Meant to Be

At first, it was to be just the two of them at city hall. Then, it expanded to include our immediate family: the wedding couple, Matt and Brooke and their kids, my sons’ father with his girlfriend along with two of his former wives (a family tradition… I’m #1 and Rebecca is #2, but with great disappointment it turned out that #2 was unable to come from Canada; wives #3 and #4 didn’t make the guest list).

Jon and Marion, May 11, 2014

When I found out what they were planning, and that Jon invited Matt by a text, I asked how they’d feel if I stepped in and interfered. Jon said, “Am I not doing this right?” I said, “Honey, it’s not that you’re not doing it right, its just that a wedding is a celebration, an occasion to be witnessed and honored, and I’m not so sure a 41-year-old bachelor (you in particular) should plan his own wedding. And by the by, it’s cheesy to text a wedding invitation to your brother.” So they let me interfere. The marriage plans were a moving target: who’s coming, who can’t (Marion’s family was unable to as they live in Mississippi, and along with Rebecca #2, were missed). It went from possibly Bartholomew Park to my back yard, from no friends to some friends. They wanted no cake, flowers, or music, no photographer, spoken vows, or ceremony. I mentioned the wedding might take about twenty seconds with no vows and no ceremony and they said perfect, they didn’t like being the center of attention. I also said it might be nice to have a FEW pictures and for them to say SOMETHING to each other and that it was fairly common to have a ceremony, vows, family, friends, food, flowers, a little Champagne, cake, and pictures at a wedding. That’s why they call it a wedding and not a hockey game, and we could hang a sheet in front of them if they didn’t want anyone to look at them for godsakes.

The event settled into place. I left a message on Sandy’s phone to call me when the guest list doubled to twenty. She and her sister Lynn were doing the food (they owned the Oak Tree Cantina in the late 70s and have known us since Matt and Jon were in grammar school). She called me back and tried to bail as she was only prepared for a very small event. I said you can’t bail, you’re my friend and you’ve catered weddings before, and you’re a fabulous cook, and besides, you made my kids tacos and enchiladas without cheese because they were allergic to dairy when they were young. When the list inched up to twenty-six (Jon was making new friends along the way), I didn’t have the courage to inform her in person so left a mumbling message again on her phone. And I wasn’t about to tell her when it hit thirty. I changed the order three times at Wine Country Party for place settings, linen, and chairs, ordered more Champagne, and borrowed patio furniture from Marguerita. Linda talked me off the edge of the cliff when I exhaled that I couldn’t seat thirty people in my backyard and she said move the luncheon tables into your living room and food tables to your front room, so we did. With a two-week notice I sent invitations out by Paperless Post, which took three nights for me to figure out how it worked. I double, triple, and quadruple checked it. I had the right date on the invitation, but managed to have the wrong date on the cover email—of course—so sent a follow-up suggesting folks not come on Thursday as there would be no cake, no Jon, and no Marion on Thursday). Trish worked with me for a week getting the yard ready, Jesus and his brothers came over for four days after their main jobs and turned it into a park.

Phil and Trish helped me set up. Sandy and Lynn didn’t quit and prepared the menu, cooked, delivered, served, and cleaned up. Colleen picked up the tri-tip after Broadway Market forgot to cook it and got it here in plenty of time. Brooke made a fabulous three-tiered naked carrot cake (I know, I never heard of a naked carrot cake either) and greeted the guests with Champagne with St. Germaine and raspberries, Matt bartended, Moriah passed hors d’oeuvres and filled in doing whatever was needed, Bob made Satchel happy with a quick card game, Satchel (age 11) stood up for Jon and blessed everyone with a turkey feather, Temple (age 6) was by Marion’s side and strew rose petals. Lynn took pictures.

Marion Carmer and Jon Sevenau, married by Gary Ruiz, Sonoma, California, May 23, 2014

Gary married them with humor, honor, incense, sage, candles, and love, Marion and Jon read their poignant vows, exchanged rings and kissed, I cried, and nobody got drunk. Joe gave a hilarious toast and the house was filled with laughter and happiness. Everything came together perfectly, including the weather.

My favorite parts of the day were:

1. When Jon says to me across the luncheon table, “I want to go out back with Marion and have a few more pictures taken.” Now this is a man you can’t get in front of a camera, not willingly anyway. I look at Matt and Matt looks at me and we look at Jon: “what did you just say?” so Jon says it again and I look back at Matt and Matt looks back at me and with our eyebrows to the sky we ask again, “what did he just say?” and Jon says, “are you making fun of me?” and we say, “pretty much… you are a changed man.” He said, “I’m growing up,” then he and Marion escape for another round of photos.

Bob signing their marriage license

Bob signing their marriage license

2. When Gary asks me to sign as witness on the marriage license and I say, “Should I ask Matt to be the second witness?” and he says, “No, Jon asked his dad.” Without the details, this was no small leap on Jon’s part. He likes to be mad (it runs in the family) and has not been on good terms with Bob for a few years. I’m grateful for yet another healing in the family.

3. When Jon and Marion are departing for the weekend and say they have to stop by their house first, and I offer to take their things home for them so they don’t get caught in the traffic to San Francisco, and Jon says no, “We have to go home for a minute. I want to change my status on Facebook before we leave town.”

The Sevenau Family May 23, 2014 Marion, Jon, Bob, Matt, Brooke, Catherine children: Satchel, Temple

The Sevenau Family
May 23, 2014, Sonoma, California
Marion, Jon, Bob, Matt, Brooke, Catherine
M & B’s children: Satchel, Temple

On May 23, 2014, Jon married the love of his life. We witnessed them standing side-by side, looking out at the future together. With smiling hearts, we welcomed Marion into the family. I’ve not seen my son happier or more content.













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  1. We always love a good love story, and this is a great one!

  2. omg what a perfect story of a perfect occasion and a perfect family photo at the end! Thanks for sharing!!!! and btw the 23rd May was Frederick’s and my 27th wedding anniversary!!! Lots of love to all, from Audrey

  3. Cheryl Thompson says:

    You rock, Catherine. Just like a Mom, and more like you, you pulled it all together.
    They look happy, (and that is what counts), so you did good. Best of everything to them and to you. GREAT family pic.(I know they are important to you.) Cheryl

  4. Melissa Sevenau says:

    Thank you Aunt Cathy! Wonderful recounting. So proud of Jon. So happy for them both. For us all, Marion is wonderful! Love you!

  5. Wow, we wish them all the best. As for you, Catherine, we hope you can take a deep breath and find the right moment (or two) to savor the wise leadership you supplied helping facilitate and smooth this new beginning. Best wishes all around! Terry and Peg

  6. Mary Szykowny says:

    Catherine, That was beautiful … and you made me cry… happy tears for your beautiful family! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story of love! All the best, Mary

  7. Catherine, Congratulations to all. Wonderful story. Glorious family photo. Beautiful family. Thanks for sharing. I loved it!

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