Countdown to Bliss

Alex Frangos and Tammie Rhee

Met: June 1995

Engaged: January 2006

Projected Wedding Date: Late summer 2006

We’re thinking summer, or fall … or winter,” said Tammie Rhee, 33, a poised documentary filmmaker, of her wedding to architecture reporter Alex Frangos, 30. Though he’s employed by the not exactly mellow Wall Street Journal, Mr. Frangos seemed just as relaxed about the deed. The couple met a decade ago, and “I told my mother it might take us 10 more years to get married,” he said.

Back then, they were working summer jobs as chaperones for the American Field Service, an international student-exchange program, their time divided between a midtown office (on Wednesdays, employees would pull blenders out from underneath their desks for daiquiri night) and airports. Ms. Rhee had already graduated from Columbia, while Mr. Frangos still had two years left at Berkeley. “His head was shaved,” she said. “He looked like a terrorist.” But she accepted an invitation to a now-defunct Upper East Side Turkish restaurant with him and his father (or invited herself—the point is still in contention). Later, the two young people went to a screening of Il Postino, where they began necking. After the credits rolled, the make-out session moved to a park bench across the street from the Plaza.

It turned out this wasn’t just a summer fling. Ms. Rhee began making frequent trips to the Bay Area, and when Mr. Frangos took his junior year in Moscow, she also went to Europe, taking a 33-hour train ride from Prague to meet him.

The next summer, Mr. Frangos came to visit the Rhee family in Los Angeles, staying in the guest room. “He was our Kato Kaelin,” Ms. Rhee joked (it was the summer of O.J.). After he graduated, she took off for a year at the London School of Economics and he worked temp jobs in Berkeley to help pay for bimonthly visits.

“Was it for me or London?” Ms. Rhee asked whimsically.

“Um, both.”

When she returned to this side of the pond, the pair began sharing a twin futon at his father’s house on the Upper West Side. “We’d have a fight every night about who would sleep up against the wall,” Ms. Rhee said. After they’d saved enough money, unsurprisingly, they got separate apartments in Brooklyn: she in Park Slope, Mr. Frangos in Greenpoint. “We were a G-train couple,” he said.

Two years ago, they plunged headlong into cohabitation, buying a one-bedroom in Fort Greene.

“It wasn’t an economic decision,” Mr. Frangos said. “We decided it was just time.” Naturally, there was friction. “I’m the Oscar,” Ms. Rhee said. “I was always afraid of stepping into her piles,” Mr. Frangos said.

Marriage was far from their minds. “There was always this sense that if everything was going O.K., then why change it?” said Mr. Frangos, invoking the universal maxim of the Manhattan male.

Then, one morning in bed, Ms. Rhee suddenly sad: “Should we get married?”

“Why? Do you want presents?”

“Well, yeah, and …. ”

“O.K., let’s do it.”

Later, he said: “Are we engaged, or do you still want an official proposal?” It was the latter, of course, but an expensive ring wound up being supplanted by much-needed bathroom renovations.

When Ms. Rhee’s girlfriends heard the news, they smiled knowingly. “You’re pregnant, aren’t you?” they tsked.

Katherine Badrick and Sharad Desai

Met: August 2003

Engaged: Jan. 16, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: March 2007

“Come to our apartment for cookies!” read the signs posted through one of the N.Y.U. law school’s dorms. This alluringly 1950’s-esque invitation had been posted by Katherine Badrick, 25, a baby-faced, honey-complected first-year student from Texas, and her two roommates.

When mild-mannered, dark-haired Sharad Desai, 24, of Phoenix, Ariz., stepped into these ladies’ spacious, clean living room, drawn by the smell of warm peanut-butter confectionary, he immediately knew that they were all destined to be close.

Throughout the hellish period of 1L, Mr. Desai often met with Ms. Badrick to study. “I think that with the stress of first year, it’s good when you find people that aren’t inherently stressful,” she said. They developed a sort of When Harry Met Sally friendship, with Ms. Badrick confessing things like how, when her last boyfriend had told her he loved her, she began to cry … tears of panic. Meanwhile, Mr. Desai was drifting away from a high-school sweetheart. “I realized there was someone out there who I cared about so much more,” he said.

A few months after ending things with his ex, he and Ms. Badrick met in Las Vegas for New Year’s Eve, which culminated in a chaste cuddle-fest. Two weeks later, Mr. Desai invited her over for a viewing of the timeless classic Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, and things got a lot less chaste—fast. “Maybe it was the scene where he was kissing the marijuana—I don’t know,” Ms. Badrick said, musing on what put them in the mood.

Mr. Desai’s feelings were intense, and he was anxious about whether or not Ms. Badrick reciprocated. “I was actually really, really afraid of her,” he said. “It seemed that she was wary of being in a relationship.” As a result, he let his fellow law student be the first one to say that other, perhaps more intimidating L-word—“because I was too scared,” he said. When this pivotal moment occurred, he was in bed, half-asleep. “I didn’t know if it was real or not,” he said. “I thought it was a dream.”

Before long, Mr. Desai began inquiring about her diamond preferences. “I wasn’t very helpful,” said Ms. Badrick, the rare woman from Texas who doesn’t care much for jewelry. One day, he suggested taking a horse-drawn carriage to Central Park, where the couple had planned an ice-skating expedition. “I know it’s cheesy, but it’s romantic,” he said.

Ms. Badrick vetoed the idea. “That’s stupid,” she said.

After a blissful day on the rink, the couple began meandering around the Bethesda Fountain. Mr. Desai was rambling about love. “He always does that, so I didn’t realize anything was different,” Ms. Badrick said.

Not until he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a delicate single-carat, brilliant-cut diamond set in white gold studded with pavé diamonds, anyway.

After she said yes to his proposal, she suggested: “Let’s go to Burritoville!” Alas, he’d already made reservations at Artisanal. The couple will move to Phoenix in May, where they will likely wed, and where there are plenty of burritos to spare.

Countdown to Bliss