Countdown to Bliss

Jessica Altschuler and David Borstein

Met: October 2001 Engaged: Jan. 14, 2005 Projected Wedding date: April 1, 2006

Jessica Altschuler and David Borstein had been assured by a mutual friend that they’d be a good match-after all, they both work in advertising. They were supposed meet at a party in a Chelsea apartment, but Mr. Borstein didn’t show up because his parents were in town. Instead, Ms. Altschuler got a contrite Monday-morning e-mail. “Truly sorry,” he wrote. “Brett says you’re the total package: smart, pretty, intelligent, cool to hang with. Is this all true?”

It was!

So Mr. Borstein discovered at another party the following weekend, at Dewey’s Flatiron. “Standard Jewish size,” he said approvingly of the comely, 5-foot-3 Ms. Altschuler (he is 5-foot-8). Meanwhile, she was digging his long-lashed green eyes, preppy style and “very sparkling personality.” They were already smooching in a cab on the way to Corner Bistro afterward.

But their first real date was at the Etats-Unis wine bar on East 81st Street, down the block from Mr. Borstein’s pad. “It felt so easy and so right,” said Mr. Borstein, 28, a regional sales manager for the Friendster-esque Web site “I just wanted to be around her.”

“I thought he was so funny-really cute and comfortable with himself,” said Ms. Altschuler, 25, an account manager for Jason Binn’s Niche Media, which publishes Gotham. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is going to be something special. Oh my God, I can’t let this guy go.'”

Months later, he took her to Chicago for a brother’s wedding. On the plane home, she was gushing about how in love his parents seemed after more than 30 years of marriage. “Like us?” Mr. Borstein ventured.

“Are you in love with me? Do you love me?” Ms. Altschuler said, surprised. She had totally blanked out on the fact that he had bared his soul to her the night before. Hic!

A year after they’d met, unable to get her landlord to let her go month-to-month on her midtown studio, Ms. Altschuler decamped to Mr. Borstein’s place, which is only 500 square feet. Around the same time, he started looking for a ring, settling on a radiant-cut diamond flanked by two trillions from a jeweler in Chicago. He secured permission from her father, had the bauble FedEx’d and asked Ms. Altschuler on a date to Etats-Unis. Her radar was blaring.

“I brought up getting engaged like 10 times during the whole meal,” she said.

Can you wait 20 minutes? Mr. Borstein thought to himself.

When Ms. Altschuler went to powder her nose, the restaurant manager approached and said he’d come up with a fun way to present the ring.

Mr. Borstein tossed it over. “It was like Monty Python-all over the place,” he said.

When Ms. Altschuler’s date pudding arrived, it was accompanied by a rose in a coconut shell and the question “Will You Marry Me?” scrawled in chocolate around the rim. “Shut the fuck up!” Ms. Altschuler kept repeating.

The couple then absconded to the Beekman Tower Hotel, where about 50 friends and family members had gathered to celebrate. “It was awesome,” Mr. Borstein said.

“It’s just so obvious how much he loves me,” Ms. Altschuler cooed happily. She hasn’t yet settled on what to wear to their black-tie wedding, which will be held at the Garden City Hotel near her hometown of Jericho, Long Island. “Something white, something flattering,” she said.

Jocelyn Santiago and Robert Schaltenbrand

Met: Dec. 18, 2003 Engaged: Dec. 18, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: Dec. 3, 2005

There must be something in the water over at Niche Media: Jocelyn Santiago, 26, the client-relationship manager there, is marrying Robert Schaltenbrand, 34, a promotions director at Kirshenbaum, Bond and Partners.

They met at an office holiday party when they were both employed by a marketing agency called U.S. Concepts. “I had my eye on her the whole time,” said Mr. Schaltenbrand, who described his beloved (who is of Puerto Rican descent) as “the epitome of a gorgeous Latin woman.” Ms. Santiago, meanwhile, had spotted her blue-eyed, 6-foot-2 future hubby playing with a co-worker’s son. “I just thought of him as the cute married guy,” she said. The misunderstanding was quickly cleared up and, after multiple drinks, they were sitting shoulder to shoulder at the bar. “People claim we were making out,” Ms. Santiago said. “But we were just talking really close.”

A few days later, the pair left work early for rooftop cocktails and dinner at the Peninsula Hotel. Afterward, they went to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree and enjoyed their first real kiss. “And I think we both fell completely in love,” Mr. Schaltenbrand said. O Tannenbaum!

Ms. Santiago was completely smitten. “I went home that night and told my mother I had met my husband,” she said.

Their co-worker status only accelerated the relationship’s pace. “I loved seeing her face come through the door every day,” Mr. Schaltenbrand said.

A year flew by, and Ms. Santiago began dropping hints.

“I told him I didn’t want to move in until after we got engaged,” she said.

Mr. Schaltenbrand decided to re-enact their first date for their one-year anniversary. But the couple was dismayed to find Rockefeller Center crawling with tourists. “I like to think I have original ideas,” he said, “but on our left we saw a guy hand a girl a ring. Then, three or four other people to our right, the same thing was happening!”

“There were people hugging and crying on either side of us,” Ms. Santiago said. “I was jealous.”

Mr. Schaltenbrand gathered her in his arms and began to murmur sweet nothings, but guys selling Polaroids kept interrupting them. “I was like, ‘Um, we’re having a moment here!'” he said. Then the lights on the big tree abruptly turned off. “Can we just go home now?'” Ms. Santiago asked.

Undaunted, Mr. Schaltenbrand led her across the street to Dean and DeLuca. “Jocelyn, I brought you here for a reason,” he said, trying and failing to squat down on one knee. He was weeping like a woman. “I really thought I was going to faint,” he laughed. Righting himself, he placed a self-designed brilliant-cut round stone surrounded by diamonds and set in platinum on Ms. Santiago’s hand. “I was dizzy,” she said.

Moments later, a couple of out-of-towners tapped the blissed-out pair on the shoulder. They wanted their picture taken.

Recently, Ms. Santiago moved from an apartment share across from Webster Hall to her intended’s two-bedroom apartment in a Park Slope brownstone. The live-ins are busily planning a winter-wonderland wedding at Long Island’s Oheka Castle. Mr. Schaltenbrand, an avid snowboarder, is trying to convert his bride to the charms of cold weather. “Jocelyn looks incredible on skis,” he said. Countdown to Bliss