One Couple Planned a Glam-Meets-Boho Wedding in the California Desert
Though many teenage flings quickly fizzle, Cupid struck his bow for real when Ashley Halloran was a freshman in high school and Basil Beshkov was in eighth grade. Ashley recalls that her future husband and his friends would follow her and her girlfriends around school "chatting us up," but something about Basil caught her eye. She followed him on a school ski trip a year later. Basil says that the pair had instant chemistry, which inspired his first grand romantic gesture. "On the bus ride back home, I made my friend change places with Ashley, so I could hold her hand while we sat next to each other," he says. "When we got back home, I looked up her number in the school directory, and made a plan to hang out the next Sunday." The two made their relationship official days later and the rest is history.
Sixteen years later, the couple made a home for themselves in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, where Ashley is a television writer (most recently for LORE on Amazon Prime) and Basil works for Health-Ade Kombucha, where he dreams up new flavors. Preparing to pop the question in November of 2016, Basil knew he'd have to be stealthy. "After 16 years together, it's hard to surprise each other, so Basil had to trick me," Ashley quipped. Noticing that a drawer to a shared filing cabinet was mysteriously locked, she felt a proposal was coming.
"I wanted to make the engagement special, even if Ashley knew that I had the ring. I made up this 'special work thing,' that we had to go to in Malibu the day after Thanksgiving," Basil says. Getting colleagues in on the elaborate ruse, he even had them send fake emails and a phony invitation to Ashley. Believing the hoax and running slightly behind schedule on the chilly night, Ashley (wearing heels) was nevertheless annoyed to learn the only entryway to the supposed beach party was down a four-foot ladder, but Basil insisted the trouble would be worth it. "Once we were in view of the ocean, I got down on my knee, forgot everything I had planned to say, and asked her to marry me," he says, which she joyously accepted. To Ashley's surprise, there was actually a party planned that night. The groom-to-be had rented a small bungalow, where family and friends were waiting to celebrate.
The couple tied the knot on May 19, 2018, and they invited 138 loved ones to join them for a glamorous evening in the middle of the desert at Le Haut Desert Aerie in Pioneertown, California, near Joshua Tree National Park. Kicking the weekend off with a rehearsal dinner and welcome party at favorite bar Pappy and Harriet's, the longtime couple enjoyed a barbeque dinner, drinks, and dancing with their family and friends—many of whom have known each other for more than a decade—before they officially became husband and wife.
An Eclectic Wedding Venue
Though the bride had dreamed of getting married at a private estate overlooking the ocean in Big Sur, California, for years, fate had other plans. Booking the venue soon after their engagement, Ashley was completely devastated when the agreement suddenly fell through, and the couple was forced to start over with their wedding plans.
They had selected their initial venue for its striking natural beauty, romantic setting, and status as a California destination that most of their guests had never visited, but the couple quickly realized that a property near Joshua Tree National Park could be all that and more. Once they found Le Haut Desert Aerie, they were drawn to its gorgeous desert landscape, rustic ceremony grounds, and inviting home and patio. As Basil aptly summarized, having "no cut off time for the party" was the icing on the cake.
Ultimately, the surprising twist of events would prove to be for the best. "The universe has a way of pushing you in the right direction," Basil muses. "A month or so later, there was a huge landslide in Big Sur that would have made our wedding impossible to execute."
The stationery suite was serious business for the artsy lovebirds. "I come from an art department background and Basil works a lot with graphics, so this process for us was a labor of love…and…elaborate," Ashley says.
For the save-the-dates, the couple chose custom-designed wooden postcards featuring Joshua Tree and desert illustrations, with help from Bash Please and Amber Moon Design to adjust the colors to flow with the general wedding aesthetic.
Invitations Inspired by the Landscape
For the invitations, Ashley and Basil chose clean, modern stationery in shades of blue, pale pink, and silver, decorated with small cactus graphics. The set was stylishly finished with rose gold foil on the main invite and vellum envelopes. Vintage desert stamps sealed the deal. "No standard USPS forever stamps to pull you out of the design," Ashley says.
Their First Look
The bride and groom wanted to enjoy the whole wedding with their guests, so they took most of their portraits beforehand. Photos began with the first look by a beautiful open doorway leading to the panoramic views of the desert, with pictures by Paige Jones. "I was surprised to see how Ashley looked all done up in the wedding dress. I think it hit me at that moment how well done the wedding was," Basil says.
"After all the planning and chaos leading up to this moment—that time together was a much-needed quiet moment, just us," Ashley adds.
The Search for the Dress
"I think I tried on every dress in Los Angeles," Ashley admits of the elusive hunt for her dream wedding dress. "My poor mom attended each and every appointment with me over the course of months. I would try on dress after dress and they were fine, but not it." After fruitless searching, she spotted "the one" in a photo from the Mira Zwillinger runway. The "Mika" gown features a V-neck design with a full silk skirt. The fabric itself is decorated with 3D florals and scattered handmade flowers.
