Countdown to Bliss

Michelle Barton and Matthew Plaveczky

Met: April 16, 2004

Engaged: April 28, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: Sept. 2007

Michelle Barton—no relation to former O.C. star Mischa, we think—was proceeding a little unsteadily toward the bar at Pete’s Tavern when she tripped over someone’s size-15 foot.

“Oh, excuse me,” muttered the rather kooky, auburn-haired Ms. Barton, an addiction-medicine specialist at Cephalon, a pharmaceutical company. She looked up and took in the owner of the hoofer—a handsome, amiable fellow standing at a sequoia-like 6-foot-8—and exclaimed: “Oh! Excuse me.”

His name was Matt Plaveczky, and when his drinking companions departed, he moseyed over to the bar where Ms. Barton was standing with a friend.

“I guess I’m by myself,” he said.

“No … you’re with us,” put in her friend, realizing you couldn’t get this kind of chemistry with a pill.

“Where you from?” Mr. Plaveczky asked Ms. Barton.

“Des Moines,” she told him.

“Illinois—very nice,” he said. ( D’oh!)

“I kept thinking about that Dumb and Dumber scene,” Mr. Plaveczky, a hedge-fund associate at Ramius Capital Group, told the Love Beat.

It wasn’t long before the friend excused herself. Ms. Barton and Mr. Plaveczky headed over to the Belmont Lounge, and stayed until closing time, then wound up necking on someone’s stoop, a local drunk whistling “Strangers in the Night” in accompaniment. “You guyth make a great couple,” he slurred. “You thould get married.”

“Soon enough, man, soon enough.” Mr. Plaveczky said, to Ms. Barton’s surprise.

As they hopped into a cab together, he turned toward her and said: “I have to ask … do you want to come home with me?”

“No thanks!” Ms. Barton chirped brightly. The taxi deposited Mr. Plaveczky in the West Village and then took her back to her Upper East Side one-bedroom walk-up. Ms. Barton was cursing herself as she mounted the five flights of stairs at 4 a.m. “I was so mad,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘I’m too old for this!’ Here’s this guy who’s 25”—Ms. Barton is 36—“and he has this Wall Street job. I thought, ‘He probably owns everything that moves, and there’s no way he’s going to call me, and all I’m going to get out of this is I’m going to be tired for the next five days.’”

In fact, Mr. Plaveczky called two days later, and their conversation lasted so long that her cell phone ran out of juice.

After six weeks of dating, the couple was lying in bed together ( wocka wocka), when Mr. Plaveczky suddenly declared: “I’m so in love with you.”

“I was like, ‘Yeeeaaahh!’” Ms. Barton remembered. “I was glad it wasn’t ‘I have an ingrown toenail.’”

Mr. Plaveczky moved in a year later, when his lease expired (they’ve since traded up to a duplex in Williamsburg). On their two-year anniversary, he took Ms. Barton on a surprise trip to Lake Placid, N.Y., booking a deluxe suite with balcony and views at the Mirror Lake Inn.

The couple was hiking under a setting sun when Mr. Plaveczky pulled out and read a love poem that ended with the immortal lines: As I get down to one knee / I ask you, will you marry me?

“Yes!” blurted Ms. Barton, barely registering the brilliant-cut, platinum-set solitaire diamond he was sliding on her finger, purchased from Unique Settings of New York. Thanks to some prolonged crying, she said she looks a little “whacked out” in their engagement photo. “Like I just smoked six-foot-bong hits.”

Wedding plans are still being finalized.

Gina Magid and Ryan Elliot Steadman

Met: April 2002

Engaged: July 2005

Projected Wedding Date: July 8, 2006

Gina Magid, 37, a painter, and Ryan Steadman, 32, also a painter and a part-time art handler at Salon 94, a gallery on the Upper East Side, are planning to marry at Studio 450, an airy loft space on West 31st Street. Their wedding cake, designed by Jennifer Chiang of Pieces of Cake in Carroll Gardens, will be metallic pink, with a satiny, sewn-looking exterior inspired by Ms. Magid’s own work.

They met while she was preparing for her first-ever show at Feature Inc., a gallery in West Chelsea where Mr. Steadman also worked as an art handler. At her opening, Ms. Magid, clad in a leopard-print jacket, was unabashedly bossy as she directed the staff on the placement of her paintings.

“I thought she was a little bit of a diva,” said Mr. Steadman, who was wearing a pair of golf pants and a faded soccer T-shirt for the occasion.

About a year and a half later, they ran into each other on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, midway between their respective one-bedroom apartments, and scheduled a rendezvous at the Royal Oak bar, where they gossiped about the art world until the proprietors pulled out … nooo … a karaoke machine!

“I dare you to sing,” Mr. Steadman said teasingly. “I dare you to sing,” retorted Ms. Magid, mocking one of the performers.

“If you’re not going to get up there and sing, then you can’t diss on anyone who’s doing it,” he said.

“I thought that was really cool, that he gave me shit about it,” she said.

He walked her home, but she sprinted for the front door before he could plant a goodnight kiss, squeaking “O.K., goodbye!”

Later that week, Mr. Steadman called to find Ms. Magid and her mother preparing for a sleepover after a class at the Kabbalah Center. “I can’t talk tonight,” she told him.

“Um, do you do that a lot?” he asked, concerned.

Date No. 2 was at Daddy’s, a bar in Williamsburg known for its well-stocked jukebox. At the end of the evening, Mr. Steadman and Ms. Magid took their bikes under the B.Q.E., where they shared their first kiss.

“I have no problem being the rebound guy,” he assured her early on. Two months later, he told her he loved her.

“I thought you wanted to be the rebound guy?” Ms. Magid asked.

“I’ve changed my mind,” he said.

“Super-cute!” she told the Love Beat. “That he was saying he loved me without expecting me to say it back, and that he was really open with me, made a big impact. It made me be able to take a risk and love him back.”

Eight months later, Mr. Steadman moved his belongings (which basically amounted to two cats, Benny and Lola, and a couple of coffee mugs) into her place. He also came along for the ride when Ms. Magid bought a two-bedroom house in East Williamsburg.

During a two-week retreat with a large group of artist friends in a solar-powered rental outside of Brattleboro, Vt., Mr. Steadman convinced Ms. Magid to go on a hike in Molly Stark State Park.

The couple had crawled up an old fire tower and were admiring the breathtaking vistas of the Appalachian Mountains when Mr. Steadman suddenly slid to one knee.

“Stop fucking around,” Ms. Magid told him.

Out came her maternal grandmother’s 1930’s platinum-set, brilliant-cut diamond, flanked by two trapezoids. Down flowed the tears.

“It was really scary, being proposed to,” said the bride-to-be.

Countdown to Bliss