Photography by
Banga Photography

Jessica Pray & Ravi Patel

September 7-9, 2018 in Des Moines and Iowa City, Iowa

Jessica Pray first met Ravi Patel during the summer of 2012 in downtown Iowa City. “I was coming out of a yoga class and he was finishing up a business lunch meeting,” she recalls. “We ended up converging at the same time on the sidewalk! Ravi, being the charismatic and confident man that he is, started up a conversation and, after a long talk on our walk through downtown, we parted ways. Two years later we went on our first date, and I knew by the third date I would marry him. We are goofy, can talk for hours on end, and understand and respect one another deeply.”

“Over my winter break, on January 14th, 2017, Ravi said we needed to stop by our new house that was under construction,” she continues. “We arrived at the house and Ravi took my hand and led me out onto our master bedroom balcony, where he asked me to marry him. We were later joined by 40 family and friends to celebrate, and to top it off, there were fireworks and live music as well.”

The most difficult part of the wedding planning process was figuring out how to pay tribute to both the bride and groom’s cultures. Jessica comes from a Christian background, whereas Ravi comes from a Hindu background. As such, the couple agreed to have two separate ceremonies.

“Ravi and I went with our families to Mumbai, India to shop for all of our Indian wedding outfits,” says Jessica. “Ravi and I lucked out with our wedding planners from KIS (cubed) Events in Atlanta, and over the next months we had many conference calls, met vendors, and they helped bring our vision to life. Planning the wedding events was like having a second job!”

The couple’s schedule of events included the Pithi on Wednesday, the “Christian wedding” on Thursday, the Sangeet on Friday, and the Baraat, Indian ceremony, and wedding reception on Saturday.

“Everything from the food, the custom elephant and then gold striped dance floor, to the decor and music created an atmosphere that was truly unique,” Jessica describes. “Our guests also loved the bridge of cultures that we created. The food, from Kama Bistro in Chicago, was a highlight of the weekend. So was a life-size foliage elephant! We hired a man well-known for his fast turban-tying to come from India to wrap about 50 of our male guests in turbans! Female guests were treated to mendhi, and many souvenirs were free for the taking. Special moments included the Bollywood dance with my sister, my grandma playing piano at the Des Moines ceremony, and toasts by our friends and family.”

Two months later, the newlyweds honeymooned in Hawaii where they hiked a volcano, rode the waves, indulged in oceanside massages, and enjoyed the “best meal of their lives” at ULU Ocean Grill at the Four Seasons on the Big Island.