Getting Legally Married in Japan

A few days before our Japanese wedding reception, Mr. G and I went to city hall to get legally married. According to the US embassy’s web page:
“If you wish to marry in Japan, you will do so according to Japanese law. Marriage in Japan consists of a civil marriage registration by the couple at a Japanese municipal government office. Only this civil registration constitutes a legal marriage in Japan. Ceremonies performed by religious or fraternal bodies in Japan, while perhaps more meaningful for you, are not legal marriages.” which basically means you have to get legally married at city hall.

I’m going to tell you right now, getting married at the city hall in my town in Japan was absolutely the most unromantic thing ever. I think getting my passport renewed was more romantic.

Mr. G and I went to city hall quite a few days before our actual wedding reception because we live in a very small town and figured the staff would not be used to processing paper work that involved a foreigner (We were right- more about that later.) We also noticed a slight hiccup in our paper work that might prolong the processing of the paper work. My marriage affidavit (a piece of paperwork needed to get married in Japan) had my father’s full middle name written out e.g. Dad Steve Gondola, while on my birth certificate, my father’s middle name is abbreviated with just a letter e.g. Dad S. Gondola. Anyone who has ever dealt with Japanese banks, post offices, or government offices knows that something as small as this can stop any paperwork you want from being done in its tracks. Japanese rules and regulations can be extremely detailed and everything has to be just right or it just won’t happen. Exceptions are rarely made, and if an exception is granted it usually involves a lot of time and paper work. I was genuinely worried that this tiny discrepancy would stop me from getting married.

We headed to the city hall around 11am. We took a number, waited to be called, handed in our paperwork and were told to wait. So we waited, and waited, and waited.

We played around with our iPad while we waited.

We played around with our iPad while we waited.

I got a bad feeling in my stomach that my father’s S was going to actually be a problem. About 15 minutes later our clerked walked over to us. “Oh no!” I thought,”He’s going to tell us we can’t get married” but the clerk just asked if we would like to file ourselves as a single entity after our marriage or as two separate people. I immediately said as two separate people. Filing as a single entity means our incomes would be combined and both of our taxes and insurance fees would go up. (I’m not a hundred percent sure, but this system seems to penalize working married women.) He walked away and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then we waited some more.

I was able to loosen up after we spoke to the clerk.

More playing around with the iPad. I was able to loosen up after we spoke to the clerk.

After another 30 minutes our number was called. We went to the desk and the clerk told us “We’ve finished processing your paperwork.” He bowed and started to look through some other papers. Huh? That’s it?! Getting married was not only unromantic, but anti- climactic.

I spoke up after a few seconds and asked if we could get a marriage certificate (I needed one for changing my name on my passport). The clerk looked surprised that I even wanted one. He directed us to the desk where we could apply. A few minutes later we had our marriage certificate and took a few photos afterwards in front of the city hall.

We're officially married!

We’re officially married!

All in all it was pretty straightforward process until I got a phone call from the city hall later that night about my father’s name. “What does ‘junior’ mean? Is that his first name or last name?”My father is actually Dad Steve Gondola, Jr. Traditionally, there are no middle names or suffixes in Japan so inputting my father’s name into a form that only had room for a first and a last name must have been difficult for the city clerk. After a bit of discussion we decided we should put it as his first name. Thankfully this wasn’t a major problem so Mr. G and I were officially married!

Did anyone have an extremely unromantic time of getting married at a city hall? Did anyone have trouble getting their paper work filed?

One Down, One to Go

Hive,  I had my Japanese wedding last weekend and it was amazing!

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There were so many nights before the wedding where I would wake up at about 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning with my head full of worries about anything and everything that could possibly go wrong, but I’m happy to say that the wedding went off without a hitch! It was an amazing day filled with love, friendship, and happiness. It was one of the best days of my life.

I had a big goofy smile on my face all day!

I had a big goofy smile on my face all day!

 

Up next is my American wedding. I’m happy to say that having one wedding under my belt is letting me approach the American wedding in a much more Zen manner. If I forget to pack something- who cares? If something doesn’t go according to schedule- it’s not a big deal. I’ve learned that everything will work out fine as long as you are surrounded by friends and family who love you.

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I want to thank the hive for all of the great support and advice you’ve provided. Thanks to you and all of your suggestions I wore an awesome necklace, wore great makeup, and had no bra lines! You guys rock!

I won’t be posting as often with the American wedding and honeymoon right around the corner, but I’ll still be around to share a few more stories before I start my recaps.

Lots of love,

Mrs. Gondola

Gondola Wedding Dress Reveal

So Hive, before I get into whether the mermaid dress from the previous post was a resounding “Yes!” or a horrific “No!” let me talk about the logistics of buying a dress when you live overseas.

