Countdown to Bliss

Paul Gutrecht and Jessica Sharzer

Met: June 11, 2003

Engaged: December 2004

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 16, 2005

Meet the sweethearts of Sundance!

Jessica Sharzer, 32, director of Speak, a film based on the young-adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson that was featured at the Utah festival last year, plans to marry Paul Gutrecht, 38, an educational consultant and fellow Sundance alum, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Ms. Sharzer’s father, a former plastic surgeon turned ordained rabbi, will do the honors.

The couple first met at a luncheon for the Los Angeles Film Festival at the Pinot Hollywood, a restaurant in Los Angeles that’s popular with “the industry.” Mr. Gutrecht immediately recognized Ms. Sharzer’s name from her award-winning N.Y.U. thesis film, The Wormhole, which he’d seen two months earlier on a friend’s recommendation. “The romance was deep, it was below the surface, but it was there,” he said of his encounter with the porcelain-skinned, down-to-earth brunette—and she was enormously taken with his dark hair, high cheekbones and love of bad jokes.

Ms. Sharzer spent several months stationed in Columbus, Ohio, where she was directing Speak. When she returned to L.A., they found that the film had been selected by Sundance, along with Mr. Gutrecht’s darkly comic short, The Vest.

One evening, while dining at Ms. Sharzer’s West Hollywood apartment, Mr. Gutrecht was snooping around her bookshelf and found a copy of the children’s book The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish. His hostess began to read from it as he drew closer and closer to her on the couch. Finally, Ms. Sharzer finished the book. “There was the long, long, long, awkwardly long pause,” Mr. Gutrecht said, “sort of embellished with a couple glasses of wine.”

During the first year of their relationship, Mr. Gutrecht was battling unsuccessfully to find financing for a feature of his own. Eventually, Ms. Sharzer’s mom offered him a position in her public-school-curriculum consultancy, Lois Sharzer Associates. Mulling over this opportunity, Mr. Gutrecht asked the Sharzers for their daughter’s hand during a Thanksgiving visit to their Berkshire country house.

Though she knew it was coming, Ms. Sharzer claimed she was still surprised when Mr. Gutrecht dropped to one knee a couple of weeks later at his sister’s house in Orange County, bearing a ring once owned by his maternal grandmother that proved too large for her finger (her future mother-in-law padded it with yarn). The bride-to-be eventually picked out an antique-style round-cut solitaire diamond set in a platinum filigree band from Beverly Hills Jewelers.

When the ring arrived, Mr. Gutrecht proposed yet again, this time during a surprise romantic getaway at the Chateau Marmont. They checked in just behind frisky movie star Colin Farrell and lounged around the pool with Jerry Stiller (he was wearing a robe, thank goodness). “I’m not so sure what Colin Farrell’s impact on my decision to enter a monogamous relationship had,” Mr. Gutrecht mused.

He decided to take his future mother-in-law’s job offer, and the couple moved to a two-bedroom, two-bathroom(!) apartment on the Upper West Side. Ms. Sharzer, a Horace Mann grad who’s currently writing and directing a forthcoming Dusty Springfield biopic starring Kristin Chenoweth, now “divides her time,” as they say, between coasts. “I can get fed up with New York for certain reasons, but I can also get really tired of L.A. for certain reasons,” she said. “I feel I have the best of both worlds.”

The gallant Mr. Gutrecht hung a large banner reading “I § Jessica” on the building across the street from where Ms. Sharzer’s bridal shower was being held. “He’s tremendously positive,” she said. “I can go down or up: I can slide into a dark place if I’m with somebody dark, or I can be lifted up. And I much prefer to be lifted up and see the cup as half-full, and that’s who he is.”

Trucle Nguyen and Alex Roche

Met: December 2001

Engaged: March 2004

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 22, 2005

It has gotten very crowded in the Cobble Hill two-bedroom that Trucle Nguyen shares with her fiancé, Alex Roche. Ms. Nguyen’s sister recently left the place to cohabitate with her own intended, but two days later Ms. Nguyen’s parents, 15-year-old brother and 70-year-old aunt moved in. The Nguyens, once refugees from Vietnam, were now refugees from Hurricane Katrina. “This is not the way I intended to start my family,” said Ms. Nguyen, a petite 30-year-old sales rep at Reliant Pharmaceuticals, who is temporarily sharing a bedroom with both her soon-to-be-spouse and her brother. “We’re a pretty tight fit these days.”

Their wedding was originally slated for Oct. 15, in the Big Easy’s now-waterlogged St. Andrew’s Church, but has since been moved to Ms. Nguyen’s local Brooklyn parish, St. Peter’s, St. Paul’s-Our Lady of Pilar Roman Catholic Church. “We’re calling in a lot of favors,” said Mr. Roche, also 30, a blue-eyed and blindingly blond assistant director of Manhattan Youth, a downtown nonprofit organization.

