By Marty Farmer
When planning their fairy tale wedding, most women envision a beautiful church ceremony filled with family, friends, flowers, merriment and music. Ann Joyner opted for a different marital route, literally, when she tied the knot with Ray Greeley on June 3 in Lindberg Park.
The happy couple, both members of the Oak Park Runners Club (OPRC) where they met, decided to get married during the club's weekly "Fun Run."
Starting the run from the Competitive Foot store on the 100 block of North Marion Street and traversing north through Oak Park, the group stopped mid-jog to hold Joyner and Greeley's unique nuptials at the park, located on Greenfield Street between Marion and Woodbine Avenue.
John Kolman, an OPRC member licensed to perform marriages, officiated the brief but beautiful ceremony. Wedding vows and rings were exchanged before Joyner and Greeley shared declarations of love to one another.
The wedding run concluded with the newlyweds leading the group back to Competitive Foot. Grape Leaves restaurant, where the twosome initially expressed interest in one another, catered the informal reception at the "Foot" to cap off the joyous event.
"I thought the wedding was really cool and personal," Joyner said. "I come from an Italian family that's Catholic, so I was a little worried about how my mom and some of my older relatives would react to the idea. Once they witnessed it, I think they were very happy."
Joyner's pastor blessed the couple on the morning of their marriage. Joyner, 50, is a Berwyn resident, while Greeley, 59, is Lutheran and lives in Chicago. The couple will reside in Berwyn.
According to Joyner, the personal vows exchanged resonated with everybody who attended the ceremony.
"All of our best friends are in the runners club," she said. "A lot of people in the park also came by to observe the wedding. I think people really liked our personal vows, and all the feedback I've heard has been positive.
"Ray and I both love running so we wanted to have a wedding with running involved in some way."
After their big day, the couple put off their honeymoon a few days so Joyner could run in Peoria's "Steamboat Classic" 15K run. The bride captured first place in her age division with Greeley cheering her along every step of the way.
The couple is currently enjoying their honeymoon in Starved Rock State Park. The itinerary includes plenty of camping, hiking and, of course, running.
"I think some people probably think we're nuts hiking and camping for our honeymoon," Joyner said, "but we're doing things we love and it's a healthy lifestyle, too. We love each other and we're happy. That's what matters most."
When contacted for this story, the couple was shopping at REI, a store specializing in gear for outdoor activities — like hiking and running. An attempt to interview Greeley fell hilariously short.
"I can't find Ray in the store," Joyner said with a laugh. "We've been married two weeks and I think I lost my husband. That's OK, I can tell you what he would say anyway."
Sounds like a marriage on the right track.
Paul Oppenheim contributed to this report.