In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic – the spring of 2020 – Jack Frankenberry and Meg Lionel Murphy met on a dating app. They immediately felt a connection, but there were two obstacles: She lived in Sturgeon Bay and he in Milwaukee. That, and the fact that the country was in lockdown.
“We talked on the phone for hours a day, and I finally drove up there [in April],” says Frankenberry, a video game designer. “I was planning to stay for a few days. But I never came home.”
The meeting was serendipitous – and completely unexpected. As a survivor of domestic abuse from a past relationship, Lionel Murphy, who previously lived in Portland, Oregon, and Minneapolis, was achieving acclaim with her art career. But she had recently returned to Sturgeon Bay to be close to her parents and siblings. “I was single and really enjoying my time alone. Then the pandemic hit, and I realized, ‘I don’t want to die alone,’” she says.
Frankenberry’s father committed suicide when he was young, an event that would shape the rest of his life. “I’ve struggled with depression,” he says, but this relationship changed him.
“I’ve just been very happy since I met Meg and started building a life here with her.” Accompanying Lionel Murphy to New York City for her art shows, Frankenberry has also gained a new love for travel, something he once hated.
On Christmas Day of 2021, Frankenberry proposed. “I knew it was her favorite holiday,” he says. The nuptials in front of just shy of 100 guests took place at Frankenberry’s stepmother’s Milwaukee home, using the yard and her impressive art collection as a backdrop. The painter Fred Stonehouse served as officiant, dishing out advice to the couple on how to stay married and still practice art, and gifting them with a drawing. “Fred had met Jack’s dad before he passed away,” says the bride, making his role in the wedding extra meaningful.
“My relationship with art has saved my life,” she says. “We were able to be married surrounded by art. I totally never thought I would get married [again] before I met Jack. We feel really lucky to have found each other. We speak the same language. We talked about all the pain we’ve been through and how healing our relationship is.”
They now own a building in downtown Sturgeon Bay that hosts their studios and The Hours, their new shop. The couple drew from the store’s eclectic inventory of vintage items for glassware, tableware and centerpieces for their wedding day. Miss Molly’s Cafe catered a Mediterranean spread in honor of Frankenberry’s Greek heritage.
Their artistic friends also contributed. Jen Hough, a Madison jewelry designer, designed their rings. Their studio mate bought flowers in bulk and designed the bouquets. Another friend sang their wedding song, “In Spite of Ourselves” by John Prine and Iris DeMent.
Also, “my dad baked a bunch of apple pies, and we brought cherry pies because of Door County,” says Lionel Murphy.
“She’ll have it all in her head the whole time,” Frankenberry says about his wife’s vision. “I felt like it was a big art show.”
“It was a very affordable dress,” Lionel Murphy says about the dress she chose at Miss Ruby Bridal Boutique. “It almost looked like a nightgown. It was very dreamy.”
Most Memorable Moment
“My little flower girl, my goddaughter, followed me around all night like a guardian angel,” she says. “She was my little buddy. I love that I get to live as an example of a loving relationship for her.”
“We brought our dog to the wedding and we thought he could just happily walk down the aisle, but he started crying [after] and we took turns holding him [during the ceremony],” says Lionel Murphy.
Most Romantic Moment
“We wrote our own vows, and I was just so deeply moved by Jack’s,” the bride says. “I really felt loved in that moment. It was just honest and raw.”
“We didn’t really have a wedding party, but I did ask my closest friends to wear pink,” says Lionel Murphy.