That’s Amore: Oh Boy, Here Come the Tears

Toward the end of the reception it was time for Mr. G’s letter reading which would be the climax of the wedding reception as my wedding planner and MC described it. In Japan the bride usually reads a heartfelt letter to her parents, but Mr. G  read the letter at our wedding since most of our guests only understood Japanese. Mr. G got up to the microphone and began his speech.

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“Mom and Dad, I want to take this time to tell you things that I can’t usually say.” He then went on to thank his parents for all they had done for him and his sister- encouraging them through school, taking them on trips, and for all their hard work. He also mentioned how difficult it must have been  for his parents to move to America and yet still make a great life for him and his sister.  He ended it by apologizing for all the trouble he had put his family through during his teenage years (Mr. G was a wild child back in the day).

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Mr. G’s sister cried a bit too.

As Mr. G said his speech I couldn’t help but get a little choked up by his heartfelt speech, but I also felt kind of awkward standing up there holding the microphone so I started looking around the room. A few guests were crying a bit, touched by Mr. G’s letter. I looked up to take a glance at Mr. G’s mother to see if she was crying, but she was just smiling placidly. I then looked over at Mr. G’s father and was shocked. He was bawling. His shoulders were shaking and he was gulping down tears. I couldn’t believe it. Mr. G’s father is a very conservative, unemotional type of man and he was sobbing!

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Mr. G’s Dad right before he started to cry.

I’m so glad that we decided for Mr. G to read the letter. Mr. G’s family is not a very “let’s share every emotion we have” kind of family. They tend to show their love by gift giving or doing favors rather than verbally saying something. I think having Mr. G just say everything he’d had in his heart was a big emotional moment for his family. It was beautiful to see.

After the letter reading it was time for Mr. G’s father to say a speech. He was so embarrassed by his crying that he initially refused to get up and say anything, but in the end he made a very formal speech thanking everyone for being there and to please watch over me and Mr. G.

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He then called up my mother and step mother (Japanese wedding receptions always end with both sets of parents thanking the guests for coming and bowing). We all bowed and it was time for us to exit the reception and start the receiving line!

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My moms were so nervous about bowing. “How low should we bow? How long?” I told them just to wing it and they did great! Personal Photo

Have you ever been to a wedding with a very emotional speech? Did anyone cry?

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Photography by Teppei Kawakami 

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

Our guests ate and drank.

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That’s Amore: Let’s Eat, Drink, and Be Merry

Japanese wedding receptions are two and half hour sit down meals. Our guests were treated to beer, wine, sake, and cocktails as well as a five course meal which consisted of a caprese salad, soup, Japanese lobster, the main entree which was a choice of steak or fish, and dessert. I wasn’t able to take photos of the food at the wedding, but here are a few from our tasting meeting a few months prior.

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The edamame (soy bean) soup with seafood topping.  Personal photo

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Lobster in balsamic vinegar sauce. Personal Photo

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In addition to our cake the guests also received a strawberry tart.  Personal Photo

Unlike many western wedding receptions there is no dancing and no DJ, so what do you do to keep your guests entertained and engaged?

Besides providing lots of food and drink, we took lots of pictures with our guests.

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We stopped by every table to take photos with all of our guests. There are those heart hands again!

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We posed with guests who wanted to take pictures with us in front of our backdrop.

Many couples have their friends do a presentation of some sort which may involve a song or a slideshow. At our reception we had two presentations. One was a subtitled video message from my family.

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Guests watching the video message from my family.

I’d seen the video earlier since I had to write the Japanese subtitles, but it was very sweet watching the video again and hearing all of the sweet messages from those who couldn’t make it to the Japanese wedding like two of my brothers and my father. My dad embarrassed me in the video and told this story:

“When Ms. Gondola was a child she one day came to me and said ‘Daddy, I aint got no clean underwear.’ Wanting to correct her I said, ‘No, it’s “I don’t have any clean underwear.”She replied ‘What daddy? You aint got no clean underwear too?!'”

