Fourteen years ago today I married She Who Must Be Obeyed after some paperwork, a bit of confusion and a small temper tantrum. We count that as our first wedding ceremony and our official anniversary. Ten months later we’d finally be finished having weddings.
The initial confusion was a result of us actually researching the issue of marriage rather than following our instincts. The instructions seemed simple: bring paperwork XYZ for both partners and the foreign guy needs to bring his Residence Card. In neither the English nor the Japanese instructions we read (from different sources) was a passport mentioned. In fact, for foreigners with visas, the Residence Card and not the passport is considered the official ID. We packed up all our stuff–sans passport–and headed to Niigata for our marriage.
Of course, local officials immediately demanded a passport. We showed every instruction and guide book we had, in two languages, and that my passport number was, in fact, on my Residence Card. After careful consideration, the staff sent us away and went off, we thought, to process our marriage documents. We returned a while later to find the man we’d been arguing with talking on a phone. I cringed for a moment because I feared we were about to encounter wakarimasen dekimasen and The Phone Rule. Unfortunately I was correct.
A few minutes after that, the official showed us a passage in a book that said they could accept a passport. We then entered a brief Bible Verse Context Debate. I pointed out the passage before that passage stated that the passport could be accepted IF NO OTHER ID EXISTED. They said: “Yeah, how about that. Passport please.” We filled out everything we could and, once I got home, I mailed a copy of my passport to them and they backdated our marriage to May 26th.
About three months after that we flew to the USA and brought along She Who Must Be Obeyed’s family (known as They Who Look At Dwayne And Shake Their Heads And Sigh). We had a church ceremony after events that, like all things to that point, involved bureaucracy and my late paternal grandmother leaving her church over their bull– er, their bureaucracy. The church we ended up in, though, was great and everyone had a great time. Everyone decided that my brother-in-law was actually Jackie Chan and he exploited the confusion for a great many free drinks and a part in at least one straight to video movie (something like that). We then had a nice honeymoon, minus They Who Look At Dwayne And Shake Their Heads And Sigh, in Vancouver, Canada.
Finally, in March of 2001, we brought my mother and step-father over to Japan for our Japanese ceremony. From what I’ve heard, the Japanese ceremony and reception were great and that my mom actually sang for the first time in years. However, Japanese custom required She Who Must Be Obeyed and me to miss most of the ceremony whilst we changed clothes. It was one of those situations where everyone is all smiles as you bow and exit the room and then once the doors are closed the smiles disappear and they start shouting “move your ass move your ass clock is ticking clock is ticking you’re not the only one getting married here today maggots move your ass move your ass.”
My years of acting classes had prepared me for quick changes and putting on smiles for the crowd as soon as the door opens. However, it didn’t prepare me for missing my own wedding dinner. Granted, they brought food out for us, but then the speeches started which meant we weren’t supposed to eat. Luckily, my short 10 days in Air Force Officer’s Training School taught me to eat fast, meaning I actually got to finish my meal. Although they would bring the scraps to our hotel room, She Who Must Be Obeyed never actually got her entire meal. Instead she got stuck with me which, well, yeah. Well.
We then had two beautiful girls who, after some careful discussion, especially recently, we’ve decided to keep. At least for now.