Naperville couple pull off a social-distanced wedding in a week
After dating for less than a year, Patricia Fragen and Carlos Sandoval decided on a recent Saturday to get married as soon as possible.
And they weren't going to let the coronavirus outbreak stop them from saying "I do."
In just a week, the Naperville couple overcame building closures, crowd restrictions and other obstacles to exchange vows on March 28 in a Wheaton park as a small number of guests watched from an appropriate distance.
"It's the best way for an introvert to get married," Fragen said. "There's no pressure to have a bunch of people make it a big deal. You can just make it small and intimate."
Fragen, 53, says she and Sandoval, 53, knew they eventually would get married. "He decided on our third date that we were going to get married," she said. "I was a little harder to convince."
But as the couple enjoyed breakfast on March 21, Fragen turned to Sandoval and asked if he still wanted to marry her. When he said yes, they didn't waste any time.
Fortunately, Fragen says, she had friends willing to help pull it off.
One of them, Judge Bonnie Wheaton, agreed to preside. Wheaton says the DuPage County clerk's office "went above and beyond" to provide the license.
"Getting the marriage license was the tough part," Fragen said. "The rest of it was just fun."
Another friend, Cheryl Birkett of Batavia, got a K. Hollis Jewelers in Batavia to provide rings. Birkett also gave the bride a dress "so I didn't get married in blue jeans and a T-shirt," Fragen said.
The ceremony was held at the secluded Hurley Gardens in front of fewer than 10 people, including Fragen's parents and Sandoval's two sons.
"Everybody was able to do appropriate social distancing," Fragen said, "and still be close enough to hear and be part of it."
After a toast, everyone went home. Fragen says a larger celebration will be held when the COVID-19 crisis is over "and the time feels right."
The wedding came just days before the 13th anniversary of the death of Fragen's teenage daughter, Melissa.
Usually, the week leading to that April 1 anniversary is the hardest of the year for Fragen. But while she'll never stop grieving, Fragen says she'll now have happy memories about the wedding.
"I get to have something really fun to think about because we did something amazing," Fragen said. "We managed to get married in a week in the middle of a pandemic. Oh my God."