Every wedding is beautiful... It really is! There is just something about them. No matter the woman, there is something radiant about a bride on her wedding day, and when many people are gathered with such an undivided, pure intention of celebrating the love and future life of a couple, the room is alive with buoyant energy. On the beach, in a back yard, at Sonny's BBQ, or in some dreamy venue, weddings just feel good.
This wedding was not at a BBQ joint. The Tanoura beach venue first made my eyes pop and then set me to relaxing... The slick white ceremony room, set on the 2nd floor, looked out over the ocean like an infinity pool through wall to wall, floor to ceiling windows. The room itself while classy, had no distinct personality of its own, which lent brilliantly to the wedding being the focus, as opposed to the room getting the attention. The minimalistic white room let the orange flowers and turquoise accents pop. When I looked out the window, all I could see was ocean and sky. It was awesome. I want it for my living room.
Knox got to be the flower boy! When we first went in he was as shy as I have EVER seen him. He was glued to me and if I would've let him he would've just crawled right up the skirt of my dress and stayed there. It's hard to maintain one's decorum when a 4-year old is trying to climb up your clothes, to hide behind your hair, or trying to simply disappear straight into you by smooshing his face into your face. Hair, Make-up, Clothes... why bother? It's going to end up over your head or drooled on. But he was an irresistible flower boy. He walked in with a basket of petals and threw a handful. The cameras went crazy. He littered the isle with bright rose petals and we took our seats... in the 2nd row!! I didn't feel like I deserved to sit right behind the groom's mother and father but I had a great view!
They did so many cool things throughout the ceremony and reception. During the ceremony the mothers of Patrick and Nanako wore matching kimono and hair styles, right down to the matching decorations in their French twists. They were called to the front and bowed together before they went to a small table with a bottle of white wine and a bottle of red wine. They each poured a little into the two wine glasses and then offered them to their children. The fathers also bowed together and then signed what looked like a marriage certificate, but when they were finished Patrick's dad held it up and it was a clear plaque with signature places, presumably for the bride and groom to hang. Really cool. Then they passed a spool of blue ribbon up and down the groom-side's rows and a pink spool along the bride's side. From the back, we passed the rings down the string and up to the front in a ring relay race.
At Japanese weddings the gifts are standard and, actually it's cash only. Friends give ￥30,000 (thirty thousand yen), the approximate equivalent of $300. Yes, it's crazy. Every single friend at the wedding will have dropped off the traditional Japanese wedding envelope containing that amount, and each and every family member will do the same with the (greater) amounts appropriate for the relationship they share with the bride or groom. But, it starts to make sense when you learn that the couple is also required to GIVE gifts of value to the guests. As far as I have seen the weddings in Japan are unique, but of equivalent quality, so when I deposited my $300 I knew that I was going to have a fantastic night with my friends, a 7-ish course meal, all-you-can drink beer, sake, champagne, cocktails, impeccable service, and an enriching cultural experience. How many people get to experience such a thing as the marriage of a native Canadian to a native Japanese, in Japan, done in both languages with the families participating in rituals from both sides of the world, while dining on an abalone dish adorned with a single edamame bean, 3 peas, and paint-like splatters of colorful sauces? As for the cost, I also heard that Japanese weddings go standard for $100,000. Gotta recoup that somehow!!
In the reception hall we sat in candle light. We admired the candlesticks and the white rose arrangements, and tucked our place cards and bags of presents under the table. An appetizer sat undisturbed in front of each of us. We didn't know if we were allowed to eat it. In the lobby and at the table we had tea and orange juice and anticipated the champagne toast that would open the bar. Our eyes adjusted to the light. Then the music started and the whole wall rolled up and out of sight to reveal Patrick and Nanako walking along the grassy terrace with the sun and the ocean behind them. It was striking. Nanako had been wearing the white wedding kimono, but now wore a western style wedding dress. (It's standard these days for Japanese brides to change 3 or 4 times. They begin in a traditional Japanese white kimono and then wear an array of different dresses or kimono. Nanako wore one other dress that night; a deep greenish blue gown with rose embroidery and a corset-laced back.) the bride and groom entered to a romantic version of The Rainbow Connection and the party began. Each table went up and took a group picture with the couple. My favorites of the reception: A group picture of all the little kids and the couple, when the bride read a letter in Japanese to her own parents and a letter in English to Patrick's parents (a traditional reception ritual), the slide show of Patrick and Nanako, and when they released a helium filled balloon flower arrangement which set off a bang when it hit the ceiling and little heart balloons drifted down all over the place. I also loved that dessert was set up outside and that the staff brought soft blankets out to the women. AND we took a whole-wedding picture at sunset with the couple. It was awesome.
|Nanako in her 3rd dress and Patrick|
Patrick and Nanako have a little baby, too! She is so beautiful, and it was touching to see the grandmothers and grandfathers holding her throughout the evening. Patrick carried her around to every guest and we all took pictures and held the baby. Poor thing! She was part of the slide show and she added an indescribable joy to the marriage day. The experience made me feel like every couple should have a newborn to bring to their wedding!
|Me with Sloan and Patrick with Squirm-s-saurus Knox|
I also got to sit with some of my favorite people. At the end the staff bagged up the flower arrangements for the guests and the balloons for the kids and most people got on a bus back to downtown. This was such a cool experience and I'm so lucky to have been to 2 beautiful weddings in Japan.
From Japan (but not for long!),