Toddlers and Japanese Weddings
Now onto the reason for our travels: to attend a wedding. To recap, we headed to Okinawa for a family wedding. You can read more of the background here.
A few family members were in the wedding and needed to get to the hotel earlier to get outfitted into kimonos and have their hair done. It took hours, and according to them, was very difficult to eat and breathe.
For the wedding itself there was an emcee and a translator. Pretty much everything was said in Japanese first, followed by the English translation. The wedding was amazing – it started with a beautiful dance of the bride and groom, in traditional Okinawan clothing, and his wife’s sisters, along to Okinawan music. It was quite something.
My own wedding was a low-key affair. CH and I paid for a majority of it, so cost was a huge factor and it was bare bones: no flowers, no favors, no open bar, etc. What was also another fun contrast was attending Megan’s wedding the weekend we were back, whacked out of our brains by jet lag. Her awesome party, at the local VFW, was so fun in the Madison East-side way and was a perfect welcome home.
What followed was really quite fun. Every culture has it’s unique elements of celebration, and this was no different. While there wasn’t a DJ coaxing people onto a dance floor, the bride’s friends and a few co-workers performed to a pop song, dancing and lip synching. Family members danced, again in traditional Okinawan dress, to music, inviting the new family members up. People gave speeches.
The food was also great. Large platters of sushi, sashimi, Western food and everything in between was placed on large lazy Susan’s in the center of the table.
You’ll have to excuse the poor quality of the photos. The room was crowded, I have a simple point and shoot, and at some point during the ceremony, Miss Red, who was acting out the worse she ever has in her life, turned into this:
Out cold, impervious to the speeches and applause, she slept on my lap for a majority of the ceremony and reception. We weren’t able to attend the party directly afterward and headed back to the hotel, where she did wake up and we took her to the pool.
But my favorite part of the wedding? When the families read letters to one another. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t understand Japanese and needed to wait for the English translation. We could tell from the emotion what was being conveyed. And that’s what a wedding is about.
Some interesting tidbits:
- The ceremony and reception were just that. Ceremonial. There, people get married at a court house and it’s a low-key affair, with really office people as witnesses. So the bride and groom had been married in December, but weren’t considered “married” until the ceremony. It was at that point that they started wearing wedding rings.
- Another neat part considered traditional was the combining of the waters. In the past couples would bring water from their own villages, combine them, then drink from the same cup.
- Part of the receiving line was signing in and handing money envelopes. We had a card from the states, so that stood out. You also sign your name, and since we can’t write Kanji, they kindly turned the page sideways for us to write in English.
- At the end of the reception, the bride and groom stood and posed for photos with people.
- During the ceremony the emcee would announce when it was a good time to take photos. People would flood the areas and do just that.
Next up? How we navigated Japanese.
p.s. Have these posts been helpful? Are there any questions I can answer? Are you patiently waiting for me to go back to musings and less recounting?