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In the News

June 2006

Vows

Joshua Rikon and Rebecca Benjamin

Erin Wigger for The New York Times

NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDEN, NOV. 25 The matchmaker meets her match. At the marriage-contract signing.

Published: December 3, 2006

EVEN as a young girl growing up in Chappaqua, N.Y., Rebecca Benjamin was the sort of person who always knew exactly what she wanted, whether it was a movie, an outfit she wanted to wear or an appetizer she wanted to order.

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Erin Wigger for The New York Times

When Ms. Benjamin saw Joshua Rikon in August last year, waiting in line for the dining room at a Jewish singles weekend at Club Getaway, a sports resort in Kent, Conn., she quickly surmised from his height and appearance that he was potentially the one for her. She finagled a seat at the same table for eight.

“In my search, I’m a little targeted,” said Ms. Benjamin, 31. In her business — she’s a matchmaker in New York — zeroing-in on prospects is a crucial skill. “I got to meet everybody,” said Ms. Benjamin, a social worker by training who is now the director of matchmaker operations for two Jewish dating Web sites: SawYouAtSinai.com and JRetroMatch.com. “I had my pick.”

Yet for all her relationship skills and constant dating, she hadn’t found a special someone.

At the table, Ms. Benjamin, who was at Club Getaway as the host of a speed-dating party for HurryDate, an online service, told her dining companions about her line of work. Mr. Rikon, now 30 and an associate at Goldstein, Goldstein, Rikon & Gottlieb, a Manhattan law firm, chimed in that his sister, Shoshanna, runs a business called Shoshanna’s Matches.

Suddenly things began to click. Ms. Benjamin realized that she and Mr. Rikon had a mutual friend, Larry Berger, who had backed out of the singles event, but in doing so happened to have mentioned to her that his friend Mr. Rikon would be attending.

Before the weekend, Mr. Rikon, who had just stepped back into dating after a broken engagement, had received advance word about her, too. He had visited the apartment of Mr. Berger, with whom he shares Jets season tickets and a passion for Buffalo wings, cheerleaders and sports, and saw a photo of Mr. Berger, Dan Quayle and a curly haired woman.

He wasn’t interested at all in what his friend had discussed with the former vice president. He zeroed in instead on the identity of “the hot chick next to Quayle and myself,” Mr. Berger said. When he told him that the woman, Ms. Benjamin, would be at Club Getaway, “Josh did some form of a touchdown dance,” recalled Mr. Berger, who admitted he might have introduced them sooner, but preferred to leave matches to “the professionals.”

After dinner, Mr. Rikon began to mingle, but then Ms. Benjamin, whom friends describe as an old-fashioned, superorganized, nurturing mother hen, wandered over, took his hand and asked him to dance. The next morning they went kayaking and played golf. Afterward Mr. Rikon helped Ms. Benjamin run the HurryDate event.

“It was an instant relationship,” said Andrew Klappholz, a friend of Ms. Benjamin’s. The day after they returned, Mr. Rikon invited Ms. Benjamin to dinner at Ithaca, a Greek tavern, for the following evening. Soon the couple were inseparable. But three weeks later, Mr. Rikon left on a 10-day singles cruise.

“I booked it in advance, and it was nonrefundable and I didn’t want to miss a trip to Europe,” he said. But he made sure to keep Ms. Benjamin updated by e-mail, signing one of the messages, “I am yours.”

“I appreciated the relationship when I was away, and when I came back I realized how important it was to me,” Mr. Rikon said. They found that they shared a love of cooking — he likes to fuss over big productions, she prefers simple meals — and a sentimental emphasis on home and family.

“I am a Jewish mother waiting to happen,” Ms. Benjamin said. “I used to say that on dates, but guys didn’t like that. For Josh, it doesn’t turn him away.”

Last spring, Mr. Rikon lighted candles, arranged a collage of photographs and sprinkled rose petals on the coffee table in his Upper East Side apartment. When Ms. Benjamin arrived, he dropped on one knee, opened a ring box and proposed.

They were married on Nov. 25 by Rabbi David J. Fine under a rose-covered wedding canopy in front of 240 guests in the terrace room at the New York Botanical Garden.

“As a matchmaker I tell people they have to compromise,” the bride said. “In the end I didn’t have to compromise. He’s everything I ever wanted in a partner. When it’s right, it’s right.”

After the ceremony, Mr. Rikon wrapped his arm around the waist of his wife’s ivory lace and champagne satin gown. “She works so hard trying to find other people love,” he said. “She deserves to have love after all that she does for everybody else.”