My Ceremony for David’s Wedding

My good friend David asked me to construct a custom secular wedding ceremony for his wedding.  He and I share a similar sense of humour, so–although it wasn’t explicitly discussed–I figured there was no need for it to be very serious.

For those of you reading this who don’t know David, he has lived in Japan for over a decade, is marrying a Japanese woman (Saho), his family votes republican, and his favorite author is Steinbeck…this information will be relevant later.


Before we begin with the official ceremony, I’d like to make a few remarks about marriage and since I’m woefully unqualified to comment on the topic, I thought I’d draw on a few quotes from David’s favorite author, John Steinbeck.
David and Saho, I sincerely hope that neither of you ever feels secure in your marriage because, as Steinbeck once said, “we spend our time searching for security and hate it when we get it” (Paradox and Dream).  May you both avoid security so long as you are together.

As you spend your lives together your relationship will change and take on new characteristics and so will you both.  Steinbeck tells us that “when two people meet, each one is changed by the other so you got two new people. Maybe that means — hell, it’s complicated.” (Winter of our Discontent).  David and Saho, I say to you both:  Avoid complication.  Don’t change no matter what.  If you change, you will become different people.  What if those new people don’t like each other?  Or worse, what if one of those new people likes the other but the other loses interest?   Play it safe.  Don’t meet each other.

All this talk of change and uncertainty leads us to the next Steinbeck quote.  He tells us that “a journey is like marriage.  The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it” (Travels with Charlie: In Search of America).  While there may be some truth to this, I think Steinbeck has reversed the simile.  What he should say is that a marriage is like a journey:   Sometime you think you’re just going to the store to buy some milk, but then you get back and it turns out you were supposed to buy orange juice too, so you have to drive back and get it or you will suffer the night of your discontent.  So you drive back but the store is closed now, so you have to drive to the far one.  You go inside and they have orange juice, but only the kind with pulp.  But she wanted it without pulp.  So, you get it anyway and bring it home.  When you get home she says that she doesn’t feel like orange juice right now and will have tea instead.

While we may disagree on the interpretation and the degree of truth of Steinbeck’s words, I’m sure we can all agree with this last one:  “What a wonderful thing a woman is. I can admire what they do even if I don’t understand why” (Winter of our Discontent).  David, I can honestly say that I don’t understand why Saho would marry you, but I admire it…and she is a wonderful thing (I hear she’s worth at least 5 camels).  Congratulations and I wish you both the best in your life together.

David Talk

The Ceremony
David asked for me to prepare a custom ceremony for his wedding.  After giving it much thought (an entire afternoon) I decided that the best possible ceremony would combine traditional elements from both the American and Japanese cultures.   Since I lived in Japan for 5 years and have lived in the US of A for 6, I feel as though I’m uniquely qualified to create a ceremony that unifies cultural elements that are beyond the cliche and that will draw on aspects and traditions of both respective cultures that are profound and meaningful to both parties.  

Although the individualism of American culture is typically juxtaposed against the communitarian tendencies of the Japanese, I feel as thought the are areas of overlap, such as weddings, where both cultures value and encourage co-operative group involvement.  For this reason I would like all of you to join in the 3 cross-cultural ceremonies I have prepared for you this afternoon so we may all share in the experience of marrying together these two wonderful people.  Doing will act as an important expression of assent and solidarity from those whom David and Saho know best.  So, to facilitate the ceremony please sort yourselves into groups of 6…  

Ceremony 1:  Culinary and Etiquette Mash-up–Apple Pie with Chopsticks
What culture doesn’t hold a special place for food and table manners?  This ceremony combines distinctive aspects of both culinary cultures.  In your groups of 6 you will form 2 groups of 3.  The goal of the ceremony is to feed one member a slice of apple pie using only a pair of chopsticks.  

Here are the rules: 
(1).  Both the person who will be eating the pie and the person feeding the pie with chopsticks must be blindfolded.  
(2)  The third person will give directions to the “feeder” as to where and how to move the chopsticks.
(3)  The winning team is the first team to have both their groups of 3 finish the slice of apple pie.

