They both needed to unravel situations with other people they were dating, but in October 2009, Melvin asked Czarniak to go on a date. When he picked her up for dinner at Cafe Atlantico, he was wearing corduroys and a pullover sweater and carrying an umbrella. “He looked like Cliff Huxtable,” says Czarniak, referring to Melvin’s favorite television program, “The Cosby Show.”
From that night on, they were together whenever possible, though they kept the relationship a secret from colleagues for months. “We just wanted to hang out all the time,” she says. And whenever she was with him, she felt calm and cared for. “Craig’s the kind of guy that, when you’re talking to him, he has this gift of making you feel like you’re the only person in the world that matters.”
She brought passion to his life and pushed him to try new things. “She loves life,” he says. “She stops. She smells the roses. She picks a few, and she shows them to me — ‘Here, smell these!’ ”
Melvin, now 32, began to think the relationship could last. “She is a very good friend. She’s a very good daughter. And it’s easy to be in love, when you’re 28, 29, 30, but when you’re 60, 65, that’s when it’s tested,” he says. “And she’s the kind of person that I could see changing a diaper — mine!”
In March of this year, they spent a long weekend in Miami, and he chartered a late-afternoon sailboat. On the water, he asked her to be his wife.
Both knew when they got engaged that their contracts with NBC4 would be up in a few months. Each loved the station and felt like part of a family there, but they decided to move on to grow in their careers. In May, Czarniak got an offer to become an anchor for ESPN; a few weeks later, Melvin was hired by MSNBC.
They live in Westport, Conn., and commute about an hour a day (she to Bristol, Conn., and he to New York City). “It was very stressful because [working at NBC 4] wasn’t just a job, it was a lifestyle and a family for both of us,” she says. “But it’s been amazing. Because we are both in similar situations in different places, so that we can both support each other.”
Last week they returned to the District and were married at the Church of the Holy City on 16th Street NW before traveling by vintage Bentley to a reception for 200 at the Hay-Adams Hotel. Many of the couple’s former colleagues, including Jim Vance, Doreen Gentzler, Wendy Rieger and Dan Hellie (who suspected the romance) celebrated in a room bathed in gold light and dotted with huge centerpieces of orange roses.
Czarniak wore a strapless Kenneth Pool gown down the aisle as she held the arm of her father, USA Today editor Chet Czarniak. After exchanging vows, they were serenaded by Lee Anne Myslewski, who sang the Miranda Lambert song, “Makin’ Plans.”
Nothin’ would feel just right
If I wasn’t by your side
’Cause I’m not easy to understand
But you know me like the back of your hand
I’m your girl and you’re my man
And we’re makin’ plans.