CHICAGO (CBS) — For the last time in nearly 30 years, Cook County Clerk David Orr presided over a wedding for the first couple of the year to get a marriage license in Cook County.
Since 1991, Orr has married the couple to obtain the first marriage license of the year, providing donated gifts for the newlyweds. It’s a tradition that is now coming to an end, as Orr is not seeking an eighth term in office, so this was his last New Year’s as county clerk.
After five years together, Brian Wildeman and Susie Fogle, from Woodlawn, got married at the George W. Dunne Cook County Office Building on Tuesday. They showed up at Orr’s office at 4 a.m., despite wind chills well below zero, to make sure no one beat them to the first marriage license of 2018.
“We considered, like, would we try to buy off another couple, what would we do? And then we talked about it, and we were like, ‘If someone gets here earlier than that in negative 25-degree wind chill, we’ll shake their hands,’” Susie said.
It turned out another couple arrived about a half-hour after Brian and Susie.
“They stood in line behind us. The mother came. She was crying. It was little bit awkward,” Susie said. “We think they’ve been in Chicago all weekend, like in a hotel for this purpose.”
Wildeman said the couple would have left and gone back home to go to bed, if they hadn’t been first in line.
Brian, a 49-year-old art history teacher at University of Chicago Lab School, and Susie, a 35-year-old nanny, have a 2-year-old daughter named Bette, and they decided they’re ready to tie the knot.
“We have a daughter, and we’ve been together for a while, and lived together, and this is special to us,” Susie said.
“It’s kind of an adventurous way to do it, too, so it’s fun, and it’ll be a fun surprise when we do announce it to our friends and family,” Brian said.
Brian was dressed in a well-worn tuxedo onesie for their wedding. He said the choice was mostly about warmth over fashion.
Besides the novelty of it all, the first wedding of the year comes with goodies such as a hotel stay, dinner and theater certificates, Riotefest tickets and a wedding cake.
Susie Fogle joked: “I don’t know if the list came with a babysitter.”
Orr says he doesn’t have grandkids, suggesting he may be up for the idea.
The exchange of the rings wasn’t as smooth as intended, after Susie got the ring on Brian’s finger, the bride and groom shared the first Cook County wedding kiss of the year.
Since he started presiding over weddings for the new year 28 years ago, Orr has missed only one ceremony.
“People from everywhere, and different backgrounds, and why they happen to be getting the license right now. Many of them have kids,” he said. “A lot of good people we’ve met over the years, and I guess it’s fun when I run into couples sometimes I barely remember, ‘Oh yeah, you married us.’”
Brian and Susie planned to take a trip to Tokyo for their honeymoon.
Just a day before presiding over the last New Year ceremony, Orr was vacationing in warm and sunny Mexico. He said he couldn’t believe it when he kept checking the temperature back home in Chicago, and saw it was below zero, compared to the 70s in Mexico.