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With a hitch or two, Cook County clerk presides over first-of-the-year online wedding

Ashley Graff and Undra Baldwin of Elgin married Monday after an 11-year engagement.

Ashley Graff and Undra Baldwin of Elgin were married Monday in a virtual ceremony officiated by Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough.
Ashley Graff and Undra Baldwin of Elgin were married Monday in a virtual ceremony officiated by Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough.
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Ashley Graff had some pre-wedding jitters Monday, but they had nothing to do with finally tying the knot after an 11-year engagement.

Her concern was about the wedding guests — most of whom she’d probably never met.

“Well, I didn’t expect to win, I guess,” said Graff, 36. “I didn’t know it was going to be broadcast when I signed up.”

Graff and her fiance, Undra Baldwin, 37, who live in Elgin, entered Cook County Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough’s lottery to win the first marriage license of 2021 and a live wedding via Zoom that included free flowers, as well as virtual dance and cooking lessons.

Graff and Baldwin were runners-up. The first couple picked chose to make different arrangements for their wedding.

Yarbrough typically conducts the first-of-the-year wedding in person, but the coronavirus threw a wrench into those plans.

So Yarbrough conducted the wedding remotely. Graff, an administrative assistant, and Baldwin, a machine operator, were dressed for the occasion. They held hands in a hotel room in Schaumburg, where they celebrated Graff’s birthday Sunday.

“We don’t even know who is at your wedding today because this is going to be on Facebook and everybody is going to see you,” Yarbrough said as the ceremony got underway.

As it turned out, there were 175 views and 23 comments — all of them appropriately sweet.

“I’m crying. You’re so beautiful,” said one viewer.

At the end, Yarbrough said, “You may kiss each other with an embracement of your choice.”

It was, apparently, a kiss, but the camera cut away at the climactic moment.

“Congratulations! Do you feel any different? Of course you do!” Yarbrough gushed.

The wedding ended somewhat abruptly with a blurry hand reaching across the camera in the happy couple’s hotel room to end the broadcast and let the couple begin the rest of their life together.

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough conducts a wedding over Zoom for Ashley and Undra,the first couple to receive a marriage license in Cook County this year.
Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough shows Ashley Graff and Undra Baldwin their marriage license.
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