled.

Yet their first kiss didn’t come until almost two months later. “Aimee took the lead on that one,” Mr. Lauer sighed, who rallied by buying her a recording of the aforementioned choral music for Valentine’s Day. Ms. Kelley explained that she “knew right away that he was it.”

Yet it took a decorous six months for her to leave her place in Williamsburg for Mr. Lauer’s pad in Carroll Gardens, where she joined his two cats, Kiki and Ruby. “Aimee let the cats sleep with us, which she knew was important to me,” he said. “Even though she doesn’t like fur in the bed.”

The couple picked out an antique 18-carat filigreed gold band with a small flat diamond set in the center, from Doyle and Doyle on Orchard Street. “I wanted a ring that looked like my mom’s,” said Ms. Kelley. When the crucial moment arrived, Mr. Lauer gallantly tried to drop to his knee, but Ms. Kelley stopped him. “I freaked out,” she said. “I didn’t want to be looking down at him. So I made him stand up. He asked me to marry him, and then we sat down and stared at each other like morons.”

Eliot Shepard and Kristen Williams

Met: September 2000

Engaged: Aug. 21, 2004

Projected Wedding Date: September 2005

When Eliot Shepard and Kristen Williams met at a mutual friend’s party at Xunta, the East Village tapas bar, neither was looking for romance. Ms. Williams was in the process of ending a four-year marriage; Mr. Shepard, a self-described “romantic hard case, a misfit,” was “coming off a series of run-of-the-mill unsuccessful dating experiences.”

Yet there was tremendous mutual intrigue. Beautiful and probably unattainable, Mr. Shepard thought to himself, code-naming the hazel-eyed brunette “Miss Oo-la-la” from afar. She, meanwhile, found Mr. Shepard “handsome,” what with his green eyes and “Moby-funky black glasses.”

“He was the first person I talked to in a long time where I actually connected to their humor,” said Ms. Williams, 31, the coordinator in the on-air promotions department for Rainbow Media.

They shared a cab home over the Brooklyn Bridge to their respective apartments and Ms. Williams gave Mr. Shepard, now a freelance photographer, a little freelance relationship advice: “Do her a favor and speak freely to her.”

“I thought he was a catch,” she said. “I could tell that he was special, and I wanted him to recognize that. I felt lucky for the future girl he would be with.”

With Ms. Williams’ breakup finalized a few weeks later, she gave Mr. Shepard a call to see if he wanted to get a drink. He upped the ante to dinner-11 p.m. at Po. Little did he know that when Ms. Williams gets too hungry, she gets stomachaches. The pain became unbearable about three courses into the six-course tasting menu.

After she doubled over into a ball, her kind suitor hailed her a cab, escorted her up the five flights of stairs to her new place in the East Village, and waited gallantly while she took her time in the bathroom, knocking occasionally to ask “Do you want any water? Do you want me to hold your hair back?”

“It was so mortifying!” said Ms. Williams. “He could hear everything.”

About two years later, they moved into a ground-floor brownstone apartment in Carroll Gardens.

This past spring, Ms. Williams convinced Mr. Shepard, then a computer programmer, to buy a costly professional camera so that he could turn his hobby into a profession. “My personality is such that I’m always scared of overcommitting,” he said. “She’s very acute about telling me when I need to take things to the next level.”

Indeed: The pair was visiting a friend’s cabin in Maine, cuddled up reading on a rainy day, when she turned to him and said, “So, where do you think this relationship is going?” The phrase had become an inside joke of theirs.

To her shock, Mr. Shepard dropped to one knee and opened up his hand, revealing a dark-round sapphire set in a wide, modern white-gold band. (“We weren’t really diamond people,” Ms. Williams said.) There was no long-distance phone service at the cabin, so they photographed the bauble on her finger, dialed into the Internet locally and posted it on their respective “fotologs.”

They’re contemplating an outdoorsy, Brooklyn-centric kind of ceremony. Ms. Williams envisions a dress inspired by the cheongsams worn by Maggie Cheung in the movie In the Mood for Love-not white, though. “My relationship with Eliot has been somewhat nontraditional,” she said, “and I want to keep it that way.”

Countdown to Bliss