a Japanese wedding

NSO took their sweeeeet time in verifying my records when I was still applying for my spouse visa hence I wasn’t able to attend Hamakawa-san’s and Akika-san’s wedding which Hubby and I sooo wanted to go together.

Thankfully though, this time, we can go together to the wedding of hubby’s bandmate, Hosogai-san. Trust that I was a bit nervous with this social function as it’ll be the first time I’d be meeting all of Hubby’s bandmates.

To aid me for the function: Shu Eumura loose powder, hand lotion, meds for headache, L’Occitane peony perfume, my Inden-ya purse containing the essentials I should always have with me when I go out – my alien card, my train pass, my atm card.

Have to look my best, as I was with the bestlooking guy in town. 😀

Hubby’s unusual but cute necktie pin sure got a lot of attention.

And no, it doesn’t actually move, much less cut.

The wedding was also a good opportunity for us to wear the couple bracelet that our Ninang Vanz gave us for our wedding. 😀

We were a bit early (or make that almost 2 hours early) so we lounged in Hotel New Grand’s cafe. Loved this honey lemon iced tea. One of the best I’ve had so far.

This being my first to attend a Japanese wedding, I absolutely have no idea how the ceremony and reception is. Albeit this is actually not a very traditional ceremony because the formal ceremony is not held in a Shrine but in the hotel. Still though, there were quite a number of interesting customs that was kept in place.

The entourage is just composed of the “lightbearers” who carried a slim torch and lighted the two candles set up in a candelabra up in front. I was wondering why they left the middle one unlighted. A few minutes later, I knew why. The couple will use the light from the side candles to light the candles they’re holding so that together, they can light the center candle. Yep, this is the Unity Candle. Seeing this, I realized why there were some priests (ours didn’t allow us!) who doesn’t allow Unity Candle ceremony in Church weddings in the Philippines: it really isn’t Catholic tradition and was just “copied” from another culture’s wedding rites. And I wouldn’t blame couples copying the Unity Candle tradition, I would want it for ourselves as well, if only the priest allowed us. It really has such a beautiful symbolic meaning – the coming together of two families (the bride’s and the groom’s) into a single familial union. It follows then that the lightbearers in yesterday’s wedding was the sister of the groom and Hosogai-san’s brother. Too bad I wasn’t able to take a decent shot on it. My phone camera has limited powers.

The couple enter and leave the ceremony room together albeit the groom is walking a couple or so steps ahead of the bride. My interpretation on this custom is that it signifies the groom as the head of the family, leading the way, with the wife supporting and obediently following behind.

This is age old custom. But I am so thankful Atsushi and his family didn’t insist on us walking like this as I do want us to be side by side, holding hands as we leave the Church and (symbolically) face our future together.

The formal ceremony took only around 15 minutes. Before the Unity Candle lighting, the bride and groom each had a speech and had their vows. The Unity Candle lighting was followed with an exchange of rings and after which was the signing of the official marriage documents, with the lightbearers signing as well as tthe witnesses. We then proceeded outside for the pictorials, and then proceeded further to another part of the hotel for the reception.

Japanese wedding receptions are actually pretty organized as more often than not, the affair is really an intimate one with guests definitely less than a hundred. After giving our cash gifts, hubby was given the reception program booklet wherein the seating arrangement is conveniently mapped out.

The couple also had their short bio in the leaflet which I will not post here for privacy reasons.

I love what greeted me in my seat.

If I’ve come across the idea of handwritten messages for the guests before our wedding, I would have done so, especially since we only have less than a hundred guests.

What about food, eh? The vegetable-seafood cake with caviar as appetizer was interesting as well as serving the grapefruit sherbet before the beef entree. My favorite though was the seafood doria and the dessert. And the coffeeeee!!!

Halfway through the reception, the bride is escorted by her father out of the hall for her to change out of her kimono into a western bridal gown.

Sometime later, the groom is escorted by his mother out of the hall for him to change as well into western groom tux.

Group picture!

Hubby and I look very “healthy” in this picture. 😀

Now, the most touching parts of a Filipino wedding are mostly parts of the Church Ceremony, and the earlier parts of the reception. But usually when the reception is drawing to a close already, the guests are also somewhat preparing to wrap themselves up, getting ready to leave.

But the most emotional part for me during the wedding was actually the last part wherein the bride and groom ceremoniously goes to their parents to give them flowers and gifts. This has got me crying big fat tears alright. Thankfully, lights were turned off and the spotlight was focused on the family.

