From The International Herald Tribune
By Doreen Carvajal
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PARIS: The first time that Hirosha Watanabe and Naoko Shibuya entered a church was the giddy moment on their march down the aisle in pearl grey tails and a frothy wedding dress to the strains of Wagner's "Bridal Chorus."
They were joined at the altar of the American Church in Paris by a minister, a translator, a video maker and a photographer - key players in Japanese wedding packages for lavish Western ceremonies with traditional trappings from rose nosegays to chauffeured Mercedes-Benzes.
Most of these brides and grooms are more familiar with Buddhist temples than church sanctuaries. And many newlyweds cannot fathom the words, "I now pronounce you husband and wife." But they are flocking to Paris and other romantic European locations in search of high rituals, stained glass and bellowing pipe organs chosen from convenient online catalogues.
So many Japanese wedding tourists are trading golden rings in the peak summer and autumn seasons that the interdenominational American Church enlisted retired pastors for the marriage ministry that is dominated by Japanese couples. A towering Adventist church outside Paris tops the field with more than 300 Japanese weddings, but the American Cathedral also performs about 80 Episcopal ceremonies a year.
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Is this good news or bad news? We were under the impression that America was THE tourist destination for Japanese. Is this a delayed effect of Euro-Disney? Is Paris attractive for Japanese tourists because if need be they can fall back to Mickey Mouse if all else fails? At least they’re going to the American Church.