Saturday, November 19, 2011

My first Japanese wedding.

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending my friend's wedding.

Back when I was in Kamogawa, there were only two other people in the City Hall who are the same age as me...a guy, and then my friend Sayaka. We never actually got to do work together, but I think we got to know each other when we happened to attend the same gathering. We hit it off pretty instantly, going on dinner/karaoke dates on a fairly normal basis.

Still, I have only known Sayaka for 3 years. Both she and her (new!) husband are two of the nicest people I have ever met - and I really really mean it! It was super flattering and a huge honor to be allowed to join in the festivities. to the photos (and a couple videos)!

Here comes the bride~.
The celebrations began with the wedding ceremony at 11am, and was held at the chapel on the very top floor of the Kamogawa Grand Hotel. Sayaka looks totally gorgeous! Her dad looks pretty tense though...

Exchanging rings.
Everything was a totally new experience for me. For one thing, the wedding ceremony was only about 30 minutes long. I suppose the priest was legit...he said he was from a Christian church in Kisarazu. He read an excerpt from the Bible, made a really short sermon (if you can call it that? it sounded like he must given the exact same speech for every single wedding he's ever done), and we sang two hymns...other than that, there was just the exchange of vows and signing of the wedding contract - and poof! done.

Waiting for the reception to start.
More than the wedding ceremony itself, the reception, or 披露宴 ("hiroen"), was totally the main event. The reception was a full four hours long - which I think might be more of a local thing? When I mentioned that to people from outside of Kamogawa, they said such a long reception was rather unthinkable. Despite how long it was though, there was always something exciting going on so I didn't get bored at all!

I was, however, very surprised when MC suddenly started reading what sounded like the bride and groom's resumes. Like, literally..."the bride attended blahblah elementary school, moved onto blahblah junior high, then has worked in the blahblah office of Kamogawa City Hall since 20##."

The turtle and crane dishes were totally cute!
After that strange opening/introductions though, we got to enjoy tons of food and endless drinks! The food kept coming...for all four hours o_O

And even more food was served.
It wouldn't be a proper Japanese wedding if the bride and groom didn't change their outfits multiple times!

Following a couple stuffy speeches and in between the delicious food and amusing conversations, there were a bunch of awesome performances by friends of the bride and groom. Above is a photo from the daikon (radish) dance...hence why everyone is jumping up and down holding radishes. I don't know what the significance is...but it was a lot of fun nonetheless!

I managed to catch the end of the dance on video:

There were a couple other things planned for the entertainment program, but my favorite was by far this:

Spot the creepy fan~!
My old office performed a twist of the Chiba Lotte Marines song, changing the lyrics to talk about the bride and groom. I am quite sure they chose this song because right now the Marines are in Kamogawa for training camp (and will be there until the 22nd!).

I was too amazed by the sheer awesomeness to remember to take video, but I did get a bunch of other photos:

One of the bodyguards randomly jumped in and started dancing with the cheerleaders.
The other bodyguard was doing his job properly as he totally shuts down the hardcore fan!
They actually got one of the real team mascots to come!
A close up of my favorite character...His outfit was awesome, and he actually painted on a blue, stubbly bear on his face.
Another priceless memory from the wedding:

The groom is totally hardcore when it comes to festivals, so his friends made a mikoshi to escort him out with during one of the costume changes!

Instead of tossing the bouquet, they randomly picked the names of 10 of the bride's guests, who then picked a ribbon - one of which was tied to the bouquet. The people at my table were convinced I was going to get picked...something I was skeptical of, since there were so many guests - but I was chosen!!! I didn't get the bride's bouquet, but the rest of us got a mini bouquet as well as a bundle of candy. :D

And randomly, a photo with a couple of friends. You can't tell how puffy my hair is, but I have the standard dress + bolero set!!!

After the third and final costume change, the newly wedded couple went to light the candles at each and every table. I guess this represents sharing their happiness with everyone?
She might be smiling here, but she managed to make pretty much everyone else in the room cry!
Almost at the end of the reception - the Letter from the Bride! The bride reads a letter to her parents outloud. I think this is pretty standard for wedding receptions, but between Sayaka's letter and a speech by the groom's father, the entire room was had been brought to tears.

After the reception, there was still the 2次会, or after-party...and in typical Kamogawa fashion, we also went to a restaurant to drink more, karaoke, then went to another place after that. It was a very exciting day and I really am happy to have been able to share the bride and groom's happiness. I wish them all of the best! <3

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