After Tashara Teart and Christopher Sheperis exchanged wedding vows on June 21, they joined hands and jumped over a broom that had been decorated with lace and ribbons and placed on the floor at St. Mary’s Chuch of the Immaculate Conception in Wilkes-Barre.
Jumping the broom is a custom rooted in both African and Celtic traditions, Tashara said, so it reflects both her heritage and Christopher’s. It shows the bride and groom’s willingness to “jump into a new life as husband and wife, sweeping away old problems and old concerns,” and it honors past generations of people who took that same leap of faith.
Every part of the broom “has a symbolic and spiritual meaning,” the couple’s friend Shamar Moss explained to the congregation. “The straws are the family roots, the handle represents the Lord and his blessing, and the bow being the tie of love that binds the couple together.”
Their love has been building for years, said the Wilkes-Barre couple, who first noticed each other when they were volunteers at a bowling party sponsored by a group called “Supporting Autism and Families Everywhere.”
Tashara had grown up volunteering for the cause because her brother, Tevon, received an autism diagnosis as a child, and Christopher was there because of a family friend’s interest in the group. “My mother always taught me to give back,” he said.
Actually, Tashara said, she and Christopher had likely attended many of the same S.A.F.E. events in the past but they didn’t notice each other until December 2007. She was the one who suggested the two go out for dinner, and they did, choosing the Lone Star Steakhouse. Every January since, they’ve returned to the restaurant to celebrate the anniversary of that first date.
The better they got to know each other, the more they felt destiny at work.
“I think Tashara is everything a good person should be,” said Christopher, who recently turned 29. “She’s caring. She’s always got a smile on her face. I thank God every day that I’ve been blessed with someone I don’t really deserve.”
Giving a smile that hints she does find him deserving, Tashara, 26, said, “I can’t imagine a day without him. Ultimately, you want to be with someone who’s your best friend.”
The couple cheered each other on while they finished their schooling. Tashara, a Coughlin grad, worked on her bachelor’s degree in elementary and special education at Misericordia University, followed by a master’s degree at Bloomsburg University. Christopher, a Meyers alum, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from King’s College and enrolled in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) at church, to prepare for receiving Catholic sacraments.
“I was so proud of him. He was the only one in the class, but he persevered,” Tashara said. “He did all his homework.”
Sharing their faith is important to the couple, who attended Mass together before Christopher proposed on Christmas Eve 2012.
While he works as a legislative aide to state Sen. John T. Yudichak, Tashara is a special-education teacher at Daniel J. Flood Elementary School in Wilkes-Barre. As a teacher, she considers summer the best time for a wedding, and the couple did get married on the first full day of that season.
On the wedding day, Tashara’s shih-tzu, Brady, seemed determined to be part of things. As the bride was about to get into a waiting limo, she noticed the little dog had run outside — and the door to the house was already locked. The neighbors couldn’t help; they were already at the church. So Brady sat next to the limo driver and rode along to St. Mary’s, where the driver got a set of house keys from Tashara’s father and took Brady home.
Before the ceremony, a group of Tashara’s friends, dressed in white robes with blue sashes, performed a liturgical dance. Guests filled the pews on both sides of the aisle, following the directions on a sign Tashara had made that said “Please choose a seat, not a side. Today two families become one.”
Instead of bridesmaids and ushers, the couple invited family members into the wedding procession, including parents of the bride, Denise and Dolphus Teart of Wilkes-Barre, mother of the groom, Rosemary Sheperis of Nanticoke; sister of the bride Tiffany Teart, brothers of the bride Tevon Teart and Patrick Stokes and brothers of the groom Brandon Sheperis of Texas and Andrew Sheperis of Wilkes-Barre. Principal witnesses were Amber Fiorelli of Chicago and Brian Carey of Myrtle Beach, and nephew Cody Sheperis, 4, carried the rings.
In addition to the traditional vows, Christopher added some promises he had written, among them: “I promise to listen without interrupting, answer without arguing, share without pretending and trust without sparing. Most of all, I’ll remember to promise without forgetting.”
During the reception for 120 guests at A Touch of Class, the groom surprised his friends by dancing a tango. That was Tashara’s idea; she loves dancing and is a part-time teacher at the Harris Conservatory in Luzerne, where Sean Harris choreographed the special steps, including a dip, for the couple.
“I can’t believe I convinced him to do that,” she said with a grin, “but now he’s happy I did.”
“I can’t say I’m happy about it,” Christopher protested. “I’m just an average guy.”
He may say that, but as the “average guy” and his dancing wife begin married life together, they’re both beaming with happiness.