Wedding bells chime on Valentine’s Day: Couples tie knot at Kent Complex

Kent County Clerk of the Peace Brenda Wootten officiates the marriage of Joshua Brown and Tymirra Smack on Valentine’s Day at the Kent County Clerk of Peace in the Levy Court building in Dover. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

DOVER — When deciding what day to have their wedding, William Crabtree “couldn’t think of a more romantic day,” he said, sitting with his future bride in the chapel tucked into the Kent County Administration complex.

Mr. Crabtree and Stella Cooper knew each other three decades before, and reconnected once more a couple years ago.

“It was love at first sight as soon as we saw each other,” he said.

“It felt like it was meant to be,” she added.

Before the ceremony, Ms. Cooper — soon to be Mrs. Crabtree — noted that the butterflies were kicking in.

“I just can’t believe we’re up to that point now we’re getting married,” she said.

The couple was among seven others who said their vows on Valentine’s Day in a ceremony performed by Brenda Wootten, clerk of the peace.

“Weddings are as special as can be,” Ms. Wootten said. “It’s the day of love.”

The holiday has been a particularly popular day for couples to say, “I Do” — the most Ms. Wootten recalls is 14 in a day during a past year.

“The main thing is we want them to go out of here remembering what a beautiful service they got and how professional we were to them,” she said.

This year’s holiday falls just short to the amount of couples expecting to wed on Feb. 20. (Ms. Wootten said that she and her deputy clerk, Trish Brown, are each performing a wedding at 2:20 that day.)

But Ms. Wootten took Valentine’s Day to heart in particular and waited to file her paperwork for re-election to the seat, too.

Ms. Wootten, who succeeded her mother, Loretta Wootten, in the role, said that clerk of the peace embodies the values her mother instilled in her.

“My mother raised me to always be a caring person. She has a deep interest in serving others and she instilled that value in me and so I love to make others happy,” she said. “This job is a dream of mine.”

In her role, she leads couples through a ceremony, in a decorated chapel room in the Administrative Building. On Valentine’s Day, the office has the added touch of giving couples a box of chocolate.

In the chapel room, Joshua Brown noted the sign on the wall that states, “I have found the one whom my soul loves.”

“That’s very significant to me,” he said. “Truly, we don’t know who we love until our souls direct us to them.”

He and Tymirra Smack were drawn together because of their inner motivations, he added. Mr. Brown is an aspiring pastor, and the new Mrs. Brown is interested in the health field.

“I think that’s really what brings our souls together,” he said. “It’s a common duality of wanting to help people or just a helper anyway.”

Getting married on Valentine’s Day was especially meaningful for Terrell Wilkerson and Tylicha Thomas.

They agreed that it was their dream day to get married.

“When we expressed that to each other, we had to do it,” Mr. Wilkerson said. “It symbolizes us; it symbolizes the love that we have. We have so much love for each other. It’s only right for this to be the day we get married.”

The couple met through working together in retail, Mrs. Thomas-Wilkerson said.

“I was in his line all the time,” she said. “He was being shy.”

“She made me nervous,” Mr. Wilkerson said. “Every transaction, I would mess up because she’d be looking at me with those eyes.”
In all, Ms. Wootten said the day truly embodied love.

People often say, she added, she has the happiest job in the world.

“It’s special,” she said.