This post includes a narration of our wedding day, and a list of things that we did that weren’t very Japanese. Since my husband and I are from two different cultures, we had to compromise.
Let me begin with the CEREMONY…
On May 12, the big day, we arrived at the salon at 8:00 am, then, it took the staff about two hours to do my hair, makeup and to dress me up. They also did the same for my aunt and my sister, but they finished way earlier. As for my husband, he did not need anything but assistance to wear his hakama.
I kinda gave the staff a hard time because my hair is really short, so it took them a while to put all the flowers in it but, I loved the way it was done. It looked very simple like my makeup. Plus, I’m glad that they did not pale me up. Well, before we even started, I definitely made it clear that I wanted to look as natural as possible, and my wish was granted. Yay!
At around 10:00 am, we moved to the shrine for a 30-minute pictorial and a 30-minute meeting. However, since I couldn’t understand the instructions well because they were all in Japanese, we asked the help of a friend to translate everything in English. As a consequence, the meeting was way longer than expected.
The ceremony was supposed to be from 11:00-11:30, but we started at around 11:30…
and finished at 12:15.
So we only had another 10 minutes for picture taking because we had to go back to the salon, change clothes, and quickly go to the RECEPTION.
As far as I remember, we made it to the venue at exactly 1:00 pm. By that time, everyone had been waiting for us inside the hall.
The party started at exactly 1:15 pm, and it lasted for two hours, which is pretty standard because we also allot time for the nijikai or the AFTER-PARTY.
At 3:20 pm , everyone started moving to the Karaoke bar.
We sang our hearts out from 3:30 to 6:00 pm. Then, my family went back to our hotel. It’s also where the reception was held.
Anyway, after everything, you know, I realized that there was actually not enough time to take pictures with the guests from the ceremony to the after-party because of the short time interval, but aside from that, it was a stress-free and easy wedding. All we did was go with the flow and have fun.
But certainly, there were things that had to be discussed and agreed on:
1. In a traditional Shinto wedding, only the families of the couple attend the ceremony, but I wanted my friends to be there too, so my husband, Susumu, agreed to open it to everyone invited. In other words, my friends did not just party with us. They took part in the ceremony as well, which was great!
2. My local and foreign friends planned and organized the wedding party, so we had wedding singers, which a usual Japanese wedding reception won’t have. They don’t really play live music, but we had a band and they even brought their own instruments. Also, Susumu and his friends also sang. That was really fun.
3. Instead of a wedding video about us, we just showed a slideshow of our pictures in the background, and we played games during the wedding party like the newlywed game, and we also had a quiz, which everyone participated in. Of course, games are something that wouldn’t exist in a traditional reception but this was our way of letting our audience know more about us like the things we enjoy doing together, our engagement, the number of children we would like to have etc.
4. Our wedding dance. Initially, Susumu didn’t want to dance, but I eventually swayed him to do it. He told me that a Japanese wedding is very formal, the couple wouldn’t sing nor dance, but I couldn’t do that. I like being involved, so we practiced a simple dance the day before the wedding. It wasn’t perfect, but we enjoyed it.
5. The guests were so game. Most of them joined us on the dance floor though there’s usually no dancing at a Japanese Wedding reception.
6. Susumu’s father and mother gave separate speeches. My Japanese friends were very surprised because it rarely happens. Only the dads give speeches during weddings, so what we did was very unique. In fact, his mom’s speech was very heartwarming, and everyone was touched. I almost cried, but I stopped myself because I didn’t want to mess up my makeup. Anyhow, I know you would agree with me when I say that moms also have a voice, and they too, need to be heard.
7. Lastly, my Aikido friends had a 5-minute exhibition of the basic stuff that a beginner learns. Again, not usually happening in a formal occasion like this. But my A friends are really passionate about it, and we wanted to share and promote it to everyone. After all, it’s the ART OF PEACE, and it is something that we definitely want to have in our lives.
There you have it!
My husband and I made sure that our wedding was a compromise between two people. It was very important for us to hold a party that respected each others cultures, and at the same time showed our very own personalities.