Countdown to Bliss

Claudette Bakhtiar and Lars Ericson

Met: Jan. 2005

Engaged: March 2006

Projected Wedding Date: July 29, 2006

Claudette Bakhtiar, 36, a lawyer turned writer, plans to marry Lars Ericson, a vice president at Citigroup 10 years her senior, at Full Moon Resort in the Catskills, near a cabin owned by Mr. Ericson.

The pair met at a reading at the International Center, an immigrant organization in Chelsea. Ms. Bakhtiar, who is half-Iranian, half-Colombian and a candidate for an M.F.A at Columbia, organized the event as part of the community service required by a fellowship she had won. Mr. Ericson was indulging his curiosity for Middle Eastern literature. “I almost got blown up, so you take an interest,” he said, referring to the terrorism of Sept. 11, 2001. This interest took on a different color when the coal-eyed Ms. Bakhtiar sidled up to join a conversation he was having with one of the writers—though she stayed in the background. “I liked that she was kind of a quiet person, actually,” said Mr. Ericson, who has dark hair like Taylor Hicks of American Idol and a deep, methodical voice that sounds like a tape recorder with rundown batteries. (Or did our tape recorder have rundown batteries? Oh dear.) “Also, where I work, I don’t really meet that many people that read books,” he added. “So whenever I meet people that I can talk to that aren’t very narrowly scoped in their interests, it’s always worth getting to know them.”

They struck up a cyber-correspondence. “I thought he was also pretty reserved,” Ms. Bakhtiar said, “but his e-mails were vibrant and full of information.”

They met for dinner at Tabla, Mr. Ericson’s first-date venue of choice. “They’d kind of welcome me back, and I’d tell them to shut up,” he said kiddingly. Soon, the two were buying scallops at Whole Foods for romantic dinners back in his fixer-upper of a Gramercy Park studio. Unfortunately, their gourmet glee didn’t last long. “Her head wasn’t there,” said Mr. Ericson, still peeved that Ms. Bakhtiar canceled four assignations in a row.

In fairness, Ms. Bakhtiar was very busy working on her novel, Dream of Water, about an eccentric family living on Long Island, which is currently in its first revision. “She was cranking out all of her ambitions and probably dating someone else at the time,” Mr. Ericson said.

Not true, Ms. Bakhtiar told the Love Beat.

In a bitter e-mail exchange, she accused him of being a model groupie. (“There was one model,” Mr. Ericson clarified. “I was tutoring her in her algebra homework.”) His response: “Have fun strutting around Columbia with all the other self-involved peacocks.” Yikes!

Eight months later, Ms. Bakhtiar, feeling benevolent, decided to set up her former beau with one of her classmates. “I have a tall, thin blonde for you,” she e-mailed him.

“I thought she was testing me again,” Mr. Ericson said. “I was like, ‘Bring it on—let’s see what you got.’”

But the blonde bailed, citing a busy schedule. “Birds of a feather flock together,” Mr. Ericson e-mailed the matchmaker. As a sort of consolation prize, Ms. Bakhtiar agreed to meet him for dinner at Paul’s Boutique, a Mediterranean restaurant on the Lower East Side.

“We didn’t talk about the relationship or anything; we just had a civilized meal,” he said.

“Do you want to start up again?” she asked him. But of couscous!

Ms. Bakhtiar went on a quiet weekend to Mr. Ericson’s Catskills cabin, where he read and played the piano and she wrote. “We just got more comfortable with each other,” she said.

Mr. Ericson proposed during a visit to San Francisco, on the corner of Haight and Ashbury, with a ring from a tattoo parlor. “We were spending time with my friend who had this perfect marriage and this baby, and we wanted that too, I guess,” Ms. Bakhtiar said. Later on, he got her a 1.6-carat, round modified, brilliant-cut, Solasfera-process diamond set in a plain platinum band, cut by David S. Diamonds.

Two months later, she moved from a Morningside Heights dorm room to his place. “Proposing wasn’t hard,” Mr. Ericson said. “Giving her the mailbox key was hard.”

Ryan Galvin and Oliver Wise

Met: Sept. 25, 2004

Engaged: May 28, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: October 2007

Ryan Galvin, a housing-policy analyst for Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, is engaged to Oliver Wise, a research assistant for the Citizen’s Budget Commission and a candidate for a master’s degree in public policy at N.Y.U. Both 25, the couple is deliberating whether to have the ceremony in his hometown of New Paltz or near her childhood summer camp in Ashville, N.C.

They have a literary love story that belies their wonky-sounding jobs. After her graduation from the University of Virginia, Ms. Galvin took the customary grand tour of Europe. Toward the end, she and a Swedish friend decided to escape the chilly Alps and board a direct flight to Santorini, Greece. They had heard about a new store called Atlantis Books, inspired by Paris’ famous Shakespeare and Company, where wayward travelers can earn a bed for the night by stocking shelves. “Here we are,” Ms. Galvin announced upon arrival. “Can we stay?”

Co-owner Oliver Wise took one look at her creamy skin and dark, windswept hair and said yes.

Over the next few days, Ms. Galvin and Mr. Wise flirted over crossword puzzles and got cozy in the crowded confines of the store-cum-hostel, which was housing nearly a dozen expats. They were on their way to a birthday party when he announced that he had to go feed a friend’s cats. This being Greece, the friend’s house turned out to be a sprawl of caves perched on a cliff, overlooking a volcano.

“It was the first bit of privacy we had,” said the sweet, boyish and blond Mr. Wise.

“He was showing me the studio where his friend paints,” Ms. Galvin said, “and I kind of knew if I turned around, he would kiss me.” She was right.

After two months of frolicking on the beach in front of beautiful sunsets, the two were thoroughly intoxicated with one another. Or was it just the ouzo? “We had this conversation: ‘Should we arrange our lives to be in the same city?’ ‘Yeah,’” Mr. Wise said. “Then it was, ‘If we’re going to be in the same city, do you want to live together?’”

Their families were surprisingly supportive of the match. “I think my parents were just so happy I was moving back to the States,” Ms. Galvin said. “They thought it was all his doing, and loved him.”

Mr. Wise left the bookstore, and the two young people moved to a one-bedroom in Clinton Hill, where they acquired a turtle named Brutus, a cat named Ate (after the Greek goddess of mischief) and an ant farm.

After two New York winters, they returned to Santorini for a weeklong vacation. One evening, over a wine tasting at a local vineyard, Mr. Wise started to get sappy … and sweaty. “We’ve come so far since the first time we’ve been here,” he said.

Ms. Galvin swore she could hear his heart beating. “I was worried,” she said, “because it was hot and we’d been drinking. I thought he was going to faint.”

Instead, he presented her with a silver and pearl ring from a local jeweler and asked, “Baby, will you marry me?”

Yes!” screamed Ms. Galvin.

“To me, everything was so easy and so right,” said the groom-to-be, explaining his decision to propose. “In previous relationships, it was always a struggle, or a hunt or a fight—just drama—and this wasn’t. I admired her a lot and thought she was beautiful, and we got along very well, and that was that.”

Countdown to Bliss