Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Pre-Wedding Party (Grand Hotel Sapporo)

11th October, 2003 - The night before I didn't sleep a wink... well until I finally took half a sleeping pill around 7:30am... giving me a whole 1-2 hours of critical sleep before getting ready. It was strange the excitement and stress of preparation had been slowly building... and I had thought myself isolated from the worst of it. As it turned out the lack of involvement was now a source of great stress for me. Whilst I had been busily rehearsing my own speech for the coming night, I really hadn't been giving that much time to think about the rest of the evening. Have you ever had that dream where you "wake up to find that you've got an exam you haven't studied for...."

We got to the hotel about 2-3 hours earlier. It takes about 2+ hours all up for T-chan to get ready in Kimono and makeup. It takes a lot less time for me. Let's just say as a smoker (at the time)... I made steady use of the hotel smoking policy. Hey - this wasn't even our wedding! I've only thrown a couple of photos in here... as this was sort of a private time for T-chan's family. It was a (comparatively) small affair of about 60-70 close family and friends.

There are a number of different styles of wedding ceremony in Japan ranging from the traditional to the modern. Typically in Japan a couple will get married with only their closest friends... they have faux churches for the typical Western (White) Wedding. The wedding night itself normally turns into a more glamorous affair with a cast of 100's. This normally involves a few key ingredients:
(1) lots of food
(2) lots of entertainment
(3) lots and lots of drinking
(4) lots of very long but exuberant speeches
(5) anywhere from 2 to 4 costume changes for the happy couple.
(ok - pretty well the same the world over... except for the last point).

However... we weren't getting married here - we were just having a pre-post-wedding-party... so this wasn't the full-blown thing, just a taster of things to come.

We had pretty well all of those key ingredients (including a very dramatic shamisen player, and a spot of singing karaoke style... ?;-)... we only had two costume changes... but that was enough. Actually, T-chan had purposefully avoided the traditional Western Bridal dress (almost a requirement for a good wedding party these days) specifically as she wanted to keep that feeling for our real wedding. Our second grand entrance in suit and dress was accompanied by a spotlit parade... the Japanese have a sense of drama - to the max.

We also had lots of speeches... including one from myself. Whew.... that was nerve-wracking. In the end it was a very good night... which ended with lots of douzo yoroshiku onegaishimasu! (asking me to take care of T-chan... or else...).

It was a strange moment though... here we were celebrating the wedding that was five months away. Actually, to be honest many of the guests thought that we really were married alredy. They must be thinking, silly young'uns with their new-fangled ideas.

I wonder though, did this take some of the pressure off our wedding - or amplify it? Now as the night came to an end - we hit the town with some of T-chan's friends, finally making it back to the Grand Hotel late indeed. A little bit tired, but a lot happy. And very much in love.
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