Beautiful Fusion Wedding in Japan by Juliana Wiklund Photography: Raishel and Matthew

Some people are just destined to be together. Raishel is from America, and Matthew is from Australia.  They believe fate brought them together from different sides of the world. This gorgeous couple met during a study abroad program in Japan. Raishel was hesitant to date Matthew because he was popular with the ladies. However, after having several conversations with him, Raishel found out that Matthew did not enjoy all of the attention and he was a humble and honest young man. Sadly, when they returned to their respective countries, their relationship could not withstand the distance. Yet, they still remained in each other's hearts.  Three years later, Matthew asked Raishel if he could visit her in Japan, and they both discovered that their love for each other was stronger than ever.  Matthew eventually proposed to Raishel while on a romantic vacation to Bali. The couple decided to get married in Japan, the country where they met. Their breathtaking spring wedding took place in a park under thousands of  blooming Cherry Blossoms.  The sincerity of this couple's love and the grandeur and natural allure of Japan was beautifully captured by Juliana Wiklund.  Raishel's vivid and heartfelt description of their wedding journey reads like a novel. Their love story will definitely warm your heart.  You can also view more images in the wedding gallery here.

  • Bride: Raishel Ganges-Yarde
  • Groom: Matthew Jones
  • Date: 04/06/2012
  • Wedding Ceremony: Osaka Castle, Osaka, Japan
  • Wedding Reception: Restaurant Vitra, Kyoto, Japan

How They Met/The Proposal

Besides all the philosophical reasons, we love Japan because it is where we fell so luckily in love. Matthew is from Australia and I am from America, so it's a miracle we met. We just happened to enroll in the same study abroad program at the same time. Even the that great act of fate wasn't enough to make us a couple. I prejudged Matthew as a playboy due to his popularity with girls and his stunning blue eyes. Thus, I was wholeheartedly not interested! But a mutual friend looped us both into conversation and I got to see Matt was truly smart, witty and a little embarrassed by all the female attention. He was also clever and suave. Everyday he would deftly engage me in conversation right before dinner, so we would naturally have to go to dinner together and finish talking. Once I realized I was being courted, Osaka Castle Park was the destination of one of our first official dates. The park was so beautiful I thought how I would love to get married there someday. Unbeknownst to me, Matthew was thinking the same.

Unfortunately, our love was not to last that time, but we found each other again in Japan. At the end of the semester we each had to return to our home country and finish our last year of University. Matthew didn't want a long distance relationship with a 15 hour time difference. We went our separate ways for 3 years, but never left each others' hearts. During our separation in 2009 I made a birthday wish in Bali to find true love again, thinking Matthew was forever out of reach. Later that year, Matt contacted me asking to visit me in Japan. He did for the new year, January 2010. Meeting him at the train station was surreal. It felt like no time had passed at all and I loved him as much as ever. I was delighted when I found he felt the same way. Yet, it seemed too good to be true. In order to test his dedication I asked that he date me via Skype for the 5 months to see if his interest would wane. It didn't. The two hour time difference between Japan and Australia was easy to manage. We talked everyday for 5 months, video chatted, and watched movies with each other sharing screens via Skype. On my first visit to Australia, Matthew pulled out all the stops and really romanced me. I felt so loved and wanted that I moved to Australia to be with him in July 2010. Then on a trip to Bali,15 months after my birthday wish for true love, Matthew unknowingly proposed to me on the same spot I blew out my candles. It seemed like fate and I said "YES".



Wedding Description

It was a romantic but dramatic spring wedding held in Osaka Castle Park Nishinomaru Garden under the fleeting bloom of the cherry blossom. Being an ultra formal daytime affair, all the men wore morning dress and all the ladies wore long dresses. Cherry Blossoms were the theme of our wedding for many reasons. We fell in love under the cheery blossoms when we first serendipitously met during a student abroad program in 2007. We also love what cherry blossoms represent: renewal, fresh starts, seizing the moment. In fact, that the what Japanese hanami (flower viewing) culture is all about; seizing the moment. Since the sakura (cheery blossom) only bloom for a short time, friends, family, co-workers and companies take time out to picnic under the trees and enjoy the beautiful blossoms together. Literally the whole country stops and appreciates life and being grateful, joyful and happy. That is what we wanted for our wedding and that is why the cherry blossoms were perfect for us.

