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Many girls can probably say that their dog is one of their very best friends, but I imagine few can say their dog was also their matchmaker! Sure enough, it was Jennifer’s beloved golden, Maverick, who was responsible for her and Kerby’s meet-cute–y’all won’t want to miss the story below. Five years and a move to Charleston later, Jennifer and Kerby escaped to the idyllic Palmetto Bluff with their family and friends for their gorgeous spring wedding weekend. Along with dreamy floral crowns, fun pops of pattern, and details that nodded to their love story, Jennifer and Kerby’s celebration wouldn’t have been complete without Maverick in tow!

Thank you so much to our Blue Ribbon Vendor Perry Vaile for sharing this lovely day with us!

Kerby and I met five years ago in Washington, D.C. through my golden retriever, Maverick. I got Maverick when I graduated from college, and for many years, he was my rock during uncertain times of figuring out the next chapter in life. Little did I know, he’d also be the one to introduce me to my best friend and husband. I was going to a backyard birthday party for one of my mutual friends and brought Mav with so he could enjoy the festivities. After an hour or so, I spotted a cute boy rolling around on the ground with my dog. Naturally, I approached him and asked, “How do you know Maverick?” Kerby looked up and said, “I hung out with him the past two weekends while his owner was out of town. We’re best friends. Who are YOU?” And the rest is history.

What made you choose your ceremony and reception venues? Did they have any special significance to you? My family and I grew up going to Hilton Head Island every summer, and it has always been a special place for me. Kerby grew up by the beach in Wilmington, North Carolina, so we figured somewhere near the water would be best for us. A friend of mine used to live in Bluffton, right outside of Hilton Head, and recommended that we look at Palmetto Bluff. We were swept off our feet from the first visit. The charm, natural beauty, and relaxed atmosphere–in addition to the convenience of Palmetto Bluff’s town square and cottages–could not be beat. We ended up moving to Charleston a month after our wedding, so we will be frequenting Palmetto Bluff for the rest of our lives!

Did you decide to do a first look? Why or why not? Kerby and I initially disagreed on a first look. He wanted the classic, tearjerker scene of seeing his bride for the first time while standing in front of his family and friends. I knew I would be anxious the day of the wedding and wanted to see him before the ceremony so I could ease my nerves. After I explained that if we got pictures out of the way before the wedding, we could party longer afterward, Kerby quickly acquiesced.

We decided to write our own vows so we could feel like the ceremony was personalized to us. We decided on each writing “a few paragraphs,” and had my maid of honor read both ahead of time to make sure they worked well together. As I struggled to get through mine, Kerby held my hand and kept whispering to me to breathe. When I finished, he automatically went in to kiss me to make me feel better. Halfway there, he realized that wasn’t part of the plan and asked our minister, “Can we do that?” It got a good chuckle from the crowd.

Our favorite detail of the wedding was: We had a bar set up at the entrance of our ceremony serving Moscow mules and Dark and Stormys in copper mugs. We wanted our guests to feel comfortable and start the evening off on the right foot. It was a celebration, after all! We also made sure that Maverick was a part of every aspect of the wedding. Not only did he need to be celebrated for introducing us, but his presence helped us feel relaxed and at ease. His ears flapped in the wind as the bridesmaids did a motorboat cruise to the bridal luncheon at Marshside Mama’s. He rode in the golf cart with us to the rehearsal dinner, where he got in the way of corn hole and snuck pieces of barbecue. He walked down the aisle with my maid of honor and danced the night away with us under the tent. Palmetto Bluff allowed him to be the VIP he deserved to be!

What advice do you have for folks currently planning a wedding? Look for ways to personalize your wedding. Think about who you are as a couple, what you like to do together, and what’s most important to you, and try and incorporate that into everything you decide. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it is what ends up standing out to your guests and building that lasting memory in your mind.

Our flowers were GORGEOUS! Em Creative Floral did a wonderful job of combining neutrals with pops of coral, pinks, and reds. My favorite part was the baby’s breath crowns that were made for my bridesmaids. They looked like angels floating down the aisle.

