Countdown to Bliss

Wayne Baker and Meredith Ronayne

Met: June 5, 2005

Engaged: Aug. 24, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: Oct. 14, 2006

Meredith Ronayne was a starry-eyed intern at the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Eastern District of New York when she watched Wayne Baker deliver a passionate opening statement in a trial against a gang member, pointing a gun at the jury box for effect.

When the prosecutor sat down, he found a Post-It note from Ms. Ronayne on his desk. Your opening was like foreplay to me, it read.


“Unequivocally, that was the best compliment I ever got for my advocacy skills,” said Mr. Baker, an attractive, olive-skinned 49. For the rest of the summer, he found equally inviting little yellow notes stuck everywhere from his laptop to his cell phone. “I had nothing to lose,” explained the brazen ingénue, 26, a slender brunette with a pixie haircut. But Mr. Baker refused to take the bait. “I didn’t want to make the same mistake as other political officials,” he said.

“I thought, ‘This guy must be either married or gay!’” Ms. Ronayne said. No … just cautious. But when the internship was over, Mr. Baker invited her to be his date at a wedding in Washington, D.C., where they also spent an afternoon at the Ford Theater.

“He has a Lincoln fetish,” said Ms. Ronayne, who’s been playing harp at weddings while she seeks a full-time law position.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a fetish necessarily,” Mr. Baker objected. “Let’s get this clear: I don’t put on a beard and top hat and try to seduce Meredith with that.” No, but we like that image!

A month later, Ms. Ronayne’s landlord in Boerum Hill began eviction proceedings against her because he was selling the building. “My law-school education paid off,” she crowed. “I ended up with a walletful of money.”

Mr. Baker offhandedly offered her residency in his Lynbrook, Long Island house, should she want it.

“Did you really mean what you said?” Ms. Ronayne asked a week after the invitation. Though somewhat taken aback, Mr. Baker said yes, sure he did. “I like to be a man of my word,” he told the Love Beat.

And so Ms. Ronayne abandoned her party life for suburban evenings watching HBO, though the couple does occasionally get out and socialize. “We’ve done the brunch thing and the Hamptons thing,” she said.

A year into their romance, Mr. Baker landed a position as the counselor to the Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the Office of Homeland Security in D.C. Meanwhile, Ms. Ronayne had begun to consider her own homeland security. “We started talking about kids,” she said. “I said, ‘If we want to have kids, we really need to get married.’”

They are planning a small wedding ceremony in the backyard of the Lynbrook house. Ms. Ronayne will wear a stunning two-carat, brilliant-cut, platinum-set diamond flanked by two baguettes—a ring that once belonged to Mr. Baker’s maternal grandmother. He proposed to her on one knee after asking a stranger to take their picture—where else?—in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

Alexandra Morra and Steven Pearlman

Met: September 2005

Engaged: June 29, 2006

Projected Wedding Date: Feb. 10, 2007

Steven Pearlman, 50, a plastic surgeon, plans to marry Alexandra Morra, 35, a freelance writer, before 250 guests at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on Norfolk Street. “She’s buzzing around getting everything done,” the smooth-faced, silver-haired Mr. Pearlman said approvingly of his bride-to-be. “My pet name for her is the Tasmanian Devil.”

They met after Mr. Pearlman responded to a long-lapsed profile that Ms. Morra had posted on “I thought, ‘This person has energy—a zest for life,’” he said. Her tagline was: I’m the girl most guys are too afraid to approach. “That’s me—I can be a little shy,” Mr. Pearlman admitted. “I thought, ‘Gee, O.K.’”

They agreed to meet for drinks at Eight & a Half, a bar named for the Fellini film, in their mutual neighborhood, the Upper West Side. Ms. Morra, who has smoldering sea-foam-colored eyes and lustrous black curls, walked up to Mr. Pearlman and tapped him on the shoulder. “I was like ‘Whoa!’ inside,” he said. Drinks evolved into dinner, and then he escorted her—chastely—back to her apartment. “She has more potential than anyone I’ve dated in 15 years,” he later told friends.

Ms. Morra, however, was still recovering from a two-year relationship with a prominent newspaper executive. “I didn’t look at him with eyes of true interest,” she said of Mr. Pearlman. “I couldn’t believe I was actually dating someone.”

For the next two months, their movie and museum outings ended with cordial kisses on the cheek. “I was a little bit concerned, hopeful, enthusiastic, frustrated … all of the above,” Mr. Pearlman said.

Then, one night, dining at Raoul’s in Soho after a gallery opening in Chelsea, Ms. Morra felt a sudden emotional whoosh as her ex flushed out of her system. She stood up, walked over to Mr. Pearlman’s side of the table and planted him with a passionate kiss. “I guess things are changing!” he thought to himself.

They spent the winter holidays with friends at a farmhouse in Woodstock, N.Y.; it was the first time Ms. Morra hadn’t gone to her parents’ place in Los Angeles for Christmas. At the end of the trip—spurred, perhaps, by the “perfect” domesticity of their hosts—she decided to move into Mr. Pearlman’s three-bedroom, even though it was undergoing serious renovation. “I felt if we waited, it would put us seven months back in our relationship,” she said.

One evening, he insisted that they return home early after a performance of Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.

“There’s something for you on the living-room table,” Mr. Pearlman told her in the foyer.

“In a minute,” Ms. Morra said, sorting mail.

It was a vase filled with long-stemmed red roses. A trail of petals lead to the library—my Lord, to have a library!—which contained a bottle of Dom Perignon on ice. Another trail of petals led to a pillow in the bedroom, under which was a box. “Is this for me?” asked an astonished Ms. Morra, before she opened it to find a platinum-set, cushion-cut, 5-carat diamond bordered by two half-moon baguettes.

Yet the proposal that ensued wasn’t really a surprise. “We both knew we didn’t want anybody else,” she said.

“Certain things had to happen first, in their own time,” Mr. Pearlman said.

“Like a procedure,” Ms. Morra quipped.

“Like surgery.” Countdown to Bliss