Catching the last rays of sunshine on a lovely warm spring afternoon, Tim and I sat on our patio listening to the sounds of smooth Latin jazz floating through the air, and watched hummingbirds as they gracefully danced around bushes and wildflowers, sipping water from the fountain in our backyard.
I was daydreaming and riding a musical cloud until Tim’s voice interrupted my dream and brought me back to terra firma. “How would you like to visit Tokyo” he asked, smiling.
My answer was immediate. “Oh, I’d love to,” I said, enthusiastically. “I always wanted to go to Japan.”
Tim worked as a translator in Tokyo for several years after college. Yasahiro, a former colleague and friend, called to ask if he would stand in as surrogate best man at his upcoming Gatsby-inspired wedding.
Oh, I had to admit that I was totally intrigued and wanted to hear more.
“How about I open a bottle of our favorite Spanish wine?” Tim asked.
“Brilliant! I’d like that,” I answered. “And let’s have some cheese and crisps, as well.”
For the next hour or so we sat outside on the patio and talked. Or rather, Tim talked and I listened attentively, sipping Albariño and nibbling on Cropwell White Stilton with spicy ginger and mango pieces.
“And, you know,” Tim went on, “when the epic and romantic movie Great Gatsby was released, Yasahiro and Aiko dressed up in their 1920s finest to attend the gala opening. They are voracious readers and huge fans of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age masterpiece, The Great Gatsby.” He paused. “Tokyo has a vibrant jazz scene. The group went to a jazz club jam session afterwards and danced until the wee hours of the morning.”
Isn’t it lovely, I thought, sipping my wine that Tim’s friends will pay homage to the revered author’s most celebrated pieces of American literature with an Art Deco glitz inspired wedding celebration.
“Oh, Yasahiro and Aiko’s wedding sounds like fun and it’s bound to be a dazzling soirée,” I said, smiling, “and one of the perks from hanging around with interesting people, you know.”
“Shall we go in?” Tim asked.
I looked at my watch and shook my head. It was just 7:30 on a moonless evening, so Tim lit the fire pit and we sat around a crackling fire and reminisced about our non-traditional wedding held at our rustic one-room log cabin with breathtaking views of the Sacramento Mountains of southern New Mexico. With a justice of the peace officiating and five dear friends in attendance, we celebrated our commitment to each other surrounded by nature and wildlife in our backyard. It was quite apropos to our lifestyle at the time — living the American Dream off the grid in “The Land of Enchantment.”
We arrived in Tokyo during cherry blossom season, just when the wedding season was fully underway, so all the rooms at the luxury boutique hotel were fully booked. Yasahiro and Aiko were expecting us and met us in the hotel lobby. The private Shinto wedding ceremony with family, they shared in perfect accented English, had taken place earlier in the week at the Meiji Jungu Shrine.
The upcoming fun western theme wedding with all the trimmings was a chance for them to party with friends and colleagues. It was the latest craze with up and coming young professional Japanese brides and grooms; and, if needed, fake friends were hired to impress family and friends, and pad the wedding guest list. Westerners living in Tokyo, Yasahiro and Aiko shared, were very much in demand and hired to stand in as surrogate best men and fake reverends. Then, in an interesting twist, Aiko asked me to be her surrogate maid of honor. I was, of course, quite taken with Aiko’s request and accepted the honor. The elegant floor-length cocktail dress I had brought along for Gatsby-inspired faux nuptials was perfect.
When the jazz quartet began playing, “I Only Have Eyes For You,” Aiko slowly walked down the aisle carrying a single long-stemmed red rose. She was stunning in an ivory colored satin gown; it was simple and elegant. Yasahiro wore traditional black tuxedo, complete with a black vest and black bow tie; he smiled proudly. Albert, a visiting professor and faculty colleague of Aiko, was all smiles holding a Bible as he officiated at the non-binding ceremony. Yasahiro and Aiko said their vows flawlessly and exchanged wedding rings. They sealed the fake wedding with a kiss and walked down the aisle to the reception salon. The décor was minimal highlighting the stunning venue – crystal chandelier, Art Deco classic white marble floor, and elegant gold and silver tall wedding candelabra centerpieces surrounded by exquisite floral arrangements held in crystal bowls. Waiters in formal attire and white gloves circulated with sterling silver trays of crystal flutes with chilled French bubbly.
Much to everyone’s surprise, Yasahiro and Aiko danced the first dance to the rhythmical samba. A popular Tokyo jazz quartet played “O Grande Amor,” the great love, a lively and hauntingly beautiful Brazilian tune where samba meets jazz. It was a stellar performance by the young and popular power couple at this glam and glitz wedding soirée.
When the jazz quartet announced the last dance of the evening and began to play, “The Best Is Yet To Come,” everyone was on the dance floor. Tim smiled and whispered, “Now that our best man and maid of honor gigs are over,” he went on, “let’s take the high-speed shinkansen, bullet train to Kyoto and spend a few days exploring Japanese architecture, temples and gardens.”
I smiled. “Did you know Kyoto is also a popular must go to destination for Japanese women who are willing to pay big bucks for a head-to-toe geisha makeover?”
Tim looked surprised. “So, you want to be a fake geisha for a day?”
I nodded my head yes. “You won’t be disappointed,” I added. Impulsively, I looked up and kissed Tim, and we both laughed.