“Above all things, I believe in love. Love is like oxygen. Love is a many-splendored thing. Love lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love!” ~ Christian, Moulin Rouge!
And so we start Wedding Season with love….True love. And magic. And incredible surprises. And a groom on a roof. Because after all it is a wedding. In Japan. And we knew it was going to be beautiful, elegant, chic and just a whole lot of fun after our engagement session from last year. Saya & Jeff, thank you for a truly special day. It was an epic story, with laughter, meaning and tears, all on Girls’ Day. And if ever there was a modern-day princess it was Saya. She was a vision. Enveloped in love, family, friends and at one point a most fabulous limo. Get ready for ride. And a modern fairytale, with a beautiful ending, which is of course just the beginning.
We start with the rehearsal in the very grand and welcoming Gloria Chapel, in Shinagawa. The light stunning, the feeling beyond excited. Jitters for sure, but so warm and honestly one of the very rare occasions in Japan where we were free to photograph as we wished. No restrictions at all in a venue this large. It was beyond liberating and we cannot thank Saya & Jeff, the Pastor and all involved for allowing us this treat and for trusting us in this way.
And then it’s time to get ready. And the couple separate. Waiting to reunite very soon. We hear wedding bells… It won’t be long now. And here is Saya’s prologue. With her girls. So fabulous and special to have bridesmaids and a bridal party, which is not so common in Japan. The room was a whirl of activity. So much laughter, fun and excitement. At one point I think there were 8 of us somehow squeezed in a room the size of a cubicle. And then Saya appeared from behind her petite dressing corner. And she silenced us all. A breathtaking vision in her gown, that beautiful headpiece ribbon and a most gorgeous early spring bouquet. And then the reactions started and the squeals of delight…with lots of “kirei’s” (beautiful!) and “ohime-sama mitai” (you look like a princess) and yes, there were some tears too, between all the joy.
Meanwhile… one floor down… a very nervous Jeff was dealing with finishing touches as the pastor gave the countdown and some last-minute advice. We had literally less than 2 mins to quickly shoot these moments. Attending to the braces, very classic, very cool. And then it was go-time. And he was ready.
Showtime. Jeff didn’t have to wait long. His beautiful bride was so on time and simply….ready…to…go…and meet him. I don’t think there was a dry eye as she walked down the aisle on the arm of her very proud father. And then there was Jeff, trying to keep it together, mesmerized by his vision of a bride. The ceremony was so poignant, full of touching, tender moments. But not without a little bit of drama when the rings couldn’t be located straight away. They were soon found (just hidden from view on the table), which resulted in a lot of relieved laughter. The ceremony was punctuated by heartfelt vows, music and emotional performances, a unity candle, and both reflection and celebration. And 2 kisses… they didn’t need much encouragement after being named man and wife to give us all a double you-may-now-kiss-the-bride moment. And here are the highlights, from the aisle, from the rafters, from inside and outside. So LOVE the group shot at the end… Seriously, just LOVED it all. Here comes the bride…
Tears of joy all around…it’s officially official!! Mr & Mrs Jeff & Saya. The ring is ON the finger. It was an emotional, joyous ending to just the start of the rest of a most fabulous day. And time for just a few photos church-side before a rather spectacular limo (another rare sight in Tokyo…just don’t go down a tiny backstreet in one…) picked up the Bridal Party en-route to the reception by way of some more formal group shots along Icho Namiki Dori.
So love this one…
And then we had a very brief (and again rare chance) to photograph the Bridal Party for about 10 mins along this most iconic of Tokyo avenues. A different kind of view this season, devoid of the ginko leaves. The party caused quite a sensation and as such a crowd – who didn’t think twice about photo-bombing almost every shot…although you’d never know it from our rather creative cropping. We certainly had a whole lot of photo fun, while we tried to keep the girls warm. And yes, they may have been bubbles along the way. And now onto the reception…at the utterly divine, famed and most gorgeous Aoyama Geihinkan…
Whisked up the stunning red-carpeted stairs we made it to Aoyama Gehinkan. It was exquisite. The staff so welcoming, the service, the details, the decor sublime. The T&G team ahhhh-mazing. We were simply so excited to have the opportunity to work here, a dream come true. Inspiration and elegance around every corner. We had again just a few moments to photograph the couple before the guests arrived for the reception. Private, just us and them and all the moments in between.
And then a few touch ups before the welcoming toast and the party gets started. So love this quiet, calm moment with Saya, before it all begins. She is such a triple threat of loveliness. At this point we may ask “Where is Jeff…?” Anybody worried? All will be revealed soon.
All ready for the first entrance. Yet, NO Jeff… Where could he be? And so the doors open and Saya is again enchanting as she walks in to greet her guests. She walks alone into the beautiful chapel we had taken the couple portraits previously…But this time…
…Well this time…the roof began to retract (seriously…) and revealed the sky. And then….drum roll…Jeff appeared on top of it! Champagne in hand. Now, that is an entrance and a TOAST. And a most fabulous way to start a reception. The guest reactions were priceless. Reception. Oh. So. On!
Yes, in the grounds of Aoyama Geihinkan a turquoise pool features. So after the poolside meet and greet Saya went to change…this time for her grand entrance. And the next dress…speechless…It was inspired. She was dazzling. The reception now fully underway, the details delicious, the florals, that CAKE and table settings a burst of color, translating into love. This was one happy room.
In a little lull between speeches, course and more surprises to come we quickly grabbed Saya & Jeff for a romantic moment poolside. Giving them a little time-out and creating our favorite series. Full of light, love and the promise of all things to come…
Then it was time for the first dance. I think they would still be dancing, lost in each other if they could. A first dance is only a first dance if there is more to come, so they were soon joined by family and guests. Light up the dance floor. Which was followed by a captivating, heartfelt performance by Saya and her friends. A tribute to love…Take a bow…With that came the very emotional final speeches and thank yous…Again it was hard to focus through the tears. The very happy reception line at the end helped with that. And then it was the end, but of course the beginning of the rest of their life together.
Saya & Jeff, thank you for such an incredible experience. You are simply meant to be. You dovetail each other. And you are nothing if not soul-mates with sparkle. We so loved being part of this very special, most fabulous of days and telling your story. From start to finish. We seriously cannot wait to see what happens next. If it is anything like the start it will the sheer magic.
With love, Dee & Trace x