Disheartened to learn that the dress was not in stock at Saks Fifth Avenue, a Mira Zwillinger rep was able to meet Ashley at a trunk show with the garment, only seven months before the wedding. When she was finally able to try the gown on, Ashley says she was hit with "an immediate emotional reaction" and instantly knew it was what she'd wear on her big day. The bride loved the unique, digitally printed underlay that peeked through the organza skirt, which she says reflected the rock formations in the Joshua Tree desert. "This was a subtle design element that felt unique to our venue, and gave the dress some edge," she says.
When it was time to walk down the aisle, Ashley was ready but her matching veil blew away in the wind. Luckily, her maid of honor was fast enough to run and catch it.
Something Blush and Something Borrowed
The bride wore a pair of blush satin Gianvito Rossi stiletto sandals for the wedding, and though they may look delicate, they held up remarkably well in the desert. "I walked them through dirt, rocks, and the brush and they came out unscathed," Ashley says. Since she wanted to keep the focus on her intricate wedding dress, the bride opted for simple diamond-and-gold earrings, and her late grandmother's wedding band. Her clutch was "something borrowed," a handmade purse from Japan that her late uncle gave her mother.
Here Come the Bridesmaids
The bridesmaids all chose their own blush dresses, but Ashley admits that coordinating all the colors proved to be an "extremely difficult method of dress selection." Fortunately, it paid off. After selecting dresses from brands including Reformation, Lulus, BHLDN, and Jenny Yoo, the ladies (a mix of family and friends) all looked great together.
Ashley also had one "bridesmale," who matched Basil and his groomsmen, though he showed his allegiance to the bridal party with a soft pink pocket square. One of the bride's favorite moments of the day was when she and her attendants took photos at a panoramic overlook. "As my girls gathered around me, I was struck by their beauty and how much I love all of them. It was really magical," she says.
Desert Blooms with a Lush Twist
The couple wanted desert-inspired flowers that still looked lush and fresh, and Kristen Caissie of Moon Canyon Design totally delivered. The bride's bouquet featured a neutral and white blend of garden roses, ranunculus, spirea, poppies, and grasses. The bridesmaids' carried smaller, more colorful bouquets.
Basil's groomsmen—his two brothers, high school friends, and Ashley's sister's fiancé—looked sharp in light gray suits, neutral shirts and ties, and brown shoes.
The groom sported a custom-tailored suit from Brooks Brothers, a pink shirt from Theory, and a tie with sentimental value. "It was hard to find the perfect 'dusty' color tie, so when we came across one we found online made with cotton from Varna, Bulgaria (where my Dad's family comes from), I figured that was a great reason to purchase," Basil says.
Put a Ring on It
Ashley knew what she wanted in her engagement ring—a rose-cut diamond in a modern setting—so Basil worked with a close friend who works for Vram Jewelry to make sure her vision came to life. "The whole process felt really personal, and resulted in a unique design," the bride says of the brushed-gold creation. Fittingly, her wedding band features a half moon shape to wrap around the sparkler.
Her groom also chose his wedding band to be made of the same brushed gold metal. Different yet unified, the wedding bands have since proven to offer an unexpected reminder. "Sometimes the wedding band twists around on my finger, and detaches from its niche in the engagement ring," the bride says. "When we notice that, I slide it back into place and it reminds us to stay in sync with one another."
A Ceremony "Exactly How It Should Be"
Armed with sparkling wine, guests took their seats around 5:30 p.m. for the main event. The non-religious ceremony was officiated by the couple's longtime friend, Hanna, who both the bride and groom describe as a "deeply spiritual" and emotional person. Having known Ashley and Basil since the dawn of their relationship, the bride describes their one-of-a-kind officiant as "the part of the wedding we worried about the least." During the ceremony, the bride and groom said "I do" under a structure of dried tree branches decked out by Moon Canyon with flowers and fabric.
Taking in the happy chaos, Basil says he was struck with a moment of clarity as he waited with his parents for the ceremony to begin. "We were standing side by side holding hands, waiting to start walking, and I thought how this moment was crazy and perfect all at the same time. I had a ton of nerves but felt totally comfortable all at once," he remembers. "The entire event then seemed to be a perfect representation of everything exactly as it was and should be."
An Electric Love
The bride processed down the aisle with her parents to Borns' "Electric Love" played on strings. The pair wrote and read their own vows—no easy feat given their sixteen-year love story. "To try and sum up your feelings for someone you've known and loved half your life—that's extremely daunting. Practicing alone, I couldn't get through without crying," Ashley says. "Basil and I were both stressing, revising our vows the day we were driving to the desert, but in the moment we felt calm, said everything we wanted to say."
