Their Mission Wedding Marched On

Matthew Matera ’11 and Kiara Herrera ’12 were able to marry at the Mission Church as planned in a pared-down ceremony due to COVID.

Their Mission Wedding Marched On
Photography provided by Mary Matera

Matthew Matera ’11 and Kiara Herrera ’12 were wed on September 4, 2020 at the Mission Church. Like many couples betrothed in 2020, COVID-19 threw a wrench into the planning process. The save the dates were sent out then rescinded; the venues were booked then postponed. Caters, florists, and photographers were put on indefinite standby. Nuptial plans were in limbo as “social distancing” became the new catchphrase of 2020.

Matt and Kiara’s story began at Santa Clara when Matt need help passing a Spanish class. Kiara came to his rescue and they became friends. A few years after graduation, Matt reconnected via social media with Kiara, who’d been teaching in Denver. When they learned that they’d both be returning to SCU for the 2016 graduations of Matt’s brother and Kiara’s cousin, they planned a reunion. They’ve been together since.

Both Matt and Kiara are part of a Santa Clara legacy. Kiara’s father, Esau Herrera ’72, J.D. ’76 is a double-Bronco and founder of the MEChA-El Frente student group during the Chicano movement. Matt’s brother, Michael Matera ’16, and Kiara’s cousin, Camile Rivera ’16, also graduated from the University.

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In the spirit of the Jesuit tradition, Kiara has demonstrated in her work that she is a woman for others. After graduation, Kiara joined AmeriCorps and Teach for America, and became a middle school science teacher in Denver. She later moved back to California to work as a math teacher in Oakland. Accepted into an educational leadership program at the University of California, Berkeley, Kiara simultaneously taught, planned a wedding, trained a new puppy, and completed her degree in August 2020—in 18 months—and accepted a job as assistant principal at a school in San Francisco. Matthew, meanwhile, went on to complete his CPA post graduation and is currently working towards his Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) license, having completed two levels. He currently works in financial technology at Plaid.

In their wedding planning, Matt and Kiara enlisted Father Andrew Laguna, S.J., to officiate their vows. Fr. Andrew is a part-time campus minister at SCU and preaches at Most Holy Trinity, a parish that regularly says mass in three different languages for its parishioners. He is also a part-time campus minister at SCU. Theirs was the first marriage he had guided from Pre-Cana (couple’s course) to the altar.

Matt and Kiara knew they couldn’t have the big wedding they’d originally planned, but were hopeful that a ceremony at Santa Clara would still be possible. Mission Director Charlie White worked with the couple to staged a COVID-compliant wedding. First, the guest list was cut: Only siblings, parents, and their four grandmothers were present. Only the bride, groom, and their two witnesses (Matt’s brother, Michael, and Kiara’s brother, Alejandro) were allowed inside the church. Lastly, the service was moved from the indoor St. Francis Chapel to the front steps of the Mission Church. Family members sat in the courtyard spaced several feet apart and wore masks.

On a clear, sunny Saturday morning in September (much celebrated since the week the skies were gray with soot from the worst fire season on record in California), the Mission bells rang out the tunes Matt and Kiara had selected, joyful tears were shed, and the couple was married. A fifteen person reception followed at the home of Kiara’s parents in San Jose. Matt and Kiara currently reside in San Francisco with their dog Mutombo.