Are Vow Renewals the Secret Kiss of Death for Reality TV Couples?

As Shannon and David Beador announce their separation, a look back at those who've publicly renewed their vows and split anyway.

By Billy Nilles Oct 27, 2017 11:16 PMTags

Vow renewals can be wonderful, beautiful things: A public recommitting to spending the rest of your days with the love of your life. But sometimes they can also seem a bit like putting a bandage over a bullet hole: A last-ditch attempt to convince the world (and yourselves, usually) that your marriage is just fine, move along, nothing but love to look at here. In Hollywood, this happens all the time. Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon used to even renew their vows each new year they were married—until they didn't and then they weren't.

But nowhere is this phenomenon more prevalent than the world of reality TV, where everyone's always trying to keep the glossy veneer of their perfect lives up no matter how inaccurate that might be. Vow renewals with cameras rolling are an old trick to keep rumors at marital discord at bay. And they're also something of a kiss of death.

Real Housewives: Weddings & Vow Renewals
Bravo, Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic, Brad Barket/, Shahar Azran/WireImage

Shannon Beador and her husband David are the latest to fall victim to the curse of the vow renewal. The Real Housewives of Orange County star announced on Friday, Oct. 27 that she and her hubby were officially calling it quits after 17 years of marriage, the last few of them quite complicated. "After much thought and careful consideration, David and I have made the difficult decision to separate," she said in a statement to The Daily Dish. "We remain partners in parenthood and are committed to raising our three daughters. This is not the future we envisioned, and we kindly ask for privacy, especially for our children, during this transitional time."

The Beadors' union was rocked by David's infidelity, the aftermath of which played out during the tenth season of RHOC. Admitting at the time that divorce wasn't an option for her, she and David entered into some intense counseling—all with cameras rolling, of course. And by 2016, they'd reached a place where David was ready to surprise his embattled wife with a vow renewal in front of all their friends, co-stars, and viewers at home. It seemed to have done the trick. "Our marriage today is better than it was when we got married...," Shannon shared with E! News in the months following the renewal. "We go to church every week. He's in a men's group and we go on date night at least once a week and we're spending a lot more time together than we ever did before." 

Alas, the newfound wedded bliss wouldn't last, however, as fans who have watched them grow increasingly estranged throughout the currently airing 12th season of the Bravo series can attest to. And here we are, with divorce now Shannon's only option left. "I felt alone in my marriage," she told People.  "You can do what you can to keep your family together, but you have to have willing parties. You need two people to make a marriage work, and that just wasn't happening in our relationship."

The Beadors are hardly the first couple in the Real Housewives franchise to remind us just how much the love each other with a vow renewal, only to sever ties shortly thereafter. No, the Real Housewives vow renewal trend began, as most things have in this franchise, with the true OG, Vicki Gunvalson.

Real Housewives of Orange County's Shannon Beador Separating From Husband David

After years of a rocky marriage to husband Donn, Vicki introduced Bravo fans to the first Housewives vow renewal during season five. Hoping to refill her love tank, Vicki took Donn on down to Turks & Caicos to recommit to one another. "When Donn read me the vows he wrote, I was so happy," she wrote in her blog  about the newfound strength of the marriage. "Hearing how he respects me and loves me is worth everything to me. He loves me for who I am and isn't looking for me to make changes to make him happy." Cut to 10 months later when Vicki filed for a dissolution of her marriage. 

"I found out that Vicki filed for divorce when the process server showed up at my office," Donn would tell Andy Cohen in July 2011. "From the get-go, the time I was asking Vicki to give me and our time together just didn't happen. Every evening, she was working late and her trips would become longer and she'd call less and less. It was typical Vicki." 

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for DuJour

Shortly after Vicki and Donn's vow renewal aired on Bravo, Ramona Singer and hubby Mario would follow suit. At the end of season three of The Real Housewives of New York City, the two would say "I do" yet again in an extravagant ceremony that screamed "Nothing is wrong here!" and even had daughter Avery rolling her eyes. She would tell him she loved him more than she did when they first married. "You know, it wasn't done as a fluff thing," Ramona told the New York Times in 2010. "When someone does something for real, you feel it. You feel the vibrations. You could feel the love between my husband and I."

The very next season, during the ladies' trip to Morocco, a fortune teller would warn her that there was another woman in Mario's life. Everyone reacted rather strangely, as if they'd heard something to that effect back home. And by the start 2014, his infidelity had been unearthed, causing Ramona to kick him to the curb.

The Real Housewives' Shady Significant Others

Another rocky Real Housewives marriage to fall prey to the dreaded vow renewal kiss of death was the one between Real Housewives of Atlanta's Cynthia Bailey and Peter Thomas, although that one may have been doomed from the start. Who can forget when, during Cynthia's first season, the show's third, Cynthia's own mom and sister would try and hide the marriage certificate so that she couldn't marry Peter? That's how convinced they were that he wasn't the one for her. And what do you know? They were right!

Two seasons later, the RHOA ladies would take a couples trip down to Anguilla, where Peter and Cynthia originally wanted to get married in the first place. "I love you so much that I wanted to do it the way you wanted to do it originally," Peter told his wife through tears during their vow renewal. But almost immediately after returning home, problems would begin plaguing their relationship yet again. It hit the fan when Peter was photographed out getting very up close and personal with a woman who definitely wasn't his wife. As cameras began rolling on season nine, Cynthia would finally come to terms with the fact that the marriage was over and formally end things.

Evans Vestal Ward/Bravo

And lest you think this is strictly a Real Housewives problem, never forget that, before things went really, really sour for Jon and Kate Gosselin, the duo with the unwieldy brood renewed their vows in a season four episode of Jon & Kate Plus 8. During a trip to Hawaii, they recommitted themselves to one another. Less than a year later, they entered into one of the ugliest divorces reality TV has ever seen. 

It should be noted that there is an outlier in all this, however. At the close of the third season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, Lisa Vanderpump and hubby Ken Todd renewed their vows after 30 years of marriage during a lavish ceremony at her expansive manse. And they're still going strong, kids. (And yes, RHONY's Kristen Taekman and her husband Josh made speeches about one another as they celebrated their 10th anniversary, but since it wasn't technically a vow renewal, much like Kristen's time on the show, it doesn't count.)


So, is there hope for future reality TV couples hoping to profess their love all over again in front of cameras? Should Kim Zolciak-Biermann and husband Kroy Biermann, whose own vow renewal will be featured in the current season of Don't Be Tardy be nervous about what's in store? The odds don't look great, but as LVP proves, there's always an exception to the rule.

Do you think a televised vow renewal is a surefire kiss of death for reality TV couples? Sound off in the comments below!

(E! and Bravo are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)