Just wow. Like seriously, wow.
That’s pretty much all I said for 5 minutes when Pheigi & Kiichiro’s Japanese/Scottish fusion wedding hit my inbox this week. I almost don’t know where to begin telling their epic wedding story, luckily for me the bride explained it a lot better than I ever could. The couple actually had two weddings – the first in Japan in July 2009 and the second (pictured) in Scotland in September 2010.
“My new Hubby and I actually got married in Japan (where we live) in 2009. We went to the city office and signed lots of forms to update my alien registration card, change his official address and get hitched. Which one of those forms was actually my marriage certificate I still don’t know. I wore my mothers 1970’s full length purple embroidered waistcoat over my purple cord flares and after we went to the crazy Japanese arcade on our street and had photos taken in the hello kitty photo booth. Much fun yet somewhat lacking in romance. We thus decided to come home to Scotland and have another celebration with my family, which we did in September. Planning my wedding from Japan was hard to say the least, especially as I wanted something a little different from the norm, and the whole thing became more of a disappointment as I spent hours trawling through ugly dresses, bland invites and over the top bling, until a good friend with similar problems directed me to your site. From then on I visited your site nearly every other day to remind myself that there were options other than white wedding package A, B or C and so in turn I am sending you my wedding in hope that it may help other brides in the UK realise the same and give them a wee break from the monotony of the wedding industry. I hope you like.”
“I came home to Scotland in 2009 to start looking for a wedding venue as I knew that it would be my only chance to see somewhere before I actually returned to get married. I wanted to have a rustic wedding in a barn or something similar but Kiichiro insisted that if he was bringing his family from Japan they were not going to sit in a barn. He then threw down his one condition, that we get married in a Scottish castle. Thus my Mother, two of my sisters and myself packed ourselves into a car and went on a road trip from Glasgow through Inverness and up into the highlands visiting every castle on our way. The castles were GORGEOUS but most were way out of our budget and the ones we could afford were never quite right. We returned to my sisters house in Ayr two days later more than a little dejected. My eldest sister then suggested that we go and look at a castle a few miles down the road that I had never heard of so we all, rather grudgingly, got back into the car and drove the few miles to Blairquhan Castle. As we turned on to the three mile drive my spirits lifted a little. The river Irvine shaded by huge mossy trees was running alongside the road that was covered in confused pheasants (they obviously weren’t used to cars on their road) and at the end of the road the imposing face of Blairquhan showed itself. This is no fairytale castle this is a big Scottish “don’t even think of attacking me” castle. Perfect. Add to this the huge front lawn, boating pond complete with ducks and geese, walled garden and acres and acres of forest and we had the perfect venue. They had even converted all the old stable buildings into holiday cottages so all my friends and family came for a wee three day break over the wedding weekend.”
Pheigi was decided underwhelmed by traditional wedding dresses so decided to make her perfect gown herself instead. “I went to try on wedding dresses with my best friend imagining we were going to have that movie moment where I would find “the dress” and we would both cry,” she told me. “We did cry…with laughter as I looked friggin’ ridiculous. Most of the dresses were as wide as I am tall making me look like a sequined taffeta square.”
“I am originally from the Isle of Lewis famous for its tweed and I am milliner who works almost exclusively with the lovely fabric so it made sense that my dress too would be woolen. And so I set about making my brown and green steampunk-esque mermaid, corseted, bustled, leopard print lined wedding gown. This was the first dress I have ever made and I couldn’t find a pattern I liked so I made it up as I went along. I am sure a seamstress would have kittens if she looked closely but I was happy with how it turned out and on the wedding day outside in Scotland in September I was very happy to be wrapped up in tweed. The fabric was woven for me by Callum Maclean of butt of Lewis textiles who was very helpful in offering me tweed and wool samples to make sure I got exactly what I was looking for.”