Why did my dad have to talk about my lack of clean underwear as a child on my wedding day?!

The other presentation was from two of my coworkers who did a very sweet presentation with a slideshow about me.

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My two co-workers and their slideshow. I teared up a bit.

Mr. G and I also showed a slideshow about the two of us growing up, meeting each other, and falling in love.

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A shot from our slideshow. It says that when I was young I wanted to be a veterinarian.

Are there any brides out there who had or are planning no-dance-reception? What will you do to keep your guests entertained?

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Photography by Teppei Kawakami 

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

I change my dress. 

That’s Amore: Time For The Dress Change

After the bouquet and garter toss it was time to do the infamous dress change. I had debated doing the dress change for a few months and decided to rent one of the venue’s dresses. I thought it would be fun to wear an over the top, frilly dress. I mean, you only get married in Japan once,right?

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A typical Japanese reception dress. Image via luce-dress.com

Unfortunately, renting a dress would be about $700 and there was no room in the budget for it. In the end, I decided to wear the long blue evening gown I’d gotten from David’s Bridal.

Mr. G and I exited the hall and while I got changed Mr. G asked our wedding coordinator to please bring us food. There had been no time for us to eat as guests continually came up to our table to pour us beer and have a quick chat. I got into my blue dress and Mr. G and I scarfed down our meal as quickly as possible.

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Mr. G grabbing a quick bite to eat. Can you tell we were starving? Personal Photo

Our photographer then came to take a few more couple photos of us and soon it was time to go back to the reception. It had probably taken 20 minutes for me to get changed, eat,and take photos.

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A photo of us after the dress change

As we reentered the venue the MC explained the reasoning behind my blue dress saying that in America brides have “Something Four” something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

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I’m pretty sure our guests were underwhelmed by my simple dress, but I was comfortable and that’s all that mattered to me at the time. Looking back, I sometimes wish I had just ignored our budget and  gone for the frilly dress,  but looking at the photos I feel that this look will be more classic.

If you were in my shoes, what would you have done? Gone for the frilly, over the top dress? Found your own dress to wear?

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Photography by Teppei Kawakami 

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

My bouquet toss was an epic fail.

That’s Amore: My Epic Fail of Bouquet Toss

An hour had passed into our reception and it was time to do the bouquet and garter toss.  In Japan, the garter toss  tradition doesn’t exist. Moreover, the bouquet isn’t usually tossed but “pulled.” A typical bouquet- pull involves dozens of ribbons seemingly attached to a bouquet. All the single women gather in a group, pick up a ribbon, and pull at the same time. It’s revealed that only one ribbon is actually attached  to the bouquet and the holder of that ribbon is awarded the bouquet.

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A typical Japanese bouquet pull. Image via lucephoto.blog62.fc2.com/ Photography by Luce

We wanted to show our guests what a typical American reception would look like so we decided to do a bouquet toss and a garter toss. To be honest, we were worried about how the garter toss would be done since the men at the reception might find the idea of trying to catch a woman’s undergarment embarrassing and uncomfortable. We explained the traditions to our wedding planner and MC and they came up with the clever idea of having the men catch the bouquet and the women catch the garter. We loved the idea!

When it was time for the bouquet toss the MC called all of the single men to the floor and I got ready to toss the bouquet. I’d been very nervous about the bouquet toss and not throwing it far enough for everyone to catch. I actually had nightmares of people being disappointed in me because my bouquet toss was so weak.  I decided early on that I would throw it as hard as I could. When it was time for the moment of  truth, I threw the bouquet over my shoulder with a mighty toss and heard a crash! My bouquet had hit the chandelier right above me.

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My awful bouquet toss into the chandelier. Personal Photo

The bouquet basically fell apart upon impact. I was mortified! The men were all great sports and dived for the remnants of the bouquet. Everyone was roaring with laughter and I couldn’t help but laugh either. I was so glad I hadn’t broken the chandelier!

