IT WAS A MONTH into the COVID-19 pandemic when high school sweethearts Niki Patel and Priyank Purohit took a stroll along the Chicago Riverwalk; there, a photographer was waiting to capture Niki’s surprise when Priyank popped the question. “I should have been suspicious the moment he bought a new bomber jacket and put on jeans during lockdown,” Niki remembers with a laugh.
Two years later, Niki and Priyank finally said “I do.” “The uncertainty of us being able to plan the big, fat Indian wedding of our dreams during the pandemic played a role in our long engagement, but the extra time allowed us to really enjoy planning,” Niki says. “It turned out to be a blessing!” They kicked off the week of festivities with a welcome party and mehndi at Time Out Market, one of their favorite date-night destinations. Next, they hosted their sangeet at Fairlie, which was decked out in a bold mix of fuchsia and purple matching Niki’s lehenga. Guests enjoyed traditional Indian cocktails and a custom bourbon tasting station.
The couple’s multiday celebration culminated at the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel. “We loved the idea of hosting our wedding and reception at a place that is such an ode to the city,” Niki says. Priestess Anu Malhotra officiated their ceremony, which was rife with Hindu and Gujarati customs, including the baraat, a parade of the groom’s family and friends.
“Priyank rode on a rickshaw driven by one of his best friends,” Niki says. “It was truly a sight to behold!” The bride’s family also successfully stole Priyank’s shoes—an Indian wedding tradition— and he had to pay up to get them back.
“Hand in hand as husband and wife for the first time, we walked down the aisle to one of our favorite Indian ‘hype’ songs: ‘Lover’ by Diljit Dosanjh,” Priyank says. “We were all smiles as our family and friends tossed rose petals along the way.” The couple enjoyed a night of dancing and an array of Indian cuisine—dishes like paneer tikka masala and yellow tadka dal—at their reception before jetting off to St. Lucia for a much-needed relaxing honeymoon.
The pair connected at their colorful sangeet. “I loved that we got to do this together as a team,” Niki says, “and that we get to share that experience in all things we’ll do together in the future.” Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
The traditional haldi. Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
Bride Niki’s mehndi was by Sumeyya Rehman of Henna Craze. Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
The ceremony decor was light and ethereal. Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
The newlyweds recessed out. Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
The red velvet cake. Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
White floral centerpieces Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
The couple looked chic for their reception. Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
Place settings featured custom name cutouts Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
An epic first dance. Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
Tables were topped with towering centerpieces. Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
Programs designed as The Shaadi Times (shaadi means wedding). Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
Niki fell in love with an ivory lehenga and wore red roses in her hair. Photographed by Soda Fountain Photography
Venues Sangeet: Fairlie, fairliechiago. com; Wedding: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, radissonhotels.com
Wedding Planner Jalpa Patel, J2R Events, j2revents.com
Bride’s Hair & Makeup Flawless Beauty by Pauline, flawlessbeautybypauline.com
Bridesmaids’ & Groomsmen’s Attire Rang de Posh, rangdeposh.com
Florals Yanni Design Studio, yannidesignstudio.com
Cake Alliance Bakery, alliancebakery.com
Invitations Mi-Te Print, miteprint.com
Videographer Memories Studio, memories-studio.net
Photography by: Soda Fountain Photography