Nicole Howard & H. Douglas Hall IV. With Love & Embers
Nicole Howard & H. Douglas Hall IV. With Love & Embers

IV December 29, 2012, in Philadelphia

Posted: March 07, 2013

Hello there

Doug and Nic met freshman year at Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School. Doug, who had previously gone to Catholic schools, was good friends with a guy in Nic's social circle.

The two were soon hanging out on their own, often meeting up for coffee. But this was no budding romance. It was debate club.

The rules were simple: Nic would argue against anything Doug supported - even if she actually felt the same way.

When Doug said he liked hunting, Nic, who is no vegetarian, asked, "Don't you care about the animals and how they feel?"

"She knew how to push my buttons," Doug said.

Both told their mothers about the new friend they'd made, and learned they had actually been preschool chums. She'd been to his 5th birthday party.

The more time they spent together in high school, the more the mothers suggested they should, maybe, date.

"I would never date her!" Doug told his mother. "We would kill each other!"

After graduating in 2002, Doug majored in Spanish at La Salle University, and Nic in metalsmithing at Temple University's Tyler School of Art. After he spent a year in Spain and she a semester in Scotland, their shared cups of coffee included more serious conversations about living abroad and current events. "We weren't just heckling each other," Nic said.

Around the time of college graduation, the two went dancing. A few hours in, what was supposed to be two old friends hanging out felt a lot like a first date to both of them - and a good first date, at that. But there was no use talking about it. Doug was moving to Spain.

Nic, now 29, took a job in admissions at Philadelphia University, where she earned her master's degree in sustainable design. She is now director of admissions at Tyler.

Unable to secure permanent employment in Spain, Doug, now 28, came home and took an accounting job with a moving company. In 2007, he went to work for Tastebuds Market & Catering, where he is now manager.

On a cold and dreary March day in 2010, Doug was killing time on Facebook when he saw a funny post by his old pal, who noted she couldn't wait until summer to sit on a beach and drink a mojito.

"That was exactly how I felt, and I clicked 'like' " he said. Nic sent him a message: "It's been awhile. Let's get together and hang out!"

Doug, who then lived near Graduate Hospital, and Nic, in Fishtown, met for drinks at North Third. They were immediately having a great time. Nic mentioned that her longtime on-again, off-again relationship was off for good. "That was good news for me," said Doug, also then single.

Neither wanted the night to end. "We went to three different places," Nic said.

"We've been together ever since - almost every day," said Doug.

The two began traveling across the country and the world, and here in Philly discovered a love of swing dancing. Doug moved in with Nic and pug Oscar in July 2011. Together they adopted pug Ella.

How does forever sound?

In March 2012, Doug and Nic spent his birthday weekend at his grandmother Margery's cabin in the Poconos.

Nic was busy baking celebratory pie. Doug was uncharacteristically unconcerned about his favorite chocolate pecan. "Let's go watch the sunset," he said, persuading Nic the pie would be fine without her for a bit.

They leaped onto a big rock that's a few feet into the lake. Doug knelt in front of Nic. "I said a bunch of things I can't remember," Doug said.

"I can't remember, either," said Nic. "It was just so much emotion."

"I remember that she said yes," said Doug.

"We giggled for a full minute before I remembered to put the ring on her. I was so happy, I forgot I was holding it."

It was so them

The couple's 75 guests met at the Mask and Wig Club, where drinks and conversation flowed.

Their friend and officiant Jack told a little of their love story. He also told Doug's mother, Judy, and Nic's mother, Nancy, how much their children appreciate them. "Our moms were holding each other's hands. It was adorable," said Nic.

After the vows, Doug and Nic wowed their guests by swing dancing to Tony Bennett's version of "Always." Then everybody danced. Hits from the '30s and '40s gave way to Motown and '80s music.

Cheeses, bruschetta, and antipasto were served. "Nothing too complicated. We wanted everyone to be able to use just a napkin, not a plate with silverware," Doug said.

There were tables and chairs off to the side, if anybody needed a breather. But no seats were assigned, to encourage mingling.

The Mask and Wig's big fireplace mantel bore pictures of Doug's father, also named Doug, who passed away when Doug was 18, and Nic's late grandparents, Phyllis and Ben.

This was unexpected

While the guests ate cupcakes, the couple wanted a small cake to cut. Nicole baked it in the kitchen of the Fishtown home they bought in August 2012, and three guests from Spain decorated it with white and gold fondant.

When it was time to cut this creation, the decorative knife snapped in half. The couple stopped laughing just long enough to use the cake server to get the job done.


Doug won't ever forget looking at Nic while Jack spoke of their love and commitment. "I'm so in love with Nic, and I just felt so much love for her at that time," he said. "Then, being able to kiss her - it was for me, the most amazing moment of the entire wedding."

Toward the end of the evening, Nic and Doug climbed the grand staircase and looked down at their dancing guests. Nic felt so thrilled to finally be married to Doug. "We're here together, and we get to be together forever," she said.

Discretionary spending

A bargain: The couple needed only one room for their wedding and reception, and they married in the offseason. "We got Tuesday night prices for a Saturday night," Nic said.

The splurge: Doug bought a pair of dream shoes: black Allen Edmonds wing-tips. Even on sale, they cost $380 more than the last pair he bought.

The getaway

A spring trip to England and Scotland.



Rev. John Klett, Collingswood


The Mask and Wig Club, Philadelphia


Tastebuds Market and Sweetbox Cupcakes, Philadelphia


DJ Royal T, Philadelphia


With Love & Embers, Hummelstown, Pa.


Nicole Miller, purchased at Nordstrom Wedding Suite, King of Prussia


Designed and printed by the bride

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