Little did Alize Ruiz and Christopher Tamayo know as they sat a few seats apart from one another at a movie the first time they met, they’d get married by the Cook County Clerk just a year later and receive a handful of gifts, as TV cameras recorded it all for posterity.
Cook County Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough – whose office traditionally showers the first couple of the New Year with a free marriage ceremony and gifts – has extended the annual event to Sweetest Day. Since Sweetest Day was Saturday, when county offices including the Clerk’s are closed, Clerk Yarbrough declared that the first couple in line at the downtown Vital Records Bureau office on Monday would be the lucky ones to take center stage at this inaugural event.
The couple, who met about a year ago on an outing with some friends to the movies, decided this summer to get married. Alize and Christopher got their marriage license at the Clerk’s office on Friday, and when they saw the banners at the Clerk’s office announcing the Sweetest Day wedding contest, “we said we’ll try to be here first on Monday, and we were,” Alize said.
They were in line in the pedway of the Daley Center outside the Vital Records Bureau, marriage license in hand, about a half-hour before the doors opened at 8:30 a.m. Once the finishing touches were made to their paperwork, Clerk Yarbrough officiated their marriage.
“Today is a great day for a wedding and a great day to start a new tradition! Don’t you agree?” Clerk Yarbrough asked the lucky couple before performing the marriage ceremony. “I am so honored to share this day with you.”
Because Alize and Christopher had gotten their marriage license on Friday, the Clerk’s office did not need to have a judge waive the one-day waiting period before they could be married. By state statute, Clerk Yarbrough is the only county clerk in Illinois who can perform marriages.
After declaring Christopher and Alize husband and wife, Clerk Yarbrough presented them with an array of gifts from local businesses. These gifts included a dinner for two at the Swissotel Chicago, tickets to a show at the Laugh Factory, a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Robert Daniels Florist, a commemorative marriage certificate from the Clerk’s Office and photos from the ceremony.
The Clerk's Bureau of Vital Records issues all marriage licenses in Chicago and suburban Cook County. The office issues about 35,000 marriage licenses annually.