The last time Janet (Jaramillo) Fenner ’93 and Gregory Dabice ’93 shared the spotlight on the 50-yard line they were crowned Montclair State’s Homecoming queen and king. In a fairy-tale ending, their reunion on Sprague Field on August 1, 2020, included a kiss and wedding vows, a story so sweet it traveled around the world.
“We never dated in college,” Fenner recalls. “We knew each other from Greek life, but I was a straight-A student, intra-sorority vice president, on the student government and track team, the whole nine yards. Then there was Greg, who’s completely 180.” They were crowned homecoming king and queen in 1992 and parted from their royal duties, and each other, after graduating a year later.
Their reunion was a long time coming. Over the course of two decades, they each married, had children, eventually divorced and were beginning a new phase of their lives when Fenner randomly swiped right on a dating app. “It turns out I swiped right on Greg without even recognizing it was him. He reached out to me, ‘Is that you, Janet?’”
It was Dabice’s first and only time on the app. “I always say to her, and I really believe this, that we’ve been guided on the path we’ve been given. If we don’t force anything and enjoy it, it will be magic. It’s been exactly that,” Dabice says.
Their courtship has been a whirlwind since their first date on April 2, 2019. “By our third date, I just knew she was it,” Dabice says. “I started ring shopping three months later.”
He proposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ring engraved with two tiny crowns. Family, who participated in a drive-by parade outside their home in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, carried signs that spelled out “Will you marry me?”
“He definitely struck a chord in my heart and here we are,” Fenner says. “We have seven kids, two dogs and a tortoise, and it still works just perfectly. I wouldn’t change a single detail.”
They decided to marry despite the coronavirus restrictions to set an example for their children ages 10-18 as they combined households. “Their response to us throughout this whole process has been a big part of the magic,” Dabice says.
The wedding, officiated by Chief of University Police Paul Cell, observed mandatory safety measures, including social distancing on the athletic field and the wearing of face coverings to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. Mascot Rocky the Red Hawk served as ring bearer.
Cell says he was honored to be part of the ceremony. “I was here when they were in school and crowned,” he says.
The bride, 48, graduated from Montclair State with a Bachelor of Arts, with a concentration in Graphic Design. She recently opened her own agency, Defined Marketing in Pompton Plains. The bridegroom, 50, graduated with a degree in Industrial Technology. He is director of procurement for Carl Stahl Sava Industries in Riverdale, New Jersey.
While an unusual wedding venue, “the football field definitely encompasses who we were back then, who we are now and how long we’ve taken to get to this day,” Fenner says.
Their honeymoon was just as unusual. Dabice had his knee replaced a few days after the ceremony. While the couple stayed at home, the story of their reunion and wedding made the evening news on local and major networks, including NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and appeared in newspapers and websites across the country and the world, including the Huffington Post, USA Today and The Daily Mail in the U.K., and as an inspirational feature on Inside Edition, crowning a courtship nearly 30 years in the making.