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 27 years later, their reunion on Sprague Field on Saturday, August 1, included a kiss and wedding vows.
“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 parted from their royal duties, and each other, after graduation.
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 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ring engraved with two tiny crowns and a song lyric, “Everything has changed.” Family who participated in a drive-by parade outside their home in Pompton Plains 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 sulcata tortoise, and it still works just perfectly. I wouldn’t change a single detail.”
They decided to marry now despite the coronavirus restrictions to set an example for their children ages 10-18 as they combine households. “Their response to us throughout this whole process has been a big part of the magic,” Dabice says. “They are eating up the love and security of a full family unit.”
The wedding, officiated by Chief of University Police Paul Cell, observed the mandatory safety measures, including social distancing on the athletic field and the wearing of face coverings to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread. The Montclair State mascot, Rocky the Red Hawk, served as ring bearer.
Cell says he’s 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, New Jersey. The bridegroom, 50, graduated with a degree in Industrial Technology. He is director of procurement for Carl Stahl Sava Industries, 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 will be just as unusual. “We have plans at Saint Barnabas hospital starting August 4 when I get my knee replaced,” Dabice jokes. “If we are not counting that, then no, no plans until COVID settles down.”
Story by Staff Writer Marilyn Joyce Lehren
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