They vacationed with friends, met each other’s families, and took a trip to Florida to introduce Todd to Baht’s former congregation. The way the community embraced her personally and professionally touched him. “I’ve always focused on her being a woman and my partner, and secondarily her service to others,” Todd says. “Seeing these people adore her . . . [She was] a strong leader through some difficult times down there, and she’d thrived. And I liked that.”
When they returned home, he began searching for just the right ring, hoping to find one made in Israel. And in March 2012, he invited her to La Ferme in Chevy Chase. He’d told her it was a big work event, but when she arrived, she found him at a private table adorned with flowers and champagne. The ring was presented on a silver tray of rose petals, and he got down on one knee, asking her to be his wife.
They scheduled the wedding 15 months in advance, to accommodate Baht’s rabbinical responsibilities. Todd, who works long hours of his own in health-care administration, compares it to dating a busy surgeon — plans will be abandoned at the last minute as obligations arise, and the needs of others often take priority. “He jokingly calls himself the rebbitzin,” Baht says, referring to the Hebrew word for a rabbi’s wife. “It’s a public life. Todd’s not just marrying me, he’s marrying my congregation and my lifestyle. It’s a lot to ask of someone.”
On June 23, they were married at Hotel Monaco in Chinatown. As favors, guests received tins of cookies made by students in a training program at DC Central Kitchen, where Todd is a board member. Baht, so used to wearing black and officiating, wore a white gown and found herself unexpectedly overwhelmed as the center of attention while her brother, Rabbi Joshua Caruso, conducted the ceremony.
They exchanged vows under a chuppah below a sun-filled dome and surrounded on all sides by 200 friends and family members. The arrangement of guests in an intimate circle, rather than observant rows, was no accident. “It’s stronger in a circle. It’s not exclusive. You’re two people and you expand that together,” Todd, now 37, says. “I think we feel really blessed in a lot of ways, that we found each other. But we also feel a great deal of safety and satisfaction in all these new people around us.”
Adds Baht: “Those are the people who are your future, the people that you want to build your lives with. It’s a pretty profound moment to look at all those people and say, ‘Yes, this is our life.’ ”