Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

August 20, 2008

Donnie & Mike's Wedding - August 16, 2008

I met Donnie in 1990, when I worked at the Monadnock Building on Market Street in the Financial District. He was the gardener at that building, as well as many others in The City. He is also a Deadhead, so we were at lots of the same shows. I'd always stop and talk to him if he was in the building when I got there at 7:00 a.m. I used to run into him downtown during lunch too. But we didn't start hanging out till 1996, after my law firm relocated to Berkeley, and the other subtenants in Good Ol' Suite 690 moved out. Brian & I had always gone to my office in the past to watch the Gay Pride Parade from the windows, and because I was friends w/ the Chief Engineer of the building, Jim, we were able to go back to the empty office space on the 6th floor to watch that year.

I don't remember how it ended up snowballing, but word got around that Suite #690 was empty so why not have a huge Pride party? Jim brought some of the long tables up from the downstairs conference rooms and set them up along the wall in Mal's old office. His longtime partner, Kim was there as well. Donnie and his merry band of friends also showed up, everyone brought food and drink, and there must've been about 40 people in the office space that amazing Pride Day. Thus, our friendship was forever solidified.

After that, we went to several of Donnie's parties when he lived on Fulton Street, in the Haight. The days were always magical, calming; relaxing even. We'd just drift through the amazing garden that he built over the years behind his building. As the landlords of the next door flats saw what he did, the fences between the back yards came down and Donnie united half his block with this huge, amazing garden, that was open to all the people that had access to it thru their back doors. Unfortunately, the hospital next door, St. Mary's, were not as enthusiastic as we were about Donnie's parties. They eventually bought out the entire block and forced everyone out. He'd lived in that flat since 1985 and had to leave last year.

Meanwhile, he'd been in a series of relationships. Then 6 years ago, at the Russian River, he met Mike. Although Brian and I moved up here, we still kept in touch with Crissmiss cards and emails. Needless to say, we were over the moon when he emailed us in June that he and Mike were getting married, now that the Supreme Court ruled that same sex marriage was LEGAL.

To be in Donnie's company is a very amazing experience. Magical. He has this magical aura about him. I've been thinking about it a lot since this weekend, and I finally realized why he's such a special man: He has a pure heart. It's in his nature to love everyone, help in any way he can....give you the shirt off his back. He cares so much for his family and friends. He's one of those guys who knows everyone, remembers everyone, & keeps his friends forever. Since moving to Washington, we've lost regular touch with a lot of people in California; people we saw more often than we saw Donnie. However, even though we only communicated sporadically with Donnie since moving here, we knew that nothing had changed between us at all, despite time and distance. He is an amazing human being. I've never heard him say a bad thing about anyone (except of course St. Mary's, and conservative politicians). He's funny, self depracating, sweet, kind & friendly. He loves children, he loves animals. He's not cynical or jaded. He loves to have fun. Life's just fun for him. Always.

So the thought of not going to his wedding was unbearable. Brian had already made arrangements to be in Sausalito for his voice over bootcamp studio sessions, but there was no way he'd be able to go to the wedding at all. He'd be in the studio from 8-5 for 3 days straight. I decided that I would go and represent us. And boy am I glad I did.

Over the past 6 yrs., Donnie and Mike alternated weekends, at his place on Fulton or at Mike's in Guerneville, on the Russian River. When St. Mary's forced Donnie out, they decided to buy a place in the Excelsior District, near Glen Park. It's a lovely home, in a cute neighborhood. His garden is much smaller now, but he makes the most of the space. He is a Master Gardener, as you can see. Over the years, Brian and I have even half-joked about crunching the numbers to see if we could hire Donnie to come up and stay w/ us and do our backyard. He's so good at what he does.






He has a lot of little things hiding under the plants and in the pots. That was what was so amazing about the giant space he had on Fulton Street. You could wander around all day and still not notice all the stuff he had tucked away here and there.

