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A Billionaire Tech CEO Is Throwing the Most Epic Wedding Ever in Egypt —And He Nearly Missed It! (Exclusive) – PEOPLE

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Billionaire tech CEO Ankur Jain and Erika Hammond nearly missed their own epic wedding celebration in Egypt!

The founder and CEO of Bilt Rewards, 34, and his bride, 32, who is a former WWE wrestler and creator of Equinox’s Knockout class, planned to kick off their four-day extravagant wedding in Cairo with a welcome party at the Muhammed Ali Palace — but they didn’t make it to the celebration until 2:30AM thanks to a complication with their chartered plane.

Jain tells PEOPLE that the flight fiasco began when the couple and their friends were preparing to jet off to Egypt from South Africa where they had been on safari. “Everything was smooth. All of the checked bags were loaded into the vans ready to go when we get a phone call that our Egypt Air flight had been turned away by the South African government,” says Jain. 

Ankur Jain and Erika Hammond en route from South Africa to their wedding welcome party in Egypt.

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Despite weeks of negotiations and planning in order to get approval for an overnight departure, the charter flight that they had booked ultimately wasn’t able to pick the group up in South Africa due to a permit issue.

The news sent the bride and groom to-be “scrambling” as they tried to figure out what to do next. Jain and Hammond worked all evening to try to figure out a way to make it in time for their wedding celebration party, and even considered booking a commercial flight to another city in South Africa to get to Dubai and then to Cairo. 

“We were gonna miss for sure at this point, the whole opening day,” Jain recalls. “We were even worried about making the second day and you can imagine, we planned this for a year. Erika was in decent spirits… I was devastated.”

It wasn’t until 8 a.m. the next day that they finally received a pdf with the transport authority’s signature on the permit allowing them to take off. However, with the new schedule, they wouldn’t arrive in Cairo until 11:00PM — three hours after their opening party was scheduled to begin.

Erika Hammond gets ready on the plane on the way to her wedding welcome party in Egypt.

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“We sent a message to the group like ‘Hey, we’re not going to be able to make the party tonight… You guys go have fun. We’ll see you tomorrow,’ ” Jain says. “And right away, our friends were amazing.”

“Everybody rallied on that group chat and said, ‘Nope, we’ll push the party, we’ll stay up…. we’re going to keep the party going and you guys come when you land, and we’re going to celebrate together,’ ” he continues.

However, that still wasn’t the end of their complications. During a stop in Nairobi to refuel, the ground crew didn’t show up for two hours. By then, their flight schedule was pushed back even further and they weren’t expected to land in Cairo until nearly 2:00AM.

Ankur Jain and Erika Hammond arrive in Egypt ahead of their wedding.

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Still, Jain says their guests in Cairo happily waited until they arrived. Despite the 12 hour journey, the wedding guests on board with the bride and groom hyped themselves up by playing music as they all changed and got ready for the party while up in the air. They even did an impromptu “fashion show” while Hammond’s Bridal Glam Team Dawn artists Kelly Dawn did her makeup while Jackie Seabrooke did her hair at the back of the plane. 

“While we were on our way, everyone in Cairo was at the bar together, sending us photos, rallying us to get there,” says Jain, adding that Lance Bass kept the dance party going until their arrival.

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Ankur Jain and Erika Hammond on safari in South Africa ahead of their Egypt wedding.

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They finally made their grand entrance at around 2:40AM. in the morning and the entire wedding party stayed up all night celebrating as a DJ played music while belly dancers and fire dancers performed. 

Jain tells PEOPLE that despite the “chaotic” start, they eventually were able to have fun the way they planned. “We partied until 5:00AM having just the best opening night,” he says.

The pair, who first met when Jain started working out at Rumble Boxing where Hammond — who is on the founding team of the celeb-loved gym, was an instructor at the time — will tie the knot in a private ceremony in Cairo over the weekend.

Ankur Jain and Erika Hammond on safari in South Africa ahead of their wedding in Egypt.

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“There’s something so special about being in a completely different world environment. So we decided, our wedding is about having a moment together to celebrate the new beginning, having a really special party with our friends somewhere where you’re in a different world,” says Jain.

Adds Hammond: “It’s a once in a lifetime experience!”

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