Our wedding cake was a simple white cake with gorgeous, fresh flowers. In order to incorporate more flavors, we served cupcakes as well. One of my favorite pictures from that day is of me feeding Maverick a piece of the cake with Kerby looking on. He deserved to be a part of the wedding in every sense!

Tell us all about the proposal! After dating for four years, I had an inkling that Kerby would pop the question sometime soon. My family has a tradition of going to Orlando every year for Braves spring training, and Kerby was coming along–his first trip to Disney World! I figured this was it. However, by the end of the trip, we only had one night left, and we were spending it on a drinking tour of the different countries at Epcot. I knew Kerby wouldn’t do it then (in public, at a theme park, after drinking, no chance!), but I had to check his pockets on the monorail anyway. Empty. We started with a beer at a pub in England, then walked over to Canada. Kerby steered me to the replica of Niagara Falls (romantic!) and dropped to one knee. I was so shocked and embarrassed that he was doing this in public at Disney World that I started pulling him to get up. Once I saw the ring, reality took over and I happily said yes! We were then able to celebrate with a few drinks in different countries (like champagne in France!) and fireworks with my parents. It was a dream proposal that I never would have planned.
When did y’all get married? May 16, 2014
How many friends, family members, and loved ones attended your wedding? 206
Tell us about finding your wedding dress. I have a simple, relaxed style and, for some reason, always pictured myself in a simple, sleeveless, trumpet gown. I began going to stores in D.C. with my girlfriends and thought I found the ONE. When I went to try it on for my mom at a high-end boutique in Atlanta, I realized I didn’t feel like myself in it. My mom and I drove to Kelly’s Closet and instantly felt at ease with the girls there. We were so inspired by all the flowy, unique, timeless gowns. I tried on every Jenny Packham dress they had and ultimately fell for the “Esme” because of its open back and gorgeous beading.
Tell us about some of the songs you used throughout your wedding and why you chose them. We had an acoustic guitarist for the processionals and recessional. We love the casual and relaxed feel that only a single guitar can provide. The bridesmaids walked down to “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and I walked down to “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz. Our processional was to “Home” by Edward Sharpe. Our first dance was to Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby.” We wanted a song that was completely different than most first dance choices. Neither of us are great dancers and we just wanted to go out and have fun. We never practiced, but had sung the song at the top of our lungs many times before. It helped that everyone in attendance knew every lyric and was able to sing along with the band! My dad and I danced to “Carolina Girl,” and Kerby and his mom danced to “Circle of Life,” which ended up with half our friends out on the dance floor, embracing in a swaying circle of Lion King enthusiasts.
How did you plan for your marriage while planning your wedding? It was a real treat to have our officiants be ministers from the church my family attended growing up. We were able to meet with them a few times in Atlanta before our wedding for marriage counseling sessions. It was comforting that we had already openly discussed many of the issues that we knew we could face throughout our lifetime of marriage.
What was your most memorable moment about your wedding day? Our wedding day, as everyone says, flew by way too quickly. What stood out to us were the moments that Perry, our photographer, pulled us aside to take pictures. She had us sit by the water to stop, breathe, and take in the moment.
What’s next for you as a couple? What memories are you looking forward to making together? We are looking forward to soaking up our new, more relaxed lifestyle in Charleston. We recently made an addition to our family with another golden retriever–this time, a blonde female we named Sully after Sullivan’s Island.

Photographer: Perry Vaile | Videographer: Hart to Heart Media | Planner: Ashley Rhodes | Ceremony Venue and Caterer: Palmetto Bluff | Reception Venue: Private residence | Florist: Em Creative Floral | Band: The Atlanta Showstoppers | Paper Products: Low Country Paper Co. | Bride’s Gown: “Esme” by Jenny Packham | Bridal Salon: Kelly’s Closet | Hair Stylist: Alicia Stafford | Makeup Artist: Bride’s Side Beauty | Menswear: Bonobos

lisa Written with love by Lisa
3 Comments
  1. avatar Perry Vaile reply

    I adored this wedding, thank you so, so much for featuring it and sharing their story! Hands down, this wedding day was one of my very favorites to capture – their ease with each other and their guests was so refreshing, and the trust they put into my as the photographer meant the world! It was also kind of amazing to see Maverick the entire day! haha! I even dedicated a folder in their wedding gallery to just Maverick images because we had so many! Best Dog, for sure!

