Countdown to Bliss

Melissa Giuca and Andrew Kandel

Met: Jan. 4, 2002 Engaged: July 29, 2004 Projected Wedding Date: June 17, 2006 Vroom, vroom! Tall, brunet Andrew Kandel, 28, who sells sponsorship and advertising for NASCAR, plans to marry Melissa Giuca, 27, an athletic blond accountant for Deloitte and Touche, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. They first met on a frosty winter night at the seedily decorated Astor Lounge in the East Village. Although Ms. Giuca was wearing a fashionably questionable asymmetrical top, “she was adorable,” recalled Mr. Kandel, who was himself clad in cargo pants (hello, 1990?). He uncharacteristically bought her a drink—“so cheesy,” he said, with the self-consciousness of Generation Y—and they exchanged phone numbers. After their first date at Typhoon, which was followed by some exploratory groping, they began having lunch together four days a week. A month later, Ms. Giuca left her parents’ house on Long Island for a share in Chelsea. Mr. Kandel not only helped her move but topped off the favor with a bouquet of white flowers. “That’s when I knew he really liked me,” Ms. Giuca said. Who suffered? The roommate, of course. “It’s hard when two girls move to a new city together,” Ms. Giuca said diplomatically, “and they think they’re going to spend all this time together, and then a man comes along.” Soon enough, she joined Mr. Kandel in the West Village, though they decorously maintained separate apartments. There were tennis games at the West Side Highway courts (Ms. Giuca played Division I at SUNY Binghamton), dinners at Le Bernardin and, eventually, trips to Europe. It was on the Spanish coast that Mr. Kandel, a fishing enthusiast, spotted a sign with drawings of a fish, an arrow and the word benta, which he later discovered was Portuguese for “blessed.” The sign led, disappointingly, to a paved parking lot—but now the couple had a new pet word. “When are we going to be bentas together?” Ms. Giuca would ask him when they were out carousing. “You’re drunk,” Mr. Kandel would invariably respond. “Don’t be that girl.” Two years into their relationship, they moved into a one-bedroom with a loft in the meatpacking district. “I wanted to live with her, and we could save a lot of money and live wherever we wanted,” Mr. Kandel said. “Plus, this apartment is kick-ass.” (It does have a beautiful view, though the Love Beat felt a bit queasy upon viewing the collection of anatomical fish drawings that belongs to the man of the house.) He proposed over a Venetian canal at sunset, presenting Ms. Giuca with a three-carat, round-cut, platinum-set solitaire diamond from Leo Schacter. They then retired in style to the five-star Hotel Danieli, where they’d scored two free nights thanks to the points Ms. Giuca had saved from several business trips. 

Countdown to Bliss