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53 Church St
Mountain Brook, AL, 35213
United States

205-834-8252

Arden Ward Upton, known for her keen eye and southern style. Has curated gifts  for wedding, lifestyle and original art. Arden has worked as a photographer for over a decade photographing some of the South's most exclusive weddings as well as weddings all over the world. During her time as a photographer she has developed a distinctive look and style that is shared on this site and with her customers throughout the years. Arden is also known for her fine art photography available in limited signed editions.

Blog

You asked and I am telling, being judged stinks.

Arden Ward Upton

Last night's episode was my favorite so far! Props to Jersey because it is the only episode filmed in the Garden State. While watching it, I had a lot of emotions come up. I couldn’t stop thinking about what makes me nervous and uncomfortable and the common thread between all people.

I was scared at first but then I got into it!

I was scared at first but then I got into it!

I have amazing skating skills!

I have amazing skating skills!

A little known fact is that I lived in Miami for 4 years. My mom was raised there because my grandmother, although originally from Lyndhurst, NJ, lived in Miami from 1948 until she moved with me to Alabama. I, however, would say I am mostly Southern raised and proud of it!

During the episode, I made a reference that Miami people and Jersey people are about the same. So let me share a little of my story.

Miami and Jersey don't look that different to me! Fun in the Sun 2001

Miami and Jersey don't look that different to me! Fun in the Sun 2001

Chapter One: Fish Out of Water

In 2001 after my divorce, I decided to move to Miami to get a fresh start. I knew no one except for one friend of a friend and my 80 year old grandmother who suffered with senile dementia and Alzheimer's. Later, I became the guardian of her and she lived with me until her death (that is another story). So “fish out of water?” Boy do I get it! In some way that may be why my heart reached out for Jaime when I met her in Alabama.

Miami:

A couple of weeks into living in Miami, I got a piece of mail addressed to the house next door, but the name on it was to JESUS BLANCO. I stopped in my tracks and thought, "Well this is some kind of joke! I have mail for White Jesus!" I lived in the community of Westchester, which is a Cuban neighborhood and let’s just say, I was the only Southern white girl around for blocks - I was so intimidated. I didn’t look like anyone I saw, and I definitely didn’t talk or dress like them either. I was petrified and so worried if I would be accepted. But this mail came for JESUS and I am going to meet my neighbor JESUS! So I walked over, knocked, and an older man answered the door. I explained there had been some sort of mistake, he had some mail come addressed to JESUS and maybe he should just take a look.

To my surprise, he explained to me he was in fact JESUS! What? He seriously laughed so hard and told me I was reading correctly, but in Latin culture it isn’t uncommon to be named Jesus (pronounced Hey-Sues!). We shared some laughs and quickly became fast friends. I think he took pity on me as he could see I was the "fish out of water." Jesus had lived in Miami for years but he came as an immigrant in the 60’s and he understood what I was going through being the new girl on the block. We laughed a lot about the fact that I had only ever heard the name Jesus in the context of church! He and his wife introduced me around to the rest of the neighbors and before I knew it I was eating fried plantains, pasteles (guava pastries), croquetas and my favorite, the Cuban sandwich!

While I lived in Miami I learned so much. My sweet neighbors always tried to “fatten me up,” as they would say, and soon I was playing dominoes and feeling like a part of the culture.

 

JAIME REALLY DID TURN THE “FISH OUT OF WATER" TABLES ON US BAMA GIRLS IN NJ, BUT I FEEL LIKE DANIELLE, LUCI AND I ALL ROSE TO THE OCCASION. I can’t imagine a person on this planet who can’t sympathize with feeling a little awkward or out of place at some point.

Jaime in Freehold with Danielle and Luci

Jaime in Freehold with Danielle and Luci

In Freehold, NJ

In Freehold, NJ

What I think the root of most culture conflicts is, are insecurities and a need for acceptance. As soon as drinks were flowing and guards were dropped in Jersey, Mary and Deena  - Jaime’s friends - made me feel welcomed and I loved them for that. When I met them I was unsure. I wanted them to like me for Jaime’s sake but was afraid of a repeat of the introduction to Tracy. As soon as we gave each other a chance we got along great!

So this is what I thought Jersey would look like!

So this is what I thought Jersey would look like!


My take away from the Jersey trip is: DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER! WE ALL WANT THE SAME THING - LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE! SOMETIMES, WE MAY WEAR DIFFERENT DISGUISES, BUT UNDERNEATH AND IN THE CORE, ALL HUMANS ARE THE SAME!