Monday, August 16, 2010

The Event of the Season (II)

This has been a long time coming, but I will use the excuse the beau's mother gave me last week: "I have been completely drained since the wedding in April." A child was born however, over the weekend in fact, so I feel I should at least get through the wedding before writing anything about its tiny catalyst with big eyes.

So where were we? Lights, costumes and fire fit for a carnival I believe. There was no proper ceremony with faux priest, but Baby Mama and Baby Daddy stood on their little white platform and exchanged vows, rings and an extremely chaste peck (come on, I think a bun in the oven means the jig is up). Unfortunately I wasn't smashed enough by that time to yell "stick ya tongue down her throat!" and it is my humble opinion that such a display was sorely lacking.

Keep in mind, if you will, that this whole thing was being narrated by the hotel's wedding MC, with a voice and tone not dissimilar from those used by shopgirls. Just in case we missed some small detail, the MC was right there spooning it down our throats. Aside from the waiters and other minions running around, there was also the wedding coordinator, who wasn't coordinating in the way you might imagine, she was more like a puppet master. Yes, I like that, let's call her the Puppet Master. She was there not to ensure the smooth running of things behind the scenes, but that the whole wedding went off like a well-rehearsed play. A play where the director comes on stage and gives the actors directions as they perform. I wish I was joking.

There were toasts and as the eating began, so did the speeches. An employer and friend from each side gave speeches and when Baby Daddy's rowdy boss got up, he encouraged us to shout Banzai! after each of his toasts and just when I was wondering whether everyone else present knew this was a shotgun marriage, he toasted to the little baby growing inside Baby Mama's belly. Banzai! That took care of that and I had to force myself not to look at the beau's mom at this point to see how she was taking it. Let it be acknowledged that these people don't smile in pictures. For reals. When my mom saw the photos of me, mama and aunt, the first thing she said was that they looked very severe. This has caught on, and I find myself looking at cameras with a blank face these days, resulting in photos with me looked seriously ticked off. I honestly don't know whether the no-smiling thing has to do with this particular series of events or whether it is simply cultural. Any thoughts? I'm used to wedding pictures with people smiling their asses off so I can only imagine what Baby Mama and Daddy's album will look like: lots of lights, frothy white tulle and unsmiling guests. When I did look over at the beau's mom, she didn't look like she was celebrating at all, our whole table in fact felt a bit like that, and I did allow myself to feel a twinge of sadness. I'm not chalking it up to the whole shotgun thing, although that would certainly contribute, but I feel like part of it is the fact that, as family, we are supposed to mostly stay out of the way at the wedding.

Half way through, BM and BD disappeared behind the scenes and then when the MC instructed, we had to stand up and clap for the new couple again as they entered through French doors to a crazy light show going on up towards the ceiling. Their second outfits felt very Harajuku meets Versailles. I purposely didn't crop it to show you that every guest at the wedding was like a member of the paparazzi, snapping camera and cell phone pictures at every chance they could get. I put the beau in charge of my camera so at least I didn't have to pretend to be interested in taking photos at every small milestone as the wedding progressed. No camera = more time to swill wine.

In their new outfits, the new couple then did the candle lighting ceremony that I have only ever seen at a Japanese wedding, but I suspect Japanese people think comes from us. As they made the rounds to each table with the torch, the Puppet Master was right there with them, ensuring they made all the right movements and didn't scorch some bitch's big hair. I should probably mention here that during this whole ridiculous display, there was some awful flighty music that was probably supposed to encourage tears, and goddamn it if I didn't feel myself getting a little teary. I solved this by looking at the beau's mom, who still looked pissed off, which shocked me back into reality.

Your job as a guest is never done at a Japanese wedding by simply taking your seat. If you are a work friend, employer, school friend or part of the family, you must make the rounds to each table to pour beer for everyone and pay your respects. This looked exhausting but luckily my special unmarried whitie exemption precluded me from this onerous chore, and I got to remain seated while reaping the benefit of liquid respect paid to the beau and his family. I would put the time Baby Mama's parents came over with beer among the highest on the shotgun wedding Uncomfortable Moment List. You may recall my musings on how I would be introduced as the illegitimate white daughter-in-law sideshow and once again, the inappropriateness of Japanese politeness saved me. Every guest had a table chart showing who was who, so when Baby Mama's parents came over bearing a bottle of Sapporo, they knew who the beau was and there were perfunctory introductions by his father. None of which included me, the smiling freak show in kimono sitting next to him who looked like someone had just pressed the repeat button on her smile-and-nod-furiously function. I guess I shouldn't have expected any drawn swords or rolled r's, but I was mildly disappointed at my weak shock value.

Towards the end, which was timed down to the minute, Baby Mama read a letter to her parents before her and Baby Daddy presented each set of parents with flowers - par for the course. I believe at some weddings here, the bride reads a letter to her mother-in-law, begging for her kind favour and pleading for a married life out of her line of fire. Having only met the beau's mom once before this felicitous event, however, I guess that kind of letter wouldn't be super apprope. Before the grand finale and encore of applause (all dictated by the drill sergeant MC), the Puppet Master lined up Baby Mama and Daddy with the parental sets and you could see her going down the line telling them to step into place and when exactly to bow. Way to make an awkward moment even more cringe-worthy. I felt a bit sorry for the parents, really, being made to stand under the harsh stage lights while being groped and fondled by the Puppet Master. Final thank yous were given by the papas-in-law and Baby Daddy, and then we were basically told to get the hell out.

What would a recap be without a post-mort?! Stay tuned for the final part in this wedding trilogy, which includes the revealing of the surprise guest.


Sarahf said...

What is the "don't smile in photos" thing? I have so many pictures of friends kids looking utterly miserable standing next to their equally miserable parents. It makes every day out look like we had a really bad day. Odd.

Generic Jen B said...

The bride's dress, so visual kei!

And look at your hair! I realise now that I have never been coiffed properly.

Tokyo Moe said...

Your hair is BEAUTIFUL!

ELSN said...

I've never attended a Japanese wedding but I've seen a couple home videos, and the SOBBING that comes with the candle lighting is just brutal. It seems sadistic, because the bawling couple has such a specific task to complete, marching around in front of everyone during their 4th costume change or whatever.

ELSN said...

And your hair does look nice.

Lisa said...

Great hair!

Green-Eyed Geisha said...

Wow, thank you for all the hair comments. Does this mean my re-cap was a bust?! :)

Sarahf: Doesn't it just? People either go nuts with peace signs or look morbidly sober, what happened to a good old-fashioned smile?

Jen B: Totally visual kei! Pregnant visual kei!

ELSN: "specific task to complete" pretty much nails every ritual there was that day. I don't mind getting emotional but I hate being coaxed into it by lighting and soap opera music.