Sayuri & Mitch
Photographer: Wild Eyed Photography
One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: A laid-back spiritual celebration on a magical island with our closest friends and family joining us.
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I got married in paradise.
On a sandy beach, under a blue, summer sky, washed by a late afternoon breeze, and among my beautiful family and friends, I exchanged vows with Mitchel, the love of my life. We stood in the footsteps of my husband’s parents, who nineteen years ago, almost to the day, were wed on the same stretch of sandy dunes while he, my love at eleven years old, was beside them holding the rings.
Our day was 08/08, a date we chose for a reason. In Japan, my homeland, the number eight is auspicious—it portends a solid, lucky future “spreading out like an open fan” to all possibilities. It was always Mitchel’s dream to get married there. He had told me it was the most magical place in every way—the water, the sky, the sand, the energy—a totally spiritual experience. He was right.
The place is Christian Island, a tropical isle in Georgian Bay. The north side consists of a huge stretch of sand dunes, protected, for they are unique and fragile. My husband’s family cottage is perched on top of them, looking over the expanse of ocean-like water. The view is always breathtaking, and as anyone who knows Georgian Bay can attest, the sunsets are surreal. There is no electricity, no phones, no WIFI. Edenic, really.
Prior to the actual ritual on the beach the guests gathered on the deck of the cottage for shrimp, edemame, beer, and cocktails. Because the island is owned by the Beausoleil First Nations, we asked some of our native friends to perform a cleansing smudging ceremony. The backdrop didgeridoo and sitar music of our Japanese friends, Chie and Yoshie, enveloped us as the sage smoke wrapped us up, all together. Pure magic.
Afterward about thirty of our closest friends and family gathered around us in a circle on the sand, close to the water’s edge, bare-footed and casual, some fancied up a bit, others in beach clothes. My dress was a short, creamy, feathery shift bought for twenty dollars at a thrift store. It was beautiful. My groom chose to wear his late father’s wedding coat, a custom-tailored sherwani (traditional east Indian wedding coat), shimmering purple and gold in the light. He was beautiful.
Our friends “married” us: Richard, a cottage neighbor spoke first about the magic of the island and about his memories of Mitch as a child playing on the beach. Shauna, another neighbor whom I’d recently met while she was visiting Japan, attested to the fun and happy rapport she’d witnessed between Mitch and I when we toured with her in my country. Then came Melissa, Mitch’s childhood pal who was at his parents’ wedding with him, spoke about her love for him and her newfound love for me. I cried. The final officiate was Kym, Mitchel’s aunt, who counseled us in the voice of our new seven-month old baby, Tenchi. It was heart-felt, cute and so very moving. Everyone cried. After the ceremony and as the sun slipped into the horizon, we stayed on the beach and popped champagne, blew bubbles, and waved sparklers. It felt fun and light and free and yummy. Chie and Yoshi played again and I was moved by their spellbinding music to dance. The kids, the dogs, and even the passersby enjoyed the “enchantedness” of it all.
As guests became hungry and the darkness loomed, we hiked up the hill where a wood-fired pizza truck catered the evening, offering unlimited, gourmet slices. It was parked beside a fridge full of unlimited, self-serve drinks. The woods surrounding us were decorated with Japanese paper lanterns and giant, white paper flowers. Hundreds of candles flickered through the dunes and woods. More magic.
Around midnight before some folks “wound down,” we assembled around a great campfire for shots of tequila and S’mores. A bizarre combination, I know, but memorable and yummy too! The perfect day was capped off by a group skinny-dip. The moonlight filtered through the glassy water as the naked, drunk bodies of some of the nicest people in the world, joined Mitch and me to celebrate our wedding day.
The magic of that place and of that day will not soon be forgotten. Could there possibly be a more ideal place for a wedding? No, I think not. And I hope one day to be enjoying the breezes, fire, forest, and water at our son’s nuptials, getting ready for a crazy, moonlight skinny-dip with my new daughter-in-law!
Favorite Thing About the Wedding
The musical entertainment (didgeridoo and sitar), the pizza! And the 2AM skinny dip!