September 10, 2001 12:00 PM

One year into their marriage, Melanie Ginsberg has begun to notice a few idiosyncrasies about her husband, Peter. The “creative” way, for example, he disposes of his clothes. “He’ll leave his socks in here sometimes,” she says, pointing to a glass vase in the living room of their Garden City, N.Y., apartment. “A T-shirt that he took off could be on the stove. And I say, ‘Honey, why is this here? I don’t understand,’ ” says Melanie, a master’s degree candidate in school psychology.

Meanwhile Peter, a fledgling trial lawyer, has his own issues. She wakes him up—at 6:30 a.m.—to go jogging. “I despise running,” he says. “But I run because my wife likes to run. Sacrifices!”

Ah, those crazy kids. If only the 6 million early risers who saw the Ginsbergs exchange their wedding vows live on the Today show on Sept. 6, 2000, could tune in to their domestic byplay nowadays, they’d Hove being in see a suburban version of Dharma & Greg. At breakfast Melanie often slips love notes into Peter’s briefcase. At bedtime he serenades her to sleep with his guitar.

“Every one of our friends kept saying, ‘We know you’ve been dating for eight years,’ ” says Melanie, 28, who met Peter, 29, in 1992 when both were students at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y. ” ‘But that first year of marriage,’ they said, ‘is going to be hard.’ Instead it’s been great!”

That’s not a surprise to Today news anchor Ann Curry. “We couldn’t have picked a more in-love and gushy couple,” says Curry, who witnessed their Rockefeller Plaza nuptials alongside colleagues Katie Couric, Matt Lauer and Al Roker. (All will be on hand when two new Today lovebirds, Jenny LaRou and Jeff Scott, tie the knot on Sept. 5.) The Ginsbergs “couldn’t keep their hands off each other,” says Curry.

Nor, it seems, can strangers, such as the woman who hugged them at a street fair. At a recent outing to see Broadway’s Aida with their mothers, “a bunch of people stopped us,” says Peter, “and said, ‘How are you doing?’ ” Adds his wife: “People felt like they knew us.”

As well they might. After all, viewers got to vote, via the Today Web site, on everything from Melanie’s bridal gown (Carolina Herrera) to the rings she and Peter would exchange (his-and-her platinum Tiffany’s) to their honeymoon destination (Maui).

Most important, of course, was the choice of bride and groom. Waiting in the studio with three other finalist couples (out of 1,000 who had applied), Melanie recalls jumping into Peter’s arms when their names were called in June. “I cried a little bit. I was so happy and very relieved,” she says. “It was a miracle for us and my family,” says Peter.

A few months earlier the couple had been almost too overwhelmed to even plan a wedding. Shortly after they announced their engagement in January 2000, Peter’s father, Jerome, a New York City attorney, learned he had an inoperable brain tumor. When he died in March at 60, the wind went out of the couple’s wedding plans. Besides, strapped for cash, they could hardly afford the $150-a-head estimates that caterers were quoting them. When Today began offering to pick up the tab for a live-TV wedding, “I said, ‘That’s the answer!’ ” says Peter. After they were picked, he says, “everyone started calling my mom [Kerre, 59, a clinical nursing professor]. It couldn’t have come at a better time. The wedding lifted a lot of people’s spirits.”

And frazzled a few nerves. With the ceremony set to begin at 8 a.m. (ET) sharp, “we got up at 3,” says Melanie. “I was a wreck.” Still, they made it through without a hitch—buoyed by well-wishers like the 150 women who came all dressed in gold—”to symbolize their hope,” says Melanie, “that we make it to our golden anniversary.”

As their first one nears, the Ginsbergs are getting by on Peter’s starting law-firm salary while he and Melanie save up for a house and, someday, kids. With their Today exposure, “I was hoping to parlay my legal expertise,” says Peter, “in the same way that Sean Kenniff from Survivor parlayed his medical expertise [as an Extra! correspondent].” That hasn’t happened. Nevertheless, he says, getting married on morning TV has paid off in other ways: “I have my life. I have my wife. Fantastic memories. Met a lot of cool people. And we moved on.”

Michael A. Lipton

K.C. Baker in Garden City

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