Charlotte Passley and Darnell Lane, Jr. left their Lawndale home on Tuesday morning with the hope that they would become Cook County’s first married couple of 2017. “We didn’t know about all the gifts that came with being the first couple,” Charlotte said. “We wanted a way to start 2017 with a bang but we didn’t expect to actually become the lucky couple.”
|Photo courtesy of Bryan Docter/Cook County Clerk's Office|
They received their marriage license as soon as Cook County Clerk David Orr’s office opened at 8:30 a.m.
The couple met eight years ago at the California Gardens Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, where they both worked. “She was a nice young lady and I just felt something for her when we met,” Darnell said. “I felt an instant connection – like ‘she’s the one.’”
After years of putting it off, Charlotte, 31, and Darnell, 32, said this was the time that felt right for them. “Life is too short,” Charlotte said. “We have four beautiful kids we share and we decided that this is the day.”
The West Side couple had plans to get married today but they weren’t aware of the one-day waiting period. Thankfully, as is tradition, a judge waived the waiting period so Orr could marry them immediately. He is the only clerk in Illinois with the ability to perform marriages.
Clerk Orr also presented the lucky couple with a slew of gifts donated by local businesses. This year’s gifts included a weekend stay at Loews Hotel Chicago, dinner for two at Michael Jordan's Steak House, four tickets to the iO Improv Theater, a $50 gift card from Eli's Cheesecake, a fruit bouquet from Edible Arrangements and a beautiful white rose bouquet and boutonniere from LaSalle Flowers.
Clerk Orr also paid the marriage license fee of $60 and provided them with a colorful Commemorative Certificate.
A video of the ceremony and a photo album of the event can be viewed on the Clerk’s website.
The Clerk's Bureau of Vital Records issues all marriage licenses in Chicago and suburban Cook County. The office issued: 36,198 marriage licenses in 2016; 35,253 marriage licenses in 2015; 36,738 in 2014; 31,016 in 2013; and 32,292 in 2012.