SYCAMORE – It was a moment made for a sitcom. A happy couple was rehearsing for their wedding that was to take place the next day at St. George Greek Orthodox Church when the priest asked them if they had their marriage certificate.
“There were a lot of flavors of confusion,” said groom Rob Fricke, 31. “We sort of became focused on all of the little details.”
The one detail they forgot, however, was an important one: They did not have a marriage license before their ceremony, and therefore, the priest could not marry the couple. They got the news at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday – a day before the wedding, said bride Abi Elder, 30.
“They were like, ‘Did you guys get this?’” Fricke said. “Everything was already in motion and people had already been invited and had already traveled.”
That is when DeKalb resident Bessie Chronopoulos, a member of St. George Greek Orthodox Church and no stranger to DeKalb County government, made a Facebook message. She reached DeKalb County Board Chairmen Mark Pietrowski not long after the news was broken to the couple.
It was progress, Chronopoulos remembers thinking, but the person they needed to contact to secure the license was Doug Johnson, DeKalb County clerk and recorder.
Pietrowski sent a text to Johnson, but received no reply. All everyone could do was wait.
“At that point, we were pretty certain that it wasn’t going to happen,” Elder said. “The priest said that he could do a blessing so there would at least be something for people to attend.”
Unaware of the situation at the church, Johnson was at home with his wife, Karen, watching a movie when he noticed a text from Pietrowski. Johnson said he has married people at night, as this kind of situation has happened before.
Together, Pietrowski and Johnson met the couple at the County Clerk’s Office and handed over an official marriage license at 11:30 p.m. Fricke and Elder went through with their marriage ceremony June 1 at St. George Greek Orthodox Church.
“So what happens when Bessie Chronopoulos Facebook messages you on a Friday night about a couple that needs a marriage license before their ceremony tomorrow at 4 p.m.?” Pietrowski wrote on a Facebook post he made on May 31. “You text the DeKalb County Clerk and spring into action of course.”
Fricke and Elder said they did not grow up in DeKalb, but chose to marry at St. George Greek Orthodox Church, 320 S. Seconnd St. because they have family connections to the area.
Fricke said he was baptized and his parents were married at the church. He said his parents met at Northern Illinois University, where they studied computer science.
Fricke was born in Torrance, California, and Elder was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Although they grew up on opposite coasts, they met in the middle in Illinois through mutual friends, Elder said. They knew they wanted to get married five years ago, having dated since 2009, she said.
“It’s been long time,” Elder said, laughing.
Fricke said the reason they decided to wait was because of the expenses associated with a wedding.
“It’s a lot of moving parts, and clearly we missed one even after waiting for five years, but we just didn’t really feel the need to rush it,” Fricke said.