Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Event of the Season (I)

You may not have asked for a frothy white wedding with a dress change in the middle but that is exactly what you're going to get. If asked my initial impressions of the wedding of Baby Mama and Baby Daddy, I would tell you that it read like an instruction manual on how not to get married. And I'm not even talking about the whole baby up the hoo hoo issue either. But we'll come back to all of that later.

And just to give you plenty of advanced warning, there was even a special guest at the wedding! See if you can guess who.

After preening around the hotel lobby like three black peacocks, our gentlemen escorts joined us to catch cabs over to the hotel where the wedding was being held. The beau's cousin who I can't understand he speaks such a strong Aomori dialect, had come down with someone I think is the beau's uncle. I had just met him the night before and by met I mean was in the presence of for several hours but not formally introduced until after the first round of beer at dinner. By the time I yoroshiku'd him it felt a bit late and contrived but who am I to argue with tradition. Before the said dinner, the beau's mom had me in the elevator alone and asked when we were getting hitched. I tried to look aloof slash cute and told her to discuss it with the beau. Let him deal with it. This will not be the last of the corner-the-whitie-RE:-marriage-game and I frankly wish I'd of at least gotten an invitation to it so I would have known what to expect.

While I realize every detail of the wedding down to the cue to start crying was left to the hotel's wedding planners, the beau's parents knew absolutely nothing about what was going to go down in terms of contrived chapel ceremony or what have you. We had all received little cards in addition to the main invitation, inviting us to join a ceremony beforehand, so I was really looking forward to the English teacher moonlighting as a fake white priest (the priest part being fake mind you, not the white part). When we arrived at the hotel and were ushered into the formal waiting room however, it started to seem as if there wasn't going to be a wedding ceremony and I was starting to wonder why the hell we had been told to show up an hour and a half before the reception (read: drinking) began.

At last we were all called down to the basement of the hotel for the one and literally only, family photograph. Going down the hallway to the room, we got our first glance at Baby Daddy and Baby Mama, who were posed for photographs in front of some cheap-ass white arch that was being strangled with fake ivy. Under fluorescent lighting. Despite my protests, I was included in the family photograph. Plus one point for the beau's family because I was truly included in the circle of trust; minus one point for Baby Mama's family, who will forever have to contend with some random white bitch lighting up the only professional photo they have from their daughter's wedding.

Moving along though, we do have a schedule to keep. After the photos the reception hall was opened and as guests started wandering in, we wondered when the hell the actual ceremony was. Before entering the reception, each guest has to "check in" and this is the point where you hand over your hard-earned cash wrapped in a special envelope. Being the classy couple that we are, the beau and I gave our money in an envelope made from a cute furoshiki from a local shop, so that BD and BM can re-use it to wipe up spilled breast milk or something in the future. Are you interested to know how much we parted with? I may have mentioned before that people were telling us up to 100,000 yen is standard as siblings of the couple but this is kind of extravagant and frankly out of reach given the short notice (ha). When giving money at weddings, it needs to be in an amount that cannot be divided into two even numbers (signalling eventual divorce, etc.) so we settled on 70,000 yen, which is still pretty fucking ridonculous if you were to ask me for my honest opinion.

In exchange for our cash, we were each given a seating plan for the banquet room, presumably so that we could both seat ourselves and know which tables to visit to offer up bottled beer/respect. Not that this should come as any surprise, but at weddings here the seating arrangement is almost the exact opposite of its Western counterpart. BM and BD sat alone on a raised platform and the tables closest to them were for people from work. Then radiating out from that you have the tables for friends and finally, out in Siberia, the tables for family. People from work are given the highest honor while family members might as well be put in a separate dark room. Or even a closet. Sitting on every chair was the standard large shopping bag containing gifts from the bride and groom, said to equal about half of what we just relinquished at the reception desk. We will discuss this later.

After being seated, what followed was a two-hour circus complete with dramatic light shows above us, a fiery torch ritual and of course, a costume change.


Gen Kanai said...

Japanese weddings are so contrived and expensive and have nothing to do with Japanese culture and history (especially those that forgo any of the Shinto ceremony.) I try to skip as many as I can (just go to the nijikais) and of course did not do one myself.

aimlesswanderer said...

I've been to lots of weddings (mostly courtesy of dozens of cousins), some 'better', more enjoyable and better organised that others. None have been quite as strange as this one though! Thank goodness I'm in Australia.

You can pretty much do whatever you want, though some people still choose very badly. Thank goodness you don't need to hand over such large amounts of cash too.

Foggia said...

I went a couple month back to my first "Japanese" style wedding. Friends of my wife.
I was not deceived, what with the kitschy chapel, 15min ceremony with a white "celebrant", frigging nuns chanting, I am not kidding you. I wanted to take a picture so bad, but my wife, who made me swear beforehand not to laugh or even crack a smile during the thing, would have killed me.

After that, fairly regular reception dinner (held at 3pm) with lots beer and costume change of course.

A interesting if ridiculous experience, apparently close enough to yours, until I get to read part II of yours possibly.

Plus yeah, insane amount of money in crisp new (or ironed) bills, all filed up in the same order and face up, otherwise it's divorce/death/Godzilla attack.

Apryl in Wonderland said...

Agh! My eyes! The and princessy...must look away!

But I am sure all was lovely (?) anyway!

Sarahf said...

I love the way the couple are totally isolated from their family at Japanese weddings. The first time I assumed there was some kind of family feud.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Gen Kanai: They seem to have made a modern history of their own by appropriating a mish mash of rituals. I wonder if this style will ever fade into something more natural..nijikais are definitely the way to go and lots more fun.

aimlesswanderer: Just wait till you hear about the rest of it!

Foggia: Glad you weren't deceived. I almost started laughing at my friend's wedding. I don't know if it was the "nuns" or all the guests fumbling through some song about Jesus.

Apryl: It was probably lovely to some people :) I will post pics of her second dress soon - it's very French Versailles.

Sarahf: I think it's kind of sad but I get the feeling most weddings here are a big show thrown for the couple and their coworkers and friends. As long as the couple is happy at the end of the day, right?

pencilitin said...

Oh, man. The whole foreign mystique Christianity has in Japan... it just makes me giggle.

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

pencilitin: Me too. I'm not sure if it is a mystique though - I feel like most people don't know that what they're doing has Christisan roots. I think they just look at it as "foreign wedding style" without giving much thought to where it comes from. Frankly though, if I was being wed in a chapel with some Japanese fake nuns singing, you can bet I would be questioning where it all came from!

Apryl in Wonderland said...

Exactly - I do not think it has ANYTHING to do with some mystique of Christianity. Just wanting something different...something Western. Of course, to me, when I friend says "I want Western style wedding!" I think "24-hour Vegas drive-thru wedding chapel with Elvis impersonator?" OR "Horrific event with both sets of parents trying to outdo each other - not caring what you want for a wedding, but trying to impress their friends - while the divorced parents scowl as they try not to sit near the ex-spouse?"