Alright, here we go, three months behind schedule. I kept putting this off until I could get my hands on the pictures I wanted. And then March happened.
My supervisor got married at the end of December. They actually got “courthouse married” back in July, but the ceremony took longer to plan. For that, they went to a specialized wedding business, Sentir La Saison, in nearby Hakodate. This place has all-inclusive plans for couples, that they can somewhat tailor to your wishes. They have their own chapel and reception hall, all food is produced in house, they provide the dress for the bride, photographs, cake, MC, projector screen, etc.
Now, I’ve been to weddings in the US before, including at least one rather fancy one. These weddings certainly seemed to follow a basic plan – assigned seating for the guests, pauses for the appropriate speeches, cake cutting, bouquet throwing, the works.
My supervisor’s wedding was a whole order of magnitude more complex. First of all, they only had family in for the chapel ceremony in the morning. The reception in the afternoon added on friends and coworkers. They had even arranged for a bus from Otobe to Hakodate, which was great because the event was in the city’s oldest neighborhood, i.e. low on parking spaces. Guests paid to attend the reception and received their seating assignment once they got inside. At each seat was a personalized message from the bride and groom for each guest. Impressive, considering that there had to be at least 100 guests in attendance.
The food started almost immediately, and was uniformly of the genre I refer to in my head as ‘French-derived Twee’. Thankfully, there was also free alcohol. And the food was tasty, though the coworkers I was seated with were uniformly baffled by the array of silverware.
Here’s an introduction to the food from the wedding. You might remember this picture from back in January, if you click on it, you can see a bigger version:
From left to right, top to bottom:
Appetizer – a single grilled Matsutake musroom half. This is when I got worried – it was tasty, but also cold and rubbery.
Drink – the cocktail each guest was handed as they walked in.
Salad – shrimp on an aspic made with local veggies and consomme soup. Aspic was previously only something I’d happened across while browsing Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Better than the description would suggest.
Soup – winter vegetable puree.
Fish – a local whitefish cooked in phyllo dough. Delicious and probably my favorite, except that the following course was…
Main – …steak. Mmm, steak. Plus some sort of deconstructed version of mashed potatoes.
Dessert 1 – a yuzu sherbet.
Dessert 2 – return of the wedding cake. Boring, though my coworkers had to ask me if the red and green decoration was supposed to be eaten. Gum paste – yes-ish.
While we were eating, there was a continuous stream of events. It felt like every other bite was interrupted by the MC drawing our attention to something new – the presentation of the gift from the Board of Education to the bride and groom, the viewing of a video by the groom about their relationship*, videos about the childhoods of the bride and groom, bouquet throwing, speeches from the head of the Board of Education, the groom’s father, the bride’s father, the groom’s older sister, etc. It was a lot of fun, especially as the food steadily improved through the courses, but there was also a slight hint of being hustled through the litany of events so that Sentir La Saison could get us out of there in time for them to prepare for the evening’s wedding.
The cake was fun. All of the kids in attendance were invited to roll it in from the kitchen, and the parents of the bride and groom joined them for the cake cutting. They had the father of the groom feed his wife a piece of cake and vice versa, followed by the bride’s parents doing the same.
Following that, my supervisor fed his bride a piece of cake. And then.
And then this happened:
Thankfully, she got the job done without anyone losing an eye.
Partway through the ceremony, the groom’s father and the bride’s mother took them off to get changed. I had heard this was part of modern Japanese wedding traditions, multiple changes of clothing. Sometimes a couple will get married in a traditional ceremony, wearing kimono. Then they’ll switch to a white dress and tuxedo for the reception. Maybe another dress for dancing.** Maybe one last outfit for leaving the reception. Thankfully, this couple confined themselves to one change of clothing – an awesome purple dress and a slightly terrifying suit for my supervisor.
Anyway, as we were working our way through dessert, the couple embarked on one last duty – lighting a candle at each table and thanking the guests for coming to their wedding.
I still don’t quite get this one, but one of my coworkers was muttering about this tradition being the biggest source of income for the candle companies in Japan. It was also a good chance to get a picture with the happy couple and the guests from each table.
And then we got back on the bus and went home. I was impressed – the whole thing took almost two hours exactly.
*I thought this was going to be awful, because the theme from Top Gun (supervisor’s a huge Tom Cruise fan) started playing as the video started. It turned out to be actually kind of tasteful and romantic.
**There was no dancing at this wedding, for which I am forever grateful.