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
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!