That’s Amore: First Look and Family Photos

I had always pictured myself being surrounded by my bridesmaids when I got my makeup done for my wedding. Japanese wedding, however, don’t have bridesmaids or groomsmen so I was alone for the most part when I got my makeup done. I didn’t mind this for two reasons. 1) I knew I would be surrounded by my friends and family while I got my makeup done during the American wedding and 2)I was grateful for a few calm minutes alone to myself. I knew that once my family and friends made their way to the venue (they were coming early to take family photos) things would become very hectic.  I have no professional shots of getting my makeup done since this isn’t something that is usually done in Japan. About 45 minutes into the makeup appointment friends and family started coming in and things started to get busy.   I was on the phone with Mr. G constantly confirming who was at the venue and who still needed to be picked up.


Talking on the phone while getting your makeup done is not easy. Personal Photo

After everyone had gathered, my friends and siblings had a short practice for a grand entrance we had planned (more on that later!) and then it was time for me to get my wedding dress on!

I have no professional pictures of me getting into my wedding dress, another thing that isn’t usually done in Japan and something that would have probably made my male photographer uncomfortable.  My mother and step -mother were there to help me get dressed and I wish I could tell you it was a very sentimental time, but it wasn’t. Getting my Spanx on had exhausted me and I couldn’t feel anything but grateful that I finally had them on and terrified about what I was going to do when I had to go to the bathroom and pull them off . Once I got my undergarments on my moms helped me into my dress, touched up my makeup and helped me with my jewelry (My moms loved the necklace the hive helped me pick out!). I started getting nervous, as the time for me and Mr. G’s first look was soon approaching.  

First looks are quite uncommon in Japan as most couples go out and rent their wedding dresses and tuxes together. The groom usually helps the bride pick out her dress and vice versa. Mr. G and I explained the concept of a first look early on and the venue staff and the photographer loved the idea.  I had gotten dressed behind large Chinese screens in a large room reserved for ceremonies and family photos. I hid behind those and slowly crept out once it was time. I could hear all my friends and family giggling as they watched from the entrance.

Photography by Kawakami Teppei

My mother took a wonderful video of the first look.

Mr. G had just the reaction I was hoping for!


After that we took a a few family photos and a few photos of just me and Mr. G.


A typical Japanese family photo. Half of the family sits in chairs and the other half stands.


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Next, it was time to make an entrance at our ceremony!

Unless noted, all photos taken by Teppei Kawakami

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That’s Amore: Tutus and Ninjas

That’s Amore: We Get Up and Set Up


That’s Amore: We Get Up and Set Up

I woke up pretty early on the day of the wedding, and totally copying Charlotte from Sex and the City, shouted “Oh my gosh! It’s our wedding day!” to wake up Mr. G. We got dressed, had breakfast at the buffet offered by the hotel, and headed back to our hotel room at about 8 a.m. I had made a detailed schedule for the day of the wedding – showers at this time, breakfast at this time, and so on- but due to my excitement we were way ahead of schedule. We were supposed to head to the venue at 9 a.m., but I was much to anxious to wait in our hotel room for an hour. I suggested that we just head over to the venue since I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if we were an hour early (probably a bridezilla move, but I couldn’t help it). To be honest, I ‘d been incredibly nervous about the venue set-up.  Mr. G had dropped off about a half a dozen boxes filled with props, decorations, and gifts a few days before the wedding. I had left instructions on how to set up everything, but I was nervous that the venue staff would have trouble understanding them since they never had a wedding with so many DIY elements before. I was also extremely nervous about the flowers. As I mentioned before, our florist didn’t even bring a portfolio with him to the meeting and I had no idea what our flowers were going to look like.  I was harboring a secret dread that we were going to have really ugly flowers.

Mr. G and I headed to the venue right as they were opening the store front. Our wedding planner, Taie-san, must have seen the anxious look on my face because he walked right up to me, bowed, and said everything that we had asked to set up had been set up and the flowers were already in place. He lead us into the room and I gasped. Everything was set up better than I could have ever imagined.


Our sweetheart table. Photography by Teppei Kawakami


One of our centerpieces

I could not get over how wonderful our centerpieces looked. Our florist had used our invitation graphic as inspiration and created some wonderful centerpieces. He had also told me that getting sunflowers in October would be close to impossible but he some how pulled through!


Our invitation graphic our florist used as inspiration

After we toured the room and chatted with our wedding planner for a bit, Mr. G and I started to set up our escort cards and Jenga guestbook. Our wedding planner had never heard of either of these things (instead of escort cards everyone receives a paper with a seating chart on it in Japan) so we decided to do them ourselves.