I decided to buy my wedding dress at David’s Bridal because it is very easy to buy a dress off -the- rack there. I went to the States in March and knew I had to purchase a dress that fit me well while I was there. In Japan, most brides rent their dresses so having dress fittings and alterations is unheard of. I would have to find a dress that looked good on my body,buy it, and not gain or lose any weight until October and November.  My mother hated the idea of this and tried to come up with another solution, but outside of me flying back to the States two or three times (at $2000 a plane ticket) within the year, there was no way.  I had to find the perfect dress.

So we had sipped champagne and the pressure was on to find the perfect dress.  I had tried on three other dress when my consultant asked if I wanted to try on a mermaid dress, a silhouette I had always been hesitant about wearing. I thought that my big boobs and butt would make me look like a sausage wrapped in a too -tight casing, but I had an open mind so I thought “What the heck?!” The champagne had kicked in by then so I was feeling adventurous.  She brought the dress in the dressing room and as she zipped me up she said that girls with my figure always looked amazing in this dress. I stepped out of the dressing room and she was right!

Without further adieu, here is my wedding dress.

The Dress!

The Dress!

The back. Next to me is my sister getting emotional

The back

The requisite "I found my wedding dress" fist bump

The requisite “I found my wedding dress” fist bump

I love the mermaid silhouette. My consultant was right; it was very flattering on my body type. Also, I rarely see the mermaid silhouette in Japan so this will be a stand- out dress for sure. Everyone gave it a ten. We bought the crystal belt( which is really a headband, but the consultant cleverly turned it into a belt) and the veil. Veil, belt, dress, and garment bag (I highly recommend you buy one) all came out to about $600 dollars.

About two weeks later I picked up the dress and went to the tailor to get the train of the dress cut down to about half its length. The dress fit me so perfectly I didn’t need any other alterations. It is October now, and I’m happy to say that I still fit into the dress! I lost about 5 pounds since I initially tried on the dress and that has not made any difference.

Were you open minded when you went wedding dress shopping? Did you try on a dress silhouette that you thought wouldn’t flatter you?

Champagne Wishes and Dress Dreams

Here is something that you don’t hear every day: I went to David’s Bridal and had a good experience.

I had heard so many horrible things about David’s Bridal: bad customer service, people waiting for hours to be seen by a consultant, and tiny dressing rooms; but I had a surprisingly pleasant experience. I did, however, take a few precautions:

– I made an early appointment on a weekday (there was hardly anyone in the store when I went there).

– I wore the underwear I planned to wear on my wedding day, a long line bra and Spanx, so I would know how the dress would fit with my own underwear.

-I went on the website and printed out all of the dresses I wanted to try.

One thing I must say is that your consultant can make or break your appointment. I was first assigned to an older woman who talked about herself for 5 minutes before asking me what dress I wanted. She later kept putting tiaras on my head even though I said I wasn’t interested in tiaras. I started to get very annoyed with her, but fortunately that consultant got called away and a much younger assistant, who actually listened to what I wanted, came to help me and my appointment went much smoothly from there.

I went to David’s Bridal with my mom, stepmom, and sister. They all have good taste in clothing and are very supportive so I knew they would be the perfect people to bring. They also brought a bottle of champagne and champagne flutes so I really knew they were the perfect people to bring.

We met with our consultant and I handed her my list of dresess that I wanted to try on (all were under $600). She asked if I was also open to dresses not on the list. I said I was, but was a bit hesitant about trying on a mermaid dress because I didn’t think it would flatter my figure. The consultant pulled the dresses I wanted and took me over to the dressing room. My stepmom, mom, and sister popped open the champagne and I stepped into the dressing room and tried on my first dress.

One Shoulder Mesh Gown with Beaded Waist Style EJ2M2626

One Shoulder Mesh Gown with Beaded Waist Style EJ2M2626

My family quickly shot down this dress. They all said it looked boring on me. On a scale of 1 to 10 they  gave it a 6.5 (my sister added the speech bubble when she took the photo). I actually liked it and thought it made me look angelic. I gave it an 8.

The second dress I tried on was the dress that I thought would be the dress. I tried it on hoping that I, as well as my family, would love it.

Chiffon Gown with High Slit and Halter Tie Back Style WG3482 David's Bridal Collection

Chiffon Gown with High Slit and Halter Tie Back Style WG3482 David’s Bridal Collection

You can tell by the smile on my face that I loved the dress. I wanted something that would stand out in Japan and the sexy silhouette of the dress definitely would.  I gave it a 9, but my family was still underwhelmed.  They suggested we try on a few more dresses.

Dress number three was another halter dress. Quick tip, having your hair up or down really affects the look of a halter dress. I looked much better in a halter dress when my hair was up versus down.

Satin A-line gown with beaded metallic lace applique. Style T9569

Satin A-line gown with beaded metallic lace applique. Style T9569

My family loved this dress. They gave it a 9.5, but I wasn’t really feeling it. This dress silohuette is very typical in Japan so I knew I wouldn’t stand out like I wanted it to, but on the other hand it flattered my figure immensely.  We decided to try on another dress, but I got a glass of champagne before we started again.  Trying on dresses is surprisingly hard work!

