Asha and Jake: Gators Down the Aisle

Story by Amanda Wager Photos by KT Photography

Asha Dave and Jake Junot met during their first semester of college at the University of Florida (Go Gators!) while attending the Freshman Retreat with the Baptist Collegiate Ministries. The two played Catch Phrase until 5 a.m. and became close friends. They began dating in February 2008.

It turned into a long distance relationship--Asha was working in Wilmington, while Jake attended the University of Central Florida for his graduate degree. In November 2010, Asha was visiting Jake at UCF and, she says, "He surprised me and woke me up at four in the morning." He didn?t tell her where they were going or what they were doing until they arrived at the hot air balloon. They took a sunrise ride, and when they got back to the ground, Jake proposed.

Their wedding, on September 17, 2011, was a fusion of families, faith, and cultures. Asha's father is from India, and her mother is from Kentucky; Jake's family is from New Orleans. "We wanted to bring everyone together," Asha says, "and let them see the love of Christ through our love."

To unite the families at the reception, Asha and Jake put thought into every detail of the wedding--from the decorative peacock theme, the national bird of India, representing grace, pride, and beauty, to the food, which included Cajun, gumbo, southern-style, as well as Indian food, to the throwing of Mardi Gras beads. The walk down the aisle was also significant. One of their best friends, who would have been Jake's best man, passed away a month before the couple's engagement. Jake's sister walked by herself, leaving a spot open for the friend.

Family, friends from college, and friends from home wanted to be a part of making the wedding special for Asha and Jake. Months before the wedding, they came together and prepared a surprise dance to perform during the reception. "We were called on stage and were told to look out onto the dance floor," says Asha. The couple was admiring their friends and family when the theme song from Slumdog Millionaire, "Jai Ho," began playing. "Everyone at the party busted into a routine for three minutes, it was the best thing I've ever seen," says Asha. "It could not have been any better. It was a blessed day."

The newlyweds honeymooned on the Big Island of Hawaii. "We did everything," says Asha. "We went paddleboarding, sightseeing, attended a Luau, and saw the black sand beaches." The couple's most exciting excursion was night snorkeling with 15-foot manta rays. "They were literally an inch from our faces," says Asha.

The couple currently resides in Wilmington, where Asha works at WWAY as a meteorologist and a reporter, and Jake works for a market research company based in Orlando, Florida.