“My gold Celtic headband was my something old as it was the headband my eldest sister had made for us to wear as her bridesmaids. I had originally decide that I wanted to wear a top hat but looking around I could find nothing I liked and those willing to make one for me were all very expensive so I decided to make my own. Instead of a hat I went with an olive green birdcage veil with massive pheasant and peacock feathers which matched the colour of my tweed and my Mother’s outfit perfectly (I also made her a matching hat). The lack of variety I encountered while searching for my wedding outfit frustrated me so much that I have spent the last year and a half teaching myself millinery and very recently opened a shop on etsy selling my tweed pillbox hats and alternative bridal veils.”
In honour of his wife’s Scottish heritage, Kiichiro wanted to wear a kilt. “Kiichiro decided early on that he wanted to wear a kilt so we sat down with a tartan sample book and to my delight he chose my family tartan (Ancient Macdonald of the Isles muted hunting) with a charcoal tweed waistcoat and jacket to match” continued the Pheigi. “We had the whole outfit made by Philip King in Aberdeen. My sister Morag knitted his kilt socks. His Brogues (shoes) came from ebay as did his amazing Tibetan goat sporran. His plaid brooch was form pewtermill crafts. His kilt pin was red deer antler as was his sgian dubh both from Comrie Crafts.”
The outdoor ceremony was a very meaningful one. Pheigi explained, ” I do not belong to an organised faith and my husband is Buddhist, so the choice of Church, registry office or humanist ceremony didn’t really fit. We were already legally married so I decided to write the ceremony myself and my sister Eilidh acted as officiant on the day. I based the ceremony on the Celtic Scottish tradition of hand fasting so we got married under a HUGE tree with our family and friends standing in a circle around us. Instead of bridesmaids I had my 4 corners to represent the elements, my best friend and nephew read poems, my uncle gave us a blessing in Gaelic (my family’s mother tongue), my Aunt (married over 40 years) welcomed us to married life and held the broomstick for us to jump over and enter married life before we welcomed our guests with a dram from our wedding quaich. After the wedding we surprised our guests with a band of hairy drummers who led them from our tree to the walled garden of the castle where we played games and ate canapés while drinking sparkly on picnic blankets. As it was cold I had set up a tea bar offering herbal and Japanese tea for people to keep warm. We had a sit down meal in the castle where myself, my mother, the groom and the best man (who doesn’t speak English) gave speeches. Our first dance was a swing dance to Hey sailor by the Detroit Cobras. My friend officially opened the bar by reading a poem about the SS politician (the whisky filled boat that sank off the coast of Bara and led to the film Whisky galore). We had a traditional Scottish Ceilidh then played with sky lanterns and sparklers.”
To keep thing personal, the couple wanted to DIY a lot of their reception details. “I did so much by myself and on the day it was a little heart breaking to see that most people don’t notice all the tiny details that you put in. I noticed them however and it made my day better,” the bride continued. “Doing everything by yourself is hard work and can be really stressful. The night before the wedding as I was trying to cover seats, make flowers, arrange tables and welcome my guests the word fun was far, far away. However my favorite memory of the day was a DIY moment. At 6am on the morning of the wedding Kiichiro came and woke me up to go and decorate our wedding tree. This tree was on a small lawn through a little piece of forest. The branches were huge and came all the way down to sweep the floor making it feel like you were standing under a huge leafy umbrella. It was so big that all our 80 guests could happily stand in a circle and still be enclosed in our green bubble. We decorated it with ribbons, origami cranes on thread and candles hanging in jam jars. At 6am as the mist was starting to lift off the grass and the sun was so low in the sky you had to squint I remember standing under my massive tree, ribbon in hand, and watching the sleepy faces of my sisters and mother wander out of the forest to help us.”
Finally, the bride summed up to me why their wedding was perfect for them. “I didn’t choose to have a different wedding. I don’t want to be different for the sake of being different. I just didn’t like any of the wedding stuff that was out there. I found the whole wedding process to be disappointing and frustrating as I flipped through wedding magazines and websites and found absolutely nothing I liked. The few things I did find I couldn’t afford. It broke my heart. Not for one second did I consider the white wedding just for ease. In one way I had it very easy. My family was awesome. No one questioned any of my decisions. No one made negative comments and during the day no one person (within my earshot) asked “what the f**k is going on?”. Without their help there wouldn’t have been a wedding.”