It is past midnight and I am still painting my nails, the alarm will go off at 6 o’clock and I am very angry at myself because the original plan was to sleep early and look bright and relaxed on my Italian Big Day. Instead I will be sleepy and with dark circles under my eyes. My only hope is that my hairdresser and makeup artist will do the magic for me.
A frantic Thursday morning
As planned the merciless alarm rings at 6 o’clock, I barely slept and I have just the time to take a shower and have some coffee before rushing to the car. The beauty parlor is just 5 km away from my apartment but I forgot to put the car in the garage and now the windows are all covered with ice. I am hysterical. Maybe I should have avoided the coffee. I arrive at the beauty parlor already ten minutes late on the schedule after risking my life driving with a still half frozen windshield.
Michela is already waiting for me. She opened the shop two hours earlier than usual to take care of my hairstyle and makeup. I am finally starting to calm down a bit as I abandon myself to her trustworthy hands. I met Michela just recently. I was looking for a beauty parlor where I could find Olaplex treatment and I found her. I liked her immediately, she is confident and smart and she is always updated on new trends and techniques. You can check her Instagram to have a look at what she can do. I leave the beauty parlor almost two hours and a half later with flawless make up and a stunning hairstyle. I have never had my eyebrows looking this perfect, there is no sign of the sleepless night on my face and my hair looks like that of an snow queen, adorned with snowflake shaped rhinestone shining under the sun.
I drive home wondering if my husband is also getting ready. Traditionally in Italy the bride and the groom do not sleep together the night before the wedding so I slept at home with my parents and my husband in a hotel room close to the church.
When I am back at home it is already almost 10 o’clock. At 10.30 my husband will be waiting for me at the altar and I still have to put my dress on. I am boiling again. I ask my mum to give me the bra I bought together with the dress and she turns suddenly pale. There was no bra in the bag the atelier gave her. Panic. Too late to do anything I end up wearing the only other white bra I own but it is not strapless as it should be. Since I will be wearing a jacket and a shrug over the wedding dress I hope nobody will see the bra straps and I try to calm down while I dive into the wedding dress.
Unfortunately I don’t have a full length mirror but my mum takes a couple of pictures with her smart phone to show me how I look. I feel beautiful. My husband has never seen the dress, as tradition requires. He will see me wearing this white magnificence for the first time as I step into the church. We are still taking pictures when my neighbor comes, she says she is sorry to disturb but she couldn’t resist, then she asks if I have “everything”. Everything means if I have the famous, something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. I have part of my mum’s wedding dress stitched inside the skirt of my dress, my grandmother gave me stunning pearl earrings as a wedding gift and my engagement ring is a deep blue sapphire. I don’t have something borrowed so my neighbor runs to her house and comes back with a pocket mirror that I promptly hide in my cleavage. I am ready.
Minutes later the photographer arrives. She is joyful and she says not to worry that we have plenty of time. She says she has just finished taking pictures of my husband with his parents and that the weather is perfect to take pictures. I don’t know if it is the truth or if she says it just to calm me down but it works. We take some pictures with my parents and then it is time to go.
My mum is also nervous and, when we are about to leave, out of the blue she says that before departing we have to make sure my husband is already in the church. In Italy it is an unacceptable shame for the bride to arrive before the groom. I tell her that I know my husband pretty well and he is always at least 10 minutes early, today he is probably 20 minutes early. She insists and starts calling all the guests that obviously do not answer the phone because they are all already waiting in the church with phones in silent mode. Before I freak out my cousin, who plays the driver role today, manages to convince my mum and we finally go.
In the old fashioned way the bride enters the church accompanied by her father. Nowadays sometimes the groom waits for the bride outside the church and they go together to the altar, more often the groom waits at the altar and the bride is accompanied by both the parents. We choose this last option. Both mum and dad walk me up to the altar where my husband and our Best Men are waiting for me. I decided not to have a Maid of Honor. Instead we had two Best Men, my best friend since high school and my cousin. My best friend has been with me through all the preparations and he also helped me choosing the dress, my cousin has traveled all the way to Japan to be at my side also during the Japanese ceremony.
My friends read from the Bible for us and my mum, as a present, hired a professional pipe organ player and a singer to sing for us during the ceremony, they gave everybody goose bumps.