This gorgeous stained glass Steal Your Face is in Donnie's bathroom. Isn't it freakin GORGEOUS???? Someone had to have made it for him because I've never, ever seen anything like this before, not even on line. Annie? Daisy? Have either of you ever seen one this nice? If so, let me know!!

I got to Donnie's house at about 12:15 so I got to see most of the guests come in. My goal was to try to take as many individual or couple guest photos but there were so many people that came pouring in that I abandoned all hope of being able to really pull off the "semi-pro photog" thing. lol They had a pro there taking all the official pics. Although, I have to say, because my camera is way larger than most digital cameras, people kind of defer to me if I want to be up front to take a shot. That was a good thing because, being short, if I hadn't been in the front all the time, my pics would not have come out good at all because it got so crowded.
This is Donnie's step-mom Lonnie, his dad, step sister Judy and step sister Susan.


It does my heart good to see such an open and affirming family. Unfortunately because I never met Mike before the wedding day, I did not catch the names of his family and best man and I really don't know which of the guests and family members were part of Mike's side. But the point is, people from all walks of life were here to celebrate their wedding day - moms, dads, siblings, gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, special needs, babies, kids of all ages. It's times like these when I have a glimmer of hope for America. IT'S ABOUT LOVE, PEOPLE!!

Here's the band, Dreamchairmusic. They are really good; very tight too. David, Elizabeth and Robert. I didn't know many of the people at the wedding...I expected to know no one except Donnie, but I did spend some time in Robert's company in California and he's a great guy too. Their music is available at http://www.dreamchairmusic.com/ Elizabeth told me they have MP3 uploads there.
Mike & Donnie's dog, Kayla. She's a big fluffy sweetheart.
The wonderfully eccentric and funny Lady Y, whose acquaintance I'd just made when I arrived. She is a true San Francisco character, I could tell that right away. The exact sort who you find in Donnie & Mike's very large circle of friends.

I know that some people are uncomfortable going to events, like weddings, alone, but that's never bothered me. I can talk easily enough and it was fun to meet new people. Some of the guests had been at parties we were at, but it was so long ago and so a few looked familiar.

I scored a front row seat in the back yard pretty early on. This couple, Ron & Valerie, sat next to me and I hung out with them a lot. Ron met Donnie over 20 years ago, when they were both cooks at a restaurant. I could kick myself for not getting their email address, although I gave them my blog address so hopefully, they'll find their way over here.

Donnie's sister, Julie, is on the right, and her partner Dorothy.

These ladies were a riot. I remember them from other parties, Yung Suk & Miriam. They, too, have known Donnie over 20 years. Yung Suk loves the fog as much as I do.
The happy couple before the ceremony. Aren't they cute? I had no idea Mike was going to be so tall!! They did a short "meet-n-greet" for photos and stuff in the garage before the wedding started.



The grooms' families.

Looking at the packed yard. There were a few people upstairs looking out the windows too.


Mike's best man, whose name I didn't get (my bad) on the left, the Justice of the Peace, Trigby, in the center, and Donnie's best man Eric, who is the only other person at the ceremony that I knew from SF. He'd even been to our place in Marin once.


Here come the grooms!! Everyone was cheering and clapping!!


Kayla says, "My daddies can get legally married!!!"


Trigby did a wonderfully funny and sweet ceremony. He's known these guys and been in their inner circle for a long time and he spoke from the heart. I think it was at this point that I felt the tears coming. I wish I could have a copy of what he said because I can't remember the specifics of the stories and things he said!!


Here's Mike doing his vows. Again, beautiful words said. Mike's very gentle, I could tell that right away. He's a sweet guy. Donnie's got himself a good one.



Donnie's vows were just as sweet and heartfelt. When he was done saying his vows, he said, really loud, "I LOVE YOU MICHAEL LEE KETTERMAN!!"

This little girl, Eva, and another little girl who was a little older, were the ring bearers. Which, of course, drew a collective, "Awwwww!" from the crowd.


