WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - John Collins needed an excuse to get his girlfriend to look away from him.
“Why not Mars?” he thought as he remembered that the red planet was supposedly visible that night. So he directed her attention to the sky.
The pair were in Cape May, New Jersey, for the weekend, and the evening was Oct. 17. Although he had never been to Cape May, it was special to his girlfriend, Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman. She grew up going there with her father.
The two had been walking around their hotel for a little bit in search of a quiet spot. Finally, they found a place near some Adirondack chairs and sat.
He was nervous but he had already said he was going to do it that weekend. Collins knew it was time.
Lockman didn’t understand why her boyfriend seemed to be acting strange. He wanted to get drinks before dinner and then suddenly, he was asking her to look up for Mars.
“It was very out of character,” she said. “I was like, ‘OK, yeah, let’s look at Mars.’”
Then, as she sat wondering why they were looking skyward, Collins got down on one knee beside her.
“I was like, ‘You’re the most special person I’ve ever met. And I would really love to spend the rest of my life with you,’” Collins said.
Confused for only a moment, Lockman said, of course, she would.
That image of the pair is who they are. Although they have both worked in Delaware politics – Lockman is a Delaware state senator and senate majority whip and Collins used to work for Sen. Tom Carper – they’re an uncomplicated couple who enjoy laughing together and spending time in Lockman’s hometown of Wilmington. Collins is also a Delaware native, from Townsend.
Not ones for pomp or circumstance, Collins didn’t want to propose in front of a crowd and knew neither of them was looking for applause. Marriage wasn’t something either said was a necessary part of their life story but, nonetheless, they were excited at the prospect of being with the other person forever and wanted to celebrate.
“We just have very compatible personalities without being the same person,” Lockman said.
A VERY DELAWARE WEDDING
What do Sen. Tom Carper, La Fia Bistro and the Old Town Hall Museum all have in common? They all played important roles in Collins and Lockman’s Dec. 12 nuptials.
After their October engagement, the pair didn’t want to wait a long time for a ceremony. Due to COVID-19 guidelines, they kept the ceremony small and will eventually have a larger celebration when the world opens up more fully.
The Old Town Hall Museum on Market Street served as their venue and Lockman said the first thing she noticed when they pulled up was the smell of fresh flowers. An arrangement by Terrain at Styer’s brightened up the large space, which featured big olive green columns in the center of the room and an archway that framed the place Lockman and Collins exchanged vows. Big windows overlooked Market Street as the couple had their small gathering.
Lockman wore a white gown, part of the BHLDN line by Anthropologie, with a delicate leaf design on top of a nude-colored layer, a scoop neckline and a floor-length veil. White buttons snaked up and down the back of the dress, which featured a plunging backline.
Small white flower pieces stood in contrast to Lockman’s curly dark hair, which was braided, pulled back and to one side of her head. One wayward baby hair sat just above her left eye. And she wore a light peach lip color that matched the ribbon tied delicately around her bouquet.
Lockman smiled as she descended a set of steps to a large ballroom area. Collins was in a blue suit in front of their guests.
Former Delaware governor and U.S. Sen. Tom Carper served as celebrant for the couple in front of fewer than 10 of their closest friends and family. The pair said Carper gave them some really good advice for the future and though they didn’t write their own vows, they each made personal promises to each other during the intimate ceremony.
“He loves love and he did a beautiful job of giving really meaningful advice so it was wonderful,” Lockman said.
He can be seen clapping in the background of the couple’s wedding photos.
Collins, who is now a partner at financial advisory company FS Vector, worked closely with Carper over the last decade and helped lead his 2012 reelection campaign to the U.S. Senate. Lockman’s father, former News Journal managing editor Norman Lockman, was a good friend of Carper’s before his death in 2005.
Lockman’s 17-year-old daughter Sophie stood next to her mother in a pale peach off-the-shoulder dress with a sweetheart neckline during the ceremony and served as the maid of honor.
Although he was nervous to ask for Lockman’s hand back in October, Collins was more nervous to ask Sophie for her blessing to marry her mom.
As a single parent, Lockman is very close to Sophie, so it was important to Collins to get Sophie’s approval before even purchasing a ring.
“Sophie’s permission is a big deal,” he said. “They’ve been through a lot together.”
Once she gave her blessing, Sophie and Collins kept the secret for about two months.
“That was very meaningful,” Lockman said. “My daughter did not drop any hints, she betrayed no knowledge.”
Collins’ brother Geoffrey served as the best man and his niece Lillian served as the flower girl. She was all smiles in her white dress with a layer of tulle and a leaf crown that accented her small golden curls.
After the couple had their ceremony, they headed up the street to be officially married by Episcopal priest the Rev. Canon Lloyd S. Casson, a prominent civil rights activist they felt honored to include.
It was important for the couple to include Wilmington – specifically District 3, which Lockman represents – in their big day.
Following their official ceremony, the couple headed over to La Fia Bistro for an equally intimate reception with friends and family.
The location is special for the couple as it was the site of their first date back in 2018.
Lockman and Collins met at the Gridiron Dinner – a political roast in Wilmington. Although they knew of each other, it was the first time they met in person.
“I had been aware of her,” Collins said, “and then I begged a mutual friend to introduce us.”
After chatting for a bit, they agreed to go on a date, on Oct. 12, 2018, they went to La Fia Bistro.
Besides her being very attractive, Collins loved how bubbly and friendly she was, even on their first date. He appreciates that to this day, he said - that the positive energy she puts out into the world is genuine and true to who she is.
As for Lockman, she loved how smart he was and found his self-deprecating humor charming.
“We’re not the same person for sure,” Collins said, “but it’s like a jigsaw puzzle.”
In addition to a larger reception down the line to celebrate their nuptials, the couple plans to go on a honeymoon once the COVID-19 pandemic slows down. For now though, they said they’re just happy they got to have their intimate ceremony back in December.
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