Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cousin’s wedding

On 1st June, hubby and I attended his cousin’s wedding in Nagoya City. Cousin Kenji is the second son of hubby’s aunt Tatsu-chan. Tatsu-chan is hubby’s late mother’s younger sister. Since hubby is very close to Tatsu-chan and his cousins, he was very excited about the wedding.

Nowadays Japanese weddings are celebrated in a variety of ways. The wedding style often does not match a person's religious beliefs, and the wedding ceremony can be Buddhist, Shinto, Christian or non-religious in nature. Non-Christian couples often have their wedding ceremony at chapels. In fact, the recent trends in wedding ceremonies and receptions generally contain traditional Japanese and western elements side by side. Legal marriage in Japan is a civil marriage that is established through reporting the marriage at a city hall of the Japanese government by submitting a marriage registration form called Konin Todoke, and not by the blessing from the priest whether it is Christian, Shinto or Buddhist. This is because the State is separated from religion according to Article 20 of the 1947 Constitution of the Japanese government. Since wedding ceremonies have no legal significance in Japan, people try to make the wedding day special, enjoyable, and memorable by celebrating it in the way they wish or prefer. Hubby’s cousin had already registered his marriage in December 2012, so this ceremony was to enjoy with colleagues, friends and relatives, and make the event a memorable one. Cousin Kenji had his wedding ceremony in a Christian style chapel set up inside a hotel. I have written a detailed post about Japanese wedding in December 2008, which can be found here. I would like to mention that even after 16 years of living here in Japan and attending many such Christian style weddings, I still feel a bit shocked every time I see a fake priest presiding over a ceremony. I understand that it is just a part-time job for the ‘priest’ but still….Anyway, seeing the happy satisfied newly wedded couple always helps me appreciate the ceremony and all the fun involved.

Hubby and I left Akita in the evening of 31st May. We took a flight from Akita Airport and after about 1.5 hours of air travel we reached Centrair Airport near Nagoya City. After another hour of train ride, we reached our home in Ichinomiya City where we stayed for the night. The next morning, hubby and I dressed suitably for the wedding ceremony of his cousin. Hubby wore a black formal suit while I wore a traditional Indian dress called Salwaar Kameez. Usually the dress code for attending a wedding is very strict and formal in Japan. Ideally I should have worn a western formal wear. But I often have trouble finding a formal dress for my body shape and size in Japan. In fact in the month of May, I had gone shopping for a formal dress but even the largest dress size available at the shops were simply too small for me and therefore I just gave up searching for a western formal wear and instead opted to wear a simple patterned and very subdued colored Salwaar Kameez. Nowadays I hardly get any opportunity to wear an Indian dress, so before leaving our home hubby and I took a photo of us together for the sake of memory.
Hubby and I ready to attend his cousin’s wedding

On 1st June, hubby, his father, father’s wife, and I went to the wedding venue in Nagoya City by car. We left our home in Ichinomiya at about 8 am and reached Nagoya Tokyu Hotel at 9.15 am. The wedding ceremony and the reception of hubby’s cousin took place at this hotel and it was fun. We relaxed for about half an hour in a waiting room where we met many of my late mother-in-law’s relatives. I met her youngest sister for the first time and it was really nice to meet her. She is only several years older than me but we are from different generations!
Many relatives of hubby in a waiting room inside the hotel

Hubby’s youngest aunt who looks exactly like his late mother

The wedding ceremony of hubby’s cousin started at about 10 am. It was held in Christian style in a chapel set up inside the hotel. At the beginning of the ceremony, the chapel had blue lighting and wonderful music was played. Everything looked so romantic. The bride entered the chapel with her father. She looked so beautiful in a white flowing gown and a veil. The groom, hubby’s cousin, wore a grey colored tuxedo and looked so handsome. The bride and the groom read their wedding vows, exchanged wedding rings, and the groom kissed the bride. The entire ceremony was presided over by a priest. After the ceremony, again blue lighting and romantic music was played for a couple of minutes, and the newly wedded couple left the chapel amid cheers and applause from the gathered friends and relatives.
Romantic blue lighting inside the chapel