A ring for Donnie.....


....and one for Mike.


A very loud cheer went up when Trigby said, "I now pronounce you legally married!" I was pretty much bawling. There really wasn't a dry eye in the place, to tell you the truth.


After the ceremony, I went back to drifting and chatting with people. I enjoyed a nice chat with Deb and her son Dillon. She was also taking pictures so we were comparing notes and such. Dillon is a super sweet kid, but as he has special needs, they needed to leave a little early. Again, I'm pretty pissed at myself for not getting an email address! I'm just from a time where exchanging email addresses isn't the first thing I think of.

Does this picture say it all, or what? Could they be beaming more? I noticed that they both had their sideburns & goatees cut the same way. I thought that was adorable.


Eric's giving his best man's toast.


I zoomed out to make sure that I got my hand in the shot.

This guy was so cool. I was talking with him for awhile before the toasts were made. His name is Fundi (pronounced "Foon-dee"). He sang accapella the Billy Preston & Syreeta song, "I'm Born Again". Although I've never been a fan of that song, I thought it was a great tribute and gift to give.


Donnie's sister Julie gave a toast, which apparently was a last minute, had-no-intention-of -doing-that thing. Julie's a bundle of energy and very dynamic, like her brother. She told us that, after years of destructive addiction and behavior, she was clean and sober for 6 months (she didn't have real champagne in her glass either). She gave Donnie her 6 month chip. The crowd errupted in another enthusiastic cheer, but I was close enough to hear him say to her that he will always keep it in his pocket for good luck, and how proud he was of her. It was a very poignant moment between brother and sister.

I went inside to get some shots of the very eclectic crowd of family and friends.



Is this kid cute or what? Little Eva (pronounced Ava) the ring bearer. She had a balloon tied to her. You'd be looking at the crowd and see this balloon floating around and it was her.


These guys pulled together an efficient, and delicious, wedding in 2 months time. Every single detail was attended to and several members of their inner circle had specific tasks. It came together perfectly. The food was incredible. This is just one table, and just the hors d'oevres. There were 2 tables groaning under the weight of deviled eggs, breads, cheeses, dips, all kinds of yummy munchies, roasts, spiral ham, salads of all kinds. Instead of looking at the garage ceiling, gold & white helium balloons covered the entire ceiling. White tarps draped on the unfinished walls to hide them. Inside the house, the kitchen was running full bore and only "authorized personnel" was allowed in there. A couple of young girls, nieces or cousins, were dressed up in beautiful black summer dresses and brought the food out and around to the guests who couldn't fit into the garage to get the food. They brought it to us. So much love and care went into planning this day.
In addition to the food in the garage, inside the house was a whole table of sweets. That's a chocolate fountain near the window. Cupcake trees, fresh fruit, sweet poundcake-like cake and also pretzels, to eat on their own or dipped in the fountain.

Here's the cake!



The cake ceremony.

"Oops, you got a little icing on your face....here, let me get that for you." lol
Fundi and his partner Tom.
By about 5:30, things were starting to wind down. I was hoping Brian would be out of the studio so I called him and he was! So that's Donnie on the phone with Brian. He couldn't be there in person, but he was there in spirit.


What a fantastic, "Tales of the City", utterly San Franciscan wedding and day. Congratulations Donnie & Mike!! I wish them a lifetime of happiness.
The happy couple will be honeymooning at a resort in Acapulco, and returning to their married life in The City.

23 comments:

  1. Wow~Beautiful pictures of a lovely day. You really are good, Jo.

    And you are right, that Stealie glass is amazing-I love the corners w/roses!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Annie! Wouldn't you love to get one of those windows? I googled "gd stained glass" but didn't see anything near as good as that one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good luck to the happy groom and groom!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great pictures - but even more, I love your style of writing! You are so poetic.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks El, that means a lot to me.
    :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ah, ain't love grand?

    I didn't mind going to my neighbours' wedding alone either, JoJo, 'cos like you I can talk to anybody.