  2. avatar Kate reply

    This wedding is absolutely stunning! Love all of the details including the beautiful calligraphy on the napkins and wedding ceremony program board! The photo of the groomsmen on the bikes might be one of my all time favorites though :)

  3. avatar Dana reply

    omg I love their meet-cute! Sweet dog

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I think the best homes tell us something about the people who live there. At a glance, you know something about the residents even before you meet them – what they love, what they value, what makes them feel safe and comfortable. For Natalie (a Blue Ribbon Vendor!) and Huey, who met while rowing in high school and have always lived near the ocean, a navy and white home dotted with nautical touches is just perfect. I know y’all will enjoy the wisdom of this sweet young couple, so let’s dive on in!

The couple: Natalie, 24, and Hugh, 25
Years married: 1.5
Where they live: A few minutes outside of Annapolis, Maryland
Tell us a little bit about yourselves. Natalie is a wedding photographer and Hugh works in IT Sales just outside of Baltimore. We have two dogs that we spoil rotten: Sophie the miniature Australian shepherd and Hunter the rescue pup! We met during our sophomore year of high school on the crew team and fell in love rowing together on the Severn River. We started dating that spring and attended college near one another in Philadelphia. During my senior year at Penn, Huey proposed and we married the following summer at his parents’ property.

Do you rent or own? We own our little townhouse and absolutely love it! From the moment we moved in a year ago, we’ve been slowly renovating each room and making it our own. We both grew up in this area, and after attending school in Philadelphia, we knew we wanted to live near the Chesapeake Bay. We truly couldn’t imagine spending our lives anywhere else.
Tell us about the process of moving in together. We are both so young that when we moved in together, we didn’t own a darn thing (not even a bed frame!), so rather than blending styles, we truly had to begin from scratch! We’ve been lucky to have so many pieces handed down that we’ve painted and modernized to fit our contemporary coastal style!
Which room in your home is your favorite, and why? I think our favorite room in the house is our dining room! There is something truly special about sharing a meal with the one you love. This room has sentimental value to us because our table once belonged to Hugh’s grandparents in the early 1960’s. So many amazing dinners and vibrant conversations have been shared over this table, and it makes me even more excited to see how our family grows and changes in the years to come.

What is your favorite part of being married? My favorite part of being married is spending Sunday mornings cuddled up together with our two dogs running circles around our feet. We cherish the quiet moments. The day to day. Those little things that truly are the big things.
What has been the most surprising thing about marriage? I’ve been surprised by just how much we’ve grown together since our wedding day. I never realized that I would fall in love with my husband over and over again, or that the love we shared the day we got married was merely a fraction of the love we have today. I truly thought that I knew what it meant to love Huey… and after all that we’ve been through in the past eight a half years, I’m constantly amazed by how our love continues to grow.
What most makes your house feel like home? Our house feels like a home because of the people (and pups!) that are constantly a part of this space.

What is your favorite memory from your wedding? We can’t agree on a single memory that we both love the most… the overall experience of getting married in the backyard surrounded by our friends and family was truly more than we could have ever asked for. It was perfect.
How do you remember your wedding in your home? We have wedding pictures printed everywhere and a wedding album on the way! We also keep our dated cake forks in the kitchen, and we bring them out on our six-month and one-year anniversaries to share a piece of caramel cake.
Do you have a favorite date night idea to share? Get outside and explore your own backyard. We live by the water, so many of our dates involve sitting out by the Bay and having dinner, holding hands along the dock, or enjoying dessert in downtown Annapolis. It’s amazing how much we’ve discovered right in our quiet little town just by walking around together.

