07/24/12 9:30am
07/24/2012 9:30 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm officiated at the first gay marriage ceremony on the lawn at Town Hall July 28 of Theresa Claudio (left) and Nancy Zaharick of Mastic. Their toy poodle Bandit was the ring boy.

Some same-sex couples in Riverhead Town are celebrating their first wedding anniversaries this week, as today marks a year since  the marriage equality bill went into effect in New York.

One of those couples is Theresa Claudio, 46, and Nancy Zaharick, 53, of Mastic. They were the first same-sex couple to say “I do” Riverhead Town, in a ceremony performed by Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm last July 28.

“Life is still the same,” Ms. Claudio said in a telephone interview this week. “We were thankful we were able to do it and will continue to celebrate our lives together.”

The two women, who were set up by friends more than two decades ago, decided to marry after Ms. Zaharick popped the question while walking along a boardwalk in Carolina Beach, N.C.

Ms. Zaharick believes things haven’t changed much since they tied the knot, but said they feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to make their relationship extra special.

“Everything has been wonderful,” Ms. Zaharick said. “Everybody has been so supportive and happy for us.”

To celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary, the couple plans to see the play “The Best Man” in Manhattan and grab some grub at their favorite place: John’s Pizzeria, an old church in midtown that has been converted into a restaurant.

“We’re pretty low-key,” Ms. Zaharick said.

Ms. Zaharick and Ms. Claudio were married in a simple ceremony on the lawn outside Town Hall.

The one bride wore a white button-down and a pair of black slacks while the other bride wore a black button-down with white pants. Both wore a crown of baby’s breath. They were surrounded by giant heart-shaped balloons and chose calla lilies for the bouquet.

“For us to get married in the view of the public meant the world to us,” Ms. Zaharick said. “It’s nice to be recognized.”

Ms. Zaharick and Ms. Claudio are one of 21 same-sex couples who have applied for a marriage license in Riverhead Town over the past year.

Pick up Thursday’s paper to read more about the first year of same-sex marriage on the North Fork.

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07/15/11 9:28am
07/15/2011 9:28 AM

Same-sex couples looking to wed in Riverhead Town can fill out marriage applications starting July 25, though they might have to wait until July 28 to tie the knot if they want to do it at Town Hall.

Applications will technically become available statewide Sunday July 24, the first day the Marriage Equality Act goes into effect, though Riverhead Town Hall is closed on Sundays. Some municipalities have said they will open Sunday July 24 to handle the increase in demand.

Same-sex marriage license applications will be available in Riverhead Town Monday July 25.

After a license is issued, there is a state-mandated 24-hour waiting period before a ceremony can be performed. Wedding ceremonies are usually only performed at Riverhead Town Hall on Thursdays for scheduling reasons, according to Town Clerk Diane Wilhelm, so the first day she could perform a same-sex wedding would be July 28.

“To me, it’ s business as usual,” Ms. Wilhelm said. “It’s not different than anybody else.”

Though she would consider performing a ceremony earlier in the week if the couple can prove a scheduling hardship, she said.

“I’ll try to work it in my schedule,” she said.

About seven or eight same-sex couples have expressed interest in getting married in Riverhead Town Hall since the legislation was passed by the New York State Senate June 24, according to Ms. Wilhelm.

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