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I think champagne enhanced my David’s Bridal experience greatly.

We were discussing what dress to try on next when the younger consultant said “Just a second. I have the perfect dress for you! I know you said you didn’t like mermaid dresses, but just try it on and see.”

Well, hive she brought out a mermaid dress and can you guess what happened? To be continued…

For those of you who bought your dress at David’s Bridal, did you have a bad or good experience?

Out of the three dress I tried on, which did you like the best?

It’s the Final Countdown

Hive, my first wedding will be here soon. Everything is basically done.

We took some pre-wedding photos to display at the reception entrance (as opposed to getting our formal portraits taken).

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I got my final haircut.

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I’ve been exfoliating my arms like a madman because even with all my tan-line precautions I still got a (slight) farmer’s tan!

We have also started getting a few monetary gifts that come in beautiful envelopes.

These envelopes are so beautiful!

These envelopes are so beautiful!

My biggest “the wedding is coming soon” moment was our final meeting with our venue coordinator and reception MC. This meeting took three hours! Our wedding coordinator and MC were extremely detail- oriented. They called us earlier to let us know the meeting would be a few hours, but I just laughed and said “Yeah, right.” We’ll be out of there in an hour. Everything is taken care of!” Hive, I was so, so wrong.

Since the wedding reception is a two and a half sit -down dinner, there will be lots of moving parts to keep our guests entertained: performances, speeches, the bouquet toss, etc. The coordinator wanted to go over every single detail of all of these events so we ended up with a very lengthy timeline for the reception.

Our MC then interviewed us so she could get to know us better as a couple before the wedding. She asked questions about what we were like when we children, how we met, and what our daily routines were. She was so attentive and professional, and she made it seem like every little detail about us was extremely necessary in order to be a good MC at our wedding reception.

I was very impressed with the level of care that is provided at our venue, but it was exhausting. Our meeting started at 6:30pm and we finally ended up leaving at 10pm. I did, however, feel very secure that our wedding reception is going to go extremely smoothly. Our wedding coordinator and MC will be very focused on the details.

Anyone have a super detailed meeting for their reception? What made you feel like your wedding day was almost here?

Easier Than Expected

Even with all of our website RSVP issues, Mr. G and I got all of our RSVPs with no problem. Well, with minimal problems… We still had to track down four late people whom we just emailed directly and asked if they could make it. Out of the 78 people we invited 65 of them accepted. I was pretty surprised by our low decline rate and I think it’s because our Japanese guests were curious about what a semi-American wedding would be like.

Once we got our RSVPs it was time to make the seating chart, a task that I heard was difficult and time consuming. I asked around and heard that the easiest way to make a seating chart was to use Post- Its with guest names written on each one and paper plates that would act as tables.

One night after dinner, Mr. G and I got down to business. I wrote the guest names on the Post-Its and Mr. G cut up 8 sheets of paper (we didn’t have any paper plates). We started arranging our tables and guests and we finished the arduous task of making our seating chart in five minutes. I couldn’t believe how easy it was! I thought it would take at least an half an hour.

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Our seating chart

I highly recommend the Post-It/ paper plate method. The most tedious thing was writing the names on the little sheets of paper, which took about 3 minutes.

How did you go about arranging your seating chart? Was it easier than expected?

Bra Lines: Fact or Fiction?

Earlier this week I was on the train and listening to a wedding podcast called Say Yes to the Dress: Monte’s Take and my ears perked up when I heard the host mention her biggest bridal blunder. It had been wearing a bra before she put on her strapless wedding dress. Her bra straps left impressions in her skin and they showed in her photos.

I started to have a mini- freak out. I had planned on wearing a normal bra before putting on my long line bra and wedding dress, but I didn’t want bra lines in any of my photos.  I started to consider options of what I could do to avoid bra lines. Should I wear my long line bra all day? No, my long line bra is a bit uncomfortable and it would be difficult to move around and set up my venue before the reception.

The long line bra I plan to wear with my wedding dress. Image via herroom.com

The long line bra I plan to wear with my wedding dress. Image via herroom.com

No bra? That was out of the question. I’m a busty girl and I need a bra. In the end I decided to wear a bandeau bra before getting ready for the wedding. Bandeau bras don’t give me the greatest support, but they have no wires and no straps so I wouldn’t have to worry about any bra lines.

A bandeau bra similar to the one I plan on wearing. Image via amazon.com

A bandeau bra similar to the one I plan on wearing. Image via amazon.com

After I had my mini freak out and came up with a solution the rational side of my brain started to voice it’s opinion. Had I ever had bra line impressions before? Even if I did, have they ever lasted more than hour? Are bra lines even a thing?!

So hive, are there any brides out there who had bra lines show up in their wedding photos? Has anyone ever actively avoided this for their wedding day? Am I going over board with the bandeau bra?