Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough announces Lottery Drawing for First Marriage License of the New Year

December 17, 2020
Press Release
Vital Records

Couple will receive Zoom Wedding and Gifts Including Steak, Lobster and Sparkling Wine

Clerk Karen A. Yarbrough is inviting couples interested in tying the knot in 2021 to apply to receive the first marriage license of the New Year and to exchange vows in the Cook County Clerk’s first-ever Zoom wedding. 

The Clerk typically marries the couple who waits in line to obtain the first marriage license of the year as an annual tradition. This year, due to COVID-19, Yarbrough is announcing a lottery drawing for the first license, accompanied by a Zoom wedding and special COVID-conscious gifts for the newlyweds from some of Chicagoland’s signature establishments. 

Governor J.B. Pritzker issued an executive order last May allowing couples the right to apply for marriage licenses online and to be married via video conference in the wake of COVID-19. 

“The pandemic has altered our courses in so many different ways, but the special institution of marriage and the first nuptials of the year must go on,” Yarbrough said. “We are thrilled to be carrying on this tradition in a safe and exciting way.” 

Applications will be accepted online beginning Thursday, December 17, and interested couples can apply for their chance to win the first license at Applications must be received by Tuesday, December 29, and the drawing for the first marriage license of 2021 will be held December 30. 

The Zoom wedding ceremony will take place on Monday, January 4, the first day of official business in Cook County in 2021. 

Several of the Chicago-area’s signature establishments have donated special gifts for the first couple to mark the celebration in a COVID-friendly way. The gifts include: 


R. Whittingham and Sons Meat Co. has been a family operated business since 1947, distributing USDA Prime and Choice cut meats to some of the finest restaurants, hotels, country clubs and casinos throughout the Chicagoland area and across the United States.  The company’s Alsip-based facility also includes a retail store for walk-in customers offering a wide range of fresh and frozen meat, seafood, and specialty products. 

Founded in 2005, Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants is built on the passionate belief that food and wine hold the power to forge lasting connections.  Cooper’s Hawk offers handcrafted wines inspired by Napa Valley’s Wine Country as well as modern, casual dining in inviting and upscale settings.  With locations across Chicagoland and in nine states outside of Illinois, Cooper’s Hawk also offers customers a Napa-Style tasting room experience and artisanal markets. 

Founded more than 40 years ago by Chicago restaurateur Eli M. Schulman, Eli’s Cheesecake has developed a reputation for serving up great food and providing outstanding service. Eli’s operates a state-of-the-art bakery, corporate office and dessert café on Chicago’s northwest side and, since its public debut at the Taste of Chicago in 1980, has grown from a local favorite to one of the country’s largest specialty bakeries, turning out 20,000 cheesecakes and desserts daily. 

Duet Dance Studio is an award-winning ballroom dance studio located in Chicago West Bucktown. Duet Dance has been teaching Chicago to dance since 2013 and was recently placed in The Knot Best of Weddings’ "Hall of Fame.” Duet offers ballroom dance lessons and specialized wedding dance instruction with instruction in Swing, Salsa, Bachata, Rumba, Merengue, Tango, Foxtrot, Waltz and Two-Step. 

The Chopping Block is a recreational cooking school that combines education, instruction and entertainment for a unique culinary experience.  Founded in 1997 in a small cottage in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, the Chopping Block has grown to a facility with over 12,000 feet of cooking, event and retail space.  With six different kitchens, the Chopping Block is Chicago’s largest recreational school.  

LaSalle Flowers has been a family-owned florist on the corner of LaSalle and Superior since 1936.  Today, LaSalle Flowers continues the tradition of providing friendly customer service, beautiful fresh-cut flowers, a wide selection of green and blooming plants, balloons, and top quality plush animals.  LaSalle also specializes in wedding and corporate events and offers same day delivery in Chicago and neighboring suburbs for orders placed by 11 a.m. 

Jackbox Games is a video game developer based in Chicago, best known for the ‘You Don’t Know Jack’ series of quiz-based party video games and the Jackbox Party Pack series.  Jackbox makes a variety of games designed to appeal to everyone in the room, on the Zoom call, or streaming.  They offer drawing games, writing games, trivia games, hidden identify games and a host of other offerings. 


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