And the Bride Wore


Weddings are big business in Japan.   Often a bride will have a traditional ceremony with kimono;  a ‘white’ wedding – we saw one taking place in a shopping mall complete with tolling bell – and in addition the bride will at some point don a coloured ‘wedding’ dress.

We observed two weddings passing through shrines.   The groom wears a short black kimono, and black and silver wide legged trousers, and carries a fan.   The bride has a white and red kimono and a white and unflattering headdress which looks like a collapsed wimple.   In one case the bride’s dress was pinned to the floor for the photographs.   They did not seem to object to the tourist throngs jostling for photographs, though the bride did seem gratified when passersby smiled and said ‘Lovely’ as she passed.   The female wedding guests could be extremely elegant in their kimonos.

Elisabeth decided to take the opportunity to commence her wedding dress search while I was with her so she booked an appointment with one of the leading wedding dress stores, and we duly arrived by taxi and were met by our vendeuse.  The building was designed in the shape of a wedding cake and there was a pillar outside topped by Cinderella in her pumpkin coach.     We were taken to one of the upper floors and presented with books of their designs, which were mostly of the Dior New Look style – boned bodice and bouffant skirt (which is not really what Elisabeth is looking for.)   If we were slightly disappointed that their designs were (to us) a trifle clichéd, they seemed slightly dismayed by her height.   “She very tall girl” the vendeuse said to me, as though it were my fault.

We chose a few of their plainer dresses and the vendeuse and I were seated while Elisabeth with two dressers disappeared behind curtains.   She reported that firstly she was laced into a corset affair so tightly she could hardly breathe, and this was not apparently because she was a giant geijin (foreigner) but is standard practice.

The curtains were swept apart .   It is slightly startling to see your daughter transformed into  ‘The Bride’.   The staff all clap and exclaim in Japanese how marvellous she looks.   Fond mother that I am, of course I think Elisabeth would look good in an old sack, and she does look very nice, but it is not exactly what she had in mind.   Two other creations are tried on.     We suggest some minor alternations and eventually ‘the designer’ descends from on high.     The other staff are extremely deferential to her.  I got the feeling that we weren’t sufficiently acknowledging of the honour done to us.     We describe what Elisabeth wants and under my direction fabric is draped for the desired effect.    The designer agrees that it can be done.

They then experiment with various accessories, jewellery, flowers, veil…    Elisabeth declines the veil.    They produce a headdress of flowers.   By this time, with her high heels and her head-dress, she is about as tall as a guardsman in his bearskin hat, and  amid the exclamations of delight, the vendeuse says to me with sudden doubt, ‘How tall future husband?’   She looks relieved when I say, Very tall.

Eventually comes the calculation.   Hundreds of thousands of yen.    Elisabeth says she will let them know.  In the taxi home, she says to me, how much do you think?    I take the price I think it would be worth, and double it.     The actual price is three times my doubled estimate.    It was of beautiful silk and lace and lovely in every way, but not really ideal for Elisabeth and her circumstances.   We thought not.

While we were there they offered me a catalogue of extremely elaborate Mother of the Bride outfits.    I was surprised that many of them were in black, and the vendeuse did not appear to know that you would not normally wear black as the mother of the bride.    She enquired about the men, and I said (speaking of the Scots men), they will be wearing kilts.      Scottish kilts, I added, for clarification and her face brightened.    With  hats? She asked.     Hats, I thought – why does she think hats?    Is her vision of a man in a kilt a soldier of a Scots regiment with his uniformed headgear?     Is she visualising the bonnet with the feather?    Some period movie?  No hats, I say firmly.    She looks disappointed.

While we are there on the same floor is another bride-to-be having the final fitting of her wedding dress – one of the boned bodice, bouffant skirted affairs.    She looks very pretty in it.    But we are astonished to see that she is accompanied by  her fiancé, who is consulted on various points.

It was a most interesting  experience, but I look forward to helping Elisabeth (if she wishes) to choose her dress in England!



About adhocannie
I am a good natured woman with a long memory and a swift tongue. I like loooking at things and thinking about them. Also food, clothes, travel, reading, sewing. I try to see the ridiculous in things, but sobriety of reflection keeps edgting in. I have husband, children, grandchildren, friends... I feel rich in things that matter. I am a happy exile. I like writing. I do not like talking about me (though I do.). You willl be much more interesting.

4 Responses to And the Bride Wore

  1. Robert says:

    Hi Anne,

    Very impressive developments on the blog front! Glad to see the plans come to fruition. I have now added the RSS feed for your blog to my RSS reader (basically I get an update every time you write a new post).

    Lots of love,


  2. nan wylie says:

    Hi Anne,

    Loved the “…And the Bride Wore..” blog. Fascinating. I have adopted Robert’s modus operandi of adding the RSS feed for your blog to my reader for immediate updates.



    PS adhocannie is, as a ruby – multifaceted.

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