Wednesday May 22nd, 2024
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The Story of a Billionaire and Fitness Guru’s Dream Egyptian Wedding

A Met-Gala-inspired soiree at the Grand Egyptian Museum and a serenaded ceremony right by the Great Pyramids of Giza – this couple’s destination wedding is every girl, guy and traveller’s dream.

Layan Adham Ismail

The Story of a Billionaire and Fitness Guru’s Dream Egyptian Wedding

The Egyptian Dream

Year after year, as the ever-burgeoning season of betrothal is slowly ushered in by the blooming spring flowers and the temperate April winds, brides-to-be across the region and beyond begin their ritualistic fluttering from one regal wedding to the next in search of inspiration and aspiration for their upcoming I-dos.

From brides flying into the site of their nuptials via balloons in Dubai to the entire bridal party splashing into the venue on a parade of boats in Egypt’s El Gouna, it seems that those on the verge of matrimony have enough inspiration from their regional bridal predecessors to fill ten Pinterest boards and fuel about a hundred fantasies. However, luckily and lavishly for this year’s troupe of brides in the making, a new inspirational contender within the world of elegant espousal has landed on the scene(traveller), and is making an iron-clad case for multi-day destination weddings in the enchanting Egyptian metropolis, Cairo.

European-style and Arabesque palaces, verdant Nile islands, grand Ancient Egyptian museums and the eternally entrancing Giza Necropolis – it should come as no surprise that when billionaire tech CEO, Ankur Jain, and fitness guru, Erika Hammond, decided to tie the knot in the most unconventional and unforgettable way, they settled on this captivating capital. A coming together of souls at the base of one of the world’s most bewitching wonders, the Great Pyramids of Giza, is every girl’s dream, after all. Or, in this case – guy’s.

Every Guy Dreams About his Wedding Day

When a young Jain first set his eyes on the towering ancient structures, he was – naturally – overcome with a fascination that stayed with him throughout adulthood and became so deep-rooted, he decided to re-create it for himself, his better half and their loved ones years later on the most special occasion of his life.

Following a year and a half of meticulous planning, logistics and design at the hands of renowned event planning company Vertex Events, the brawns and brains behind some of the most iconic Pyramid-side galas, Jain’s childhood dream was finally making it out of his head and onto the soft sandy deserts of Giza.

Around Cairo in Four Days

Jain and Hammond’s Vertex-organised journey began unlike any other – with a four-day action-packed family-and-friends-inclusive adventure in South Africa, taking up lodgings at the decadent Singita Safari Lodge, famed for its scenic surroundings and sightings of lions, hyenas and owls.

A thrilling and picturesque experience in and of itself, the betrothed and their entourage’s South African excursion was just the beginning of this festive fairytale, which would culminate in a three-venue ceremony, officiated by a national icon and overseen by a historical one – The Great Sphinx of Giza.

But, we’re getting way ahead of ourselves here.

The story starts like all the great rom-coms do – with a closely evaded catastrophe that would have made a bridezilla out of even the most cheerful of regional legends, Fifi Abdou.

When the chartered EgyptAir flight that was meant to take them to Cairo in the best style the aviation world has to offer was delayed due to landing permit issues, the couple’s dream wedding vacation was dealt its first and, luckily, only bad hand – they almost missed their first night in Cairo!

Thankfully, the happy couple managed to make it to ‘Bazaar Night’, the first of several lavish soirees, around two in the morning and – unperturbed by the evening’s previous stressful events – partied their hearts out until sunrise.

Hosted at the breathtaking and expansive Mohamed Ali Palace, a 19th-century estate belonging to the founder of the Persian Empire and the palace’s namesake, this particular bash was inspired by Cairo’s famed bustling market, Khan El Khalili. Wanting their guests to experience the thrill of bargaining with vendors and discovering local craftsmanship, the couple, who had fallen in love with the market on a previous trip to Egypt, tasked Vertex Events with planning out a vibrant night, complete with a tanoura show, a fortune teller, a fire show, caricature artists and, perhaps most creatively, fake dollar bills featuring the couple’s dog for guests to purchase handcrafted goods – such as rugs and natural creams – from the bazaar. 

With little sleep and endless excitement, the party commenced their first morning in Cairo with a hearty Egyptian brunch at upscale Pyramid-view eatery Khufu’s, which they followed up with a private viewing of the pyramids – including exclusive visits to areas that are closed to the public and a tour helmed by globally renowned Egyptologist, and Jain's family friend, Dr. Zahi Hawass.

Proving that their wedding is a rollercoaster that only goes up, the lovebirds ended the day with a literal “Night at the Museum”.

With the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is poised to become the world’s largest archeological museum upon its completion, acting as the venue, the Met-Gala-inspired black-tie night featured a mesmerising aerial show, musician walk-arounds, a glitter station for glam, a custom perfumery bar and a papyrus robot to write the guests' names in hieroglyphics.

Now, for the main act – the couple’s big day.

Right across the Great Pyramids of Giza, with the Sphinx acting as the ancient backdrop and Dr. Zahi Hawass acting as the officiant, a white-and-gold-clad Hammond walked down the aisle to the angelic violin stylings of Lindsey Sterling and with that, the couple was finally wed. 

As the guests — which included the likes of Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary, influencer Serena Kerrigan and Equinox chairman Harvey Spevak – headed to the base of the Necropolis, where Vertex had constructed three massive circular venues connected by a pathway, a series of unveilings took place, one right after the other. After being escorted into the first private venue for a cocktail reception, where the guests sipped on delicious drinks and passed around culinary delights, a curtain was dramatically dropped and the second venue was revealed – a seated dinner, accompanied by the alluring vocal stylings of Lindsey Sterling.

Finally, guests were asked to make their way across a lit-up pathway to the third venue for the raging afterparty, which included performances by Robin Thicke and Lance Bass, a spectacular fireworks display, and snacking stations in the form of ‘Ankur’s Pizzeria’ and ‘Erika’s Tacos’ food booths.

At this point, any other couple would have probably called it a trip.

However, Jain and Hammond still had one more surprise in store for their honoured guests – a swanky send-off that started with a serene cruise across the storied Nile River in a felouka and ended in a surprise birthday brunch for the bride on the spectacular Dahab Island, home to a Mamluk-era palatial structure of kaleidoscopic colours and with lush verdant surroundings.

Once the party had enjoyed a belly-dancing show and a nostalgic walk down a ‘Memory Wall’ commemorating their time in Cairo, the time finally came to say “And they lived happily ever after.”

A fittingly fabulous ending to a fanciful fairytale of the grandest proportions.

The Start of Forever in Cairo

Having learned about Jain and Hammond’s unmatched and already historic tying of the knot in extreme detail, this next round of brides now has bountiful materials to eagerly sift through, as they continue their regional search for the perfect bridal inspiration.

Yet, if this latest lavish union has taught us anything about planning the perfect wedding, it’s this – it doesn’t matter whether you opt for a classic vintage-style ceremony on Dahab Island, a royal betrothal at Mohamed Ali Palace, or an archaeological extravaganza at the base of one of the world’s most famous man-made structures. As long as you’re set on sealing the deal in Egypt’s vivacious capital city, you definitely can’t go wrong.

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