Arden Hess & Walter Rowland Jr.
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Chapel and the River Club
December 2, 2006
Arden and Walter were set up. Her first impression was, “That guy is what all the fuss is about? Plus, I’m not going out with a guy named Walter.” Meanwhile, Walter’s friends—witnesses to his many previous bad dates—knew this was the matchup to end all matchups. And so it went: They met at a Racquet & Tennis Club party, and had an awkward, semi-inebriated exchange, which nonetheless resulted in a second date. That was all it took. Their engagement was brief so they could marry on December 2—Arden’s parents’ anniversary—in the same chapel where her parents had wed 41 years earlier. Having a wedding on Fifth Avenue at the height of holiday pandemonium was challenging: “We had trouble getting everyone out of the church because the Rockefeller Center tree had just been lit,” Arden says. “Our buses never made it because of traffic, so everybody walked to the reception.”
Bride’s Gowns: Elizabeth Fillmore and Oscar de la Renta
Hair and Makeup: Nicole Bryl Makeup
Groom’s Tuxedo: Paul Stuart
Caterer: The River Club
Flowers: DeJuan Stroud
Music: Lou Davis Productions
Bridesmaids’ Dresses: Alvina Valenta
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Photographs by Edward Keating
I wore two dresses. The first was from a Bergdorf sample sale. The second was a girlie party dress for the reception so I could move.
We had five courses”one too many. Each had a wine pairing because that”s important to my father and Walter. Hence, all the glasses on the tables.
I really wanted vintage Champagne glasses and cupcakes, and an old-school menu that was a marriage of North and South. (I was raised in Georgia.) We served collard greens and peach cobbler.
I couldn”t be bare-shouldered in church and Walter”s mom asked me to wear her white-mink capelet. It was a dilemma. She was so sweet about it, but I used to work for the ASPCA and do not wear fur. The girls I work with at Oscar de la Renta sent me this sweater as a wedding gift.
Our first dance was to Frank Sinatra”s “Night and Day.” We took classes to learn a fox-trot. But when we got up there, I panicked. All I could do was step from side to side.