2016 proved to be a year of transition, a year where changes would come in from almost every direction. Some of those changes would be unexpected. Others were inevitable. But of those changes, the one I welcomed most was when I married a wonderful woman.
I wasn’t the only person to find a significant other in which to tie the knot! Marinasauce of Anime B&B also got married earlier last year. For us, it was a joyful moment for us to put together a wedding that mirrored our tastes and influences. Naturally, anime would be a part of both our weddings.
zzeroparticle: The wedding planning process was a shared effort where each of us tackled the various wedding components. Not surprisingly, it fell upon me to pick out the music seeing as how I’m really into soundtracks and wanted music that was fitting and memorable. Classical and jazz would be the primary genres for much of the evening’s festivities, but it would have been criminal to neglect anime music at critical junctures.
Choosing the music wasn’t an easy task. I had to scour my entire music collection to find pieces that fit and (a very important thing to do!) run it by my soon-to-be wife for the final OK. Thankfully, we shared similar tastes and a similar vision on what kinds of pieces should be used, making the process much easier.
Marina: Much like zzeroparticle, I was tasked with drafting up a list of required wedding songs. We had decided on using a DJ for both our wedding ceremony and reception. We chose him mostly because of a mutual friend, ensuring a bit of a discount, and also because of the DJ’s unique music tastes. I wanted to give him as much free reign as possible so no guest would be able to say that our dance music selection was wanting.
We axed certain genres up front, like country and rap, and requested selections from modern instrumentals (think Piano Guys), classical, classic rock, Latin music, and, of course, instrumental soundtracks. The soundtracks were where my anime tastes entered. While my husband-to-be enjoys anime, his favorite tracks are, shall we say, un-wedding-ish. We couldn’t imagine guests grooving or us walking to Initial D songs!
If you’re thinking of including anime music in your wedding and wanted a window into our thought processes, here’s how we did it:
Wedding Ceremony Anime Selections
zzeroparticle: For me, anime music wound up being a major part of both the ceremony and reception. The piece used for the Bridal Party’s procession was an orchestral arrangement of a Bach work, though I did toy briefly with the following track from Escaflowne.
Vision of Escaflowne – Gloria
Hajime Mizoguchi’s “Gloria” from Escaflowne is worth a consideration. The beginning can be a bit somber and foreboding but once the beautiful horn fanfare signals the start of the procession, the chorus will catch the audience’s attention with its stirring tones. I didn’t use it in the end. While it had the feel of a royal procession, my wife and I were looking for something that was more graceful and less majestic.
It’s in the Bride’s Procession that I used anime music proper, the opener to Amanchu, “Million Clouds”.
Amanchu – Million Clouds
“Million Clouds” worked for us because it was slow enough for my wife-to-be to walk to and marked a contrast from the classical pieces that preceded it. We felt that this song brings a change in tone, surprising the audience with Maaya Sakamoto’s crystal-clear delivery.
The song itself is soothing like a warm ray of sunshine and Maaya Sakamoto’s singing lets you feel as though life’s possibilities are endless. For us, that’s the note in which we wanted to start our new life on.
Both of us loved Amanchu when we watched it. There was no question this song would be used somehow, somewhere.
After the vows and our officiant’s pronouncement of us as husband and wife, our new life was ready to begin as a family. To that end, we wanted a piece that would capture the essence of “family”. Arrietty’s “Our House Below” won out.
Arrietty – Our House Below
As much as my wife and I loved the song version, we went with an instrumental version, figuring that the melody spoke to those familial sentiments really well and that having no lyrics would make it less distracting as we walked down the aisle together. The song captured what the two of us wanted out of life as we celebrated the extraordinarily ordinary circumstances that marked our marriage.
We also considered using “The Doll House”, also from Arrietty.
Arrietty – The Doll House
I loved that piece because its optimistic, enchanting air describes our union nicely. But joining two families together was, we felt, a little more appropriate, and so, stuck with Our House Below.
Marina: Anime music featured solely in the ceremony, including Ghibli piano arrangements for the background music while guests were being seated. The first required piece of my choosing played during the procession of the wedding party. The groom and his mother, bridesmaids and groomsmen, and my dog walked to a piano rendition of “Inochi no Namae” from Spirited Away.
Spirited Away – Inochi no Namae
In the film, this song plays while Chihiro cries and eats the rice balls Haku gives her. It sounds a bit sad for a wedding song, doesn’t it? I liked the piece’s walking tempo and contemplative atmosphere. Even though the scene involves tears, it also depicts a moment of renewed strength and determination.
Since I chose piano arrangements for both the party and bride procession, most people did not notice the transition between songs. And so, with the subtle shift starting, my father and I walked down the aisle to Aria’s “Undine.”
Aria the Animation – Undine
Both this song and the anime have special meanings for me; my engagement ring holds an aquamarine for the same reasons. Saying that Aria is my favorite anime of all time doesn’t fully explain the connection. Having experienced Neo Venezia along with Mizunashi Akari through all three anime seasons and watching her grow and mature from a novice Pair to a Prima Undine was a spiritual rebirth.
No other story, anime or elsewhere, has emotionally moved me in the same way. My husband and I want to share our adventures through life and enjoy it as much as Akari loves Neo Venezia. “Undine” captures this exploratory nature with its slow and steady build into the upper registers, remaining soft throughout. As the listener, you feel like you’re moving forward into the light, which is exactly how I felt walking towards my future husband.
