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Who: Aicha Chtourou, 24, fashion designer/entrepreneur. Bilal Mashheidi, 28, fashion entrepreneur.
Relationship status: Married since 2016.
Asking for a friend
Bilal: I was in my last year of university at Concordia. I saw a really pretty girl walk by while I was on campus. So I did what any respectable human being would do – I tracked her down on Facebook. It wasn’t easy, we had no friends in common. I didn’t want to creep her out and say something like, “Hey I want to meet to see if we’re compatible and maybe get married some day,” so I did something that was maybe even a little bit more weird – I asked a friend of mine if she would be the icebreaker and reach out to Aicha for me.
Aicha: I got an e-mail from a woman who is now a close friend, but whom I didn’t know at the time. She said there was a guy in the [Muslim] community who was interested in meeting me. Definitely I thought it was a bit of a different type of introduction, but I agreed to meet her for coffee. And then we ended up getting along so well that we didn’t even discuss Bilal until the very end. By that time I really trusted her, so I agreed to meet him.
How I met your mother
Bilal: For our first real date, I asked Aisha to meet me at a coffee place called Juliette & Chocolat. She said sure, but I’m bringing my mother and sister-in-law. The pressure was on.
Aicha: I wanted to have someone with me. It’s not like it was a big interrogation. They just said hello and then they went off and did something. I hadn’t actually seen a picture of Bilal before that meeting. I remember getting there and thinking, wait, I have no idea what this person looks like. I was a bit worried.
Bilal: But then you were very attracted when you saw me, right?
Aisha: I was happy. Let’s leave it at that.
Bilal: I was like, yeah, this chocolate tastes good. Do you want to get married? Ha! No but really, from the very beginning, I felt like, wow, Aicha is so beautiful, but there’s no attitude. She’s so humble and down to earth.
Aicha: I loved that phase of just getting to know each other. I really needed that before we could get married.
The couple that dresses together
Bilal: It helps to have the shared passion – we’re both really big fashion nerds. We definitely have a similar aesthetic: clean, simple, minimalist. We’re pretty much the same person, just boy and girl version.
Aicha: We always give each other fashion advice, pick each other’s outfits. Bilal has great taste, so I don’t mind.
Bilal: And she always has the final say.