Countdown to Bliss

Ariana Jaffe and Michael Quiñones

Met: August 2003 Engaged: March 17, 2005 Projected Wedding Date: Spring 2006

Michael Quiñones, 27, deputy copy chief at Us Weekly magazine and a playwright, is marrying Ariana Jaffe, 28, an employment and litigation lawyer at Torys L.L.P. “We’re both so busy,” moaned Mr. Quiñones, who was raised in Ohio. Welcome to the big city, honey ….

The couple first met at a party in Prospect Heights for a ‘zine called Rated Rookie that publishes “subversive stories from everyday all-stars,” as Mr. Quiñones, a contributor, put it. The dark-haired, cherubic-faced Ms. Jaffe was standing across the room from him, wearing dark-rimmed glasses. “A hottie,” he said. “I asked a friend of mine to go find out what Ariana’s deal was. It was kinda junior high.”

Ms. Jaffe, a native New Yorker, had just moved back from Washington, D.C., hoping to recapture a bit of the bohemian life. “I think I was talking about how I wanted to have a salon-readings in my apartment,” she said, referring to a loft she was renting in Union Square. She was about to embark on a month-long trip to Buenos Aires with her mother, who is Argentinean. And here was Mr. Quiñones, looking rather frat-boy in an Ohio State baseball cap and a red T-shirt. Still, something appealed (perhaps it was his half–Puerto Rican heritage). “If you’re going to call me, you better do it soon,” she told him.

Their first date was at Ola, a Latin seafood restaurant in midtown. It commenced with a mutual Phew. “We were relieved that the other night wasn’t just us having beer goggles,” Ms. Jaffe said. There followed a marathon bar crawl ending at Uncle Ming’s on Avenue B, where they enjoyed their first kiss-initiated by her-while entwined on a couch. “I’m a little shy,” Mr. Quiñones said.

They began dating in earnest after Ms. Jaffe returned from Argentina: going to hear various bands, trips to the thea-thuh and lots of eating out. “Neither of us cook,” she said. During their first vacation together, in Miami, Mr. Quiñones realized that he had found the real thing. “It was our first time living together in small quarters,” he said. “I figured if we could do that, then we can do anything.”

The couple decided to pool their resources and buy an apartment together, eventually settling on a one-bedroom in Cobble Hill. “I always felt like moving in together was an even bigger deal than getting engaged,” Mr. Quiñones said. Still, proposing seemed like an important part of the package-“at the very least, for the co-op board,” he said, joking (we hope).

They were preparing for bed one night, discussing their shared future, when he suddenly blurted out the classic four little words-no ring, nada. “I was a little bummed out,” said Ms. Jaffe, who nonetheless gave a tearful assent. “Not that I needed a boat cruise in Central Park or anything like that.”

“I felt kinda horrible,” Mr. Quiñones said. “It didn’t feel at all official.”

The couple decided to go back to Uncle Ming’s to celebrate. On the way there, he bought an inexpensive silver band with intertwining hearts from a vendor on St. Marks Place, presenting it with the promise of a future replacement. Not necessary, according to Ms. Jaffe. “I love it,” she said. “I’ll wear it always.”

Simon Anderson and Courtney Hewitt

Met: May 2000 Engaged: Dec. 17, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: May 21, 2005

Simon Anderson and Courtney Hewitt both attended Hanover High School in New Hampshire, but six years apart. They skied at the Dartmouth Skiway in February and went boating on the Connecticut River in August, but didn’t meet until Mr. Anderson’s younger brother brought him to a rooftop barbecue at Ms. Hewitt’s duplex on East Seventh Street in New York. Immediately, he noticed his hostess’ bright blue eyes and striking eyelashes-“the longest I’ve ever seen,” he gushed.

Ms. Hewitt, for her part, still remembers what the handsome Mr. Anderson was wearing: “Levi’s jeans, a striped buttoned-up shirt with the arms rolled up, brown horn glasses and loafers,” she said in a conference call with her beau. “I don’t think you had gotten into flip-flops yet.”

A couple of weeks later, Mr. Anderson-who was living with his brother in Little Italy at the time-picked Ms. Hewitt up in his brown 1986 Saab and drove her to Coney Island, where they walked on the beach and then had dinner at a vodka-and-fish joint called Gambrinus. “I had not been in New York very long,” said Ms. Hewitt, 29. “He was a master of the city and seemed to know the place to go.”

From then on it was beach, beach, beach for the couple. They cavorted in sandy coves at Cape Cod and in Connecticut, on Long Beach Island in New Jersey, and then at many spots in Queens and Long Island: Cedar Beach, Lido Beach, Atlantic Beach. “We got along really well in the car,” said Mr. Anderson, director of sales for the real-estate firm Cantor Pecorella. “We’re never at a loss for words.”

“Simon’s a really good driver, and I’m a really good navigator,” Ms. Hewitt said. “We’re not as good when we switch.” “This is true,” said Mr. Anderson.

A few months after Ms. Hewitt graduated from Pratt with her master’s in industrial design, she ditched the duplex and moved into Mr. Anderson’s two-bedroom in Murray Hill, brightening up its metallic, monochrome look-which included his collection of 1950’s and 1960’s sun lamps-with a big red Oriental rug, a red-and-tan-checked armchair and red-and-turquoise pillows in the couch. “Things became a little more coordinated,” he admitted.

According to Ms. Hewitt, who works freelance, the pair schemed wedding ideas for two years before suddenly deciding: “O.K., enough is enough.”

They brainstormed with a jeweler friend of Mr. Anderson’s, Sharon Alouf, and then window-shopped at Asprey, Tiffany and Cartier. On his 35th birthday, Mr. Anderson picked up a rose-cut yellow diamond set in a warmly colored 22-karat gold band from Ms. Alouf’s studio. That night, when Ms. Hewitt presented him with her birthday gifts (a sweater, argyle socks and a “spoon rest” for the kitchen), he told her that he had a present for her as well.

As he was getting down on his knees, she went in for a hug and ended up lifting him up-all five feet, 11 inches of him. In his excitement, Mr. Anderson swooshed the ring onto her right hand by accident. It wasn’t until dinner at Chanterelle that they looked around the room and realized they had erred. “I wore it on the wrong finger for two hours,” said Ms. Hewitt.

They’ll marry on Sagg Main Beach in Sagaponack, with a party to follow on the lawn of a big six-bedroom farmhouse in Bridgehampton. “We’re great beach buffs together,” said the bride-to-be, who has selected an off-white, tea-length taffeta gown from Blue on Avenue A.

“I view life a little bit more as a difficult thing, and she views it as an easy thing,” Mr. Anderson said. “She’s able to make me see that life is an enjoyable, fun-loving situation.” Countdown to Bliss