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Love and pleasure keep them together despite the absences

December 27, 2019 and October 15, 2021

Vince and Erika had spent two weeks in 2014 laughing at wit and whining-worthy puns through a dating app and text when Vince, then an Air Force mechanic who flew in and out of the country , eventually returned to McGuire Air Force Base.

They met in person and confirmed their attraction face-to-face over drinks at Dadz Bar & Grill in Hainesport, but then Vince was off on another mission. Three weeks later, he invited Erika, a registered nurse who now works at Virtua in Marlton, to dinner at a restaurant in Philadelphia.

“I can’t remember which one, but I know I spent $100,” Vince says in a cheerful tone that clearly shows he has a story to tell.

“We went to a bar afterwards. I had just paid the bill for dinner and she wouldn’t even offer me a beer! The bar waiter came to collect payment, I look at her and she looks around. I paid, and I thought, ‘We’re done.’ I didn’t speak to him for three weeks.

Both Erika and Vince laugh as she begins to tell her side of the story: her intentional “you gonna get that? see? “I didn’t get it at all,” she said. His three-week disappearance? “I just thought he was away [on assignment].”

She texted him for a reason: “I liked him. I decided to give it a shot. »

Erika offered to treat Vince to dinner.

“Redemption!” Vince says, and the two laugh.

The couple now live in Mount Laurel. At the time, Erika was living with her parents in Mount Holly. About two months after their first date, Vince, who grew up in Pittsburgh and lived in Lumberton, came to her house for the first time.

Vince was walking to the front door when he heard a party – a college start for Erika’s little brother – in the garden. “He went through the whole party and met my whole family, including my parents, at the same time,” Erika said. “My parents loved him – they were impressed with how instantly he was at ease with all of my extended family.”

When Erika and Vince left that party, they joined a group of his friends. “All my friends were married, and the fact that I brought someone they really liked – that was a big plus for me,” he said. “They all thought she was funny – they said funnier than me, but I disagree.”

That August day was the first time Erika and Vince felt like a couple.

Sometimes Vince’s Air Force assignments separated them for months at a time, often in different time zones. “As a nurse, I also work odd hours,” Erika said. “We find out which hours are mutually beneficial, and if I have to get up at 2:30 a.m. to video chat, I will!”

Her willingness to build a relationship and support him even during extended absences helped make him fall in love with her, said Vince, who now manages the flight line as production superintendent. “She was always there to welcome me back and even help me prepare, mentally and physically, for the next trip,” he said. “She’s also helped me become a better person — I see a lot of growth in me from her — and that’s something really special.”

Erika realized Vince was the person she was meant to be with in an instant. She sometimes suffers from depression. “The first time I told him about it, that I have these issues where I’m sad, he said, ‘Don’t worry, we will come out of it,” she recalls. “He didn’t say, ‘Sorry you’re going through this. You’ll be fine.’ He said that was our problem together.

Whenever Erika and Vince, who are now 32, are in the same place at the same time, they enjoy movies and food.

“I learned how to cook a pretty badass steak over our years together,” Vince said. “I’ll do barbecue or steak or seafood. She does anything that requires measurement.”

“I love to cook and I make pasta,” Erika said. “We put it all together to form a great meal.”

On Thanksgiving Day 2019, Vince learned of an upcoming year-long deployment to Turkey. He also learned that if he and Erika were not married by the end of the year, the Air Force would give him his next assignment regardless of their relationship.

The ring wasn’t over with their trip to Las Vegas, where he planned to propose. Short on time, he suggested a trip to New York on the Saturday before Christmas. “I don’t like New York, she doesn’t like New York, and we don’t like crowds, but we were there at all the tourist spots,” Vince said. “It wasn’t that romantic.”

“And I got sick on the plane back from Vegas,” Erika added. “I felt like I was dying in the cold, in those crowds.”

She repeatedly asked if they could go home, and all Vince could say was “not yet.”

As soon as it got dark, they headed for the Christmas lights near Radio City Music Hall. “I didn’t point my finger at anything and told him to watch,” Vince said. “When she turned around, I took out the ring and asked her, like Bonnie and Clyde Where Ocean 11if she wanted to do one last break with me.

Erika’s yes was Rick and Morty –inspired: “You son of a bitch, I’m in!”

About a week later, on December 27, 2019, the couple got married in the backyard of Erika’s parents’ house. She wore a pretty blue dress and Vince put on a jacket and the rubber tie he had worn on their first date.

“My mom can turn a pumpkin into a carriage,” Erika said. Terry Linn hung curtains over the sides of a tent and filled it with Christmas lights, plants, decorations and heaters. The Reverend CW Smith, a cousin, conducted the ceremony.

The couple exchanged vows which they sewed from song lyrics: ‘When I said I loved you, I meant I would love you forever, and eternity will begin tonight’ , Vince said.

“It will be an everlasting love,” Erika said.

Parents, siblings and a few other family members joined them for Italian food at Carollo’s Little Italy and afterwards the couple met friends at a local bar to celebrate.

From August 2020 to August 2021, Vince was stationed in Turkey.

The couple had planned to have a full reception when Vince returned, but Erika realized she wanted to wear a wedding dress, and it was weird doing it just for a party.

Two months after Vince returned to the United States, the couple hosted a second ceremony and reception for 80 at Madison in Riverside. While Erika’s mom had started planning before the couple was officially engaged, she hired planner Zupenda Davis-Shine shortly before the event to double-check the details. The Davis-Shine team included two assistants – one person to assist the bride throughout the day and another to assist the groom. It was a revelation, Erika said. “I didn’t have to worry about anything and I had no worries before the wedding thanks to this help and this organization,” she said.

It was the idea of ​​Erika’s father, Scott, to organize cocktails before the ceremony to encourage everyone to arrive early.

The outdoor candlelight ceremony began just before sunset. The couple and their wedding party entered on a white runner hand-painted in gold with the words “We Do Part II”.

A second post-ceremony cocktail featured music by electric violinist Lorenzo Laroc. At the reception, DJ Bishop played ’90s hip-hop and other curated music for the couple.

Dessert options included an ice cream bar and donut wall.

“Since we spent more than half of our marriage so far apart, we want to spend more time together,” Erika said. “We’re going on three honeymoons,” Vince said: Puerto Rico in the spring, Yellowstone in the summer, and November, most likely Disney World.