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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Another friend's wedding

My friends keep getting married. I was invited to a wedding as a normal guest (not as a performer, though I did end up performing too) and had a good time. My friend who also does magic as a hobby had a very nice wedding, wearing a suit I helped pick out (why on earth anyone would ask me for fashion advice remains a mystery, but it turned out fine).

The ceremony in the wedding chapel was nice. Once thing that was really cool was that suddenly the big doors were opened, the bright light from outside poured in, and then a white owl came swooping into the chapel. It sped down the aisle and landed next to the bride and groom. This owl came bearing the rings for them to exchange. This was the first time I saw an owl bring the rings.

Since I know the groom since many years back, and the bride since over a year too, there were some people at this wedding that I knew. Most weddings I have been to, there have been at most one person outside the bride and groom that I knew, but here I had four people at my table that I had met before. Two of them I had even seen several times.

I managed to get a photo of the bouquet being tossed into the air. The girl who caught the flowers sat across from me at the wedding party later. She had also asked me for some help before the wedding, but we never had time to meet (people who work in Japan do not have much spare time), so that ended up being done over the Internet.

The paper art was hand cut by the bride and groom themselves, which must have been a lot of work (there were about 100 guests attending).
The groom is holding a (fake) dove that he sometimes uses in magic, but since he is wearing white, no one notices this unless told.

Japanese weddings usually start with a ceremony in a Christian looking wedding chapel (some of which are probably actually Christian chapels, but since almost no one, less than one percent of the population, is Christian here, mostly these are only used for weddings and have no Christian ties except the design choices). Then there is a reception in a restaurant, that usually includes many dishes of western food. There is also a wedding cake, and the couple cutting the cake together is one of the big events. Usually the groom gives the bride the first bite of the cake with a small spoon, and then the bride gives the groom the second bite with a huge spoon.

There is also a lot of photo taking, some speeches, and the bride and groom and/or their parents walk around to all the tables thanking people for showing up by pouring them drinks. It is also common that close friends that have special talents do performances (playing the violin etc.). Then, there is a "second party", which mainly includes the friends of the bride and groom. For the earlier parts, family and relatives are always invited, as are people you work with (especially your boss, who for some reason has to be invited even if you do not like or know your colleagues very well). The closest people then go on for a third, fourth, etc. party too.

This time, the groom had asked me to do magic at the reception. He wanted us to do some magic together. It is not that common that the bride or groom do performances, but since the bride was going to be playing saxophone at the reception, he also wanted to do something. We built and practiced a stage illusion that we might be able to pull off in a room where we were completely surrounded and where the audience was about 1 meter from us...

In the end, the magic went OK, but not at all according to plan. We had been to the restaurant several times to rehearse, and one of the girls working there had practiced with us and was in charge of changing the music at the right times. Our illusion had three main parts: the groom showing that nothing suspicious was going on, the groom changing a handkerchief into a wand, and me appearing by magic. This was cut down to the groom doing the first half of showing that nothing suspicious was going on and then me suddenly appearing, since the girl switched to sound to the final drum roll at the wrong time, haha.

The illusion part turned out OK, and it was probably funnier this way since I came out completely unprepared and thus had a funny face. Next, I was supposed to produce some fake money with the bride and groom on the bills, but since I was not prepared for that yet, that did not go well.

Then the bride picked some cards from a deck of cards with the names of everyone that had come and a short message from them to the bride and groom. The people she drew then received presents, and the last person received a special magic trick as her present. The groom took her card with her name, and in the end this card ended up inside an unopened PET-bottle. This part of the magic went very well, so the start and the finish were fine, and that is always good. The middle was not great, but it is probably more memorable when things go wrong but end up OK than if everything goes according to plan, so it was not a bad thing.

The girls who was supposed to bring the handkerchief that the groom was supposed to turn into a wand came up to us when we were removing our stuff from the performance space and said: "The timing of the sounds was completely wrong, right?", since she never got her cue to bring her things. We confirmed that, and she said she was very sorry that they had screwed up our performance. I said that such things happen and it was no big deal since everything turned out fine.

When I came out of the dressing room after putting our secret stuff away, she again came up to me and apologized profusely for their mistakes. After the reception was over and we were getting into a bus to go to the second party, she apologized to me again. Another, even higher ranking, woman also came up to me when we were in the wedding chapel (which we passed on the way to the second party, so people could pick up their bags and other things they may have left there) and apologized to me again.

After our magic, the bride and one of her brass band friends played some music. They were very good, of course, and it was also impressive that she could play a brass instrument while wearing the very tight corset of her dress.

During the dessert break, the groom asked me to do some table magic for his nieces. I did a very short trick that they liked, but then we ran out of time. Japanese weddings, like Japanese vacation trips, are scheduled very tightly, and there is almost no time for unscheduled activities. I dropped one of my magic rabbits at their table (I think), which someone found and gave back to me when I was leaving the restaurant.

Before leaving for the second party, there was a candle relay, were everyone lit candles in a relay. These candles were hand made by the bride and groom, which seemed like a lot of work. There were also speeches, from relatives of the groom, from his father, from the bride, and from the groom. Japanese weddings usually have the bride reading a letter out loud to her parents, thanking them for taking care of her up til now etc. These are usually made so that everyone starts crying, and this time lots of people cried. The bride is usually crying heavily too, and this time was no exception.

When the groom later held a speech where he thanked everyone for coming, he also got very teary eyed and had problems getting the words out. He went to a comedy school when he was younger, so the speech was actually full of funny things ("I never thought I would make friends with a weird Swedish guy" for one thing), but since he was pretty much crying, the only people laughing were my table, haha.

Champagne tower
More cake at the second party
At the second party, he started crying again during his speech there. This time he was emotional because he was introducing his best friend who was going to propose to his girlfriend then and there (and she accepted).

Bread baked to look like caricatures of the bride and groom!
Then there was a third party, where the groom cried again. Very emotional day for him, I guess.

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