It wasn’t much, but we finally did the damn thing on August 29, at the Toshima-ku Ward Office in Tokyo.
We weren’t expecting to make a big deal out of it, since we’ll be doing a ‘ceremony’ (with no one there) when we go to New Zealand in February for our honeymoon. Somewhere cool. Like in a national park or on top of a mountain, or something like that.
But when my friend Hitomi, who made the dress, said that it would be ready by August, I felt like I couldn’t just wear the little off-white back-up dress I’d bought. So we went full-Monty and just did it as fully as we could.
So on the day, we had 2 witnesses: Hitomi and her daughter Haruka, who was a flower-girl of sorts, and our friend Mikako, along with our friend Geb, who photographed all of the tiny little affair.
I went to get my hair cut and styled that morning at my salon, and Geb met me there. Poor guy watched me get my hair cut! But we talked about what was coming up, and what we wanted to do, and he filmed me answering some questions for a video he was going to make, so it was time well-spent.
Then we took a taxi to the station, took a train to Ikebukuro, and took another taxi, which got lost, to the Ward Office.
We met everyone on the 3rd floor and then I went into the handicapped bathroom with Hitomi to put on the dress, do my makeup, etc. It was all so damn romantic. But it made perfect sense, since our lives have never been perfect or what was expected, and just about every dress fitting I’d had with Hitomi for the dress had taken place in a handicapped bathroom at a train station.
We actually weren’t even sure if they would LET us get married, which is why we didn’t really want to make a big deal of it beforehand, or invite anyone to join us.
Basically, every time we go in there to do something, we’re missing some paperwork or have filled in some form wrong. So we went in and didn’t know if we’d walk out married.
I tried to lower the risk of that happening by going in two weeks earlier, on my day off, with all of the forms that I thought we needed. I was told then that we needed translations of 3 of the forms, so our friend Rika did that for us. When we walked in on the day, we had everything that I thought we needed: except for one form, which had not been translated, which no one had told me about.
Thankfully, we were able to get on with it because Hitomi just sat down and translated the form right at the desk, in front of the officials! And they allowed it! Thank goodness.
Then, they told us that we would have to wait for an hour while they looked over all of the forms, and then made their decision.
So in that time, we went to try and take some photos. We had NO IDEA where to go and thought we’d just end up taking them on the street in front of the office building. When we got to the elevator, there was a sign for a ‘park’ on the 10th floor. So we thought we should go check it out, and see if it was any good.
It was great! So we took just about all of the ‘wedding photos’ we could in 45 minutes, then went downstairs to the ground floor, sat in a cafe eating cakes and drinking tea, and then went back up to the desk to see if we’d been called.
And when they finally called us back to the desk, with the interpreter in tow, the man said he would ‘accept our application’.
And we said, ‘ok, what does that mean’?
The interpreter said, ‘It means you can be married’.
And we said, ‘Great! When?’.
And she said, ‘Oh, you’re married now’.
Well, great. Congratulations! We calculated the time it took them to tell us all of that, and it came to 4:31pm. So we were officially married, I guess, at 4:31 pm.
And after that, we sat around waiting and taking numbers for another few hours: for the marriage certificates. For the copies to be made. For my new health insurance card, which I needed now that I was married. For the new payment slips for the health insurance card (my payments went down by $10 each month, GOOOOO marriage!), etc.
It was all just so goddamn romantic. I didn’t know what to do with myself.
After that, we were all hungry, so we decided to go get something to eat.
While the taxi driver was getting lost in the streets near the ward office, we’d passed an [A] Pizza, which is Mark’s and my favourite pizza place. So we walked the 2 blocks over to the restaurant, and had our little wedding dinner there.
And it was great. We had a good time, we had some good friends with us, and we did it our way. No immigration offices, no invasive questions, no checking to make sure it wasn’t a sham marriage, like the US or UK would have surely done.
Exactly as it’s always been, exactly as it always will be.
We are both a little sad that we couldn’t do it surrounded by friends and family in a bigger ceremony, but this was what worked for us. The entire thing cost us less than $1,000, thanks to the kindness and generosity of our friends, and we were able to do it in the easiest (no, really!) way possible.
We plan to celebrate with our friends and family in the US and UK once we are back in town. But this couldn’t have been done any other way.
We’re thankful for all of the kind wishes and notes we’ve received congratulating us, and sorry we weren’t even sure ourselves of the date or time we’d get married in advance.
But, yay! Married!