(Note: watching the different groups try to accomplish this task was quite possibly one of the funniest things I’ve ever witnessed).

Ceremony 2:  Guns-Judi Chop–Marital Arts Vows!
Guns are as American as apple pie, as Judo chops are as Japanese as chow mein.  Lets combine the best techniques for killing and dismembering your fellow human in this next cross-cultural exchanging of vows.  (Note: David’s family leans Republican).

Me:  David please form a gun with your fingers and repeat after me

David: Saho, this gun represents my commitment to protect your rights and freedoms from the guvamint. “piew, piew, piew ‘merica!”

Me:  Saho please make a judi-chop shape with your hand and repeat after me.
Saho: David this judi chop represents my commitment to protect you from other women. If they talk to you I will do this. “Hai-ya!”

Ceremony 3:  The Pray-off:  Buddhism vs Christianity  Rock, Paper, Scissors/JunkenPoi
It is important that David and Saho’s marriage be sanctioned not just by any god, but the most powerful god. This next ceremony will help us determine which god is the most powerful. Once we have determined this, I will appeal to him/her to sanction the union.

The people of both America and Japan are known for their use of paper, rock, scissors/junkenpoi as a means of dispute resolution.  They’re also known for their deep spiritually and faith in the superstitious…oops, I mean, supernatural…but whose god is more powerful? Lets settle the score for good in this final cross-cultural ceremony:  The Pray-off.  

The rules:  
(1)  On a piece of paper secretly write down the name of the god you’ll be praying to and conceal the paper.  
(2)  Everybody stand up.
(3) Find a partner and play best of 3 rock, paper, scissor.  Before each game, make sure to pray to your god of choice to intervene and cause you to win.
(4) If you win best of 3, your god is more powerful or your god likes you more than your partner’s god likes them, and you get to move on to the next round.  Select a new partner from the previous round’s winners.  If you lost, sit down.
(5) Continue this process until we have just one winner.  Reveal who the most powerful god is!  Finally, we know! 

(Note:  The winning god was Sweet Baby Jesus).  Some of the other contenders that people appealed to:  GODzilla, 6 pounds-nine-ounce-baby-Jesus, Thor, Hephaestus,  Aron Carter god of love and chocolate, Ma Zhu, Aphrodite, Chuck Norris, Dionysus, Elvis, and Love)

Final Blessing: 
By the power of Sweet Baby Jesus I will now thee bless Man and wife.  

Limerick Contest (MC Victoria)
(If you submitted a limerick at the event, please leave it in the comments section and I’ll post it here for David and Saho to cherish and enjoy for all eternity.)

Written by Sam, Read by Hiroyo (Winner)

Written by Leslie, Kevin, Brittany, Kyle, Garrett Harrison, and Hallie:

The Baldwins flew in from Japan
David took Saho’s hand
Their friends all joined in
To take part in the sin
But Baby Jesus won out in the end

Submitted by Victoria:
There once was a man from salinas,
Who wanted to be his own venus.
So he went to japan,
Where he’s not a mere man,
He’s a lady now! (‘cept for his penis).
*incriminating photo with saho

Submitted by myself: 
We all have a friend named Dave,
Who we all thought a foolish knave,
Then he met Saho,
And we thought “oh no”
He’ll send her to an early grave.

Final Notes:  Thank you to everyone for participating in the custom ceremonies.  I had a great time creating it and performing it…I only hope David and Saho enjoyed it too! 

The Proposal (Videos)

Last year David proposed to Saho at Yosemite…
(I’ll upload these when I have better internet connection)

The Plan

The “Execution” 

3 thoughts on “My Ceremony for David’s Wedding

  1. The Baldwins flew in from JapanDavid took Saho's handTheir friends all joined inTo take part in the sinBut Baby Jesus won out in the endWritten by Leslie, Kevin, Brittany, Kyle, Garrett Harrison, and Hallie


  2. I have a good friend, he is Ami.There are many think he’s a commie. He wrote the cer’monyFor me and my honeyI paid him his fee in salami. If you get married and want a minister, hire him. A few sticks is all it takes. The whole effort was greatly appreciated and exactly what I was hoping for. Here’s to Ami!


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