Our escort card display
Photography by Teppei Kawakami

We also used baby pictures of ourselves to decorate the bathroom doors.

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We then went on to setup our photo booth. I’d looked online for DIY photo booth tutorials and found quite a few that called for PVC tubing or wooden stands, items that would be difficult to find and transport in Japan. I started focusing on having a backdrop I could tape to a ceiling or a wall and luckily I found a great tutorial on how to make a DIY fringe backdrop.

Image via

Image via

This seemed perfect for our photo booth. The tutorial is very easy to follow; all you do is cut long strips of crepe paper. I brought the crepe paper fringe to the venue along with our tripod and camera.   We taped the fringe to the ceiling, added a few tissue puff balls and set up the camera and tripod. Two friends we’d asked beforehand would man the photo booth during the cocktail hour.


Testing out the photo booth. I’m doing peace signs already!

We finished setting up the venue and we were right on schedule schedule! Mr. G left to pick up our out of town guests from their hotels and I left to get my hair and makeup done by my make up artist.

Were you nervous when you first saw your venue? How did it make you feel? Are there any brides setting up their own venue for the wedding?

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That’s Amore: Tutus and Ninjas

That’s Amore: Tutus and Ninjas

Woo-hoo! It’s time to get started with my recaps. Let’s jump right in!

Guests from overseas started flying into Japan a few days before the wedding reception. Mr. G was able to take a few days off  before the wedding, but I sadly could not.  While Mr. G was hanging out with our out of town guests I was working full time and meeting with everyone later in the evening. Needless to say, I hardly got any sleep the week before the wedding, but  I was glad to see all of my friends and family and hear all about their fun adventures in Japan.

My sister kept sending me pictures of all the buttons on the toilet. She couldn't believe there were so many.

All of the out- of -town guests were impressed by the number of buttons found on a Japanese toilet.

My boss let me leave work early on Friday, the day before our wedding. I got my nails done, hung out with my family for a bit,  and then raced to the hotel where Mr. G and I were going to stay for the wedding weekend. We decided to spend the weekend at a hotel near our venue rather than driving from home to cut down on stress about traffic and to be close to all of our OOT guests. It was a great decision and one I highly recommend. I had to race to the hotel in order to get ready for the rehearsal dinner we had planned that evening. Now this was not a traditional rehearsal dinner as there was technically nothing to rehearse beforehand since  we decided to not have a ceremony in Japan, only a reception. We just called it the rehearsal dinner since it was the big dinner the night before the wedding.

I had been debating what to wear to the rehearsal dinner for quite some time.  I initially thought about wearing a white dress, but had trouble finding one.  I was looking through my Pinterest board one day and stumbled across some of my early wedding dress inspiration: long flowing tulle skirts.

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Images via

It was difficult to find a top to go with these gorgeous skirts so I gave up on the idea and bought by my wedding dress at David’s bridal; however, I thought a variation of this skirt would be perfect for a rehearsal dinner.  A short tulle skirt would be fun, flirty, and feminine. I Googled “tulle DIY skirt,” found an easy tutorial, and was quickly able to make one.


It was a huge hit at the rehearsal dinner. What is even better, I was able to reuse it for Halloween.

Kumamon and I during Halloween

Kumamon and I during Halloween

Mr. G and I got ready for the rehearsal dinner and met everyone at a restaurant called Kyoto Ninja. It is a touristy, theme restaurant where all the waiters and waitresses wear ninja costumes and perform magic tricks throughout the dinner. Mr. G and I figured a restaurant like this would be perfect for our guests. It has English menus, tourist-friendly Japanese food,  and lots of photo-worthy moments.

The wait staff at Kyoto Ninja

The wait staff at Kyoto Ninja

Before we had dinner Mr. G gave a speech to thank everyone for being there and he and I both got a little choked up. Friends and family from all over the globe had come to Kyoto to celebrate our marriage. I couldn’t believe so many people would go through all that trouble- long flights, long drives- just to see us. I was truly touched.  Mr. G finished his toast and we all chowed down on some sukiyaki and sushi.

Mr. G's dad stirring some sukiyaki.

Mr. G’s dad stirring some sukiyaki. Pardon the blurriness.

Group photo of everyone at dinner

Group photo of everyone at dinner

My friends heard I never had a bachelorette party and presented me with a bachelorette sash and crown.

