I’m sure I’m not the only one who loved getting to know Catherine and Will Marks through their wedding feature a few months ago–these two are such a sweet, fun couple! I could hardly say “yes” quickly enough when Catherine emailed me about featuring their home on Southern Newlywed. True to their personalities, their bright, colorful apartment outside of Washington, D.C. is equal parts cozy and designed for hospitality (hello, fabulous bar cart and super stylish guest room!). I’m sure so many of you can relate to being in the apartment rental stage of life, and I hope Catherine and Will serve as a big dose of inspiration to fill your home with things that make you happy, no matter how long you’ll be living there.
Thank you so much to Abby Grace Photography for these lovely photos!
The couple: Catherine Marks (28) and Will (29) Marks
Years married: 1
Where they live: Arlington, VA
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. We are Christians, lawyers, dog lovers, and best friends. Will grew up racing go-carts in North Carolina, and I’m a farmer’s daughter from Southeast Missouri. He went to Georgetown, fell in love with DC, and taught music with Teach for America for two years in rural Arkansas. I went to Wash U in St. Louis, had a post-grad fall adventure in Paris, and worked in theater for two years in New York. Our stories collided in law school in Nashville, and the rest is history! We think DC really satisfies our mutual love for both cities and authentic, unhurried community.
Tell us your love story in one sentence. We met at a New Year’s Eve party in law school, went on our first date the next night, were engaged at sunrise overlooking Nashville a little over a year later, got married in the snow, and have been loving life together ever since.
What is your favorite part of being married? We love being a team in every area of our lives. It’s so fun always having your best friend there to share the ups and downs, the chores and budget, the fun adventures out and the movie nights at home, the big decisions and the small celebrations. All of the stresses of life are easier now that we’re together.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? I think it was surprising that we thought we knew each other so well when we got engaged, but looking back on our wedding day, we couldn’t believe how much closer we were. Now that we’ve been married a year, we are shocked again at how much richer and deeper our relationship is than it was when we got married. It makes us excited for the future!
Do you rent or own? What are your hopes and plans for the future in this area? Tell us a little bit about where you live. We rent our little apartment in the city, and we absolutely love it for this phase of our lives. Instead of feeling like it wasn’t worth going through the trouble to make our place our own since it’s a rental, I decided to just make it ours all at once! I was a woman on a nesting mission when we moved in. (Will didn’t believe me when I told him he was done with décor honey-dos, but I think time has convinced him.) We love all of the windows and light in our place, and our little balcony where we can have dinner or a glass of wine under our twinkle lights, just like we had at our wedding reception. We live in a sweet, quiet neighborhood between two busier Arlington areas. We have a park for our dog to play with her friends in across the street and a Starbucks in our building! Of course, we would like to buy a house someday soon, but for now, what more could we need?
Tell us about the process of moving in together. Do you have any tips for blending your two styles? How much time do you have? We had a somewhat complicated marriage and moving process. I was still in Nashville finishing law school, and Will was clerking for a judge in Columbus, Ohio. We got married over my spring break and were still long distance until my graduation. When I moved out of my place, I put all my things in a Nashville storage unit and took the bare minimum to Ohio for the summer, stopping to be a bridesmaid in a wedding along the way! When it came time to move to Arlington three months later, we loaded up the biggest U-Haul we could get in Columbus and went on an epic, four-day quest to gather our belongings. The first stop was my parents’ house in Missouri, where all the wedding gifts had been living, then to Nashville for my furniture, then on to ride off into the DC sunset at 50 mph, towing our car. When it comes to blending our two styles, I’m fortunate that Will seems to really like the things I pick out, because most of the “blending” on his side was that he had some great frying pans and kitchen knives!
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? Well, most of our apartment is one room, so that makes this a pretty easy answer! Honestly, we love having our kitchen, dining, and living room all open, while still having distinct areas for each, though. We love the dining room because having friends over for dinner is one of our absolute favorite things to do, but we were thrilled with how our navy bedroom walls make it so cozy in there at night too.
Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? What are some of your favorite sources for home things? We splurged on items that we thought would work well in any house and be with us for a long time, like our buffet. For things that we know just need to work for this small space, Ikea was our friend! I also love One Kings Lane. But most of our things are wedding gifts from our generous friends and family.
Which items from your wedding registry do you use the most often? Our Vitamix! We make smoothies most mornings, but have also made everything in there from cauliflower rice to soup to hummus. I also love all the Beatriz Ball pieces I got and use them for everything I can.
Who cooks dinner? We both do! Will is a great cook, especially when it comes to whipping something delicious up with what we already have, while I’m a recipe-follower. We like to take turns cooking and cleaning up.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We eat fajitas all the time! I could never get tired of Mexican food, so we usually have everything we need to make them in the fridge already. On Sunday mornings, I usually convince Will to make me chocolate chip pancakes with lots of powdered sugar.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? Lately, we’ve been doing the Fresh 20, which really does all the meal planning for us, and it has made life so much easier. But my mom also put together all her favorite recipes that I grew up with in a big binder for us, so we turn to that a lot! If I know what I want to make but just need a recipe, I usually just google it and see what looks yummiest and easiest.
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities (work, personal time, extended family, etc.)? We try to come home around the same time every day to make dinner together when we don’t have our small group or something else going on. That helps create boundaries on work hours, even if we have to finish up work after dinner. We also make lots of plans with friends and try to get away for a day or weekend as often as possible, because having things on the schedule holds us accountable for having fun! We love that we can be at wineries in Charlottesville, mountains in West Virginia, ski slopes in Pennsylvania, beaches in Maryland, or the theater in New York all in a couple of hours.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? We just like to pick a neighborhood and then scour the internet to find out what the fun things to do around there are! We are definitely still exploring and getting to know our area.
What most makes your house feel like home? Just being there together every night! I’m also a huge believer in lots of photos. I get that from my mom. We have a gallery wall of some of our favorite memories from our relationship so far that we think kind of tells our love story, and we look forward to adding to it!
What is your favorite memory from your wedding? Walking back up the aisle and out of the church as husband and wife!
How do you remember your wedding in your home? So many ways! My mom had our whole invitation suite framed together, and it hangs over our bar cart. We also have glitter “M”s from the bars at our reception sprinkled around, our toasting flutes from our cake table, our guest book, the sketch Heidi Elnora made of my dress, and, of course, tons of photos.
What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? We both appreciate acts of service around the house when one of us is stressed, tired, or not feeling well. We both just take up the slack during those times with cooking, cleaning, laundry, Pippa duty, etc. We also just try to make time to focus on one another without phones or distractions to talk about our days each night. We also try to have a “meeting” on Sunday evenings about what’s coming up the next week, how we can pray for each other, how we can help each other, and how we felt loved the past week.
Do you have children? What are your hopes and plans for the future in this area? We don’t yet, but hope to someday, Lord willing!
Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… that my husband and I would find each other in God’s timing and that it would all work out. Actually, a lot of people told me that, and I didn’t listen, but it’s true!
This year, our family is most excited about… settling in to life in DC and growing our friendships here so it feels more and more like home.
P.S. Just as a reminder: we’d love to hear from you, too! If you’re interested, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!