Fifteen Years

Fifteen years ago, Jono and I began our married life together. Below is our rather unusual wedding story.

Jono & Debi (sometime back then 🙂


Excited and full of anticipation, we started off early Thursday morning for Toledo, Ohio,
thoughts on being married… Finally.  Once there, we found a parking spot and walked
hand in hand to the nearby courthouse.  Arriving at the marriage license bureau, we went in and were asked to have our documents ready.  In a few moments, a clerk came to help us.
At that point, our hearts plummeted as we heard the words, “I need your other birth certificate.”   What other birth certificate?!  My (Debi) birth certificate did not have my parents’ names on it.  After trying to argue for a few minutes, we realized it was pointless and left devastated.  Not knowing if another birth certificate even existed, we headed for the car unsure and perplexed as to what to do.
The trip back to Lincoln Park was quite in contrast to the trip down.  Crying, quiet, questioning, once back home we began to make phone calls.  We talked to my dad and when he knew nothing about another certificate we realized it could be a month or more before we could get anything out of Bangladesh where I was born.  Calling the state department in Washington, D.C.  we were able to write a letter requesting a birth certificate but even so, that would take from 4-8 weeks to receive.
After mailing the request overnight mail we began to ponder where in the US we could get married without a birth certificate.  We began to call the closest states.  Calling Lexington, Kentucky, we discovered that we only needed to be over 18 and pay some money.  After calling to make an appointment with a judge, we decided to go for it.  We had nothing to lose by at least trying this new spur-of-the-moment idea.
Throughout all this we were praying desperately, asking for God to give us strength, praying that we might be able to still get married soon, but also praying that God’s will would prevail through this difficult and frustrating ordeal.
Within an hour we had loaded the car, stopped at AAA to get hotel reservations, and were on our way to Lexington, Kentucky.  Though concerned and anxious about what God’s plan might be through all this, we were determined to make the most of it all and have fun with the road trip.
We encountered some traffic delays due to construction, etc. and at one point traffic completely stopped.  As we “happened” to be right by an exit (obviously due to the grace of God), we decided to take our chances in unfamiliar territory and find a way around the problem.  Without a lot of difficulty we were able to make our way back to the interstate at a point beyond the apparent accident.
In only about 8 ½ hours we were able to make it to Lexington, a much shorter trip than we originally assumed.  We were still praying desperately for God to be honored in the whole experience.
Friday, October 10, 1997 we headed for the county clerk’s office anxious and prayerful. We knew that God could stop us from getting married at any time and though we were strongly hoping He wouldn’t, both of us were trying not to get our hopes up too high.
Walking into the marriage license bureau we were assisted right away.  Without even asking for our identification the clerk asked us a few questions, typed our answers, printed a marriage license, and had us sign it.  We asked for directions to the courthouse and decided to see if a judge was available.  Our appointment was for 3:15 pm and this was early morning.  After walking around trying to find it, we finally arrived at the courthouse.
We talked to a secretary who was able to locate a judge who was available.  His name was John Adams.  Once we got to his office, his secretary gave us a copy of the vows to look over.  Sitting there waiting we knew that it was still possible for God to stop the whole thing.  People kept coming in to see the judge, making us nervous that he would need to leave and not be available.  But in a few minutes we were standing before the judge, stating our vows, and exchanging rings.  And then we were declared husband and wife.
So at roughly 10 after 10 on the 10th day of the 10th month in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety seven we became Mr. and Mrs. Jono and Debi Martin.
In shock we left, hardly believing that it had really happened.  But a piece of paper and rings on our left hands testified that, sure enough, we were really married!!  And all within an hour to an hour-and-a-half from the time we walked into the clerk’s office to get the license.
That night we went to a steakhouse to celebrate our wedding dinner.  While there, the waiters and waitresses did a line dance in the aisles of the restaurant.  The waitress we had was very friendly and when we told her we had just gotten married she gave us a free appetizer.  The food was plentiful and delicious, much more than we could ever eat in one sitting.  The atmosphere was fun and relaxing, friendly and rejuvenating; such a contrast to Detroit.
Saturday we headed back up to Michigan, enjoying a gorgeous autumn day with colorful leaves and lakes and hills.  Sun shining, hearts full, we realized how much more fun the whole wedding experience had been than if we had gotten married in Toledo as originally planned.  Our whole focus had been on whether God wanted us to get married yet and on what His will would be in it all.  Starting off a marriage trusting God and looking to Him for guidance, praying continuously, we had ended up in the best possible plan. 

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