Where do you splurge and where do you save when decorating? We save on furniture and most of the pieces we own are either family heirlooms (the dining room table, our bed), or antique store finds that we’ve painted or modernized to fit our home. I’m also a little obsessed with HomeGoods. Oh, HomeGoods. I could shop that store for hours at a time.
How does your family handle finances? We have shared accounts and Huey handles all of our personal finances, since I’m generally busy crunching numbers for my business!
What’s your best tip for balancing your relationship and other life priorities? Stay committed to putting one another first. I run my own business and it can be so easy to let our date night evenings slide because I am falling behind on editing or another album needs to be designed. We’ve worked to set boundaries on other things (work, activities, extended family gatherings) so that we can always make time for one another.

Who cooks dinner? We tend to alternate. Huey is in charge of the grill; I handle the stove. He is awesome at seasonings. I can bake up a storm.
What is your go-to weeknight meal? Weekend meal? We keep weeknight meals pretty simple with salads and yummy grilled sandwiches. On the weekends (when I’m not shooting a wedding), we absolutely love to have steamed crabs or grill up some barbecue chicken on our back deck.
What’s your favorite place to find recipes? I have the Epicurious app and I love it. So easy to use and it keeps me inspired. I also love my grandmother’s recipes, many of which she wrote out by hand for me on a little notebook that I keep in my kitchen.

What is one small way you love or serve your spouse? Natalie: Huey really (REALLY!) dislikes doing the dishes and always has–we often joke that we bought this house because it was our first place together that had a dishwasher! So even though our rule is “I cook, you clean,” I will sometimes do the dishes to surprise him when he’s watching a game or relaxing after a home-cooked meal. Hugh: I get up almost every morning to take care of our dogs so that Natalie can sleep in for an extra thirty minutes. During wedding season, she is often working late, so this is my way of giving her extra time to rest.

Do you have children? We are excited to fill our home with babies one day. I would love three or four; Huey has always wanted two. We’d feel blessed with any number at all. Currently, we are absolutely in love with being puppy parents and having the freedom to travel together. We can see our family expanding in the future and are excited for that day to come!

Before getting married, I wish someone had told me… that we would never stop learning about each other. After dating for seven years, I truly thought I knew everything there was to know about my best friend, but what amazes me is how much I continue to learn (and continue to love) with every passing month.
This year, our family is most excited about… this year, we are most excited about traveling together to Europe for the first time and exploring the Amalfi Coast side by side! We have never been to Europe as a couple and it’s going to be the trip of a lifetime!

We’re so grateful to Natalie and Huey for sharing their hearts and home with us! Be sure to follow along with them:
Natalie Franke Photography
Natalie’s blog
Natalie’s Facebook
Natalie’s Twitter
Natalie’s Instagram

P.S. We’d love to hear from you! Our hope is to feature REAL couples in the South – your inspiring friend, super talented cousin, or neighbor with the cutest house – the kind of person everyone would love to “e-meet.” If that sounds like you or someone you know, take a peek at our Southern Newlywed submission page and shoot us an email!

emily Written with love by Emily
9 Comments
  1. avatar Lisa reply

    I have always admired Natalie and it’s so fun to read about their newlywed home! Love that they’ve incorporated heirloom pieces so seamlessly into their style.

  2. avatar katelyn james reply

    Awww I love it!!!! I didn’t want it to end!!!!!!!!

  3. avatar Emily reply

    Oh how I wish that bed weren’t a family heirloom!! It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for – so pretty!

  4. avatar Karen reply

    Beautiful home!

  5. avatar Julie Armstrong reply

    Fun and enjoyable

  6. avatar Fotograf Warszawa reply

    Beautiful house. The colors of the flowers, decor and paintings, delight.

  7. avatar Rebekah reply

    A couple whose relationship is just as beautiful as they (and their home!) are :)

  8. avatar Kate Robinson reply

    So gorgeous! Such a cute couple :)

  9. avatar November Inspirations – Something Pretty reply

    […] Decorate: We featured Natalie Franke’s adorable Annapolis home on Southern Weddings last week and her front door stopped me in my tracks. It has me dreaming up other perfect combinations of nautical and autumnal, from wedding receptions to place settings. (Photo by Natalie Franke via Southern Weddings) […]

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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