Both “Inochi no Namae” and “Undine” released theatrically with vocals and instrumentals, not as piano-only arrangements. While I could have kept the Japanese lyrics and played the original soundtracks, I opted for the piano versions for two reasons. First of all, I only had two Japanese guests in attendance: my matron of honor and her mother. I really didn’t want to explain to any curious guests, particularly the more traditional-minded ones, the whole backstory as to why I chose these pieces.
Second of all, many songs come across as being more appropriate for the occasion once the lyrics are stripped out. The decision to choose piano-only over full instrumental was easy since I grew up playing classical piano. I wanted to give a nod to my history with the instrument and my eternal love for it.
Wedding Reception Music
Marina: In the end, these were the only two anime songs that featured in my wedding. I did request some of the same classical pieces that Nodame performed in Nodame Cantabile, but was so busy with the actual event that I did not even notice if they were played or not. I would not change the two songs I decided upon for anything else. Having them accompany me during such an important day was a dream come true. We are proud of the diverse music list we had at our wedding, which included some of the following songs:
- Pixar film Up OST for background music
- Star Wars – Recessional: “Throne Room/End Title” from Star Wars: A New Hope
- Star Wars – Reception grand entrance: “Cantina Theme” from Star Wars: A New Hope
- Bride and Groom’s First Dance (mix of West and East Coast swing): “Shut Up and Dance” by Walk the Moon
NOTE: This was sort of an anime inspiration, since I was hooked on this song after watching this Nerd Reactor 2015 Anime Expo cosplay video:
- Mother/Son Dance: “Let There Be Love” by Nat King Cole
- Father/Daughter Dance: “Unforgettable” with Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole
- Last Dance: “Piano Man” by Billy Joel
The Grand Entrance
zzeroparticle: Our wedding reception began with a Grand Entrance once the guests had been seated. The piece to accompany that moment would have to live up to the billing.
But grand love themes aren’t as ubiquitous as you think; love, more often than not, comes in softer, more delicate flavors. Picking something too bombastic would be right out, simply too over the top.
After scouring around, we found that Chihayafuru’s Main Theme fit. The piece balanced the grandeur, the inspiration, and the romance adroitly, an impassioned piece to go with the impassioned proceedings.
Chihayafuru – Chihayafuru Main Theme
But that wasn’t the only song we considered. There was also Romeo x Juliet’s “Touch”.
Romeo x Juliet – Touch
Having an entrance marked by a crescendo is practically a must if you’re looking to meet the demands of a GRAND entrance. Romeo x Juliet’s “Touch” does that, starting softly, building its way through that initial motif, and then unleashing a torrent of passion about halfway through. Chihayafuru won out because the crescendo came a bit earlier, allowing our DJ to ease into it much faster. And us liking Chihayafuru more helped too!
With the Grand Entrance squared away, my wife and I moved into our First Dance where we sashayed along to a piece from Bartender:
Bartender – Cinderella
This song was a no-brainer, dating back to the time when we started dating. One of the first few CDs from my collection that she’d listened to was the Bartender soundtrack. She fell in love with the music instantly, playing it at almost every given opportunity. Her favorite song from the set was “Cinderella,” a piece that’s strangely appropriate as it set the foundation for our relationship that we had to use it for our first dance. It helps that the song isn’t too fast, and we got by with less practice than what might otherwise be required.
As the evening progressed, we got to the Bouquet Toss. When I asked my wife what she wanted for that, she replied that it was a fun moment, so she’d want a silly song to accompany the event.
Kuragehime – Odore Amars
We ultimately settled on Kuragehime’s “Odore Amars” which was both silly and fun, especially during that call and response sequence.
Cake Cutting was a culmination of the evening’s activities before the general dance portion. Once again, Bartender makes another appearance, which was an inevitability seeing as how a lot of our non-anime fare revolved around Frank Sinatra and Henry Mancini.
Bartender – Christmas Champagne
With a wedding so near to Christmas, we figured a holiday-related song would go over well. Aside from adding to the classy touch, Bartender’s titular Christmas theme really is the reason why we chose this piece. People loved it enough that they even sang along with it as my wife and I cut the cake.
All good things must come to an end however and for our Last Song, we stuck to something from Summer Wars.
Summer Wars – Happy End
There are two schools of thoughts on handling an ending. While some people prefer to end on a bang, given our personality, we wanted something quieter. Summer Wars‘ “Happy End” has the benefit of joining the romantic and familial sentiments in a quiet package that leaves you in a sea of contentment. We closed out a wonderful evening on that note.
Cowboy Bebop – Waltz for Zizi
It’s quiet and sentimental, but perhaps its biggest strength lies in its romantic tone that’s understated enough as to not distract guests from the meal. For us, this would have been a great complement to the piece that we ultimately used for the Wedding Party’s Grand Entrance: Joaquin Rodrigo’s “Fantasía para un gentilhombre”.
Porco Rosso – Sakuranbo no Minoru Koro
This song from Porco Rosso charmed my wife and me the first time we heard it. Its themes of love and loss stayed with us, and the longing tones kept us enthralled.
Neon Genesis Evangelion – Fly me to the Moon
Well, OK, this is Frank Sinatra’s version because it has the classy gravitas that my wife and I were striving for.
So for those anime fans who are planning to get married soon or in the far distant future, here’s how Marina and I incorporated anime music into our festivities. If you’ve been down this path and have some other recommendations, feel free to share. We’d love to hear from those of you who tied the knot to anime music!