Countdown to Bliss

Beth Levy and J.P. Partland

Met: Aug. 14, 1994

Engaged: June 17, 2005

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 21, 2005

After an 11-year courtship, Beth Levy, an associate managing editor at Random House, and J.P. Partland, a bicycling aficionado and author of three books, including Tour Fever, are finally getting hitched at City Hall. A small family reception will follow at the Central Park Boathouse, after which bride and groom plan to go bowling and to see The Big Lebowski. “It’s Lebowski Fest,” explained Mr. Partland, 37. How could we forget?

Originally from Memphis, Ms. Levy pointed out to the Love Beat that the couple first met two days before the 17th anniversary of Elvis Presley’s death. She had agreed to let Mr. Partland, a New Yorker and friend of a friend, crash on the couch of her apartment in Chicago the night before a race. He showed up an hour later than expected, tracking water from a storm all over her kitchen tiles. “Next thing I know, he peels off his shirt,” said the slender, animated Ms. Levy, 36, who resembles Velma in the Scooby-Doo cartoon. “And he’s walking around shirtless! In my apartment! With my friends there! We all were kind of like, ‘Whoa, who is this person? What is this creature?”

But the narrow-faced Mr. Partland, who has long, curly, dirty-blond locks, soon endeared himself to his skeptical hostess. After the race, the two of them went to pick out a wedding gift for a mutual friend, settling on a large papier-mâché cat.

After he’d departed, they struck up a correspondence (this was before e-mail—we are talkin’ real handwritten letters, if you can believe it). Ms. Levy was working for Enyclopædia Britannica at the time. “I was really obsessed with sailor slang and trying really hard to swear like a sailor,” she said. When Mr. Partland sent her a letter written entirely in 1930’s jive, she was utterly charmed.

After five months of this folderol, the lovebirds took a trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. It rained and rained, but what did they care? “I think we were pretty content,” Ms. Levy said. “I have never met anyone that I could just talk to and read a book with.”

Soon afterwards, she decided to move to New York. During the few months it took her to find a share on the Upper West Side near Mr. Partland, she stayed with his generous maternal grandmother in Union Square. “In one sense, I was like, ‘Oh, this is the perfect chance to move in together,’” Mr. Partland said. “But I wasn’t ready for that.”

“I wasn’t ready for that either,” Ms. Levy insisted, crinkling her nose.

Later, she and a roommate found a great, affordable three-bedroom in Harlem, to which Mr. Partland moved on a supposedly temporary basis after getting kicked out by his roommate, whose wife was returning from China. A year later, the girls realized that he wasn’t going anywhere.

Ms. Levy and Mr. Partland liked the neighborhood and decided to buy a condo there together. One Friday night, after visiting Home Depot for storage shelves like suburbanites, they decided to get engaged. Ms. Levy brought up the topic of rings at the Rickshaw Dumpling Bar in the Flatiron district, whereupon Mr. Partland, to her delight, removed a plastic vending-machine bubble from his jacket, opening it to reveal a spiky hot-pink rubber band that lights up when pushed.

“Hey, it’s blingy,” he said.

O’Hara Tudor and Christina Jimenez

Met: Sept. 30, 1999

Engaged: Aug. 25, 2005

Projected Wedding Date: Aug. 26, 2006

O’Hara Tudor and Christina Jimenez first met at a birthday party held at the Houston Street bar L’Angela. The former woman was doing her best to be a Donna Juan—and failing miserably. “I didn’t even realize she was flirting,” said Ms. Jimenez, 29, a slender brunette teacher at a school in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, who has delicate features and a beauty mark near her right eye. “I was seeing someone!”

The vibe between the two—both graduates of Smith College—was slightly warmer when they crossed paths at Hell, a gay bar in the meatpacking district. Later that week, they went on their first date to Divine Bar. “You’re so wonderful,” cooed Ms. Tudor, admittedly after a few too many glasses of wine. “You’re beautiful. I love you.” Then she went in for a smooch, but the bespectacled Ms. Jimenez protested that she couldn’t kiss with her glasses on.

Sure you can!” said Ms. Tudor, who is of mixed Irish-English heritage, with dark brown eyes and an athletic build. “I had all these ideas of how you should date,” Ms. Jimenez said, “and she was just breaking all the rules.”

At 8 the next morning, Ms. Tudor called to apologize. “I understand if you don’t call me back,” she said. Ms. Jimenez was relieved. “At least she gave me an out,” she said.

Two months later, Ms. Tudor found herself alone with two bottles of the Brazilian alcohol Cachaça, and decided to throw a Brazilian-themed party at her two-bedroom in Park Slope, knowing that if she enlisted the help of a mutual friend, there might be some hope of Ms. Jimenez attending. Getting ready for the fiesta, she donned a bikini and sprayed herself with gold dust. “I looked hot,” she said.

But this time she was determined to play it cool, and when Ms. Jimenez (who had since been dumped) arrived at the party, the hostess largely ignored her. “It made me want her more,” Ms. Jimenez admitted.

The next weekend, the two ladies attended a Super Bowl party together, and the rest is herstory. They now live together in a one-bedroom in Brooklyn Heights.

Ms. Tudor, 28, an editor at Crew Cuts, a film-editing company, keeps a bound copy of the couple’s early e-mail correspondence, which included poetry and riddles. Two years ago, while they were vacationing on a beach in Mexico, Ms. Tudor asked for her girlfriend’s hand in marriage and was rebuffed yet again.

“I was shocked,” Ms. Jimenez said.

And Ms. Tudor was devastated. “I was trying to be romantic, and I ended up falling asleep crying in her arms,” she said.

After that, she left the pressure of proposing up to her sweetie. “It better be fucking beautiful and really awesome,” she told Ms. Jimenez.

On the first day of a trip to Seattle, where Ms. Tudor grew up, Ms. Jimenez presented her with a coffeehouse-style punch card promising eight backrubs. They were dispensed one by one on an air mattress as the couple hiked across America, with stops at Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone.

During one final hike at Glacier National Park, before a shimmery lake reflecting the mountain, Ms. Jimenez pulled out the punch card one more time.

Scrawled on it was the promise of a special prize. Ms. Jimenez held out clenched paws. “Pick one,” she said.

Her right hand contained a costume-jewelry ring from ABC Carpet and Home. It is being replaced with a gold band with platinum insets and 11 princess-cut diamonds weighing in at 1.25 carats, from Stuart Moore on Spring Street.

On the way back to their chalet, Ms. Tudor stopped every 100 feet to make Ms. Jimenez pop the question yet again. They will fill out the legal paperwork in Canada and celebrate at the Brooklyn Brewery in Willliamsburg. “We’re beer gals,” Ms. Tudor said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Jimenez has changed her take on their boozy first date. “In hindsight,” she said, “it’s a really endearing quality of O’Hara that 2,000 percent of what she’s feeling gets put into any situation.” Countdown to Bliss