There are those who find their loves in adulthood, those who take a little convincing, and those who meet their soulmates at five years old and call it right then and there. Rob & Arden — if you can believe it — are all three. Their love found its feet with the sweetest adolescent courtship and reached an all-new height on their gorgeous wedding day along the Charleston waterfront, and we have the happy privilege of sharing their story!
From photographer Anne Rhett:
“Arden and Rob’s wedding was breathtaking, and their day was in every way classic, traditional, and tested by time. Their love story, rather than any particular bit of decor, is what made this wedding so special.
For starters, Rob had been courting Arden since they were in elementary school together- seriously. Here is an excerpt from one of the many love letters he wrote her, most on colorful file cards: ‘There is a girl. Her name is Arden. She is worth more than a necklace of pearls. She is one of a kind. That’s why she is mine. She is the best in the world and will stay the same’ signed, ‘Rob McKenzie Arden Hare 4 eva.’ This, of course, indicated great wisdom beyond his years, as the note is dated 2000, and in 2017 the two really did vow to love one another ‘4 eva.’
Their families displayed these notes proudly along with photos of Arden and Rob dancing together when they were getting dancing lessons at Cotillion as little ones.
Rob’s love remained as true as he said it was in the fifth grade, and Arden and Rob grew up to be a poised and beloved young couple.
I loved the simple and romantic aesthetic that Arden chose. The bride had her portraits made at her alma mater, Ashley Hall School, a private all-girls school in downtown Charleston that used to be a private residence. She looked stunning on the porches and in the drawing rooms of the historic McBee House and outside of the shell house, a structure on campus that used to be an aviary when the property was a residence. (I actually used to teach at the school, which made this a special return for me as well.)
She wore a Madame Trousseau dress and opted for a gorgeous lace bolero to protect her from the November chill. Her bridesmaids wore deep blue, and her sweet flower girl wore a flower crown carried a sweetgrass basket, a Charleston staple. They exited the ceremony and made their escape to a pastel blue getaway car to the sound of bagpipes! The wedding was at the bride’s childhood church in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, followed by a party at a Private Club in downtown Charleston.”
Love notes from the couple, Rob & Arden:
How did you two meet? What were your first impressions of one another?
Arden: “Rob and I actually met when we were five years old… We were best friends and even ‘boyfriend-girlfriend’ for a few years in grade school. We lost touch while attending different high schools and colleges, but I always had a (not-so-secret) crush on him. We reconnected after college when we both moved back to Charleston and would see each other frequently thanks to mutual friends. When we started dating, and becoming more than just friends, we both kind of released we liked each other the whole time and wanted to be together for the long run, but the timing just wasn’t right until then.”
Tell us a funny story relating to your wedding day or relationship!
Arden: “While attending elementary and middle school together, Rob would send me notes, draw me pictures and even write poems for me. We were childhood “boyfriend-girlfriend” for about five years until we broke up (because our other friends had just broken up too – a typical reason for middle schoolers). For some reason, I kept all of his notes from our former days, and we had them framed for guests to see at our rehearsal dinner and wedding reception.”
Describe a hurdle you had to overcome in your relationship.
“Our biggest hurdle was the very beginning of our relationship. We both knew we wanted to be more than friends but actually moving past that wasn’t so easy. We already knew everything about each other’s past, so all of the typical conversation topics that are covered at the beginning of a relationship like childhood, hobbies, family and friends were checked off. Needless to say there were plenty of dinners and dates where awkward pauses ruled the conversation, and we wondered what we were doing.”
What is your favorite thing about each other?
Arden: “My favorite thing about Rob is that he makes me laugh – all the time, even when I don’t want to. He’s adventurous and always wants to explore new things and new places together. He’s also incredibly easy on the eyes, and let’s me beat him at sports…sometimes.”
Rob: “My favorite thing about Arden is that she always wants to find ways we can further our relationship with God together. She’s my best friend and makes me laugh.”
What was your favorite part about planning your wedding?
“The menu tasting for sure. Trying all the appetizers, entrees and desserts was the second best day ever. It was also fun to pick our first dance and the set list for our band. We both really love music so that had to be absolutely spot on for our reception.”
Any special ways you incorporated your family or family history into your wedding day?
Arden: “Our grandparents played a major role is our lives and our outlook on marriage, and with both sets of my grandparents no longer with us, we wanted to find special ways to bring them into our wedding. Rob’s paternal grandfather was our ring bearer and walked down the aisle with my niece who was the flower girl. He has been married to his sweetheart for 60 years, so to have him hold our rings and present them to the officiant during the service was a really proud and special moment for us all.
I didn’t find this out until shortly before the wedding, but Rob had arranged for my late grandmother to be a part of our wedding. The week before the wedding, Rob had my grandmother’s diamond engagement ring turned into a necklace which he gifted me the night before our wedding at the rehearsal dinner. She and I were very close so having a part of her with me that weekend was amazing.”
What part of your wedding day was most important to you?
Arden: “The ceremony was the most important part of our wedding. We wanted to use the opportunity as a chance to share God’s word with our friends and family who might not have heard it before and to give those that are already married a refresher of what it’s all about. Having our officiant give a homily about what the covenant of marriage really means was all we wanted. We also wanted to share communion together as the first thing we did as a married couple and my brother served it to us.”
What is the best thing you’ve learned from one another?
Arden: “Rob is the epitome of selflessness. He’s always looking out for others and has taught me to really put other people’s needs before mine. He’s also taught me to go with the flow and let go of those things I can’t control; and being the control freak that I am, it’s easier said than done.”
Rob: “Arden has showed me how to love each other through God, and by doing so, we further our relationship and love each day a little further.”
If you had one piece of advice for other couples, what would it be?
“As much as you will anyway, try to not stress about the guest list. It always ends up working out in the end, and it’s not worth the arguments. Remember that it’s YOUR day, not your parents or your grandparents. Thinking about each role that each guest will play in your marriage, not only during that weekend but for the years to come, was really helpful.”
What is the most honest thing you can say about love?
“As much as it is a feeling, it’s more importantly a commitment. The feeling of love will ebb and flow but the commitment should last, and knowing that it will makes all of the other feelings fall into place. It’s not always pretty and spontaneous and nice, but those tough times make the good times that much better.”
photographer: Anne Rhett Photography / venue: Ceremony at St. Andrew’s Church in the Old Village, Mount Pleasant, SC and Reception at a Private Club in Downtown Charleston / stylist and planner: RLE Charleston / floral designer: Tiger Lily / dress boutique: Modern Trousseau Charleston / dress designer: Modern Trousseau / makeup artist and hairstylist: Lashes and Lace / film lab: Richard Photo Lab