To me, a vow renewal is a beautiful reminder that not only does love exist, but it prevails. I had the joy of photographing the spring vow renewal ceremony of Sheila and Tom Bearden at the Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel on May 25th.
Sheila and Tom: A Love Story
Sheila and Tom met in high school in 1984. One day Sheila looked out the window of her Street Law class and saw Tom, who was cutting class. She knew that they would end up together, so she bet some other girls in class that he would be hers. “Tom was the best $5 bet I ever made,” Sheila says. The couple’s first date was at the drive-in to see Ghostbusters when it was first released. “We had to see it a second time,” they laughed, “because everyone kept asking how the movie was!”
Tom proposed the first time in 1986. He gave Sheila a ring and told her when to be ready. “What a bossy man,” Sheila jokes. They married on January 28th, 1986 at the Justice of the Peace. When they got in the car afterwards, they heard on the radio about the space shuttle explosion. The couple got divorced but remained best friends until Sheila proposed to Tom and they remarried May 25th, 1996.
Their second wedding was a small church wedding with a party in the backyard. “It had to be pretty good,” Sheila says, “because we woke up in separate rooms with the wedding cake still uncut.” They decided to have a vow renewal ceremony because although they have always loved one another, Sheila never got the big, traditional wedding she always dreamed of. They planned a ceremony long before this one, but postponed it when Sheila’s dad and some of Tom’s family members fell ill. It never seemed like the right time. Then, Tom surprised Sheila with an Alaskan cruise package that included a wedding ceremony, dinner, and photographs—but Sheila still wanted the wedding every little girl hopes for. They decided to postpone the Alaskan cruise until next year, opting instead for a beautiful spring vow renewal in Erie, PA.
Sunsets at the Sheraton
The Bayfront in Erie, PA was the perfect place for Tom and Sheila’s renewal. The Sheraton Erie Bayfront Hotel hosted their ceremony and reception. We did their bridal portraits on the skybridge, which always proves such a beautiful place to photograph. We had crazy weather that day and had to rush to beat the oncoming storms—which we did. Fortunately, we had time to go outside for a spectacular sunset session at the Bayfront convention center.
The Here and Now
Tom and Sheila have such a fun relationship. “I have a tattoo that says ‘I love my fat man’ on my side. The tattoo artist thought I was joking,” Sheila told us. When Sheila calls, Tom always answers with “Hello, my lovely wife.” They tell people they are each other’s King and Queen. Tom and Sheila have a special kind of love and I enjoyed getting to capture that in their photos. “That’s how Tom and I roll,” Sheila said. “Never in the past, not in the future, but in the here and now. You never know what will happen tomorrow. As long as we wake up together every morning, it will be an amazing day.”
Contact me for more information about having your own event photographed. In the meantime, take a look at some other weddings and engagements I’ve recently had the opportunity to photograph: