Heather Rittenhouse and Bob Rafferty Jr.
September 28, 2018, in Philadelphia
Bob and some college friends rented an Avalon Shore house in summer 2009. One of them predicted Bob would really like her friend from high school, Heather, and she was right. Heather liked Bob, too.
There was chemistry, but also hesitation. Bob had broken up with someone that spring. Heather and Bob went to school miles apart — he had attended the University of Pittsburgh but was transferring to West Chester to play football and study business management, and she studied hospitality and business and played lacrosse at Virginia Tech.
Summer break ended and both went to their separate campuses. That September, Heather, who grew up in Chalfont, was still thinking about West Chester native Bob but hadn’t heard from him. “I thought he forgot about me,” she said. Not so. Later that month, he sent a simple text: “How was moving in?”
“Bob texted me!” Heather exclaimed to her college friends. They celebrated with her –— everyone had heard all about Bob.
Texting turned to talking almost every day. Their friendship grew, and both became hopeful they could be more than friends despite the distance. That November, Bob made the drive to Virginia. “He drove six hours, so you know that means something,” Heather said.
In early December, Bob asked Heather to be his girlfriend. They visited when they could and spent every day of every break together.
Then in their senior year, they broke up. No drama, just distance, and wondering whether they had gotten together too young to forgo other options. Both graduated in May 2012. Heather, who is now a relationship manager for financial planning software company eMoney, came home to Greater Philly. They talked again, and then, late that fall, started dating.
“What being apart did was solidify that we were making the right decision to be together,” said Bob, a sales manager at Rafferty Subaru, his family’s business. He loves so much about Heather: “She’s smart, she’s funny. She wants to do well, and she’s very driven.”
Heather said Bob is also funny, smart, and driven. “He’s also a gentleman. He is always looking out for me — he carries my bags. He takes me to dinner. If I’m sick, he brings me soup and flowers.”
Three years ago, Bob bought a house in Conshohocken, where the couple now live with recent puppy addition Blu, a Bernese mix.
Heather and Bob, now both 28, spend a lot of time in Avalon, the Shore town where they met — especially since 2015, when Bob’s parents, Bob Sr. and Dana, bought a place there. That’s where they were on Labor Day weekend 2017. Heather and Bob, her friend, and his family were all sitting on the beach when Bob asked Heather to stand and look up.
It was another one of those planes with a banner. But this time the sign it pulled said: “Heather, will you spend forever with me?”
“I kind of blacked out for a minute, but I think she said yes,” Bob remembers. “I pulled the ring out, got down on my knee. We both cried, and everyone cheered.”
Some of the cheering throng had been hiding in the dunes a little way off. Heather’s parents, Mary and Phil, and all other hidden friends and family began making their way toward the couple when they saw the airplane. Afterward, the group walked to the Rafferty house to celebrate together.
The couple wed at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Old City in a ceremony officiated by the Rev. Christopher Drennen, a Malvern Prep priest who has known Bob’s family for many years. Heather always wears an angel necklace in memory of her friend Hilary, who died a year before. That day, she wrapped it around the stems of her flowers.
They chose readings about the importance of making decisions as a team and putting one’s partner ahead of oneself.
The reception was held at the Ballroom at the Ben, where the band — EBE’s London Bridge — played a wide variety of genres from many decades so there was something to get all 210 guests dancing.
Heather and Bob’s first dance was to a song he had put on one of the first CDs he burned for her — Andy Grigg’s “She Thinks She Needs Me.”
Heather walked up the stairs to the church chapel with her dad, and there were all of their guests, and way down in front, Bob. “It’s a long aisle, and it felt like a mile I was walking, ugly crying all the way.”
To Bob, there was nothing even a little ugly about Heather coming down the aisle. “I kind of flashed back to when we met, and how we got to be at the altar: Our meeting, our fighting and making up. The engagement, and buying our house, it all flashed through my mind, and I thought, ‘Now she’s marrying me.’ ”
After the ceremony, they walked into the reception and were announced as Mr. and Mrs. Rafferty for the first time, and everyone cheered. “It was a really cool feeling,” Heather said.
The splurges: The couple considered several venues that were less expensive than the Ballroom at the Ben, but those would have required them to separately pay for and organize linens, alcohol, and the like. The venue and their caterer, Finley Catering, took care of every detail, down to a knife to cut the cake. “Sometimes, time is money, and they did such a nice job,” Heather said.
Bob really wanted a band, and London Bridge “was in the audience playing, and doing the limbo, and were rocking all night long,” he said. “We probably could have done something else with that money, but it was just the best day, and all worth it,” Heather said.
Ten days in San Pedro, Belize, snorkeling with nurse sharks, rays, and turtles and eating the best fish tacos ever.
Officiant: The Rev. Christopher Drennen, Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern.
Ceremony venue: St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church, Philadelphia.
Reception venue: Ballroom at the Ben, Philadelphia.
Food: Finley Catering.
Music: EBE Talent’s London Bridge, Philadelphia.
Photography: Ashlee Mintz Photography, Havertown.
Videography: New Pace Wedding Films, Ardmore.
Flowers: Sommerfield, Paoli.
Dress: Designed by Hayley Paige, purchased at Jennifer’s Bridal, Hockessin, Del.
Hair: Stefani Burket.
Makeup: Fitore (Tor) Namani.