Vow Renewal Ceremony
PhotographySimon Bonny - https://www.simonbonny.com
Cover PhotoRoss Harrison
Our penultimate job of the year was a Garden Vow Renewal Ceremony for a fun-loving Californian couple, who were marking their first wedding anniversary. It was a ceremony filled with lots of laughter, as this fun-loving couple, decided to “wing” their vows. Yet, despite the laughter and jollity, it was very moving, and even brought about a few tears. Though the “bride” was quick to insist it was just a pollen allergy!
They had contacted us about a month in advance, for a vow renewal ceremony in Tokyo. And, since this was to be their first trip to Japan, they were very excited. Initially they wanted a New Years Eve ceremony, since this was the actual day they got married. However, due to Japanese New Year’s holiday dates, this was moved up to the 27th December. All gardens and venues close between the last working day of the year and the 2nd or 3rd of January.
After reviewing the garden options, they were quick to settle on Otaguro as their first choice. Personally, I was very happy about this, as I had been wanting to use this garden ever since we first discovered it back on a scorching hot day in July. As you enter the garden you walk through a stunning tall-tree-lined avenue, which gives way to an almost secret garden, complete with stream, pond, gazebo and tea house.
Everything was perfect, however, the one thing we couldn’t plan for, was the presence of loud crows, which were swooping down and cawing loudly. At one point the “bride” burst out laughing, and said, “this is just so us!”
As with all our garden vow renewals, the day started (after picking them up from their hotel) with a trip to our favored Kimono Rental vendor, Vasara, in Shinjuku. Here, the couple coordinated their choice of kimonos, before the lovely ladies at Vasara completed the look with hairstyling and accessories.
One concern, however, was the weather. Despite a slight upturn at the beginning of December, it was cold! However, after a quick temperature check once fully attired, they opted to brave it without a coat. It probably proved to be the right decision: it soon warmed up a bit. Next, we ventured across Tokyo on the local trains, to the Garden.
We would usually take a taxi to the ceremony location, but the traffic was much heavier than usual, because it was the penultimate working day of the year. Our traffic app suggested a 45 minute trip as opposed to the normal 20 minute one; it was a no brainer! There’s nothing quite like drawing attention to yourselves, than walking through Tokyo in winter, wearing a kimono!
Still, the couple were game!!
Vow Renewal Ceremony and Photo-shoot
The ceremony, as usual, lasted just 15 to 20 minutes, and was followed up by a photo-shoot. It was such a fun little ceremony, that at times it was hard to keep a straight face! The couple spoke from the heart, and infused their vows with banter and private jokes. Our overriding memory of this ceremony, is one of laughter – the way it should be!
It was special.
I am grateful to the couple for introducing us to another great photographer, Simon Bonny (be sure to check out his website at https://www.simonbonny.com), who met us at the garden to photograph both the ceremony and the aftermath. His photos, on an exceptionally bright day, are class, and a stunning portrait of this wonderful couple.
I’ll let his photographs speak for themselves:
What did the Couple Say?
“My Husband and I were planning a trip to Japan for our 1-Year Wedding Anniversary this last December and thought it would be sweet to renew our vows on our trip. Upon reaching out to Serendipity, Ross was quick to respond and answer any questions that we had. Organizing the day, time, location was a breeze, and we even picked up from our hotel lobby the day of the ceremony.
The Kimono shop had so many beautiful options, the garden we selected (Otogura) was peaceful and the ceremony was so beautifully written and delivered, it felt truly unique as a stand-alone event adding to our original wedding vows. Ayako was also so kind and helpful, offering us a kind gift and even called us a cab to take us to our next place to be. I highly recommend working with this lovely team, they helped make our trip to Tokyo start off so warm and welcoming.”
To find out how you can renew your vows in a beautiful Japanese garden, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can leave a message on our contact page, and we will get back to you as soon as we can!