Marriage is a supreme affair

While a few of the finer points of Fairview Community Church parishioner Beth Syverson's wedding were ironed out in advance, one big detail remained a mystery: when it would take place.

The attire and location, the Old Orange County Courthouse in Santa Ana, were chosen before Wednesday, but caterers, photographers and, especially, the perishable flowers, were aspects she and her partner of four years couldn't plan without setting a date.

On Wednesday, following the U.S. Supreme Court's decisions affecting same-sex marriage, Syverson, 44, and Jan Mabie, 50, learned they would have a ceremonial wedding June 26, with the state-recognized paperwork to come after Proposition 8 is formally lifted.

Unsure of when the Supreme Court would hand down its rulings on Proposition 8 and a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, Syverson and Mabie bought a $17 cake from Costco last week — just in case. They were premature. "We said, 'OK, that cake is toast,'" Syverson said.

On Wednesday the couple had a new white, six-tier cake and flowers, both donated. Pearly white frosting reading, "When I breathe in, I breathe in peace, when I breathe out, I breathe out love," and multi-colored sugar flowers adorned the cake.

Syverson credited community members with making the couple's reception possible by pitching in dishes and setting up at the Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church in Costa Mesa, where Syverson is the music and choir director.

"The wonderful thing is everybody's come together to help us," Syverson said. "It's just been a really great community effort. We had no way to plan. … Everyone's coming through to help us."

Syverson first proposed to Mabie after seeing Fairview's Rev. Sarah Halverson's post on Facebook related to a marriage-equality rally. Just over a month ago, Syverson asked Halverson if she was looking for someone to get married on the day of the Supreme Court decision.

It was late at night, Mabie was asleep, and so Syverson waited a few restless hours before popping the question as Mabie stumbled back to bed in the early morning after letting the dog outside at their home in Norwalk.

Mabie didn't say maybe.

"She didn't hesitate," Syverson said. She said yes.

Syverson decided on a teal, knee-length dress. Mabie, whose favorite color is blue, and the couple's 9-year-old son, Joey, wore navy blazers.

Beside them was Mabie's best friend of 25 years, Nina McCullough, who came from the Palm Springs area to serve as ring bearer.

"She found the right one, and I'm excited for her," McCullough said.

During the ceremony, Halverson said Wednesday's festivities spoke to more than the love of one couple.

"We recognize that this wedding is about their love, but this wedding is about so much more," she said. "Their love is simply a symbol of our love. Their wedding is a symbol of a love that beats throughout the entire nation.

"Today, when they say 'I do,' they're doing it with all the power and all the force of the love that they share and the love that thousands of couples across the nation share for one another. Tonight is the night at last — at last."

Afterward the pastor presented the new Mrs. and Mrs. Parker to the crowd of a few hundred. The couple had chosen a new surname — one easier to spell.

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