The couple met at the King’s Head Tavern near Union Square. Mr. Roche was enjoying a drink with a male friend: His own mother and stepfather, who’d been uprooted from their Battery Park residence after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, had just found an alternate dwelling to his Carroll Gardens apartment (can’t this family catch a break?). Ms. Nguyen and her sister, both scantily clad and wearing Santa hats, were in the midst of a Christmas-themed pub crawl. Mr. Roche’s friend was enchanted by Ms. Nguyen’s sister.

“He was being a good wing man, and I was being a good wing girl,” Ms. Nguyen said of her future fiancé.

The next day, Mr. Roche e-mailed her an invitation to a party at Planet Rose in the East Village. There, in between shots of tequila and amidst a large group of cheering friends, he blasted the mike with a loud karaoke version of “Sweet Child of Mine,” by Guns N’ Roses. “It sounded damn good,” he told the Love Beat proudly.

“I’m like, ‘This is clearly the wrong man,’” Ms. Nguyen said. “I never was a hair-band fan.”

But it turned out they had a similar vision of relationships. “Neither one of us is into the chocolate-and-strawberry and the horse-and-carriage-through-Central-Park romance,” Mr. Roche said. “My idea of romance is when Trucle comes and watches my hockey games.”

“In a refrigerated room, at 1 in the morning,” Ms. Nguyen added dryly. “That’s romance!”

In due time, however, she began to develop an itchy ring finger. “I had some definite ideas in my head about the kind of sacrifice and stability and dedication that marriage meant to me,” she said, “My parents have been married almost 33 years, and the strength of their marriage is, in my mind, what helped them survive the war in Vietnam.”

Mr. Roche, whose parents divorced, was less eager to tie the knot. “Being married I didn’t equate with a development in the relationship necessarily,” he said. “I equated it with failure, in a way.”

As a result, the pair split for two months—“miserable,” Ms. Nguyen said—before Mr. Roche came to his senses and arrived at her apartment with (gasp) a box of chocolates, a bottle of champagne and a brilliant-cut single-carat diamond from a jeweler on Canal Street. “If it had been aluminum foil, it would have been fine,” Ms. Nguyen said. “I burst into tears like a baby.”

They will honeymoon at the Grand Canyon—just the two of them.

Maureen Brennan and Brian Huskey

Met: December 1998

Engaged: Dec. 20, 2004

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 8, 2005

Screenwriter, comedic actor and occasional television personality Brian Huskey (VH1’s Best Week Ever, Late Night with Conan O’Brien) first met theater director Maureen Brennan, in, of all places, a rather empty theater: an ill-attended comedy show at Rose’s Turn in Greenwich Village.

Interpreting Mr. Huskey’s balding, bespectacled, decidedly un-husky looks as “intelligent,” the blue-eyed Ms. Brennan, who was wearing a Ruth Buzzi–esque pillbox hat, promptly offered to share her popcorn. He was unenthused until she removed the eccentric headwear, revealing bounteous dirty-blond locks and an unaffected beauty.

Beginning at a wine bar in Soho and then continuing at a restaurant in the East Village (as testimony to their mutual captivation, neither can remember the names of these establishments), the couple’s first proper date was remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, Ms. Brennan broke a 12-year vegetarian streak by ordering filet mignon. Then Mr. Huskey found himself the victim of a drive-by “date check-out” by his then roommate, Rob Corddry (now a correspondent for The Daily Show), who pretended that he was “locked out” of their apartment.

After a protracted series of less dramatic encounters, Mr. Huskey moved into Ms. Brennan’s two-bedroom in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, usurping her roommate’s place. (Mr. Corddry, meanwhile, replaced Mr. Huskey with the woman he would eventually marry; according to Mr. Huskey, Mr. Corddry has been known, on occasion, to make his wife “dress like me and relive the past.” Ya gotta love those wacky “comedic actors”!)

Mr. Huskey and Ms. Brennan now happily share the top floor of a three-story house in Ditmas Park (that’s also Brooklyn) with a mutt, Lily, and a rabbit named Bunny.

One night, Ms. Brennan was innocently making chili, outfitted in sweatclothes, when Mr. Huskey asked her to put on a CD that had been dangling from their Christmas tree. Marked “Play Me,” the disc contained a song called “Long Singing” by the band Fridge, which Mr. Huskey found appropriate for the occasion of a marriage proposal. An elegant white-gold band with an inset diamond was soon placed on Ms. Brennan’s right hand. After she said yes to a lifetime of comedic commitment, Mr. Huskey switched the bauble to her left hand, “so it would work,” he said.

The couple is to be married at the Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, N.Y., in the Catskills, near where they’ve summered for the past several years. Ms. Brennan, 39, will wear a one-of-a-kind creation by the Botswana–born designer Angelo Lambrou (who has clothed the likes of Miss Universe, Goldie Hawn and Patti LaBelle): a two-piece gold satin wedding gown with a six-foot train. Attended on by Mr. Corddry, among others, Mr. Huskey, 37, will don a chocolate-colored Hugo Boss two-piece suit.

Raquel Hecker

Countdown to Bliss