Something Old, Something New : Japanese Couple Come to Camarillo for Vows


For 24-year-old Yuko Terayama of Sendai, Japan, there was only one place in the world where she wanted to get married: in a small neighborhood church in Camarillo.

So, defying family traditions, the former exchange student convinced her parents, her fiance and her future in-laws to fly 5,337 miles to Camarillo for the ceremony.

On Tuesday afternoon, Terayama, now an advertising agent for Nissan, fulfilled her dream.

Clad in a white chiffon-and-lace gown and carrying a bouquet of red and white roses, Terayama walked down the aisle holding onto her father’s arm--something that never would have happened in Japan, she said.


“I’m having a very different wedding from what any woman in my family has had,” Terayama said. “But this was my dream, to come back to Camarillo and get married. I have beautiful memories from here and I wanted to share them with my husband.”

With her long black hair piled on top of her head and her face partially hidden beneath a veil, Terayama said she chose to say her vows in the Church of Christ in Camarillo after a stay as an exchange student four years ago.

In February 1992, she came to Camarillo for four weeks through the Cultural Homestay International program. During that time, she took courses in English as well as on American culture.

Part of the culture course was a mock wedding at the Church of Christ, celebrated by Tim Kelley--the minister who performed the ceremony Tuesday.

“I had never imagined a wedding could be that beautiful, and I thought to myself, ‘This is what I want to do for my wedding,’ ” she said.

So 18 months ago, when Masahiko Iimura asked her to be his wife, she agreed--”but only if he agreed to get married in Camarillo,” she said.


Had the couple married in Japan, Terayama would have worn a white kimono and been married by a Buddhist monk in a shrine. There would have been no flowers, no white gown, no veil and no cake.

“We have a lot of traditions, but none are as touching to me as the American traditions,” she said. “It was very important to me to have a Western-style wedding.”

Although convincing the groom to fly from Sendai to Los Angeles International Airport was “relatively easy,” convincing her parents was a much more arduous task, Terayama said.

“My parents could not bear the thought of me getting married in a little town in America where we hardly knew anyone,” Terayama said. “But they finally understood that was my dream.”

Speaking through a translator, Sadao Terayama said he was disappointed with his daughter’s choice for a wedding and that it took him about eight months to sign on to the idea.

“I was unhappy because we could not share the wedding with our friends,” he said. “But then I figured this was her wedding and we would abide by her wishes.”


On Tuesday, Terayama’s parents and her sister stood by her during the half-hour ceremony. There was no best man and no bridesmaids, so the groom carried the silver wedding bands and Terayama’s mother held the bridal bouquet.

After the ceremony, which was attended by half a dozen American friends of Terayama’s and was translated into Japanese, the bride and groom had a small reception at the church.

Roxanne Kelley, who works with the exchange program, guided the couple in cutting the three-tier chocolate cake and instructed them how American couples hold their glasses for a toast.

Terayama arrived in Camarillo on Dec. 31; most of the wedding arrangements were made by Kelley and Sharon Harada, who housed Terayama during her stay in the United States four years ago.

“I was in shock when she told me she wanted to get married in Camarillo,” Harada said. “I never thought of Camarillo as a memorable place.”

But for Terayama, it was not only the city but the people she came in touch with that shaped her view of the U. S.


“People were so nice and caring that I thought I would have to come back,” she said.

Soon after the reception, the couple, along with their families, drove to Disneyland for a brief honeymoon. They will return to Japan on Friday.

“I want to take everyone to Disneyland because I had a great time there,” Terayama said. “It will be fun to show to my new husband how wonderful Disneyland is.”