Following the church service we were led down many sloping steps through the inner parts of the complex. We were put in a room with the make-up artist and a staff member, presumably to keep us out of the way whilst the guests filed in and sat down at their tables.
After a while and some walkie-talkie conversations between staff we exited to the sound of clapping and cheering as we made our way over to the bride and groom table positioned in front of four tables of guests.
The oldest man in attendance; Rina’s father’s 82 year old uncle was given the job of proposing the toast and after that French dishes which were part of a seven-course meal came and went (foie gras, potage soup, poisson, wagyu beef, roast pork etc) and they were all very nice. There were many events in-between these courses which were compered by Rina’s cousin Mayumi.
My speech came around sooner than expected. I had prepared a Japanese speech but didn’t expect to have to introduce myself before that. I was told to do it in English and that Mayumi would translate but after having the most basic of things translated I decided to throw out a few lines in Japanese. The proper speech about how we met and my feelings back then followed on from those nervous lines and I’m told that everyone could actually understand my thick accent but I’m still not too sure about that!
Rina’s speech soon followed which included stuff about how blo*dy great I am (!!), how she found the meaning of true love and trust, being proposed to on Christmas Day in Myanmar last year as well as tanabata when we signed the legal marriage documents.
A bit further down the line was a slide show presentation from my father-in-law on a specially erected big screen to show the extended family what our trip to London in August was like. A bit strange to see so many shots of my parents house on there!
What followed next were a round of one minute speeches from almost every family member. Of course everyone was very complimentary though the guy who said I reminded him of Christian Ronaldo had obviously drunk too much by that stage!
Weddings in Japan are seemingly all about speeches and they kept on coming even after everyone that wanted to speak had spoken! One of Rina’s dads friends gave an interesting speech about the similarities between the UK and Japan with some interesting stats about the rarity of marriage between British and Japanese. Surprising to me as a good percentage of my friends are in such relationships!
I guess if stereotypes are to be believed, it wouldn’t be a true Japanese event without some karaoke including songs from both my in-laws. Thankfully, the audience was spared my voice though I was starting to panic at one stage thinking that I may have to entertain!
The traditional ‘cutting of the cake’ was next which included us taking turns to feed each other a piece and naturally I was given a piece that filled my mouth and was way too much to digest!
One of the most emotional moments of the day was Rina’s thank you letter which she read out aloud to her parents standing proud at the other end of the room. My only job was to hold the microphone whilst Rina thanked them for guiding her through life and helping her become the woman she is today.
That still wasn’t the last speech however as a microphone stand was placed in front of me. Surely I didn’t have to embarrass myself with some more ramblings! Of course I did and after thanking the guests for coming and my wife for putting up with my constant bad jokes I moved on to thanking my in-laws. This is where I lost it and actually broke down into tears for a few seconds before regaining a bit of composure and finishing off what I wanted to say.
That pretty much proved to be the finale and we walked out together to an open-top car which drove us back up to the main complex where we got changed and returned to reality. A long and tiring day had come to an end and what a lovely, memorable one it was to mark this milestone in our life. To be fair, I was not so keen beforehand to have any kind of event but went along with it all for the sake of my wife and her parents and I’m very glad I did. Seeing the smiles on their faces throughout the day (particularly her father who was grinning like a Cheshire cat all day!) made it all worthwhile and I am very grateful for the time and effort they put into organising such a splendid day that we can savour forever.
You can read “The Wedding In Hiroshima Pt I – The Ceremony” here
You can read “The Wedding In Hiroshima Pt III – The Soundtrack” here