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Catherine Ann Lukaszewski was on a small side street in Los Angeles, looking for the Saint Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral, when she met Steven James Whalen who was looking for the same.
It was November 2016, and they were participating in the Great Los Angeles Walk, a self-guided pedestrian tour of part of the city. When Mr. Whalen saw that Ms. Lukaszewski had a map, something that he lacked, he approached her for directions.
The pair got to talking and were so absorbed in their conversation about historical architecture that they missed the cathedral. They ended up walking together for about four hours, including a stop for lunch.
However, there wasn’t much of an initial attraction between the two. Ms. Lukaszewski, who goes by Cat, attributes that to the practical hat Mr. Whalen was wearing. “It was one of those sun hats that has the floppy ears,” she said.
Ms. Lukaszewski, 37, moved to Los Angeles in May 2016 from Manhattan, where she was born and raised. She received a bachelor’s degree in art history from New York University and is now a project manager in the science department of the Getty Conservation Institute.
Mr. Whalen, 56, is “a lifelong Angeleno.” He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in educational psychology, both from the University of California Los Angeles, and is a director of engineering at VideoAmp, an advertising technology firm.
In Mr. Whalen, Ms. Lukaszewski found a passionate tour guide, and in her, he found a newcomer looking for tips. They became friends on Facebook and Mr. Whalen told Ms. Lukaszewski he would send her his top 10 spots to see in the city. Instead, he sent her a list about 100 points long. The list even included a dentist, which Ms. Lukaszewski “really appreciated.”
For Ms. Lukaszewski, the interest in historic architecture came from touring sites with her parents throughout her childhood. Mr. Whalen said he loves “things that are built to last.”
Despite how well they got along, romance still wasn’t in the air for their first several meetings. Together, they took an Art Deco walking tour with the Los Angeles Conservancy and visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House.
It wasn’t until a trip to the Griffith Observatory on Jan. 21, 2017 when Ms. Lukaszewski suspected things were starting to change. “We saw the sunset that night and I thought ‘Maybe I’m falling in love with this guy’.”
The moment of romantic realization happened on Feb. 2 of that year at the Gaslite, a “seedy and divey” bar in Santa Monica, Calif. As patrons sang karaoke, Mr. Whalen and Ms. Lukaszewski had their first kiss. Valentine’s Day plans followed and the friendship evolved into a relationship. In early 2019, Mr. Whalen moved into Ms. Lukaszewski’s apartment in Westwood, a neighborhood within Los Angeles, where they live today.
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The couple said their relationship grew deeper over the pandemic and they began talking about getting married someday. Someday eventually became “soon,” but no plans were made until last February, when Ms. Lukaszewski found a French Art Deco engagement ring sold by her friends’ antique and vintage jewelry company, Pebble & Polish. The ring arrived and Mr. Whalen proposed in their living room in March.
On Feb. 10, the couple was married in a civil ceremony performed by deputy commissioner Sydney Bennion at the courthouse across the street from the Beverly Hills City Hall. Ms. Lukaszewski’s parents, Anthony and Caroline Lukaszewski, and Mr. Whalen’s cousin and his wife, Tony and Betty Whalen, were also in attendance. (Both of Mr. Whalen’s parents are deceased.)
The party of six went to dinner at the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel and then had cake and champagne in their rented room at the Sunset Tower Hotel.
Before the wedding, Ms. Lukaszewski had been offered the chance to hike from Lukla, Nepal to the Mount Everest base camp in April with a group of friends. She discussed it with Mr. Whalen because she knew she wouldn’t have enough vacation days for both the trek and a honeymoon. Mr. Whalen encouraged her, saying: “We can go on many honeymoons for the rest of our lives.”
About three years after they first tried, the couple eventually returned to see the Greek Orthodox cathedral they had been looking for on the day they met. Ms. Lukaszewski, who will be taking her husband’s last name, said she now has her own practical sun hat with floppy ears.
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