Wedding BellsMy friends Yoko and Makoto got married yesterday!! We were invited to attend all parties after and including the second.
The ceremony and first party are generally for family and close friends only. The actual marriage was done in a western fashion: Yoko wore a beautiful white gown and vows were said under an alter. It was held in an imitation wedding chapel where bells were rung and everything! Makoto wore traditional Japanese male garb, and apparently looked like a dashing samerai. Yoko changed into a traditional kimono for the first party, which consisted of a dinner of french cuisine, speeches and cake. As yesterday was also Yoko's 29th birthday, Makoto surprised her with a speech and a bouquet of 29 roses... How Sweet! At Second Party Trav, Tress, Daichi and I sang Yoko "Happy Birthday" and a cake was brought out for her.
We were joined by Trav, Kana (Trav's gf), Daichi, Nori, Dan, Mayu, Tomo, and Peter at the Second party, and seated at a table with Yoko's former host family who flew in from America for only two days! Approximately 90 people were in attendance. The Second party consisted of another meal (baked spinach and mussles, sweet chili prawns, sushi, lamb, shrimp and clam fried rice...) and some games. The first game was a how-well-do-you-know-the-couple game; surprisingly, Daichi came in second and won two tickets to Disneyland (approx. value $140). First prize was an I-pod. Dan did pretty well also and won a bathroom scale that measures percent body fat in addition to weight (he was less than thrilled).
Guests pay for each party they attend at Japanese weddings. Second party was about $50CN for women and $60 for men. Third party was held at a traditional Japanese izakaya (pub) were we all sat on tatamis and took turn pouring drinks for one another. There was more food served, pub fair, and plenty of drinks. For the Third party and those following the bill is split by the number of people in attendance; as such, whether you drank/ate or not, you paid the same as everyone else (turned out to be only $10 each).
We later headed to Fourth party which was held at a kareoke place. Yoko had reserved a large room for us all, and about 50 people were still coherent enough to partake. Yoko sang Makoto a love song, to which he and his friends did the can-can (haha!). Nori introduced a song sung by Tressa and I and invited Yoko and Makoto to share their first dance... they lasted about half the song before giving up and heading back to their drinks! ...dancing is not a traditional wedding event here in Japan. To cap off Fourth party, a friend of Makoto's did a striptease!! I wondered if I had accidentally walked into a bachelorette party!
Because Trav, Kana and Daichi were leaving after Fourth party, and we had intended to curb the cost of cab fare by riding together to Shimodate, (from Oyama) Tressa and I decided to leave with them. Although it was only about midnight (Second party had begun at 5:00) I was more than ready to leave... staying would have meant drinking which would have meant chucking some cookies. yuck.
Differences between Western and Japanese weddings:
- Bride and groom spend little time together throughout the night
- Guests pay to attend each party
- If you arriving after First party, no gift is necessary; if you attend the ceremony and First party then monetary gifts are given
- Guests who attend First party and ceremony get pricey take-home gifts (casserole dishes, etc. in this case)
- No dancing
- Usually no wedding rings (although Yoko and Makoto are interested in Western tradition and chose to wear rings
- No white dress (again, Yoko chose to go the way of the West here)
- Many and varied locations
- No family (including Yoko's sisters) attend any parties after First
- Bride changes dress three or more times