I shot a royal wedding recently.
To be fair, Royal should be capitalized, it didn't involve anyone named Kate or William, and its origins, at least as far as I'm involved, can be traced back to a basement in Arlington, Virginia. As always, allow me to explain.
For a long time, the nerve center of Matt Mendelsohn Photography was located about eight feet below my kitchen sink. And when I say nerve center, the emphasis is on the nerves.
You see, like many home offices we had converted the basement of our home into a a place where Maya and I could do all our post-processing, album layouts and scheduling. We thought it would be incredibly convenient, never having to leave our house and all. And with a little effort, what once was a scary place with water heaters and cobwebs had been transformed into a cozy little office space. Things were swell for a while.
But like like many home offices, the part about never leaving the house anymore--you wake up in sweat pants, go downstairs to work in sweat pants, and then retire upstairs many hours later, still wearing sweat pants-- meant we were also going a little stir crazy. Computers would occasionally fail, hard drives would crash, and right about 1:30 in the morning you could--if you happened to be walking your dog past my house, let's say--hear me yelling things not fit for a family blog.
That's when we decided it was time to move out.
We are obviously a small operation and finding the right kind of studio space was harder than we thought. Artist lofts used to be in abundance in D.C but not anymore. One particular building downtown housed scores of creative folks I knew. Unfortunately it also happened to be smack in the middle of the parcel of land being turned into a little venue called the Verizon Center, and that was the end of that.
So when I dialed a number advertising an office in Old Town Alexandria, I assumed the person answering the phone would be a professional landlord, a person who might have a host of spaces to look at. For that reason, when he started to speak I pretty much cut him off and said, "We're not looking for storefront retail. I'm pretty much looking for the junky space above a restaurant." I figured it might focus the search a bit.
Chris Euripides, who was on the other end, laughed a little. And then he said this: "Actually, all I have is the junky space above a restaurant."
And that, as they say in "Casablanca," was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. For ten or so years our studio--the "junky" part was solved with some nice furniture and paint--has conveniently sat atop Old Town's best breakfast, the Royal Restaurant. Eveyone knows the Royal--it's where you go to get a burger and shake. Given that my wife grew up in Athens, I thought a studio above a Greek restaurant sounded like a good idea. Now, all these years alter, I know it's so.
I know the folks in the kitchen, I have long talks about Greece with Chris' dad, Charlie, and I'll often take a break from editing, especially when I know there's a big sporting event on, and sit in a booth with a nice plate of Athenian chicken.
A few years back, Jovana, who grew up in Serbia and then moved to Cyprus, began working downstairs at the Royal as a waitress. Charlie is from Cyprus and gave Jovana, who moved to America in 2010, a job. It wasn't long after she started that a guy named Matt--not me, a different one--came looking for Old Town's best breakfast. (That's what the sign says.) He looked up from his scrambled eggs and bacon and in an instant was smitten with Jovana, even though Jovana, being a new employee in a new country, did not return the favor. "I wasn't interested," she laughs.
Well, Matt Pellerito, a rabid Washington Capitals fan (which makes him A-OK in my book) was persistent. He came back for dinner. And for lunch. And pretty much whenever he could, always looking to see if Jovana was working. Everyone at the Royal seemed to know what was going on and Jovana finally got the hint, too.
I'm happy to tell you that Matt and Jovana married on June 8th in a beautiful ceremony at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral. (They got engaged during a television timeout at a Caps game and the crowd roared its approval.) It was a lovely affair, with guests from Cyprus and Belgrade and, of course, the Royal Restaurant below me. Everyone laughed as the story of Matt and Jovana's Royal courtship was told.
Speaking with Jovana a few minutes ago, she seemed touched by one small detail in all of this. "You know, that's how Charlie met his wife, too," she said.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"Charlie met Barbara when he was waiting tables and she came in. It happened again."
That makes me smile. And the smell of the food from downstairs is making me hungry, so that's all from me!