August 4 was an emotional, long-awaited day for Ron Presby and Bob Shuman.
The couple met 35 years ago at a bar in Philadelphia, dated for a while and ended up parting ways. But, about 18 years after they first met, a serendipitous event brought the two men back together.
“I used to go to ‘American Bandstand,’ and we were having a 40th anniversary celebration,” said Shuman. “I was being interviewed, which was on television. Ron heard my voice, but by the time he got to the television, the interview was over. Ron knew it was me though, so he called my parents’ house because he still had the number. He said this was a friend of Bob’s, could you please give him my number? So we met for a drink, and when our eyes met, we knew we were still in love.”
The couple now lives in Fishtown. Presby, 59, works for a catering company, and Shuman, 72, works in the rental department of a real-estate company.
Throughout their years together, the couple said they’ve learned what goes into making a successful relationship.
“It takes a lot of patience, understanding, commitment and, above all, a heart connection of love,” Shuman said.
Presby added some simple, direct advice: “You need to support each other, but not be too clingy.”
After marriage equality became law in Pennsylvania in May, the couple got their marriage license quickly — on Shuman’s birthday, June 11 — and held the wedding ceremony and reception Aug. 4.
“We wanted to be married in Philadelphia, so we were really waiting for the law to be changed to get married,” Shuman said.
The ceremony took place at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in the center garden. About 40 friends and family attended the wedding, and family members participated to make it an even more memorable event.
Shuman’s niece sang the Sara Bareilles song “I Choose You” at the ceremony. Shuman’s son walked him down the aisle, while his other niece gave Presby away. To give their best wishes, friends and family signed a large poster from the anthropology department that read “Love Wins,” created for the marriage-equality victory in Pennsylvania.
Following the ceremony, they held a reception at Crepe, on South Street, with wedding cupcakes from Whipped.
Shuman said that one of his favorite memories from the day took place at the reception. He made a toast and professed his love to Presby, and the married couple danced to “Love Song” by Avi Wisnia — and that’s when he began feeling the full impact of the wedding.
“For a while I feel like I had half a heart, and now I feel like I have a complete heart,” Shuman said.
Presby said their relationship does feel a bit different now that they’re legally wed.
“I wake up in the morning and think, I can’t believe I have a spouse now,” Presby said. “I get a little thrill when I wake up every morning.”
The couple will honeymoon in the French and Italian Riviera.