Here is the bride! She is being fussed over by her professional dresser. Thankfully, she hired a "dresser" to get her in her wedding kimono. When, she first decided to get married in a kimono, I was to be her dresser along with being the wedding photographer, assistant florist, seamstress and whatever else needed getting done. (There's some good English.) She mentioned someone needed to vacuum the chapel after the ceremony ...
But as the wedding date got closer and closer, we (I) couldn't figure out how to tie the obi which is the sash or belt that goes around the waist. My sister bought a video, we had books and eventually we found a Youtube video on the web. We spent a good part of a day trying to figure this out and discussed kind of loudly, each one of us, how it should be tied. Although everything we read never said it, the obi needed to be folded in half, with the fold on the bottom and the obi acting as a large pocket for the fan, and ceremonial knife. (Don't even ask me about the ceremonial bridal knife, to protect the honor of the bride's new family. We spent alot of time looking for one and all the Japanese ladies we asked thought we were, um, well, nuts. She finally bought one, but I think it's a letter opener!)
BTW, kimono just means clothes. Each style of kimono has its own name depending on if it is an unlined summer kimono (yukata), a bathrobe/pajama kimono (nemaki) and is dependent on sleeve length and occasion, a furisode is the most formal kimono for unmarried women with long flowing sleeves. Here is the bride in her uchikake which is an ornate wedding coat with a long trail. The uchikake is worn like a robe without obi over another kimono, called kakeshita that is tied with the obi. My sister's kakeshita is made with shibori fabric which is a Japanese tie-die.
Then there is the "boat". That is what we jokingly called the white bridal hat. Yes, we went from store to store in San Francisco, San Jose and websites asking if anyone had the "boat". My sister just wasn't going to be happy unless she looked a little more authentic although, we didn't follow a lot of the Japanese customs. We couldn't find zori or sandals to fit her americanized feet and they are not very comfortable to wear. We couldn't find my mom's zori and, I think she threw them away because they just hurt too much to wear. Finding all the gear we needed, and we were not even sure that we had all of the gear was just too difficult. We finally decided that it was okay. We were a blend of cultures and the wedding would also be a blend of our cultures.
But, while we were in San Jose buying the an under-kimono, yes, she is wearing 3 layers of kimono, well 4, if you consider the under, under kimono, she picked up a business card of a lady who did hair and was Japanese. After some frantic calling on my sister's part, she made an appointment to bring all of her stuff and do a trial run. Her name was Sachiko, which is the name of my mom's best friend and amazingly enough, she was from a town in Japan next to the town where my mom was from. She asked us our family name and the deal was done. She was going to fill in the missing parts of my sister's wedding gear and do some sewing and bring it all when she came to do the hair, dress and makeup.
And, she had the boat! After, she had dressed my sister and tied her obi, she wanted to know if my sister wanted her to do the hair and makeup. Then, she hauled out this huge case with a proper wig and all the combs and decorations. My sister waivered. But, after Sachi, put the wig on her she got this big smile on her face from ear to ear. Oh yeah. It was happening. When we were done, we hugged Sachi goodbye and breathed a sigh of relief.
A side note: The Japanese consider the nape of the neck the sexiest part of the body and unmarried women expose there bare, naked necks while married women wear there collars so that their necks are covered up. Unmarried women also wear their kimono with long sleeves and married women cut the length of their sleeves down, so as to not drive the men wild. Of course, this tradition is from a long time ago. But then, my sister wanted to honor tradition. I don't think that until that day when I saw how happy my sister was, that I realized how much her wedding meant to her. (I know, duh!) Here they are, the bride and groom, getting ready to march down the aisle, one last practice run with the music before it all becomes official.