Rick Little and Vince Tirpak have been together for 15 years, and on Tuesday morning they became the first same-sex couple to tie the knot by Kent County Clerk of the Peace Loretta Wooten.
Wooten performed the ceremony in the chapel at the County Complex just after 11 a.m. on Tuesday.
"We feel lucky to be able to do this," Tirpak said. "We didn't think that we would be able to see it in our lifetimes. We're so happy that it did happen."
The couple was amongst a handful of others who took advantage of the marriage equality law going into effect. Twelve couples had their civil unions converted into marriages and four marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples on Monday, Wooten said.
"It was kind of hectic and busy," Wooten said. "We made out really well. My office had been preparing and planning for this for a while. We were pretty much ready for it."
Tirpak views this process as a step forward for same-sex couples across the state.
"This makes us equal now to everybody else," he said. "That's probably the most important thing. Everybody is a person and they should be treated the same."
Several other same-sex marriages were scheduled for this week. Wooten has eight weddings scheduled between Friday and Saturday, though she is expecting that those will be a mix of same-sex and heterosexual marriages.
Little and Tirpak didn't plan on being the first same-sex couple married in the county. It was just a happy coincidence, they said.
The couple met when they were out with their two respective groups of friends at the same restaurant. Everyone in the two groups of friends already knew each other, except for Tirpak and Little.
"They introduced us and I thought to myself 'he's noticing me. I'm so lucky,'" Tirpak said.
Ironically, the men grew up half an hour away from each other and had never met before. Tirpak grew up in Pittsburgh and Little grew up neighboring Ohio.
The couple now lives in Smyrna and are raising five children together. Their children range from age 15 to 32. Their children are happy to finally see their parents united, Little said.
Little and Tirpak are celebrating their marriage with a Fourth of July picnic with family in Pittsburgh. The big celebration will come next year. They have a bigger beach-themed ceremony planned for next year. "We just wanted to do this part because we've waited so long," Little said.
Two of their loved ones were there to support them on Tuesday. Patricia Mitchell and Emily Knearl served as witnesses at the ceremony.
"I was thrilled to be asked to be a witness," Knearl said. "Delaware is long overdue to celebrate marriage between gay adults. Today is a historic day for Kent County. I'm just excited to be here."
Page 2 of 2 - While the couple didn't plan to be the first couple married in the county, now that it's done they're happy to leave their mark on history.
"It was a long fight to get where everybody is," Little said. "Now we're here so it's time for us to enjoy the same benefits that everyone else has always enjoyed."