My friends heard I never had a bachelorette party and presented me with a bachelorette sash and crown.

After dinner was finished, Mr. G and his friends left to get more drinks and had a mini stag night. I headed back to the hotel and immediately crashed at about 10pm.  I think I’d slept about 10 hours the week before the wedding and my body was ready for some much needed sleep. Mr. G came in an hour later, but I didn’t even hear him come in.

The next day we woke up and it was our wedding day!

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Secret Life of Bees: Gondola Edition

Hive, it’s been a while and I’m so glad to be back!  The American wedding and honeymoon were so amazing. Unfortunately,  going back to work after a long vacation hasn’t been fun. Ever since I’ve gotten back from the honeymoon I feel like I’ve been playing catch up to get back into the groove of work, household chores, and blogging. Luckily,  I feel that I’m finally all caught up and ready to start blogging again. I thought I would jump back into blogging with an ongoing series post  before I start my recaps.

1. My First Crush
As a child, I grew up loving science. I loved to watch shows like Mr. Wizard’s World and would read any kid-friendly science book that I could get my hands on.  I happily attended summer science school all through my pre-teen years and hoped I would become a  scientist some day. (I think that if I’d never been forced into Japanese class in high school I would have probably become a chemist or biologist.) Being so immersed in the science world, my first crush was not the typical  90’s heart throb like Justin Taylor Thomas or Joey Lawrence.  To my science-loving 12 year old self, the coolest guy around was no other than Bill Nye the Science Guy. I was about 11 or 12 when I first saw his show and he made science seem so cool and accessible. Now I know that Bill Nye is in no way “heart-throbby” or “hot” in the traditional  aesthetic of a pre-teen crush, but I just felt like Bill Nye “got” me. The awesome bow ties and grass -covered car just sealed the deal for my nerdy heart. I was smitten.

Image via

I love a man in a bow tie. Image via

I still get pretty big laughs from friends when they hear he was my first crush, but lately Bill Nye has been in the media more often and he’s usually pretty awesome. I think more people are able to see what charmed me about Bill Nye back in the day.

2. I Failed at Gyaru

I had a deep love affair with Japanese fashion in my early 20’s. I loved the colorful clothes and the almost overbearing cuteness of everything.

Two of my college friends all "dolled" up in 2006.

Two of my college friends all “dolled” up in 2006.

I started venturing into gyaru fashion: big light -colored hair, raccoon eyes, and lots of pink and black clothing.

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Covers of my favorite gyaru magazine “Egg.” Images via (left) and (right)

I started wearing gyaru clothes and putting pink and yellow extensions in my hair. I always got lots of compliments and decided to go full gyaru and dye most of my hair blonde and then pink.  I went to the supermarket got a box of blond hair dye, dyed (bleached really) my hair and….. my hair turned neon orange.

I thought I was going to "dye" of embarrassment when I took the picture.

I thought I was going to “dye” of embarrassment when I took the picture.

This picture does not do justice to how badly my hair looked. It was a shocking orangish- yellow color and, according to my roommate, it hurt your eyes to just look at it. I immediately put on a cap and bought some dark brown hair dye which turned my hair a light orange that was tolerable, but still pretty bad.  A week later I bought black hair dye which turned my hair a purple-ish red color. A week later most of my dyed hair fell out (mostly likely due to over- processing) and I vowed to never dye my hair again. I gave up gyaru fashion and focused on growing my hair back.

3. I Do Light Therapy

I was born and raised in Florida and I love sunny weather. I was actually hesitant to move to Japan and its four months of winter, but everyone told me I would get use to it and it wouldn’t be a big deal. I learned that this wasn’t the case for me.  Winter is an absolutely horrible time for me. It isn’t just the cold, which I’m still not use to, but the awful mood I had every winter. Every year, from about January to March, I would turn into an irritable and very sad person and start and finish everyday feeling as if I was in a deep hole that I could never get out off. My sister, a psychologist, mentioned light therapy and I decided to give it a try. After some research I bought a Happy Light by Verilux and do light therapy every morning. Light therapy just involves sitting in front of the light while I watch TV or play with my iPhone. I wake up at about 5:45 am on the weekdays and sit in front of the light for about 30 minutes. This could be a placebo effect, but I definitely feel better mentally now that I do light therapy. The cold weather is still pretty awful, but my mood is definitely much better throughout the day. Mr. G also says that I snap at him much less now that I do light therapy.

So hive, there is my secret life for you. Do any of you have an embarrassing pre-teen crush? A horrible dye job story? I’d love to hear it!