Bride entering the chapel with her father

Father giving away the bride

Bride and groom reading their vows

Ring exchange ceremony

Groom kissing the bride

Newly wedded couple

Nice lighting inside the chapel after the ceremony

Newly wedded couple leaving the chapel

After the wedding ceremony, a reception party called Kekkon Hiroen was held at another hall inside the hotel. There were about 70 guests who were coworkers, friends, and relatives of the newly wedded couple. The seating arrangement at the reception party is extremely important. Usually the office coworkers sit closest to the new couple, who are seated in the center front of the room. Several tables in the middle of the room are reserved for the friends, and the families or relatives are seated at the back of the room. It was easy to find our seats as cards with our names were printed on the table. I was very happy to see my named printed as ‘Nagata Manisha’. After all the guests were seated in their respective seats, the newly wedded couple made a grand entrance to the reception hall in the fabulous dress they wore for the wedding ceremony. The couple then proceeded to the center stage, bowed to all the guests, and gave a speech thanking everyone for attending their wedding. Next, the new couple cut a large wedding cake amongst cheers and clapping from all the guests. It was so funny to see the couple feed huge pieces of the splendid cake to each other and our cousin’s face fully smeared in the cake. Afterwards the couple sat enjoying the speeches made by their friends and coworkers.
Hubby’s sister, her daughters, and I sitting at our table in the reception hall

Hubby’s and my name printed on cute little cards

Newly wedded couple entering the reception hall

The couple making a speech thanking all the guests

The new couple cutting a wedding cake

Cousin feeding a spoonful of cake to his new wife

Cousin eating a huge piece of cake

A friend of our cousin making a speech

A friend of the bride making a speech

All the guests drank a toast to the newly wedded happy couple. Afterwards a formal eleven course French meal was served to each guest. The food was delicious and we enjoyed it a lot. There was a generous flow of wine during the meal and the atmosphere in the reception hall got more and more festive as the consumption of alcohol continued along with the meal. We were so full and satisfied after the meal. Hubby seemed to have fallen into a stupor after the heavy delicious meal.
One of the courses of the French meal

Yet another course of the meal


Hubby’s nieces enjoying the meal

Nieces look so cute

I am enjoying the meal

Hubby having the main course

Hubby very satisfied after the meal

In between the meal, the guests were given an opportunity to take photos with the newly wedded couple. We took a few photos with the new couple for the sake of memory. In addition, we also took a few photos with our near and distant relatives and their families who had gathered for the festive occasion, and with whom we hardly get an opportunity to meet otherwise.
Nieces posing with the newly wedded couple

Hubby’s family, a few relatives, and I with the new couple

Hubby’s maternal uncle and youngest aunt (sitting 1st and 3rd from right) along with a few other relatives

I am sitting with hubby’s cousin and maternal aunt Tatsu-chan whose son was the groom

Hubby’s sister with her daughters

It is the usual practice nowadays for the bride and the groom to change costumes a couple of times during the wedding reception. So during the course of the reception party the newly wedded couple changed their dress, but only once. The couple was led out of the reception hall to change their dress. Our cousin was led out by his mother Tatsu-chan and the bride was led out by her grandmother. This ritual probably has some significance but hubby and I are not aware of it. However, we feel that it might be related to the most important person in the bride’s and the groom’s life while growing up.
Bride being led out by her grandmother to change into a new outfit

Tatsu-chan leading out her son to change his dress

After about twenty minutes, the newly wedded couple again made a grand entrance to the reception hall. The bride had changed into a gorgeous maroon colored wedding gown which was so beautiful and elaborate. The groom wore the same grey colored tuxedo for this second appearance also but changed the shirt and accessories to match the bride’s gown. The couple looked so gorgeous and romantic. The couple walked up to the center stage in the hall amongst applause from all the guests.
The newly wedded couple entering the reception hall after changing into a new costume

Maroon colored gown of the bride looks so gorgeous

Perfect couple

Afterwards, the newly wedded couple read letters thanking each other for being their life partners. In addition, the couple read sentimental letters thanking their parents for everything they had done for the couple. Most of the guests got rather emotional listening to the speeches and there were tears in the eyes of almost every guest. Then the couple thanked all the guests and was led out of the reception hall. Finally, the reception was declared over by one of the hotel staff.
Our cousin reading a letter thanking his new wife

The new couple thanking their parents

The couple being led out of the reception hall

We really enjoyed the wedding ceremony and the reception of hubby’s cousin. It was so much fun interacting with hubby’s near and distant relatives and their families. We left the hotel at about 2.30 pm and reached back our home in Ichinomiya at 4 pm. The next morning on 2nd June, we returned back to Akita.

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