Was it Burning Man that helped ignite a burning desire

Nicole Oloff isn’t sure what exactly brought her and her husband together. Was it that they were both University of Arizona alumni and Wildcats fans? Was it JDate? Or was it Burning Man?

It’s hard for her to know exactly, because they all played a part in the couple’s falling in love and eventually marrying on Sept. 6, 2009.

Nicole Oloff and her husband, Michael.

Nicole, now 29, met Michael, now 33, on JDate in the summer of 2006, when they were both living in San Francisco.

Although their first date was “easy, carefree and natural,” as noted by Nicole, they took things slowly. “Our love blossomed as we got to know each other,” she explained.

That first summer, they went out on Saturday nights, until Michael left to go to Burning Man. When he got back, the two of them started dating exclusively. It’s not clear what spiritual or mystical effect “the man” had on their relationship, but something caused them to decide to take it to the next level.

In June 2008, Michael proposed to Nicole on the Lyon Street Steps. “It was a spot that meant a lot to us, since we used to live on that street,” Michael said.

After the proposal, normally it would have been time to bring the parents together, but Michael and Nicole were on easy street in that regard. Almost from the time they first started going out, their parents became close, even meeting for Thanksgiving at Nicole’s family home in Los Altos a mere six months into their relationship (and every year since then).

“Our parents would be friends even if we weren’t married,” Nicole confidently declared.

The couple married in an outdoor courtyard with “rustic charm” at the Ritz-Carlton in San Francisco.

Something old: The bride wore silver “X” (kiss) earrings that were given to her by her three best friends for her 21st birthday. The friends, who were her sorority sisters at U of A were also her bridesmaids.

Something new: Nicole’s dress was new. “Looking for the dress was my favorite part of getting ready for the wedding,” Nicole said. “I went dress shopping with my whole family, including my grandmother, which meant a lot to me.” The beaded and fitted top with large amounts of tulle for the skirt was definitely a new look for Nicole, whose taste up to that point had run to simple, elegant lines.

Also new, was the couple’s version of a wedding cake. In keeping with the “gourmet picnic feel” of the meal, as Michael described it, they opted for a “pizookie,” a giant ice cream cookie sandwich, instead of a traditional layered confection.

Something borrowed: Nicole wore the same blue garter that her maternal grandmother and her mother each wore at their weddings.

Something Jew(ish): Michael and Nicole’s ceremony was led by the cantor from Congregation Beth Am who had officiated at the bat mitzvahs of Nicole and her two sisters, and the ceremony was a traditional one.

In a deliberate move to make their ornately decorated chuppah a focal point, the couple not only married under it, but also sat under it together with their parents during the reception.

“We felt that eating under the chuppah with our parents was very symbolic of our making our new home together and the close feelings our families have for one another,” Nicole said.

“Unions” features recently married couples with an interesting meeting, courtship or wedding (or any combination thereof). To share your tale, or to nominate a couple, send e-mail to

Renee Ghert-Zand
Renee Ghert-Zand

Renee Ghert-Zand is a Jerusalem-based freelance journalist. She made aliyah from Palo Alto with her family in June 2014.