Not every couple connects immediately with one another – often, cultivating a relationship takes some time. “We met through a mutual friend and we did not hit it off right away,” reveals Chelsea Goldston of her first encounter with Drew O’Connell. “Our personalities completely clashed and I had no intention of running into him again, but we kept seeing each other, and finally – with pressure from our friend – I agreed to go on a date with him.” In an effort to scare him away, Chelsea dressed in casual wear for their evening out and began talking about her desire to “be married soon and have lots of babies – things a mid-twenties girl would never admit out loud,” she adds. To her complete surprise, Drew expressed the same wishes, causing Chelsea to let her guard down a little. “It went from 0 to 100 all within a matter of weeks,” she says. “It all sounds cliché, but love finds you when you aren’t even looking.”

Drew, knowing Chelsea was the woman he wanted to spend his life with, took a trip to visit his parents. “We had discussed it previously and I had been thinking about when and how to do it for a long time,” he explains. “My mother asked me when I was planning on popping the question and it seemed to just come to me right away: I thought of the end of April instantly.” After discreetly noting her taste in jewelry while shopping, designing a gorgeous engagement ring, and asking for the blessings of her father, mother, and grandmother, Drew felt ready. On a vacation to his hometown of New York City, Drew asked Chelsea to marry him in the exact same fashion and setting as his dad had proposed to his mom almost 35 years prior to the day. As they strolled past the fountain in front of the famed Plaza Hotel, Drew got on bended knee. Following Chelsea’s heartfelt “yes!” the soon-to-be-groom tossed the ring box into the fountain, as his father did, proclaiming, “this is for you, mom and dad.”

Going into their 10-month engagement, Chelsea felt fairly confident in her level of knowledge when it came to organizing their special day. “I had been in or attended 26 weddings, so I thought I knew everything I needed to in order to start,” she laughs. Before hiring a planner, the bride did extensive research and assembled a few other vendors herself – a decision she believes to be a bit premature. Once she decided upon a professional coordinator, “everything ran so much more smoothly,” she asserts. “No matter how many weddings you’ve been to, or how many vendors you follow on social media, hiring a planner really needs to be your first step.

Electing to marry in their current city of Dallas, Texas, the bride and groom both combined their respective visions to bring their celebration to life. Chelsea wanted to honor her southern roots and host their nuptials in an open-air, secluded location, while Drew, being a true New Yorker, was after a black-tie affair with sit-down service. As a compromise, the couple selected a grand hotel venue with a sprawling outdoor area, which they wanted to fill with touches of white to create an idyllic ceremony space. Bella Flora of Dallas went to work creating their vision, adding a white wrought-iron gate bedecked with ivory drapery and blooms, a simple petal-strewn aisle, and a raised stage holding up a four-post arbor. The grand altar featured champagne-toned fabrics, a crystal chandelier, and an array of striking blossoms in light hues, including hydrangeas, garden roses, majolica roses, Tibet roses, long-stemmed Hawaiian dendrobium orchids, and cascading phalaenopsis orchids. Guests found their seats on the lawn in anticipation – though Drew was the most anxious to see his bride. “My most memorable moment was when they dropped the sheet and I saw Chelsea for the first time,” he smiles. “I had the same feeling when I proposed, like there was nothing around us – but, of course, there were over a hundred people staring right at us.”

Though the vow exchange was made up of mostly Christian traditions, Chelsea and Drew included an addition to the unity candle in which they collected well-wishes from their parents and grandparents to be read on their first anniversary. As they were officially joined as husband and wife, the newlyweds moved back up the aisle: Chelsea’s striking flared gown sparkled in the sun as her custom cathedral-length veil fell behind them. Attendees followed close behind and enjoyed a fun, outdoor cocktail hour before filing into the indoor reception space, which was bathed in the same alabaster shades from the ceremony. “I knew I wanted lots of white, clean elegance with soft lighting and plenty of florals,” Chelsea remarks. “It was very whimsical, with touches of glitz and glamour.”

The ballroom displayed both round and rectangular tables adorned with blush linens, clear vases brimming with snowy perennials, glass candlesticks, floating candles, tapered cylinders, and glass votives. The focal point was surely the fairy-tale sweetheart table, which showcased a textured floral runner and a light, patterned linen. Behind the featured loveseat were velvet fabrics fashioned to create a double-drape effect. Guests danced the night away underneath a large chandelier, tying in the crisp motif of the evening. “The attention to detail by Chelsea and our planner was exceptional,” notes Drew.

Revelers dined on delicious fare and topped off their culinary journey with a bit of the newlyweds' six-foot wedding cake, complete with a petal base, orchids, lilies, and the exact crystal-and-pearl beading featured on the gown of the bride. Friends and family also had the opportunity to sip on signature drinks from the bar – “Pink Barbie” for Chelsea and “The Ken” for Drew.

As the groom was particularly involved in the coordination process, he has a strong view on the role of the husband-to-be in a wedding. “It is 100% a stressful time, but you will get through it by listening and helping out where you are needed,” he advises. “The best thing you can do is hire someone you trust that can make sure you won’t have anything to worry about.” With a picture-perfect wedding day behind them, Chelsea and Drew jetted off on their honeymoon, ready to start on their journey of married life together.