Mary & Tom || A Legacy of Love || 

Every year I plan a stylized shoot, and every year I end up over booking myself, over working myself, and crossing it off of my list to do the following year. As the middle of 2016 approached, I already had so much on my plate, but I promised myself that I would photograph a styled shoot by the end of the year. I finally sat down to make a list of what I had envisioned for my very first styled shoot that I would shoot in film & digital. Not only was I so very excited after brainstorming and strategically making goals for the shoot, but I was also very nervous. I reached out to a handful of St. Louis creatives, and after narrowing it down to the vendors that I thought best helped represent my style for this shoot, I had everything I needed. I envisioned a shoot that represented a lifetime of love, happiness, and a one of a kind love story. I always see styled shoots that had younger couples, and always showed these in love & fresh new couples. But something that stuck out to me was I never saw a shoot that showed a lifetime of love. Love is not only a sacrifice, but with all of that comes hard times, good times, and even better times. What more of perfect time to help bring my vision of a lifetime of love, then Mary & Tom. I had talked with a childhood friend of mine, and she had told me that her grandparents were to celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary in January! That absolutely turned my heart to mush, and blew my mind. Wow! 65 years of love and 65 years of a long story. How would I be able to capture such a special couple that have been through it all with each other? I didn't know if I was going to be able to represent their special love story, but I was filled with my passion, and ready to celebrate their love with them. Now that I had the vendors and the perfect couple, I had planned for months before the very special day had arrived. Not only did I have a styled shoot in mind, but a very special surprise for the couple. 


The day had finally arrived, September 30th, 2016. The day was the perfect fall day, with crisp leaves in the air, a busy morning, but excitement in my heart. I showed up to the location that we were going to shoot at and instantly I was filled with such a calming feeling, and I just knew that God put these people in my life for a special reason. After I had styled everything and captured all the details, the most cutest couple in the world showed up. With smiles on their faces, we finally met each other & got to know each other. I had to fight back tears pretty much the whole shoot. Not only did it make me sad that I didn't get to see my grandparents grow to love each other like these two do, but I got to capture such a special love. Tom is so in love with Mary. Watching how after all these years they look at each other with such passionate eyes. They whisper to each other, they hold each other. Tom is kind to Mary like a gentleman should be, and Mary gives Tom the look that tells him that he is adored. I had so much fun! I can't even begin to explain how perfect the session went. Tom was loving the kisses, and told me that he would kiss Mary and chance he could! Mary just smiled at me with those eyes like, "Men!" 


I am sure that they get asked all the time what the secret to a long lasting marriage is. So being the helpless romantic person I am, I asked them just that. As they chuckled, Tom looked at me with his handsome smile, and said with a sweet but strong voice, " When I take a vow in life, its just that. Its for life. Marriage is sacred, and a commitment between two people that should last forever. Its too easy to give up nowadays. Two people that truly love one another should be able to get through the hard times, and even better times. At the end of the day, the good times outweigh the bad times, and after all these years, Mary is still my best time in my life!" Well, as you can guess by then, at this point, I was holding back every ounce of tears I had. Such an inspiration to young lovers like my husband and I. They have such a wise relationship & with true love, love endures all. 

After talking with Chelsea, their granddaughter, and my friend, we had discussed that we wanted to do something extra special for Tom & Mary. They will be married for 65 years, and most of you don't know that they never had a wedding. They were still in high school when they got married, and had to in secrecy!!???? Amazing right?? So of course it works out like it did because God is so good. Steve, Chelsea's dad is an ordained minister and one of the most amazing dads I know. Him and his wife agreed to come help out for the shoot, and then help surprise Tom & Mary with their very first wedding. We renewed their vows that Tom had written for Jean & Steve (their daughter & son in law) many years ago. It was one of my favorite moments that I got to capture and be apart of. If I had to sit my camera down for life, that moment would be my most fulfilled. I get to photograph many many love stories, and this one, this one holds a special place in my heart. Tom smiled & teared up, and Mary looked at Tom like I bet she did that day 65 years ago when they said, "I do!" 

I love every detail, every moment, and every photo of this very special couple, and I will let all of these photos speak for themselves. I must say that I could not do all of this without the help of so many special people in my life & so many amazing creatives coming together. This is an experience that I will never, ever forget. Thank you everyone for being so amazing and helping make a dream of mine come true. 

Cieara Ruess Photography- All images of Cieara Ruess Photography. Do not alter, edit, screenshot, or steal images without the permission of Cieara Ruess.

Cake- St. Louis Cake Artist Collaboration: Cash Murray

Calligraphy & Invitation Suite Design: Alicia Lantzy

Vintage Set & Furniture: Samantha Renee 

Florist- Ophelia Floral Design: Laura Wade

HMU: Kailyn Moser- Skin Deep by Kaiyln Moser 

Location: My amazing friend Sam's mother in law's property in Cedar Hill Missouri. 

Tux: Amy-Owner- The Bridal Shoppe 

Film Scans: The FIND Lab