The planning was very difficult. I had to plan an overseas wedding in a foreign language, while juggling a new baby and the recent death of my mother who is my best friend! Everyone said it was impossible. At times it felt very impossible. The Japanese have two types of marriage : Shinto (traditional Japanese) and western (which is the Japanese interpretation of western marriage but not really western). However, I wanted a very intimate, original ceremony, outdoor in a public park, during busy cherry blossom season, surround by close friends and random on lookers alike. That wasn't scripted or controlled enough for any wedding planning company so my girlfriend and I planned it alone. Thankfully she is a native Japanese speaker.
Incredibly, after time things started falling into place. We put an advertisement in the local Osaka paper to recruit spot holders to camp out in the park to reserve our spot. That led to finding a bilingual celebrant. We sweet talked the park officials to let us have the ceremony. They said ok, but since its a public park, they couldn't stop anyone from interfering or complaining. We didn't have a back up for rain except for umbrella.

Many things we left up to chance. But it worked out. We married at the Nishinomaru Park at Osaka Castle. Since the castle has been built and rebuilt from 1500's till present, there has been no other wedding in this park. Its a paid entry park because its the most beautiful on the grounds. The most popular spot is a natural raised plateau with two weeping cheery trees and enough standing room for a bride, groom, and officiant. A perfect spot for a wedding. At 6 am wedding morning the groom and the spot holders out ran everyone else and claimed it for us! The flowers I ordered a week before the wedding were stunning. The Japanese guy who did my African- American hair for the first time ever, was amazing! Make-up was beautiful. Decor at the reception was just right. The food was delicious. I didn't have a pre-wedding trial of anything except the food. Luckily, nothing got lost in translation. As fate would have it, everything was a dream.

That was exactly what I needed. I needed to know that dreams could still come true since I lost my faith when my mom died. However, I could feel her smile in the warmth of the sun. And when the sun cracked through the rain clouds while I said my vows I knew I was blessed. So the theme of the cherry blossom ran through every part of our wedding and planning. We overcame adversity, we briefly shed our grief, we renewed our faith in life, we were joyous and happy to live. We took a pause, said "I do" to each other and to re-entering the world.

Juliana, our talented photographer that I found randomly on the internet, captured every emotion of it.



Juliana Wiklund Photography
View the wedding gallery.
  1. Berry Dakara

    OMG!!!!!!!!! They were SO MEANT TO BE TOGETHER!!!

    I love how it all came together, from their reuniting and the wedding ceremony.

    Love is beautiful!

  2. Naomi

    Oh what a touching love story. Isn’t wonderful what happens when God is in line with the true desires of our heart? I’m so happy for them and I don’t even know who they are. I wish them a lifetime of magical moments and a wonderful beginning in this chapter of their life. This try touched me this morning!

  3. EnrapturedEvents

    This was an incredible love story!! Every image showed how much they were in love and truly meant to be together. It was one to laugh with and cry with and one that definitely made my heart smile!

  4. Crystal • Made Divine

    I love this story and the couple! Congrats to them!!

  5. Kristin of byPetronella Photography

    Wow … what an absolutely amazing love story and beautiful couple. The display of faith, love, and strength of this couple is truly moving. And their wedding was stunning … the cherry blossoms lovely, and I enjoyed reading about what they represent. Congrats and all the best to the couple!

  6. Norma

    Teared up reading this! I’m a hopeless romantic. This was a beautiful story. Loved the expression on the groom’s face when he saw his bride. She was gorgeous and I loved the the candid photos at the various locations.

  7. turdurken

    What a beautiful, beautiful story. Congratulations to you both, true love found its way!

    I can relate to the difficulties in planning your wedding as well – I am a foreigner wanting to get married in Japan – my partner and I share a love for each other, our son, and japan – so it makes sense that we should have our ceremony there.

    Can I ask where you found your bilingual officiant? I am finding it incredibly difficult to find an officiant – just to hold a blessing ceremony, nothing legal.

  8. Rai Jones

    Thank you all for your sweet comments.
    @ Turdurken. I put an ad in the Kansai TIme mag and Kansai Scence mag. Both local publications that have a large English and bilingual audience and found my “officiant” that way. I use quotes because he was not a real officiant; just a guy who was bilingual and willing to read the ceremony and address/verses I put together.


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