The morning of their wedding, Natalie and Boots sat around the breakfast table at her parents’ home trying to decide whether they should say their vows to one another privately, before the ceremony. They were worried they would not be able to get through them in front of everyone, being the highly emotional people they are. And Natalie realized there was also a benefit to saying their vows twice. “Then we’ll be double-married,” she said. “I want to be as married to you as I can possibly be.”
They ended up heeding everyone’s advice and waiting until the ceremony to say the words they’d written themselves. Boots’ vows began with “You saved me.” In Natalie’s vows, she said she never thought it was possible to love someone so much, and to have that love be returned to her equally.
You see, these two walked through some raging fires to get to one another. They had been badly hurt by others, and they had been tested. They had spent a little time at the proverbial “rock bottom” before figuring out how to swim back up. On the surface, they laid eyes on one another and it was like the universe breathed a sigh of relief. Its job was done. “He was put on this Earth for me to find,” Natalie told me.
Natalie and Boots married at the grand antebellum mansion Longwood in Natchez, Mississippi. Natalie grew up in Natchez, which is a very special town of unparalleled Civil War-era homes and Southern beauty. It has become a special town to us as well. Ben photographed Natalie’s sister Vicki’s antebellum church wedding there 10 years ago, and that led to several more Natchez weddings.
Natalie and Boots did get through their vows in front of everyone, and, as expected, there were tears and sniffles coming from every direction – the bride and groom, the wedding party, their parents, their guests. OK, fine, even from us.
There’s just something extremely beautiful and moving about watching two people join their lives together, when everyone present knows it’s the right thing, the right path. It makes the celebration afterward that much more joyous. And yes, there was some good dancing, and some good feasting, but my favorite part of the reception was watching Natalie and Boots go around and spend time with the people they love. That’s just who they are. They like to have a good time, but more important to them are friendships and family.
Natalie and Boots are back home in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, where Natalie is a wedding coordinator with It’s A Shore Thing and Boots is getting his degree in architecture. They spend their evenings cuddled up on the couch with their dogs, decompressing and refocusing on their true priorities – loving one another unconditionally and pushing one another to be the best versions of themselves that they can be.
Natalie and Boots, it’s nothing but up from here! We love you guys and cannot wait to see the beauty and wonder that you create in the world around you.