Modeling for Kyoto Weddings: My Japanese Wedding, or the day I (Almost) Married a Stranger - Vikingess Voyages

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Modeling for Kyoto Weddings: My Japanese Wedding, or the day I (Almost) Married a Stranger

I looked deep into his eyes, and he looked back at me. I was beautifully dressed up in a Japanese wedding-kimono with vivid colors, and flowers in my hair. Both of us were smiling broadly, and to a stranger it would seem like we were very much in love.
But I had never seen this guy before in my life..

The whole thing started a couple of weeks ago, when my friend Dan told me that he had a friend looking for somebody who could help him and his company, Kyoto Weddings, with a photo shot. More precisely, they were looking for westerners who could do some modeling for a bridal shot they would use to market the company on their homepage. I thought it sounded like a fun experience, so I didn't wait long with sending an email to the friend, Eric, telling him that I would love to help out. I was over myself with excitement when I got a replay saying that they wanted me to do the job. It was the beginning of April, and this time of the year is famous among both Japanese as well as foreigners for the pretty sakura (cherry blossoms) that are in full bloom in Japan, usually in the month's first couple of weeks. In other words, being a wedding model in Japan in April must be one of the coolest experiences a student in Japan could possibly get.
Photo shoot in a traditional Japanese room
A couple of weeks later I met up at Kyoto Wedding's main office in downtown Kyoto, ready to be styled up. The professional team was ready for action, and before I knew it they had fixed my hair, done my make-up and even dressed me up in the stylish wedding-kimono. I almost felt unrecognizable in the pretty kimono and with the flowers in my hair; I was like a little porcelain doll. I'm still amazed by how fast everything was done.. If I should have fixed all that myself it would surly have taken all day and still not look half as good. After the styling was finished the work of the day started with photos taken in the studio's traditional Japanese room.
After a little while I was joined by my groom-for-the-day; a tall and handsome-looking guy who turned out to be Swedish. Although it was a bit awkward doing romantic photo shootings with a guy I hadn't even met before, it turned out to be quite a funny experience after all. I guess it helped a bit that he was Swedish too, as it felt more comfortable being able to communicate in our own language (Swedish and Norwegian is actually pretty close, so unless you use a very strange dialect the other person will usually have few problems understanding what you are saying). That made the situation more relaxed, and adding that Marcus was a really funny guy he turned out to be a really great match as a one-day groom. Haha..
Me and my Swedish groom-for-the-day
After about an hour of photo-shooting in the studio we were escorted out of the building, where a special wedding limousine was waiting for us. Here you might think that a Japanese wedding limousine is like any other limousine, but there are in fact 3 features that are special to a Japanese bridal car, according to the description from Kyoto Wedding's blog:

1. There is a Chinese character for happiness painted on the car
2. Besides the doors, the roof of the backseats also open to make room for the Japanese bride's kimono and hood
3. To help the bride, there are reins on the back of the front seats for her to balance herself with

Ready for more photographing in the Japanese wedding limousine
From Kyoto Wedding's studio we drove towards an area in Kyoto called Gion (祇園), which among other things is famous for its traditional Japanese streets. This, and other places in the east part of Kyoto, was where we were going to do the photo shooting of the day, and with the cherry blossoms blooming and a light layer of clouds in the sky the setting was perfect for getting good pictures.
Walking down the streets of Gion it seemed like we had become celebrities in just a couple of minutes. We were basically stalked around by a group of people who wanted to take our photos, and this group mainly consisted of Japanese ladies in their 60s. It was quite funny, but embarrassing at the same time, when some of the local ladies asked our crew if we actually had gotten married, and they answered yes. Which resulted in a lot of congratulations from the viewers. If it weren't for the make-up on my face I would have been red as a tomato right then and there..
Also, we weren't the only couple walking around in Gion getting their wedding photos taken that day. There was a Japanese couple there too (probably not a fake wedding like ours), but with us around it didn't seem like they got a lot of attention at all. Which kinda made me feel a bit sorry for them, since they were the ones who actually was celebrating their wedding day.. I guess the people in Gion found it more amusing with foreigners dressed up in kimono than the real Japanese bridal couple..?

On the bridge on the way to the Heian Jingu-shrine 
We went around taking photos for a couple of hours before ending the day with a quick lunch back at the studio. It was a bit sad having to leave the pretty kimono behind and going back to my normal "boring" clothes. I had a really fun day being a bridal model for Kyoto Weddings, and this is definitely one of the most memorable experiences I have had during my almost two years in Japan. In the future I'll hopefully have the chance to get married for real, and if the wedding is going to be in Japan then I have no doubt about who I'm going to contact..

Thanks again to Kyoto Weddings for a fantastic day, and not to mention the beautiful pictures!

My groom-for-the-day Marcus and our team from Kyoto Weddings
More info about Kyoto Weddings and their services can be found at their webpage.!

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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  1. So why are they using Western models?

    1. Because their new web page is targeted towards foreigners who wants to get married in Kyoto! Something for you and Aina perhaps?! ;D


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A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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