“Koi to seki to wa kakusarenu.” ~ Japanese Proverb (Love conquers all…)
Japan. This photo journey has truly been one of infinite surprises, love, and utter enchantment. And our recent wedding stories speak to the heart of this. Our path this spring has been firmly entrenched on the Virgin Road (aka the aisle)…and we are loving every minute of it. Whether it is in a stunning hotel, a quaint church, outdoors, on a roof or in the chicest Tokyo venue… we never quite know what’s next. And isn’t that the beauty of life? And love? And the future? You never quite know. Expect the unexpected and all that… And so today’s featured wedding checks all these boxes. It was perhaps the most emotional we have ever been involved in, for reasons we cannot go into here. It ran the absolute gamut of emotions. It was ethereal, tinged with moments so powerful and rituals so meaningful we can only imagine the complexity. It was both stunning and poignant at its core. A brilliant blue Kobe sky bringing together two hearts simply meant to be. Regardless. Saegi & Andy. We absolutely couldn’t wait after the special experience we’d had together in the double or nothing e-sessions here and here. So south to Kansai we went and on with the first Wedding affair. Quintessentially Japanese from start to the beautiful farewell. And so the getting-ready ceremony begins…
Saegi – you are adorable even in curlers at 6am, but as the transformation begins and the nerves settles down and we have our girls chat you materialize into a vision. This whole process is just so different from western weddings. Everything has its place, its order, its way. Hair is curled and then meticulously tucked away under a delicate cap. The body is powered. The lips are lined. Then lined again. The ornate headpiece is adorned after much ado about the exact placement. Re-adjusted a millimeter and then re-adjusted again. And then fold after fold after fold of kimono is donned. Words cannot convey your magic presence once ready – we were all breathless among the smiles and tears. We hope the photos touch on it just a little.
Meanwhile in a room/cubicle nearby Andy begins his transformation. Double dressers whisk him into a groomdom. With that final image of him waiting in the hallway for his bride-to-be just achingly real and so reflective of the day.
And then it was off to the in-house studio for the formal portraits. Naturally we pretty much snuck in, but there were smiles and eye-contact of approval – on some level – eventually. Just a few moments for some behind-the-scenes shots of a truly fascinating process…
Then it was time. Time for the taxi to take the couple to the shrine. And get this show on the road to officialness. A ride peppered with nerves and some truly beautiful moments between bride and groom.
A brief meeting with family and friends in separate rooms and some quiet moments before the ceremony begins. With instructions from the Shrine attendants, the formal introduction of families and a little tea. Always time for tea.
And then it was time to walk on that infamous virgin road. Saegi was a dream. She parted the crowds and everyone just stopped. So did time. We have so many intense images from this series but will share just a few…
The shrine itself was astonishing. Steeped in family tradition. Among the oldest shrines the whole country, dating back to the 3rd century AD. How amazing for us to have the chance to photograph here. The light was incredible, even on this most sunny of days and at noon. We’d done a whirlwind tour upon arrival to get a sense of the layout. Where the main ceremony would take place a massive white shade acted like a dreamlike soft-box. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect location. And amazingly the staff were so lovely and so accommodating we were actually not confined to the regular unrelenting list of rules and regulations we usually come up against. We could basically go where we liked, as far as the steps. Go on Kobe. Let us loose.
Somewhere in there they became Husband and Wife.
Then we could celebrate with some photo time. You know, just to ourselves… and ALL the guests. Under that dazzling blue sky the moments were tangible, infused with joy, a dash of relief and every emotion in between. It was so hot…but with eyes for each other nothing else mattered. The pace not as frantic as usual, with just time…to take it all in.
The taxi ride back to the Hotel Okura was substantially more relaxed than the previous journey. There were smiles. A lot of smiles. And laughs. And our first stop was the stunningly maintained hotel gardens for more photos. The azaleas in radiant bloom. The wind in our hair. Everyone up for what we do. Furisode Kimonos in the breeze. Our homage, a take on Japanese bridesmaids, if you will. Hearts in the air, love all around. Such a treat to have this much time with our cameras.
Time for a little break in and around the hotel before the reception. The doting kimono-clad attendants were suggesting all manner of standard locations for a nice shot – another garden perhaps? We had a few other ideas in mind… And as such we were very mezurashii...(a nice way of saying unusual…)
We left our gorgeous couple for a little alone time while we got on to documenting the details in the elegant Crystal room. Where the intimate reception would be held soon. All the while a kimono change was taking place elsewhere.
And then Saegi appears again. A vision again now in an exquisite red Kimono. With this time around just a few quick moments for photos.
With heartfelt and deep thanks the reception finally came to an end…
And yet this was just the beginning…the beginning of Wedding week – there will be more to come! What’s better than one wedding? Two of course. Tokyo is next. And of course most importantly and significantly it is the start of a beautiful life together. Choices made and achingly affirmed. A course set, steered by love, light, tradition, the honoring of customs and pure happiness. In the end. And heart. Always strength of heart. And a wave and a signature Saegi air-kiss to send us off.
Saegi & Andy, we can never express enough what being part of this day (especially) meant to us. It is still overwhelming. We will follow you anywhere. Tokyo here we ALL come. With champagne and tissues. Galore. With love, Trace & Dee