Not to be confused with the slightly terrible movie with Julia Robert’s called My Best Friend’s Wedding. Anyway, on Sunday I went into Tokyo for one of my best friends here in Japan’s wedding. We met when she was an exchange student at my university and her room was next to mine for pretty much the entire year. The weather forecast was rain, but right before I was about to head out, the clouds parted and it got all hot and sunny.
In Japan, it is customary to give money as a gift, and you put that money in a shugi-bukuro. The envelope is elaborately decorated with gold and silver strings twisted and tied into a decorative knot. Japanese folklore says that the knot is supposed to be impossible to open. A friend may give about $300, and an especially close friend may up the sum to $500. Bosses, uncles and aunts may part with up to $1,000 for their favorite couple. The gift-giver’s name and the grand total of the cash inside is written on the outside of the envelope. The basic rule is “odd numbers” when giving money. “Odd numbers” mean the couple won’t split up, whereas “even” are easily divided. Furthermore, the number “4” is “shi”(connotates “death”) and “9” is “ku”(suffering).
The chapel was decorated with white flowers and ribbons, but the first thing I noticed were the high tech not-so-hidden cameras that we later learned were being used to make a short montage to be shown at the end of the wedding where the guest list and message from the bride and groom.
The ceremony itself didn’t last very long, and I had to contain my giggles as the foreigner minister did most of the ceremony in Japanese except for a very excited, “You may kiss the bride!”
After the ceremony, Hitomi (the bride) and her now husband (Daisuke) walked down a long staircase outside and we all threw flowers all over them. There was the throwing of the bouquet in which Hitomi more did a light toss and my friend Yu caught it. There was a small little drink and food reception while we all waited for Hitomi and company to come for picture time.
After all the preparations were done inside, we entered the dining area where there were several speeches done and then a cake cutting ceremony. After the first three courses were served, the bride and groom left the room for their dress change and we got to watch a slide show of their lives up to now. I was featured in several pictures for Hitomi’s side…including me dressed up as Sailormoon.
When they came back, they entered from a staircase and then it was almost immediately time for the candle ceremony. On each table int the center the was a candle that the bride and groom had to light using a very long flame…. torch….thing.
After they had gone around all the tables, Hitomi and Daisuke returned to the front of the room for a really neat ceremony where they poured water into a tower and it began to glow different colors. It was really pretty!
After having all our food – including a really rich dessert, it was announced that we could all go outside and receive a piece of cake from either the bride or the groom. It was really cute and Hitomi’s father got all giddy when I got a piece of cake which resulted in me standing next to him and Hitomi for 5 minutes or so while lots of people took pictures.
After we all got cake, each of us was given a balloon with a sunflower seed in it that we all released at the same time. Several
drunk people released their balloons a little earlier than was instructed.
During the final part of the party, Hitomi and Daisuke gave flowers to their parents and made some speeches. Hitomi made everyone cry and even Jun started to get teary-eyed when Daisuke’s father was talking.