Sofia Vergara, pictured here with actor Jason Binn, met her current squeeze at the White House Correspondents association dinner. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post)

The annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner might be known as a schmooze-fest for ambitious networkers, but it might also be developing a new reputation — as a meet market.

Actors Sofia Vergara and Joe Manganiello last week revealed their budding relationship, an incredibly good-looking alliance that had its roots at this year’s black-tie shindig at the Washington Hilton. Vergara, the bombshell star of ABC’s “Modern Family,” reportedly met Manganiello, who plays a brooding werewolf on HBO’s “True Blood,” there for the first time, though at the time she was with now-ex-fiance Nick Loeb.

And while they just might be the most glamorous couple to meet cute at the WHCD, they’re certainly not the first.

Former OMB Director Peter Orszag met wife #2, ABC correspondent Bianna Golodryga, at the 2009 dinner.

At the 2003 dinner, then-Boston Globe deputy bureau chief Nina Easton was introduced to GOP strategist Russ Schriefer (by our colleague Anne Kornblut, we should mention, who was one of Easton’s reporters at the time). The two gabbed at a pre-dinner party, recalls Easton, who’s now the Washington editor for Fortune magazine, and continued the conversation through dinner. The love connection was helped along by the fact that they knew a ton of people in common —  and by the free-flowing martinis at the famed Bloomberg after-party. 

The pair began dating and wed the following year. Easton says the dinner, though considered by most attendees to be a work event, isn’t the most unlikely venue for pairing up. First, you’re certain to meet like-minded potential mates, she notes. “And you’re in your gown, and you’ve got your hair and makeup all done,” she adds.

Love was also in the air over the rubber chicken when “Hardball” host Chris Matthews met his wife, Kathleen, at the Radio-TV Correspondents’ Association Dinner, a connection that has left him with a sentimental attachment to big shindigs.

“The best part of weekends like these is that I met Kathleen at the radio-TV dinner in 1978,” he told us at a brunch leading up to this year’s WHCD. “So if I hadn’t met her there, I don’t think I would have met her.”

And although the fete has fostered some steamy romances, it’s also been the site of some near-misses. Reality star Kim Kardashian and then-underage popster Justin Bieber connected for the very first time at the 2010 correspondents dinner, when they were among the splashiest guests at the boldface affair.

Kardashian later gushed that she’d consider dating the 16 year-old… if he was just a few years older. And while she’s since gone on to form one half of power duo Kimye, Bieber is reportedly still on the prowl.

He might want to mark his calendar for next year’s dinner.


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