Making a love connection at a work conference seems like the plot of a romantic comedy – but Nilou Touba had to take note of James “Jimmy” Rothermel when he took the stage at a professional function in Atlanta, Georgia. “My boss at the time had to force us to talk,” Nilou remembers. “I’d told him I thought that Jimmy was cute when I saw him speak on stage about an Operation Smile trip he went on to Brazil. We were both very awkward, and nervous.” Regardless of their jitters, the pair hit it off immediately. At the time, Nilou was living in Houston while Jimmy resided in Boston; however, despite the distance, the two struck up a romantic relationship.

When it came time for Jimmy to propose, he decided to make his question into a short excursion to Miami, tailored specifically to the loving couple. “He had planned a great weekend away for us and asked me on the beach before dinner,” beams Nilou. “I had no idea he had planned anything, so I took a lot longer than he expected and he was sweating bullets and acting very strange. Apparently, he had booked a photographer and she had been waiting on us for an hour!” Despite their tardiness, their photographer snapped lovely pictures while Jimmy popped the question. As an extra surprise, the groom-to-be had arranged for his fiancée’s parents to join them for a celebratory meal.

With the help of her wedding planner and her loving future husband, Nilou began the 16-month process of designing the nuptials of their dreams. One aspect was very important to the bride from the start: her venue’s proximity. “I wanted it to be in the heart of Dallas so that our friends would be able to Uber to the wedding or drive and not have to pay to stay at a hotel,” she reveals. From there, organizing their big day went along smoothly, as Nilou followed some sage, simple advice she received after her engagement: “Don’t stress too much; everything will work out in the end.” 

Finally, at 5:30 p.m. sharp on a September afternoon, Nilou made the trip down the aisle toward her love, wearing a stunning trumpet-style gown with a sweetheart neckline. “That’s when it hit me that everything was real, and that I was getting to marry my best friend: something I had only dreamed about since I was a little girl,” she shares. Her seven bridesmaids, preceding her, sported long black dresses with necklines matching the bride’s. Per Nilou’s heritage, their service included a Persian ceremony in the middle of their vows. Once joined, the happy newlyweds lead their 200 guests into the opulent ballroom of their venue to begin the festivities.

Attendees stepped into the reception space and found their seats at light-hued tables scattered across the room. Each were topped with varying tall and low glass vessels filled with soft, romantic blooms such as roses, majolica spray roses, dusty miller, and hydrangeas in white and blush, expertly crafted by Bella Flora of Dallas. Mercury-glass candles in differing heights surrounded the centerpieces, providing a light glow. A luscious floral arch stood tall behind the head table, framing the seats belonging to Nilou and Jimmy. A four-layer ivory cake with cascading pink and alabaster blooms was displayed for all guests to marvel at – and later, taste. To keep revelers on their feet, the couple included some lively Persian music intermixed with the wedding classics. At the end of the day, the bride knows that if she could do it over, she wouldn’t change a thing. “Everything was perfect,” she smiles.