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I think this photo says it all: My mortification and the mad dash to catch the bouquet.

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My friend Bob was the victorious winner and caught my mangled bouquet.

After that it was time for the garter toss which went much more smoothly. Mr. G discreetly got my garter and shot it into the group of waiting girls. There was a bit of a hustle and my friend Dani, who had emailed me earlier asking me to aim the bouquet at her,  caught the garter.

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Mr. G getting off the garter.

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I was so ecstatic that my friend Dani caught it! She was too!

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The winners pose together

All my nervousness and worries about having a bad bouquet toss totally came true. But you know what? I’m glad it turned out horribly. I will always have a funny story to tell about my wedding.

Are you nervous about tossing your bouquet? Already married brides, how did your bouquet toss go?

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Photography by Teppei Kawakami 

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

A quick guide to Japanese wedding receptions.

That’s Amore: A Quick Guide to Japanese Wedding Receptions

The next few hours of our wedding reception were done in typical Japanese fashion.  A lot of it was very “Japanese” so I’m going to provide a quick guide to Japanese wedding reception culture.

Pouring Beer

When you go out to eat in Japan you never pour your own drink. A bottle of beer, or wine, or sake is placed at the table and everyone watches everyone else’s glass and you fill another person’s glass when it gets low. It’s a sign of respect and shows you’re attentive to another’s needs. At weddings, guests come up to the bride and grooms table at intermittent times and pour them beer to show their respect. In turn, the bride and groom drink the beer and wait for the next guest to come and fill the glass again.  It’s a very nice way of seeing all of your guests throughout the reception and saying hello. It’s also a really easy way to get drunk. If you have about 80 guests you will probably have your glass refilled about 80 times. Fortunately, the wedding industry has thought of a way to combat the bride and groom getting drunk at their wedding. Under most sweetheart tables are buckets where the bride and groom toss their beer after their glass has been refilled.

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The infamous bucket. I wasn’t able to get a photo of mine, but here is a photo from a wedding website. Image via www.vivier.jp

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A groom discretely disposing of the beer. Image via www.esprit-de-nature.jp/blog

Mr.G doesn’t like beer so he always threw his beer away. I drank most of my beer and I was fine. The adrenaline running through  my body seemed to counteract any of the alcohol.

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Receiving beer from some of our guests. Personal Photo

Cuteness

Japan is a country that loves “cute.” Everything, no matter how formal, has to be cute.  Cuteness was ever present at our wedding with heart- hands (making a heart with your hands). Our photographer constantly had me and Mr. G making heart- hands.

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He had all of our guests do it when we took pictures at everyone’s table.

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We even did heart- hands in the formal family portraits.

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Our photographer also had us do “cute” poses during our couples photos.

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Mr. G and I felt incredibly silly doing poses like this, but our photographer kept saying “Don’t worry. It will be so cute!”

Happy Wedding!

You may have heard me mention a few people saying “Happy Wedding!” at the reception.  For some reason, many Japanese people think that English speakers say “Happy Wedding” at weddings and say it all the time when a couple gets married.

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Our wedding cake with “Happy Wedding”

Our photographer had us say “happy wedding” rather than “cheese” at every photo. My family though this was hilarious and started saying “Happy Wedding!” for anything and dissolving into giggles afterwards.

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My sister and I doing a few cute poses as our photographer tells us to smile and say “Happy Wedding!”

So what do you think of these Japanese traditions?  Most importantly, what do you think of heart- hands? Cute? Or do we look like we’re eating invisible hamburgers?

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Photography by Teppei Kawakami 

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

We cut the cake.

That’s Amore: We Cut the Cake

About fifteen minutes of our reception had passed and it was time to cut the cake. Very early, right? Cake cutting at Japanese receptions take place at the beginning of the reception as opposed to most western wedding receptions where it takes place at the end. The cake was brought out and we posed with our custom- made cake toppers that we bought on Etsy and placed them on the cake.

