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Kenji and I had two weddings in the beginning of 2012. The first was Brandt and Mizuki’s!

We were their witnesses on 11/11/11 to the signing of their marriage certificate at City Hall and were excited for their Wedding in January!

On our way via train! That is Kenny in the background

Naomi and Ibuki!

The wedding hall. Weddings in Japan are usually at either a Shinto shrine in a traditional ceremony, or a “Wedding Halls” whose sole purpose is the planning and execution of weddings. This is a “church”, but I highly doubt it is a proper church. Looked nice though!

Newly weds, walking out amid rose petals the the throwing of the bouquet ceremony… and the groom through broccoli! Where did that come from?!? I guess the bride objected to the garter!

Once inside (IT WAS COLD!) taking pictures with everyone, before the reception

I LOVED the idea of these “name cards”… daruma with our names painted on! Wow!

Goofing off with ours

Speeches, and ceremony, eating and cake cutting, and a taiko performance later, and it was time for the nijikai (second party!)

The nijikai is less formal, and more people can be invited. Mizuki and I danced the Macarena, but no one else joined in…

Kenny and Katsu on the train ride home

The next day by chance we met everyone at Barikiya ramen, and decided to have a nabe party at our house in the evening for Brandt’s family

Mmmm nabe!

The next wedding was Midori’s. I actually was only invited to the nijikai on this one. Kenji was invited to the wedding, as well as Scott, but the day before Naomi became sick and had to go to the hospital, so he couldn’t make it. So the night before, Midori called us and asked me to come to the wedding, since the spot opened up.

Theirs was also held at a wedding place, this one didn’t even try to seem like a church!

It was the same and yet different from Brandt and Mizuki’s wedding, and similar in some ways to weddings in the US… and very different in others! Also, I LOVED Midori’s dress!

Posing with the bride and groom!

The cake with the kanji character “laugh” on it fits the couple perfectly!

Dessert, and honoring the parents of the couple. Before that, Midori’s group performed some amazing songs (she is part of a singing/dancing group). It was great! Almost like a show, actually.

And after that, the nijikai.

I found the similarities and the contrasts between these two weddings, and weddings in the US, to be really interesting. US weddings are of course personalized, but I feel like for many people the major elements are the same from wedding to wedding, in large part because so many weddings are held in the Christian faith. I’m sure weddings in other faiths or cultures such as Hindu are completely different, but I’ve never been to one of those so I couldn’t say. But for both weddings here in Japan I’ve been to, it seems like there is much more leeway for the couple to pick and choose the elements they want to have, and they don’t have to worry about leaving something important out. Some elements are also obviously influenced by Western weddings, and yet because they are not inherently “traditional”, can be changed to fit each couple’s personality.

For instance, the throwing of the bouquet by the bride, and the garter by the groom. I’m pretty sure this is standard in the US, and seems to have been adopted here in Japan, but for example, in Brandt and Mizuki’s wedding, while Mizuki threw a pre-made bouquet, Brandt threw a head of broccoli for the guys. And in Midori’s wedding, they skipped the bouquet entirely, and both threw random gifts of funny things, such as a change purse shaped like a grenade, and stuffed cats. So the idea of throwing something for guests to catch is the same, but the actual content of the things thrown is adapted to each couple.

There are a lot of examples like that, but this post is getting wordy, so I will stop. But it would be interesting to do some further research into the subject!