Countdown to Bliss

Alice Borden and Jay Peterson

Met: January 1995 Engaged: Sept. 3, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: April 23, 2005

They’ll always have Paris … Kentucky! Jay Peterson, 32, president of K2 Pictures, a film and television company, plans to marry Alice Borden, 29, a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group, on a horse farm there, (among other things, Mr. Peterson is a racing enthusiast). Giddy-yup ….

The couple met at J.F.K. airport en route to a semester abroad in Spain. “I thought he was uptight,” said the auburn-haired, lanky Ms. Borden. “But talking on the plane, I started to really like him.” Fate had placed the two passengers an aisle and a row apart. “Alice gets motion sickness pretty easily,” Mr. Peterson said. “She had to keep turning around to talk to me, and finally she said, ‘Talking to you is making me sick.'”

Upon arrival, they quickly became close amigos, though the entire group had to sign an agreement to speak only Spanish for the entire trip. “I totally would have spoken English, but Alice never would have, because we had signed an honor code,” Mr. Peterson said. “She’s got a strong sense of morals and ethics-but not in a stick-up-the-butt way.”

“I kept a journal through the whole experience, and I wrote early on that Jay was my favorite,” Ms. Borden said, adding: “We’re kind of opposites that attract. People say he’s salty and I’m sweet.”

The group threw her a birthday party a couple of months later, but Mr. Peterson had to leave early; he had an exam the next day. “I went to say goodbye and to do the whole Spanish kiss-on-each-cheek thing,” he reported. “And then Alice grabbed me and gave me a real kiss.” ¡Ole! Now who’s salty?

“We should get you drunk more often,” Mr. Peterson told her.

After that, they were practically inseparable-even though she was attending Williams and he the University of Colorado. They had a great New Year’s Eve trip to his parents’ ski condo near Vail. It was there, Ms. Borden said, that “it finally hit me over the head that I loved Jay.” After graduation, the pair moved to New York, living decorously in separate apartments-but then came the hurdle of B-school (Harvard for her, Wharton for him). “People would ask me if I was worried about us being apart,” she said, “and I always said that if we were going to be together forever, then there would be bigger obstacles than business school.”

“I knew we were going to get married eventually,” said Mr. Peterson. “She’s really fun. She’s actually irritatingly perfect.”

He proposed in a hotel room during a trip to Bermuda, busting out a bottle of chilled champagne and baldly announcing his intentions after a romantic beach stroll earlier didn’t go as planned. (“As we’re walking towards the water, I see this arm waving at me,” he said. “We couldn’t figure it out-was it someone in distress? Should we do something? Turns out it was my cousin, who happened to be there too.” )

Mr. Peterson had savvily snapped up an antique sapphire set in a platinum band three years prior in Los Angeles, storing it in a trunk until the crucial moment.

The pair moved into a West Chelsea one-bedroom together this past October. “Whether it is exploring our new neighborhood or going off to Patagonia,” Ms. Borden said, “we just love to have adventures together.”

J.J. Barton and Courtney Smith

Met: Oct. 31, 2000 Engaged: Dec. 24, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: April 2, 2005

Courtney Smith, 23, wholesale sales manager at the fancy shoe company Hollywould, is trading in her stilettos for cowboy boots and marrying J.J. Barton, 28, a product manager at a chemical company called Tekcor Technology in Houston, Tex.

They met on Halloween night at the Varsity, a music venue near the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Mr. Barton, a reedy high jumper, was dressed as Jimmy Buffett. Ms. Smith wasn’t dressed up, because she’d been sick. Offering to buy her a drink, he pulled a flask from his pocket. “I thought he was really weird,” said the brunette, hazel-eyed Ms. Smith. “I would never talk to anyone who offered me alcohol out of his pants.”

She soon changed her tune. At Christ the King Church’s Sunday evening mass a few weeks later, the frisky twosome found themselves seated facing each other across the pulpit. Mr. Barton could see Ms. Smith, who grew up in Baton Rouge, pointing him out to her mother.

Their first date was at J. Alexander’s (some American-food chain out there in the hinterlands). “It was pitiful,” Mr. Barton said. “Neither of us said a word,” Ms. Smith said. “I remember at one point, to break the silence, I asked what his favorite color was. He just looked at me and was like, ‘Blue.’ And there was two more minutes of silence.”

They went to see Remember the Titans, and then he took her home, finally announcing: “I really have to apologize. I was very nervous, and I’d like to make it up to you.” The next night, they met up with some friends for beer and $3 calzones ( burp) and had a fine time.

“I’m so sorry-I should have asked you before I did that,” he blurted out a few weeks later, after pecking her on the lips for the first time (these Southerners!).

“Oh, no-it’s quite all right,” Ms. Smith replied, smooching him right back.

When Mr. Barton took a two-and-a-half-week road trip to Portland with a female friend, Ms. Smith made him a different card for every day. “For someone to take the time to do something like that, it just gives you the goose bumps,” he said. No, no-in a good way: “She was confident about what we had … and I love that.”

They currently visit each other about once a month. “He’s a very positive person,” Ms. Smith cooed. “When he’s around, everybody’s happy.” At some point, Ms. Smith mentioned that she didn’t want a simple platinum diamond engagement ring, but an “antique dinner ring.” Mr. Barton Googled the phrase. “I’m thinking, These things are hideous,” he said. Luckily, his mother saved the day with an Art Deco ring, a gift from Mr. Barton’s late father when their son was born. Inscribed “JJ,” it contained a ruby circled in smaller rubies and pavé diamonds. The ruby, it turned out, is Ms. Smith’s birthstone. Still, Mr. Barton hewed to custom and replaced the center gem with a round-cut diamond (“It’s like a fire-and-ice deal-really pretty,” he said) before proposing in the den at a Christmas party thrown by her parents, in front of about 30 friends and family members.

They’ll marry in the church where they first made moon faces across the aisle. Ms. Smith is designing her own wedding gown using five different fabrics, including lavender chiffon and French lace with metallic silver threads. “I know she probably goes through this in her head: ‘What am I doing, leaving Manhattan for Houston?'” said the groom-to-be. “But I’m grateful. I’m speechless. Countdown to Bliss