Weddings of the Year
A peek inside the celebrations of four couples
Their Greatest Adventure
The couple: Micah Baskir, 38, grew up in Chevy Chase and graduated from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is a documentary filmmaker. Ashley Stracke, 32, grew up in Lewisville, Texas, and works for the mayor of Los Angeles in neighborhood services. They live in Los Angeles.
How they met: Ashley and Micah were introduced by mutual friends at a pub in Pasadena, California, in 2010. Micah was leaving in a couple of days for Burning Man, a weeklong event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, where tens of thousands of people gather to perform music, create art installations and burn a wooden structure of a man. Ashley had never been, and was skeptical of both the event and Micah. “I wasn’t particularly interested but he tried to convince me that I was mistaken,” she says. “And [he] did a pretty good job.”
The first date: After Micah returned from Burning Man, he invited Ashley over to his cousin’s house in L.A., where he was house-sitting. They ate Thai food from Ashley’s favorite place and watched The West Wing. The couple went to Burning Man together one year later. “I’m definitely a convert,” says Ashley, who has been a total of six times now.
The proposal: About five years into dating, the couple made plans for a New Year’s vacation to Russia and France. Micah decided the trip would be the perfect opportunity to propose. While in St. Petersburg, Russia, on New Year’s Eve, they saw The Nutcracker at the Mariinsky Theatre and cooked a Russian dinner complete with blinis at their Airbnb. Micah had planned to propose in Palace Square at midnight, but they were watching President Putin’s speech on the JumboTron, and he talked right through New Year’s. “I don’t speak Russian that well so I don’t know what he was saying,” Micah says. “But he just kept talking and talking.” The couple wandered to the banks of the Neva River, where teenagers were lighting off fireworks in the snow. He got down on one knee and proposed.
The wedding philosophy: “We wanted to use [the wedding] as an opportunity to really encapsulate our values as a couple and as individuals,” Ashley says. “And one of the ways that we kind of formed [those values] was around Burning Man.” The event has 10 central principles meant to guide attendee behavior and culture. Ashley says they wanted to plan their wedding around two principles—community and participation. They decided to host a Memorial Day weekend camping trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains of southwest Virginia in 2018.
A special moment: Micah is the son of divorce attorney Marna Tucker and former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims Lawrence Baskir. His father can’t travel because he was paralyzed from a stroke. A week before Micah and Ashley’s wedding in the mountains, they were legally married at his parents’ Chevy Chase home by Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals’ D.C. Circuit, who is a Bethesda resident and family friend. Garland’s 2016 nomination by President Obama for the U.S. Supreme Court was blocked by the Senate. “[Ashley] and I both felt it was a beautiful statement, not only to have [Judge] Merrick Garland perform the ceremony, but it just felt like we had an American hero there for us as well,” Micah says.
The venue: Ashley and Micah’s three-day wedding celebration was held at Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing in New Castle, Virginia. The couple and their 100 guests spent the weekend hiking, tubing, canoeing and zip-lining. Guests slept in cabins or tents.
Close call: The morning of the wedding ceremony at Wilderness Adventure, Ashley asked Micah to take her parents tubing while she got ready. The group accidentally got on the bus for canoeing instead of tubing, but they’d been told it would be a “lazy river” experience. The river was tumultuous, with downed trees and patches of rapids. “It was like a harrowing nightmare of danger that we were not at all prepared for,” Micah says. Their canoe capsized several times. Ashley’s father lost his shoes. They finally finished the course an hour or two before the wedding.
The ceremony: Early in their plans, the couple asked their friends to reimagine the traditional parts of a ceremony, such as the readings and the exchange of rings, with the Burning Man principles in mind. For the exchange of rings, Micah and Ashley threaded their rings onto two balls of yarn, which were then passed around the room to create a giant web that connected them to their guests. When the bride and groom got the yarn and rings back, they read their vows. Although it wasn’t a religious ceremony, they did incorporate a tradition from Micah’s family’s Jewish faith-—the breaking of a glass. Each guest was given a figurine to break as the couple stomped on theirs. With the broken pieces, the couple and their guests then made a mosaic frame for a wedding portrait.
The reception: After the 1½-hour ceremony, everyone headed to the on-site pavilion for the reception. New York jazz band The Recessionals played old standards until about midnight, when the couple’s friends took over, acting as DJs with their smartphones. The party continued until dawn. “We basically partied until the sun rose,” Micah says. “We walked back to our cabin around 5 in the morning.”
The “cake”: “Neither Ashley nor I are particularly big cake fans,” Micah says. They opted for stacked and decorated cheese wheels. After the “cake” cutting, the Wilderness Adventure staff brought the cheese wheels to the kitchen and made a late-night snack of grilled cheese. They also served cupcakes and other sweets.
The honeymoon: The couple spent a few days in Ecuador after their wedding and plan to take a longer trip in the future.
Vendors: Catering and wedding coordinator, Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing; desserts, Cupcake Cottage; dress, David’s Bridal; flowers, Boswell Gardens; music, The Recessionals; photographer, Christina Childress; tableware, Aztec Rental.