Since we got married on Tanabata (7th July) conversations about having some kind of wedding have come and gone but eventually we decided to have some kind of party with her extended family in Hiroshima. However, whilst I was visiting my eldest sister and her family in Indonesia last month, my wife was over in Hiroshima upgrading the event to a church wedding and reception party which I didn’t even really know about until very recently. I only really started to take interest in it the week before when I was told to make a compilation CD and cobble together some kind of Japanese speech.
So, on the 23rd November we arrived at Marriyell; a kind of Disneyland-esque western style wedding complex that stood out high in the mountains amid its more normal, local surrounding. First of all, we were taken to a huge suite where I was to put on my tuxedo for the occasion. There was a big changing room in there where I changed my top with one of the staff members present whilst my wife was on the other side of the curtain which all seemed a bit weird and unnecessary! I may have just done 21 days without any alcohol, soda, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, ice-cream, junk food and so on BUT that certainly didn’t mean I had a body to show off to anyone!
With the ceremony not starting until 3pm there was a lot of time to kill before then so we took a quick look around the place but with other ceremonies taking place we were fairly restricted so returned to the room. Whilst Rina was taken to another room to get ready I had a nap, caught up with some podcasts and played around on my phone which was certainly not how I ever thought I’d be spending my wedding day!
I was feeling pretty bored by the time I was eventually rescued and taken to my wife’s dressing room. When I opened the door I was quite surprised to see her sitting there in a white wedding dress as I wasn’t expecting that.
After taking a few photos we were summoned downstairs on a day where we basically just did what we were told and were ordered around (in a very, nice pleasant way of course!). All the staff were waiting at the foot of the stairs and as soon as I took Rina by the hand and led her carefully down the steps they all started clapping; a slightly surreal theme which would continue throughout the day to the very end. A Rolls Royce then drove us down to the lower lot where the cathedral was located.
The reason I knew very little about the day was not just through ignorance but partly by choice as I might have got a lot more nervous if I knew what exactly was coming up throughout the day. Having already been married for 4.5 months there was probably far less pressure on us than if this day had been the actual day to tie the knot!
Fake foreign priests are a well known part of wedding days in Japan for those wanting a more authentic western-style wedding but I never gave it a thought that we would have one too! A Canadian priest (he might have been a real one but I’m sceptical!) was waiting just inside to greet us and we had a quick dress rehearsal of how the imminent ceremony would proceed not that I could really take in all the instructions!
Not long after that it was the real thing and the church doors swung open and I walked in behind the priest stopping to bow at the point where the seats were situated. I then walked down the aisle going past a load of people who I’d never ever met! I couldn’t really remember where to stop but thankfully the choir singers seated to my left gestured to me where to halt!
Moments later, the organist started playing ‘Here Comes The Bride‘ and Rina and her dad walked down the aisle to the sound of mobile phone photographs being taken and as I had the best unrestricted view in the place I thought I may as well take a few shots as well!
The ceremony thereafter flew by in a mix of English and Japanese language featuring a couple of hymns and prayers. Saying “Yes” (to confirm my name) and “I do” at the right moments as well as lifting the veil all went by without a hitch. The exchanging of rings and signing of the marriage register went less smoothly! Firstly, I couldn’t push the ring on her finger properly which she did herself as she reached to take my ring off the cushion thing! Then, over at the register I was first to sign but the ink didn’t work so well for the first few letters of my signature and then Rina wrote Rian instead of her name!
The ‘Wedding March‘ then accompanied us as walked back down the aisle and were led into a room whilst the 20 or so guests were shuffled into position for a group photograph which we then joined before we posed for pictures with other guests and then walked on down through a long sloping stepped corridor to the reception area for the next part of the wedding day….
You can read “The Wedding In Hiroshima Pt II – The Reception” here