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We had a typical Japanese wedding cake: a vanilla sheet cake with lots of fruit on top.

I hid our cake toppers from Mr.G  because they were modeled with the clothes that we would be wearing at the wedding and I wanted my dress to be a complete surprise for him.  Mr. G was so interested in looking at them that he accidentally got his sleeve covered in cake frosting.

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Laughing because Mr. G’s sleeve got covered in frosting.

We cut the cake and Mr. G gave me a nice small bite. Our wedding planner then handed me a giant spoon to feed Mr. G. Everyone laughed.

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Mr. G trying to fit the giant spoon in his mouth.

Giving the groom his first bite of wedding cake with a giant spoon or a small shovel is current trend in Japan. Does that happen in other countries too?

A few weeks before the wedding, our wedding planner asked if we wanted to do a “Last Bite” where Mr. G’s mother feeds him a piece of cake symbolizing her giving him his last bite of food as he is now a grown man with a wife who will be feeding him from now on. We both didn’t like the idea of that and shot it  down.

The cake was delicious!  It was light and fluffy and I wanted more, but they were about to serve dinner so we sat down and dinner service began.

Are there any cake cutting traditions unique to your family or culture?

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Photography by Teppei Kawakami 

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

Our boss gives a speech.

We say Kampai!

That’s Amore: Kampai!

After the boss’s speech, Mr. G’s coworker, Takahashi, said the toasting speech. Takahashi usually does the toasting speech at Mr. G’s co-workers weddings since he is a pretty funny guy. He started the speech with the normal congratulations to the happy couple and then said “I am so glad to be at an international event and in honor of the international guests I have decided to speak a few words in English.”  My jaw, as well as Mr. G’s,  dropped. We knew Takahashi could’t speak English and only had a rudimentary understanding of it from taking it in high school many years ago. He comically cleared his throat,  took out a piece of paper and with a big smile said,

“I am Takahashi. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Gondola inviting me wedding reception and celebrate your together marriage.”

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Everyone started laughing; not at Takahashi, but with him. It was easy to see that he knew his imperfect English would be a hilarious treat for all of us.

“I have known Mr. G about for 7 years. Mr. G is can reliable man and hard-worker. He cook delicious food for Mrs. G. Mrs. G is very beautiful woman and has bright smile. I wish you many years happiness. Mrs. G, Mr.G late at night working. Please don’t scold him.  1000 years happiness to you! Happy Wedding!”

The whole room was laughing and applauding. He brought down the house! I was incredibly touched. He had probably tirelessly gone through a dictionary or had his high school daughter write this speech for us.  I couldn’t have asked for a funnier or sweeter speech.  After that he launched back into Japanese and asked us to be kind to one another and raise our children well. He then spoke about what a good man Mr. G is, and how he hoped us lots of happiness.

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Mr. G and I laughing at Takahashi’s speech.

As his speech was winding down, he referenced our get-to-know- the-couple booklet where we wrote that we wanted to retire to a mansion with lots of robots (I’m obsessed with robots).  “I see that you want to move to a mansion in Hawaii with lots of robots. Well, instead of a robot how about,” he then crouched down on one knee and jumped up and shouted  “Evangelion!”

Everyone started laughing again. In appearance, Takahashi looks like a conservative 50- year- old man, but he is actually a big anime lover. He has found a way to incorporate his favorite anime, Evangelion (an anime about giant fighting robots), into every speech he has done at a wedding. I was so glad he could incorporate it in ours as well.

He held up his glass and everyone stood up and shouted” Kampai” (the Japanese version of “Cheers!”).

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Our reception had officially begun!

What were the speeches like at your wedding? Do you prefer sentimental speeches or funny speeches at a wedding?

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Photography by Teppei Kawakami

 

 

Miss a recap?

We have our rehearsal dinner,.

We set up the venue,

We do our first look and family photos.

The sushi at cocktail hour was great.

We blatantly copy the internet. 

The boss says a speech.