The wedding that joined our friends Tomoko and Brian as life partners was a beautiful experience. After a photo session in the New Otani’s Japanese Garden, we took a short cab ride to the Hie Jinja Shrine with our good friends Phoebe and Marcus who had also flown in from Seattle to join the festivities. It’s hard to believe that a peaceful shrine with tranquil surroundings exists in the heart of a bustling Tokyo. 

The bride and groom were having their photos taken before the ceremony as soon as we arrived. For this part of the event, Tomo wore a traditional white wedding kimono with fresh flowers in her hair. Her wedding planner, in the pink kimono, stayed with her and saw to her every need. Brian matched his Japanese bride by wearing a traditional robe that he called “pajamas”. The couple was too stunning for words. 

Friends and family from all over Europe, the US, Canada, China and Japan attended this truly international wedding. Guests wore wedding-appropriate western clothes and traditional Japanese kimonos to the event. 

The bells chimed to signal the start of the ceremony at 2.30pm. The bride and groom, along with their close family members, walked in a procession from one side of the shrine courtyard to the other, while the guests watched from the center. The guests followed the procession into the shrine and were seated for the rest of the ceremony. 

It was back to picture taking in the courtyard after the couple had tied the knot. The photographer took pictures of all the guests and the family with the newlyweds. There were smiles galore! The newlyweds snuck off to have more photos taken while the guests walked to a nearby restaurant for the reception. Yes! I walked to the restaurant in my new high heels and impressed the pants off Greg and Phoebe. 

Brian stayed in his traditional garb, while Tomoko added a colourful red layer over her white kimono. She totally took my breath away in this outfit. So much so that I shed a tear when I saw her walk down the aisle of the restaurant. Stunning does not begin to describe it.  

The reception was divine, complete with wonderful MC who translated both in English and Japanese throughout the evening. We loved the fusion food and enjoyed the company of Brian’s Mum, Dad and sister as we shared a table with them, along with Marcus and Phoebe. We laughed, we cried, and we laughed and cried some more. The speeches were touching and the love shared between the married couple is deep.

The reception ended about three hours later, but that was not the end of the night. We walked back to the hotel (me in my new high heels), to change into something more comfortable for the rest of the evening. Most of the guests met up again at Joe’s, a nearby standing bar, where we were reunited with the bride and groom who had changed into comfortable clothes too. We never made it to the karaoke part of the night because I was feeling a little under the weather. But we thoroughly enjoyed the wedding and our spectacular trip to Japan. The loving memories and unique experiences will stay close to our hearts for a long time.