Ashton and Michael

Image 1 of Ashton and Michael

How We Met

Her version: Michael and I met my senior year of college. I was home in Wrightsville Beach, NC for a holiday weekend with my girls when we were invited to random a pre-game at a friend’s house before going out to the beach bars. As I walked up the steps I saw Michael across the room sitting on the couch. He was cute in his red vans and fitted hat. I was interested. We were introduced but didn’t talk much at the pre-game. Later on that night down at 22 North I made my move. I walked up to him, told him he needed my number and the rest is history. It’s true, you can meet the love of your life in bar. We have talked every day since that night. No lie. A few short months after we met, Michael was deployed to Japan. After only knowing Michael for 4 months, I hopped on a plane for an adventure to Japan. My parents thought I was crazy and it was the time of my life.

Although, I was in a relationship with an iPad, my iMichael, for about a year, it was well worth it. Michael returned, we did long distance while I attended law school and eventually after 4 years, we both ended up back where it all started in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. His version: At the time, I was still in the Marine Corps and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan. I happened to be back in the states for some training that took place over the span of three months. I had a new car, and a surfboard, but had no idea where to surf in Carolina. I googled local surf spots, and discovered the small town of Wrightsville Beach. This place was awesome, but I didn’t know anyone. A good friend of mine from Colorado put me in contact with one of his friends who lived in Jacksonville, NC. I got a phone call from the guy in Jacksonville one Friday night to join him in Wrightsville.

Trying to make a long story short, I was introduced to some of the best friends a man could have. Weekends were filled with fun nights at house parties, and local beach bars. I remember I was at a house party with some friends of mine on Wrightsville Beach when I met her. I swear she was wearing something blue, but she disagrees. I probably said something stupid, and was embarrassed to tell her that I was in the Marine Corps, worried that she would walk away immediately. The entire group from the house party made our way to the local watering hole, 22 North. The actual chain of events is a bit foggy, but I do remember talking to Ashton that night where she grabbed the phone out of my hand to put her phone number into mine. I think I made the cut! The coolest part about how we met is that it was through a group of friends at a house party. I’d say we’re still in contact with all of those friends who have played such an instrumental part in our relationship over the last 5 years.

how they asked

Her version: Vail, Colorado will forever hold a special place in the hearts of the future Bakers. For as long as I can remember my family has been taking an annual ski trip to Vail. This year we were right on track except this year we expanded the invitee list. We had a crew of about 20 traveling out to Colorado for some fun in the snow. Ever since Michael jumped on board 5 years ago with some serious local insight into the mountain (as he previously lived out in Colorado pre-Ashton and has an unquantifiable love for snowboarding), we often made a stop out on the mountain at a local spot called Windows. It’s one of Vail’s on-mountain decks that can be reached by a short hike off the slopes, byob for some great views. On December 16, 2016, as we were coming to the end of our trip, we still hadn’t gotten in our stop at Windows. However, that particular day it was dumping snow. Definitely not the ideal conditions to go chill on a deck and sip a beer and/or fireball.

We started out the morning in a big group and somehow everyone started dropping off with various excuses as to where they were going. I didn’t think anything of it. Eventually, we ended up on the side of the mountain where Windows was: Michael, my brother and I. They wanted to go. Reluctantly, I agreed so we made our way over. On the way, Michael decides has to go inside and warm up and my brother goes on ahead. I am so confused but again, don’t think anything of it. It’s cold out there. Michael “warms up” and then we start to head that way. Again, I remind you, it’s dumping snow. As we approach the deck, Michael stops me and says that he wants to talk. Here we go, it was happening! After a proposal from the heart, he got down on one knee and I said yes!

Image 2 of Ashton and Michael

Image 3 of Ashton and Michael

The next thing I know, a photographer is jumping out of the bushes and I am getting tackled by my best friends. Michael had arranged for some of our closest friends and family to be on Windows Deck that day to pop bottles and celebrate us. He even provided a snow cat to give the guests a lift who weren’t riding the mountain. It was amazing and it was perfect! His version: I had this plan up my sleeve for quite some time. I knew I was going to propose to my best friend at one of our favorite spots, Vail CO. The planning and coordination involved from friends and family to pull this off was incredible. The early stages of planning occurred around June or July. My biggest worries were traveling with the ring and not letting her see it before hand, any one of our friends could have slipped up and said something, or I could have lost my the ring on the mountain. Leading up to our trip to Colorado I managed to make contact with Vail Resorts to figure out how it would be possible to transport our non-skiers/boarders who were along for the trip up to the proposal location at the top of the mountain. Vail has a number of sun decks to hang out on and enjoy a beer in the afternoon.

Image 4 of Ashton and Michael

Image 5 of Ashton and Michael

We had gone to a specific sundeck in years past to recap on the days action, sip a slightly shaken up beer, enjoy the sunset, and have the entire mountain to ourselves during the after hours ride down to the base of the gondola. The trick to getting to this deck is that you need to be on a board or skis in order to get there. This involves skiing down a trail for a bit, then a gradual hike up to the sundeck along the mountain ridge. Somehow, Vail agreed to my request for a heated snow cat ride up to this location for all of the girls and the photographer that day. The day was perfect. The snow was great, the riding was awesome, and knowing that I was about to ask my best friend to be hers forever was very powerful. A lot of good energy that day. I ended up coordinating with a great friend of mine who came up to shoot the proposal. The plan was for Ashton and I to walk up the ridge trail and he would capture everything from the woods while our family and friends were off in the distance on the sundeck waiting for us. Everything was perfect and the stage was set. The snow couldn’t have fallen any harder while I was on my knee. I honestly couldn’t remember what I said, but I know she said yes!

Image 6 of Ashton and Michael

Special Thanks

Ryan Fantau
 | Photographer