Our priest, the same who celebrated my parents’ wedding, has prepared a special sermon for us and recommends us to say each other “I love you” every day, even if we think we know it already and it is not necessary to say it again.
We didn’t exchange rings during the Japanese ceremony because we choose to do it during the Italian ceremony since the rings exchange originally is a western tradition. Our wedding rings are a gift from my parents and our Best Men. Usually inside the wedding rings there is the wedding date engraved but we got married twice and we didn’t want to choose one date over the other so we decided instead to write 二人三脚 (nininsankyaku) that means “two people, three legs”. It is a Japanese proverb and it describes two people cooperating and sharing responsibility to achieve a common goal. To us it is the perfect synthesis of what being a married couple means.
At the end of the ceremony the bride and groom are the last ones to leave the church; all the guests wait for them outside and throw rice, as a symbol of prosperity, to the newlyweds. My florist, who took care of all decorations, prepared just outside the church a large basket filled with rice cones and heart shaped hand warmers for the guests.
As we step outside the church hand in hand we are immediately covered by a rice waterfall. I found rice in my hair even the day after. We take pictures with everybody and then we leave together with our Best Men and the photographer to take some other pictures on a snowfield nearby. In the meantime the guests walk to the banquet hotel to warm up and enjoy the welcome aperitif while they wait for us.
The photo shoot
The photo shoot was the most adventurous part of the day. Our photographer decided she wanted to take our pictures on a snowfield, knowing this in advance, I ordered a fantastic pair of warm boots on internet. They were cheap, matching the color of my shrug and looked comfortable and warm, they were just perfect. But they never arrived. Moral of the story I had to take the photo shoot wearing my tiny silk kitten heel shoes and after a few steps in the snow I simply couldn’t feel my feet anymore, moreover, since the photographer wanted us to run and jump, the shrug kept slipping away and the jacket wasn’t enough to keep me warm. We were all five, photographer included, complaining about the cold and laughing carelessly like kids in kindergarten. The snowfield was close to a skiing area and the people stopped to ask if we really got married or if we were just modeling and shouting their congratulations while they were skiing. We tried our best to be elegant and flawless but we couldn’t do it.
At the Restaurant
For the banquet we choose the Edelhof Hotel and the owners reserved an entire room just for us. The room is entirely covered with wood and gives the warm and familiar feeling we wanted for our wedding. When we arrived at the restaurant and saw the banquet room with all the decorations we were speechless.
In Italy I had the chance to personalize the decorations much more than in Japan and I expressed myself freely adding Japanese touches like the cranes hanging from the centerpieces and my bouquet, a ball of flowers, like the classic Japanese bouquets. Then I added small decorations from our favorite movie, Disney Wall-E, my husband cufflinks, the cake topper and small Wall-E and Eve toys around the tables. Me and my mum made the placeholders ourselves.
It has not been the typical Italian wedding with dancing and party till late, we wanted it to be more relaxed and the guests enjoyed the atmosphere of a Sunday family lunch. As we did during the Japanese banquet also in Italy we went around from table to table to chat with everybody. It is not that we don’t like big parties, they are fun, but when there are many guests the couple doesn’t have much time to dedicate to each of them. We choose to have a small party and spend as much time as possible with each guest.
Since neither of us is a good dancer we didn’t choose the classic dancing and music to entertain our guests. We organized a sort of quiz with prizes. We prepared a number of questions about us and our story, and the guests had to choose the right answer among a choice of 4 possible answers. Then we draw the winner among the ones who got the right answer. We bought prizes in Japan, in Norway during our Honey Moon and in Italy. Prizes included a coffee machine, Japan Lonely Planet Guide, Amazon Gift Cards, Norwegian design plates and others. Everybody was having fun trying to guess the right answer and opening the prizes and they all told us they enjoyed the unusual idea of organizing a quiz show.
At the end of the banquet we cut the wedding cake and the restaurant chef (and owner) prepared a buffet with cookies, small pastry and a chocolate fountain where to soak homemade marshmallows and fruit. The perfect last surprise for our guests.
This was the last post about my wedding(s) with my Japanese prince.
I hope you enjoyed the story and maybe I gave you some ideas for your own wedding. The next months will be about definitely moving to Japan so stay tuned for more stories and Japanese insights!
If you missed the previous posts about the wedding(s) you can find the links below.