As the ceremony neared its end, the groom was forced to improvise to truly close the momentous occasion with a bang. "We didn't have a glass on hand to stomp at the end of the ceremony, so someone gave me a lightbulb to break," Basil says. As the newlyweds recessed down the aisle, "Electric Love"—which Basil describes as "kinda their anthem"—was performed by the string musicians. "[The song is] about a feeling that excites and overtakes you, like a crush when you are in high school, which is where our relationship started. Those waves of emotions have kept us really strong through all these years," the groom says.
As Ashley and Basil exited the ceremony, guests threw lavender at them from little bags decorated with the happy couple's logo.
The cocktail hour kicked off on the patio of Le Haute Desert Aerie as guests took in sweeping vista views of the desert.
As the Dart Collective DJ played soul music and classic reggae, partygoers munched on passed appetizers including yellowfin tuna tartare in Persian cucumber and mission fig crostini with Humboldt fog cheese, prepared by Urban Palette.
Postcards for the Guestbook
Wedding planner Sunna Yassin of Bash Please came up with the clever idea of having guests fill out state postcards in lieu of a traditional guestbook. "It was really fun to get these messages in the mail in the weeks following our wedding," the bride says.
Palo Santo Escort Cards
With the couple eager to incorporate a scent into the celebration, their planners suggested using bundles of Palo Santo tied with leather as an anchor for the escort cards. The fragrant seating assignments were printed on vellum with desert illustrations, matching the invitations and menus.
Crisp Place Settings
The tablescape and place settings came to life with a crisp, glam vision. Three long, rectangular dinner tables with white tablecloths gave an "intimate, connected" feel to the meal, Ashley says, as guests sat in wishbone chairs. Blue indigo plates from Heath Ceramics were the first point of inspiration for the design and the dishes now serve as the couple's dining set at home. Rose gold flatware was the perfect companion, and wooden vessels running down the middle of the table held the flowers beautifully. The couple eschewed table numbers in favor of pictures of different cactuses to demarcate the different tables.
Moon Canyon mixed fresh flowers like ranunculus, poppies, and garden roses with eucalyptus in large centerpieces arranged in low bowls. Smaller bud vases held groupings of dried grasses and blooms for a mix of textures.
Though it's common knowledge that eating at one's own wedding is nearly impossible, the savvy bride and groom weren't going to miss out on the divine cuisine. Right after the ceremony, Ashley and Basil sampled a tray of appetizers and wine during a quick moment alone. "We made sure to have our fill before joining our guests at cocktail hour, which really helped us get through the night. It was also the best to enjoy the amazing food we'd chosen with each other," the bride says.
When it came time for the main meal, guests couldn't get enough of one side in particular—a special chopped salad inspired by the restaurant Alimento in Silver Lake. Three entrées included short rib with polenta, halibut with citrus salsa and rainbow cauliflower farro, and gnocchi with tomato sauce, eggplant, and burrata.
You and Me
Music played a key role in the upbeat reception. The couple entered to "Coming Home" by Leon Bridges and then hit the dance floor to "You and Me" by Penny and the Quarters for their first dance, which Basil says hit the right notes of sincerity and depth that capture the feeling of their relationship. "This song is a really happy song that is sung slowly and lets the moment linger. Ashley and I worked up a few moves to go with the changing tempo," he says.
Dancing in the Dark
Guests danced the night away under the stars on the lower patio. Both the bride and groom cite an "impromptu hora" as one of their favorite moments of the wedding. Though the couple did not want to do the traditional Jewish "Hava Nagila" dance, partygoers united for a surprise as the final song of the night around 2 a.m., when a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark" by Hot Chip played. "My brothers had been upset that there was no hora, as they really wanted to lift us up. When everyone crowded around us for the last song, two of our friends started singing 'Hava Nagila Hava,'" Basil says. "My brothers took that as a cue to lift me up on their shoulders and then my friends did the same to Ashley." "I was completely filled with joy and love. There couldn't have been a better end to the night," the bride agrees.
Forever and Always
Right after the wedding, Ashley and Basil jetted away for a "mini-moon"—a road trip up the coast of California, starting in Ojai, then Big Sur, Carmel, and Cambria before heading home to Los Feliz. "It was truly magical," the bride says of their happily ever after.
Photography, Paige Jones
Location, Le Haut Desert Aerie
Event planning, Bash Please
Catering, Urban Palate
Flowers, Moon Canyon
Videography, Shark Pig
Stationery and Calligraphy, Amber Moon Design
Cake, Susie Cakes
Music, Dart Collective
Bride's gown, Mira Zwillinger
Bride's shoes, Gianvito Rossi
Engagement ring and wedding bands, Vram Jewelry
Hair and makeup, Symmetry Beauty
Groom's suit, Brooks Brothers
Groom's shirt, Theory
Lighting, Bright Event Rentals
Transportation, Cardiff Limousine & Transportation