Countdown to Bliss

Eric Alani and Leah Furst

Met: September 2000 Engaged: Dec. 3, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: Aug. 28, 2005

In November, sweethearts Eric Alani and Leah Furst purchased a one-bedroom condo in the West Village with a mortgage four years older than they are-26. “That was a big step, and an affirmation that we were going to get married,” said the green-eyed, brunette Ms. Furst, a senior strategist at the Seiden Group, a marketing firm.

But a 30-year mortgage doesn’t have quite the same luster as a diamond, now does it, girlfriends? Less than a month after they’d closed, Mr. Alani, a curly-haired research analyst in distressed debt at AIG (whatever that means), got over his “sticker shock” at the price of rings and bought a round-cut brilliant stone with tapered baguettes set in platinum from a dealer in the diamond district. He then sent Ms. Furst to the distant land of Queens on a quest for a granite slab for the kitchen so that he might secretly gussy up their nest-to-be (mid-renovation) with rose petals and candles. Then he called her, claiming the contractor had hit a waterline and that there was an inch-deep layer of water in the bathroom.

“It looks like The Bachelor in here!” Ms. Furst exclaimed upon arrival. “He’s never seen it, so he didn’t know what that meant,” she told the Love Beat.

After dropping to one knee on their balcony and asking for her hand, like Romeo should’ve done it, Mr. Alani called for their dinner of lamb chops and chocolate soufflé-which was being prepared by a chef in the unit beneath them, their former rental apartment. “He’s very sweet and loving and chivalrous,” cooed Ms. Furst of her new fiancé-though not, perhaps, a natural housekeeper. “What’d you use on the floor?” she asked him.

“Ajax,” he replied.

“He doesn’t really clean so much,” Ms. Furst said.

The couple first met at a casual Sunday-night dinner with mutual friends at Patsy’s pizza joint in Murray Hill. She found him “sporty and cute” in his yellow T-shirt and red hat; he was struck by her “grace.” After dinner, the gang went to her place to see Sex and the City; Mr. Alani nicked his finger (neither can remember how). “She was very tender in giving me the Band-Aid,” he said. “I was like, ‘I’m calling her.'” Mama’s boy in the house!

In fact, it was Ms. Furst who called first, inviting Mr. Alani to meet her roommate and roommate’s boyfriend at the Russian Vodka Room in Times Square (“a really lame bar,” she said). Mr. Alani jettisoned the couple and quickly whisked Ms. Furst from midtown to Soho, where they nestled in a booth at the presumably cooler Merc Bar.

“At the very beginning, I used to say that going out with Eric and his friends was like going out with the Mafia,” Ms. Furst said. “They knew where to go, how to get in-everything was taken care of. It was very glamorous.” The cozy Shabbat dinners came later. “We just fit into each other’s lives very well and very easily,” she said.

They’ll marry on the beach behind her parents’ house in Orleans, Cape Cod, with the bride in a meringue-like wedding gown. “Big,” she said. “Really traditional.”

“There was something about Leah that spoke to me that she was the person to build my life around,” Mr. Alani said. “I feel great with her, I feel more than great with her.”

Christine Gildea and Cliff Olshaker

Met: January 2003 Engaged: March 27, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: Jan. 8, 2005

Ga-ga at Galapagos! Cliff Olshaker and Christine Gildea met at that hipster haunt in Williamsburg, near where he’d recently moved, and where she’d grown up before bolting to the Upper East Side. “I thought she was exactly my type,” said Mr. Olshaker, 37, a real-estate lawyer, of the blue-eyed blonde, who savvily told the Love Beat she is “ageless.”

“Perfect features,” he added.

Ms. Gildea, a vice president of communications at J.P. Morgan, chalked their meeting up to fate. “It’s not the kind of thing I would normally do,” she said of the outing. “I just felt this urge.” After an old friend from the ‘hood introduced her to the 6-foot-3, blue-eyed Mr. Olshaker, the group moved on to the Sea Thai Bistro, where, under a giant Buddha, “we talked about everything from real estate to cooking,” Ms. Gildea said. She forked over her card.

But it took a while for them to meet up again. “I don’t call guys for dates,” Ms. Gildea said with a laugh. There was some silly game-playing. “As a guy, I think you’re always afraid of calling too much,” Mr. Olshaker said. “Finally we got it together. It was one of those stupid things where we both had to get over ourselves.”

The rendezvous started at the cozy Italian restaurant Elio’s and stretched into three days, thanks to a heavy snowstorm. “It was sort of amazing,” Mr. Olshaker said. “It felt like an instant relationship,” Ms. Gildea said. “It was funny, because I haven’t dated a boy from Greenpoint since I was 18.”

“I knew after a couple of months that Christine was the woman I’d want to marry,” Mr. Olshaker said.

One Friday night, he told her he couldn’t come over per usual. “It was one of those weird, generalized ‘I’m not feeling so good’ things,” said Ms. Gildea. “At that point, we had spent every weekend together since we met. I knew he wasn’t telling me the truth.”

The next morning, he turned up early at her apartment. Ms. Gildea was in a foul mood. And her sweetie had an odd request. “I asked if she wanted to play Scrabble, and she was like, ‘I don’t want to play Scrabble now,'” Mr. Olshaker said (she usually loves the game, and he had hoped to hide a 1.6-carat Tiffany setting ring on a platinum band in the bag of tiles).

“He was acting kind of weird,” Ms. Gildea said. “After asking me if I wanted to play Scrabble, he asked if he could have an apple. When I came back from the kitchen with one, I found him on his knees. I couldn’t stop laughing.”

More amusement ensued when the bauble proved two sizes too small; Mr. Olshaker had snuck a ring from Ms. Gildea’s collection for the jeweler to work from-her communion ring, dating from when she was 7 years old. “I got the thing on my finger anyway,” she bragged. Atta girl! (She later pried it off and got it resized.)

They’ll marry at the Tribeca Rooftop in front of 170 friends and family members, followed by a honeymoon in Italy. “We’re both white-collar people who come from blue-collar backgrounds,” said the contented bride-to-be. “I don’t think I’d have as good a relationship with some blue blood from Connecticut.”

Countdown to Bliss