Countdown to Bliss

Danyel Smith and Elliott Wilson

Met: 1994 Engaged: December 14, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: June 11, 2004

Hip-hop hooray! Danyel Smith, 39, author and former editor in chief of Vibe magazine, is marrying Elliott Wilson, 33, editor in chief of XXL magazine. “We have more CD’s than we have wall space,” Ms. Smith said.

They met back when she was Vibe’s freshly appointed music editor and he was a freelance writer. “He was an encyclopedia of music-really raw and talented,” Ms. Smith said. Their work relationship ended with a screaming match still infamous among the magazine’s staffers. “I got disgruntled,” said the dimpled, 5-foot-10 Mr. Wilson. “I wanted too much right away and was acting the fool.”

“He was just bratty,” said the petite Ms. Smith with a broad smile.

Mr. Wilson accepted a position at a rival magazine, The Source-where he eventually became music editor, a.k.a. direct competition to Ms. Smith. “We always had professional respect,” Mr. Wilson said. “I learned a lot from her. She’s a better writer than me, a better editor … and she may even be smarter.”

But Ms. Smith, a self-described “grudge holder,” maintained a cool distance until-after leaving the magazine biz to write novels-she saw Mr. Wilson at a mutual friend’s birthday party last year. “I was like, ‘ Pardon me? When did Elliott get to be a grown man?'” she said.

After the party, she gave him a call on the flimsy pretext of wanting to write for him. “Maybe we should just go out for drinks,” Mr. Wilson told her.

They met at the Gramercy Park Hotel. “You know how it is when guys start to like you and start telling stories where they’re the hero?” Ms. Smith said. “It was like that.”

Soon after, however, she had to leave for a six-week teaching commitment in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Cool, I’ll come visit,” Mr. Wilson said. Ms. Smith didn’t take him seriously. “El’s reputation was a little bit suspicious,” she said. “He was kind of a man about town.”

“I was dating more than one woman,” Mr. Wilson admitted. “But once things became clear with Danyel, I couldn’t disrespect her. And unlike other relationships I’ve had, I had respect for her coming out of the gate.”

A few weeks later, he rang her in San Fran with flight and hotel information. “And then his ass actually showed up!” Ms. Smith marveled.

Unfortunately, the visit ended with Mr. Wilson’s ass in the local emergency room (food poisoning).

Back in New York ( phew), things quickly became more serious. The couple moved into a duplex penthouse on the Lower East Side along with Ms. Smith’s cocker spaniel, Patches, and learned to manage their fights. “If we can’t remember how they started, then we just go out for dinner,” Ms. Smith said. Mr. Wilson’s editorials in XXL started containing references to his wish to marry her. They found a ring, a straight bar of five diamonds set in white gold, at a small Beverly Hills jeweler while visiting her family in L.A. He proposed back in New York (once again, phew) with a bottle of champagne and an impassioned speech.

Ms. Smith, caught in the midst of folding laundry, had an answer prepared in the form of a silver Tiffany dog tag with Y-E-S engraved on one side and the couple’s initials on the other.

They will marry somewhere in Southern California. “My girl is the bomb,” said the groom-to-be. “She’s stronger than me in everything. It still amazes me every day.”

Joseph Roeder and Amy Zdunowski

Met: November 2001 Engaged: Nov. 19, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 29, 2005

Break out the bouzouki! Amy Zdunowski and Joseph Roeder, who are both half-Greek, plan to marry in the bride’s hometown of Reading, Penn. They have shared a 350-square-foot studio on West 27th Street with a cat for three years, which Ms. Zdunowski said proves they can live together forever.

The couple was introduced by colleagues at Sony Music, where Mr. Roeder is director of the DVD design and production studio and Ms. Zdunowksi was working in the marketing department of the classical-music division (she is now assistant to the C.E.O. of the Corcoran Group, the real-estate firm). Over drinks in a group at the boppy Chelsea bars H2K and Bongo, Mr. Roeder noted with pleasure that this “pretty Mediterranean girl” with wide, almond-shaped eyes was laughing at all his jokes. Turns out they were both violinists. “I found her such an engaging and interesting person,” said Mr. Roeder, 34, who according to his fiancée looks like the actor John Stamos. “I knew that this was something out of the ordinary pretty instantly.”

A few weeks later, they went for drinks à deux at the Old King Cole bar at the St. Regis hotel, followed by dinner at Raoul’s in Soho. “One of my greatest fears is being one of those couples that sits and has nothing to say,” said Ms. Zdunowksi, 30. “It was completely the opposite.”

They had to keep their traps shut at the office, though-even after she moved from Weehawken, N.J., to his tiny pad. “People would laugh, seeing how we would try to hold it in,” she said.

Mr. Roeder, a history buff, felt the deal was sealed after a romantic weekend at … the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. “We had the most magical weekend exploring the bloodiest saga in American history,” he said enthusiastically. “It all pointed toward: ‘This is the person I want to spend my life with.'”

He began saving up for a ring on the sly-or so he thought. “We love to go out to dinner; we’re professional eaters,” Ms. Zdunowski said. So she was perplexed when her boyfriend “really pulled back on the reins,” shooting down her suggestion that they go eat at the “21” Club after seeing The Sweet Smell of Success on DVD. “We can always cook at home,” Mr. Roeder said. “It’s really nice at home. We have a cat.”

“He was so cheap,” Ms. Zdunowski told the Love Beat.

In fact, a two-carat, white-gold-set, emerald-cut diamond was lurking behind a copy of Gen. George Patton’s autobiography War as I Knew It on their bookshelf.

Mr. Roeder presented the ring in a nook of Central Park near the Met called Cedar Hill (location-scouted with a filmmaker friend), after getting Ms. Zdunowski the afternoon off work and forcing her to circumvent several roadblocks. “I’m like, ‘We shouldn’t be in here,'” she said. “I was getting so angry at him!”

“This has been the best part of my life so far, and I want you to be with me for the rest of it,” Mr. Roeder said, shutting her up in a hurry. “Would you marry me?”

Countdown to Bliss