William “Bill” Gethoefer and Sharon Parucki initially wanted to have a destination wedding – the second for both – on an exotic island, but they couldn’t make it happen.
Then they thought about doing it in Florida, but that didn’t work out, either,
So the lovebirds decided, why not the mall? That’s where it all started, after all.
The couple tied the knot Friday morning in the food court at the Eastern Hills Mall.
“You are amazing,” Bill gushed to his bride.
The Gethoefers met three years ago in the Clarence mall, where they both work. He’s a security guard, and she has worked at Vitamin World for the past 13 years.
Her engagement ring and both of their wedding bands came from Kay Jewelers in the mall.
Her dress was purchased at one of the dress stores there, and his tuxedo came from a store in the shopping center.
And his best man also is a security guard at the mall.
“We’re a big, happy family,” said Karen Garrow, marketing manager for Eastern Hills. Garrow helped organize the nuptials, which coincided with the mall’s 10th annual Summer in February event that features a sand box – which is where the vows were exchanged – and “fun in the sun” games for children.
In addition to their Feb. 22 wedding date, Bill and Sharon have another special date in common – July 23. That’s when each was born, he in 1942 and she in 1943.
Bill delivered his proposal to his bride last July, when he walked out of Kay Jewelers and into Vitamin World and got down on one knee to propose.
“I was surprised and shocked,” Sharon said.
It was her “sparkly eyes and beautiful smile” that first impressed Bill.
For Sharon, it was his “good looks.”
“He was handsome and witty,” she said.
As time went on, their romance continued to blossom.
“As I got to know you better, I realized that beauty was not only skin deep but it went to your heart and soul,” Bill said in his vows.
“Baby, you rock my world,” he said.
Their mall romance began when Bill mentioned to Sharon how good the macaroni and cheese was at LaRosa NY Pizzeria in the food court.
“Then I bought a bowl for her, and she kissed me on the cheek,” he said.
“To say thank you,” Sharon added.
A retired state trooper and former investigator with the federal public defender’s office, Bill has three children. His son is a sergeant with the Las Vegas police department. One of his daughters is a district manager for Lancome Cosmetics, and the other works as a speech pathologist.
Sharon’s oldest son, Glenn Parucki, is a New York State trooper. He gave her away.
“I’m happy for them,” he said.
Sharon’s two other sons, Eric and Troy, also attended the wedding and were just as delighted for the couple.
“As long as my mom’s happy, I’m happy,” said Eric, who works for the Department of Homeland Security.
“He seems like a real nice guy,” Eric said of Bill.
“Everybody deserves to be happy. That’s what it’s all about,” said Troy, who also is a state trooper.
Fellow security guard Thomas Owen was Bill’s best man. The two men have known each other for three years, and when Bill told his friend of his intent to marry Sharon, Owen thought it was a “good idea.”
“I don’t know a better couple that was more suited,” Owen said.
Erie County Family Court Judge Kevin Carter officiated at the ceremony. Bill and Carter taught criminal justice together at Erie Community College in the 1990s and remained friends.
While Carter has done many weddings in his career, this one was very different and the most memorable for two reasons, he said.
“This one was personal, and it’s the first wedding I’ve done at 9 a.m. on a Friday or any other weekday in the mall on the beach in February in Buffalo,” he joked.
Other than the unusual location, the wedding was fairly traditional.
She wore white. They were surrounded by dozens of family and friends – even if some of them were mall walkers and store managers. And, of course, there was the customary smashing of the wedding cake in each other’s face. But Sharon didn’t mind at all.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am,” she beamed. “He is my true love.”