Another detail I loved in this wedding was the message slideshow that the couple prepared. Yes, they had the growing old slideshow as well but they prepared another slideshow which they showed at the end of the reception. Aside from the personalized message they put on each guest’s seat, they also had personalized slideshow message. It was just one liner for each guest, yes. But there’s something good about waiting for your name to flash on the screen; the anticipation of knowing what the message for you will be impressed in me a very good feeling. If we can do our wedding again, I’d definitely have this as well.

And, as it goes, it all comes in threes. A third detail that I would have wanted to have had incorporated in our wedding was for me and Atsushi with both our parents line up near Ville Sommet’s door to personally see off each and everyone of our guests. The chat may not be long and it may be more formal, but at least you get to see off all of your guests.

They were giving out a small neatly packaged souvenir at this time. This is on top of that paperbag in the picture which is the takeaway loot each guest are which contains a bom cake and the formal giveaway expensive glass set.

I was delighted though when I opened the small package they were handing out at this time.

They had it personalized at decocho.com. Love how they chose the pictures for the chocolate giveaways: a photo each for when they were kids, a photo together, a photo of the reception venue’s grand staircase and a photo of the university where they went to together (Waseda University). I love it how the packaging is so like the usual Japanese food packaging. It has information on the flavor as well as the calories! This particular one has 55 kcal for each square chocolate. Again, pardon for the blurriness, I’m just using my phone camera.

I may not understand the language used but still, the wedding has touched me. And had me commeding the bride on the detail she did for their wedding.

Congratulations and Best wishes Mariko-san and Takashi-san!!!

wedding culture differences

It was only this evening, on a talk with Hubbie, did I realize three glaring differences between the wedding etiquettes in Japan and here in Philippines. One particular etiquette may be SOP in one country but could be perceived as presumptuous on the other country.

Here goes what, in no particular order of gravity.

1. cash gifts

In Japan, it’s automatic that when one gets invited to the wedding, he/she would be setting aside some money for their cash gift. A previous Japanese seatmate at work mentioned before that usually, minimum amount for the gift is 30,000yen. “Why so expensive?!”, I exclaimed. He says 10,000yen is deemed too small and 20,000yen or any even digit number is considered bad luck. So the cheapest sensible amount is 30,000yen. 40,000 is considered bad luck also so the next reasonable amount is 50,000yen, then 70,000yen, so on and so forth. I had another Japanese friend who cannot attend his friend’s wedding hence he bought flowers for the newlywed but still, prepared his cash gift. Buying a bedsheet or a rice cooker for the couple wasn’t considered at all.

In Philippines, it’s been a custom to set aside some of our time to shop some house items for the couple as our gift. And hence those who didn’t opt for the bridal registry would then find themselves showered with 3 rice cookers, 4 flat irons, plates, pans, glasswares, und so weiter. Although it’s still considered a delicate matter, the Philippine wedding setting has already been somewhat mimicking lately the culture on cash gifts. However, because of the ingrained attitude we Filipinos have to go and shop for house items for the newly-weds, couples are opting to include in their invites their preference for cash gifts. I must tell you though: finding the nice and appropriate way of including this request in our invite is VERY difficult since some guests may perceive this as very presumptuous indeed. But I had to include this request on our invites owing primarily to the fact that our wedding is here in Philippines yet we will be settling down in Japan. To have the material gifts we received here be shipped to Japan would probably cost much more that their actual cost. So I hope, I hope all our guests would understand this.

2. Attire

In Japan, it’s automatic, everyone would come to the wedding attired in their formal wear. They need not be informed beforehand. I have one concern though: they consider black suits as a formal wear. But I don’t want anything black on our wedding. Hence we may have to specifically state on our invites that we’re requesting for no black suits. Barong tagalog is requested especially for male guests who will be part of the wedding entourage.

In Philippines, your invites have to be specific. You need to specify if attire is strictly formal or if casual wear is acceptable.

3. An adult affair

In Japan, again, it’s understood that parents will not be bringing their small babies to the wedding event.

In Philippines, you have to really specify that it is an adult affair and that the couple has to politely request parents not to bring their infants to the wedding. Of course, the kids who are part of the entourage are still coming with us to the reception; they’re old enough anyway. I’m talking of infants. This one is particularly difficult on me now. And I can only hope we can settle this matter without feelings getting hurt.

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