In August of 2013, Saarika Rao and Partha Patel met on the popular dating site, OKCupid! Partha had actually messaged Saarika back in 2012, but she didn’t respond until a year later, when his persistence finally led to a first date. “I remember Saarika walking up, and she was just as beautiful as she was in all her pictures,” Partha recalls. “I dropped her off at her door around 3am. Our first date lasted seven hours, and our second was the next day.”
Two years later, Partha found himself planning the perfect proposal. Knowing his then-girlfriend wasn’t a fan of grand gestures, he decided to create a more intimate setting with the help of their former roommate and his best man, Daniel. While the couple was at dinner, Daniel was getting their home ready with flowers, candles, and an engagement ring.
DANIEL WAS GETTING THEIR HOME READY WITH FLOWERS, CANDLES, AND AN ENGAGEMENT RING.
“I can’t wait to get out of this dress and into some sweat pants,” said Saarika, as they returned from their dinner date. When she opened the door, she had no idea what was going on or what Daniel was up to. Then, she heard John Legend’s “The Beginning” playing – hers and Partha’s song, which Daniel was instructed to play on repeat – and figured out what was happening. “We both cried and were just so excited,” Partha describes. “We laid in the living room until 5am, sipped on champagne, and listened to the same song the whole night.”
With the help of Saarika’s cousin’s wife, Vaishali Deshpande, the year-and-a-half-long wedding planning process was incredibly smooth and organized. “She was a godsend,” Partha explains. “Without her, our wedding definitely would not have been the same.”
On a warm October morning, the bride, groom, and their guests gathered for a wedding ceremony at Pelican Hill. The following reception was like a scene from a fairy tale, with a dark orange California sunset painting the sky, and a palpable amount of energy in the air. “Shawna Yamamoto did an amazing job with Saarika’s vision, and she really made it a point to make each event with an imprint of her work,” says Partha. “She came up with the idea of a floating wedding cake in the Pelican Hill’s rotunda; it came out so cool! Pelican Hill did an amazing job with the food and drinks. We heard endlessly that people loved the food.”
For the newlyweds, the most special moment of their wedding day was the bride’s dance with her dad. Having been diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), they weren’t sure if he was going to be able to dance at the wedding; but through his will and positivity, he and his daughter shared a dance and created a memory that will last a lifetime.
“We were both tired by the end of the day, but it was over in the blink of an eye,” Partha reflects. “But the best feeling in the world was waking up the next morning – hungover – and finding out that our planners stocked our room with dessert from the reception.”
Location and Cake: The Resort at Pelican Hill Newport Beach, CA; Planner: Rose Events, Metuchen, NJ