June 23, 2019, in Doylestown, Pa.
“Who’s that? She’s cute!” Mike’s friend Stan said at the 2015 Central High School Social Studies Department holiday party.
Mike agreed that Ashley, then in her second year of teaching social studies and world history, is cute. Knowing exactly why Stan was saying so, he quickly added: “I don’t date people I work with.”
“You’re not getting any younger,” admonished Stan, who had been Mike’s department chair before retiring two years earlier. “Come on, ask her. The two of you and Dori and I will all go out together.”
Later that night, Ashley accepted Mike’s invitation to join him and a few others for a drink sometime. “He is very charismatic, and very involved with school activities, so I knew who he was,” she said.
Mike, who grew up in Northeast Philadelphia and graduated from Central in the school’s 251st graduating class, has taught social studies, AP government and politics, and geography at his alma mater since 2005. When he and Ashley met, he was senior class sponsor — an adviser who helps with all activities — and Jewish Student Union club sponsor. His responsibilities kept getting in the way of their outing, but at the end of January, he, Ashley, Stan, and Dori — Stan’s wife — met for drinks at Vernick and dinner at Bistro La Baia.
Stan and Dori said goodnight after dinner, but Mike and Ashley, who grew up in Havertown, went to Rouge for a nightcap. They had so much fun together they met up again the next day and walked around the city.
They talked whenever they could that week at school, and on Friday, Mike said he was having dinner with his parents, Ann and Harold, and spontaneously asked if Ashley would like to join them. She did. The next weekend, Ashley took Mike, who lived in Center City, to a birthday dinner for her mom, Mary Ann. He also met her brothers, Adam and Kyle.
Within weeks, both knew they had found something with potential — and because neither was shy about saying so, there were no doubts and no games. Ashley liked so much about Mike. “He’s outgoing, he’s engaging, and if he says he’s going to do something, he does it,” she said admiringly. “He also really loves his family.”
That spring break, Mike took Ashley to L.A. to meet his sister, Debbie, her husband, Liam, and their daughter, Juliette. Daughter Elizabeth was not yet born. Seeing Ashley with his nieces makes his heart swell. “I look forward to seeing her with our kids one day,” Mike said. He also loves her loyalty and dedication to everyone and everything she cares about.
Mike is now sophomore class sponsor and coaches boys tennis, is chairperson for the District XII Golf League, and serves on the board of the alumni association. Ashley is senior class sponsor. The couple cosponsors the Jewish Student Union.
The couple love to travel and frequently head West. They planned to visit Big Sur, Calif., in July 2016, but fires kept them away. Further inland, Pinnacles National Park was safe, but all the nearby hotels were filled with firefighters. They bought camping equipment at REI and slept in the park, under the stars.
In 2018, Ashley and Mike planned a return to California in hopes of seeing coastal sites that they’d missed two years earlier. At Mike’s suggestion, they embarked on a 21-day cross-country road trip, collecting stickers for their National Parks Passport along the way. In Colorado in July, they hiked in Rocky Mountain National Park, then stopped at nearby Grand Lake. Although the boat rental was due to close, hearing Mike’s grand plan for Grand Lake changed the clerk’s mind.
Ashley’s allergies were acting up, but this boat ride was clearly important to Mike, so she agreed. To her delight, on the water, her symptoms abated. In the middle of the lake, Mike stopped the boat. Ashley, who was sitting in front, turned to face him, and he knelt and asked her to marry him.
“We didn’t have champagne, so we drank La Croix,” she said. After toasting each other, they Facetimed their parents with the good news.
It was so them
The couple wed and celebrated with 130 guests at the Aldie Mansion in Doylestown.
A week before the wedding, Rabbi Wolmark’s wife, Moriah, who had taught Mike in Hebrew School, called to say the rabbi had been injured and couldn’t officiate. The bride was at her bachelorette party and never even knew about the potential crisis until after the series of phone calls that led the groom to Rabbi Rosenbloom, who performed the ceremony. “He was awesome, and Rabbi Wolmark was able to sign the marriage license,” Mike said.
Ashley walked down the outdoor aisle to the chuppah with her mother and father, Craig, as the Central High String Quartet played under the direction of Ben Blazer. Two of the musicians are members of the class that Ashley sponsors, another is a member of a class Mike sponsored. Among the guests were Nikita and Diane, president and vice president of Class 270, the first class Mike sponsored, and Steve and Julie, a couple who met in one of Mike’s classes.
Mike and Ashley wanted a band that could play current hits. Ashley found Jon Ardito Entertainment while at a group tasting event at Reading Terminal Market as part of planning the junior prom.
Later in the reception, everyone went back outside to light sparklers.
“We had a really good time and were really relaxed,” Ashley said.
As Mike waited beneath the chuppah for Ashley, he realized fully what was finally about to happen. “It was, ‘Hurry up and get down here! Let’s do this!’ ” he said. “It was knowing this is real, this is forever, and this is what it’s all about.”
From their sweetheart table for two, Ashley listened as her brother and father and Mike’s two best men, John and Adam, made speeches. She and Mike were enjoying champagne from special glasses, and there were the flowers she’d chosen, and the decor, and, most importantly, her new husband and everyone they love. “I savored it all,” she said.
The budget crunch
A bargain: The couple skipped wedding favors and invested the savings in the menu. The bride couldn’t bring herself to spend $1,000 on a headpiece she loved, but found a once-worn one, designed by Jennifer Behr and just as sparkly, for $300 on eBay.
The splurge: Other photographers were less expensive, but the couple wanted every moment captured in the style of Emily Wren.
A week of camping, hiking, and eating lobster in Maine. And yes, they did get the Acadia National Park passport sticker.
Officiants: Rabbi Israel Wolmark, Philadelphia, signed the marriage license. Rabbi Seymour Rosenbloom, Cheltenham, performed the ceremony.
Venue: Aldie Mansion, Doylestown, Pa.
Food: Jeffrey Miller Catering, Philadelphia.
Music: Jon Ardito Entertainment, Philadelphia.
Photography: Emily Wren, Philadelphia.
Flowers: Buttercup, Philadelphia.
Ashley’s attire: Elizabeth Johns, Ardmore, Pa.
Mike’s attire: Ventresca Ltd., Doylestown, Pa.