    Unfortunately the seating plan had me next to the bride's mother and a family friend. They spoke very little English and I speak no Turkish!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I want that stained glass window!!!

    Want!!! Now!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. WR - Get in line!!! lol I totally covet that window.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Everything looks amazing.I wish them all the luck in the world.

    Oh,and tell them I said thank you for the wedding ideas,even if I do "Burton" them a bit.

    I wish I had 1/10 of that gardening talent!

    ReplyDelete
  10. These photos made me cry, Jojo... anyone who would deny such loving spirits the right to legal marriage is a scumbag. I sincerely hope the other states follow suit.

    I love how radiating-with-happiness they look!!! And it just flows over to everyone in -all- the photos... people have obviously been waiting for this wonderful day!

    Yes, I loooove that stained glass stealie! I'd love to have one. I get a lot of hits on my blog for "GLBT Deadheads" (in some combination)--and now you will, too. There are LOTS, since of course, the Deadhead culture (with a few exceptions that umm, you and I have previously encountered!) is so universal and accepting.

    Ironically, I wrote about my move to SF today, too.

    I haven't kept up with any of the folks I knew back then... my best friends from the period are all gone. You know what I mean. I am afraid to go back, that it will be emotionally devastating, but someday I am determined to show Mr Daisy the places I lived and worked...

    Thanks for a beautiful photographic interlude today! :) ((hugs))

    ReplyDelete
  11. Bryde - yes, the ideas they came up with were incredible. That wedding went like clockwork.

    (((Daisy))) - I'm stoked to read your blog! I will surf over there now. It was a beautiful day, that's for sure. The sun even peeked thru the fog, briefly, during the ceremony, as if to say, "I'm here too!!"

    ReplyDelete
  12. Very nicely done, you describe everything beautifully. I'm going to send your link to some friends that couldn't make it, it will make them feel like they were there. The unknown Best Man was Carl Grimm, an enduring friend of more then 30 years. We are so happy you cam down and I got to finally meet you.
    Mike & Donnie

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for the great write-up! Here are some more pictures from the day:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/trigby/sets/72157606789964642/

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hi Mike, Donnie and Trigby!! What a lovely surprise to hear from you guys over here! I would not have missed your wedding for the world and I am honored to have been invited.

    These photos that I posted are only the tip of the iceberg of what I shot. I pick them up at the camera shop today. I'm going to load the whole batch onto Facebook this weekend too.

    Trigby - the link didn't work, it took me to a page that said "page cannot be displayed".

    ReplyDelete
  16. Aw, what a beautiful day and ceremony! And I'm so glad you got to take the trip. You sound like you're generally feeling better. I hope that's true. You deserve some happiness!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Best wishes to the Happy Couple! I love the flowers they wore.

    ReplyDelete
  18. DP - Thanks. It was a real shot in the arm to be in SF last weekend; I have felt much better this week.

    Tess - the white flowers, I think were honeysuckle. Whatever they were, they smelled heavenly!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hey. Nice pics. I just bumped into your page and noticed you and I share a common interest in Sasquatch. You should probably check out the account I just wrote of my Yeti-hunting expedition that started deep in the woods of Arkansas and is headed now to Australia.
    Holla,
    M-

    ReplyDelete
  20. This was a moving tribute to a loving couple and their wonderful wedding. Congrats to them,and it sounds like you had a great time too!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Since the worst day of my life so far was an August 16th, it's nice to know something life affirming took place on it!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Welcome, Albino Bowler and Margaret! It's always a welcome surprise to see new people!

    AB - I completely 100% believe in Sasquatch. There's no doubt in my mind it exists. I left a comment on your latest post.

    Margaret - Thank you for your support! It was a beautiful wedding and I really feel as though I was taking part in a huge, history making event as well.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Diane - I'm really sorry to hear that 8/16 has always been associated with a bad thing for you. I have bad dates like that too.

    ReplyDelete