Destination: Japan


The couple steals a glimpse of their wedding pictures.

Amy Barry from Couture Photography
Published: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:23 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:23 p.m.

Matt Tarver & Megumi (Meg)Yoshioka-Tarver

Married December 31at the Haile Village Center

The marriage of two cultures comes together in a Japanese-themed wedding.

How they met: Matt Tarver and Megumi ("Meg") Yoshioka both came to Gainesville several years ago to earn their Ph.D.s — Matt, 29, moved down from Indiana to work on a degree in entomology and Meg, 27, moved here from Japan to earn her degree in organic chemistry. Soon they were so immersed in their studies there was little time for anything else.

"The only people we met were our friends and friends of our friends," says Matt. "It's really hard to meet people outside of your area of study." To remedy the situation, both Matt and Meg turned to the online dating service Match.com.

"We should be on the commercial [for Match.com]," Meg says with a laugh.

Their first date: They met for the first time in front of one of the restaurants at the Reitz Union, where they spent some time walking around, chatting and getting acquainted.

"And then," says Matt, "we had a..."

"Frosty," Meg chimes in as if on cue.

"She had never had a Frosty before," Matt adds. Meg was born and raised in Japan, and that first Frosty shake from Wendy's was just one of many aspects of American culture that Matt has introduced to Meg since they started dating in 2007.

A few days later, Matt invited Meg to performance of "Stomp." They've been together ever since.

Why they're great together: In spite of their different cultural backgrounds and although they've only been together for a short while, both Matt and Meg have an uncanny ability to complete each other's sentences.

"I think we're really on the same page," Matt says. "For everything we do, whatever one person is saying…"

"…is exactly what the other is thinking," Meg pipes in.

The proposal: Matt and Meg had talked about getting married even before he proposed.

"We had even set the date," Meg says. Even so, Meg was taken by surprise one November afternoon in 2007 when Matt took her for a picnic at Kanapaha Botanical Gardens to officially pop the question.

"I actually lied and told her we were going to a party," Matt says. In fact, Matt had arranged for a friend to go to the gardens ahead of time and set up a picnic lunch in the park. When Meg saw the picnic spread, she knew right away that this was "The Day."

Matt proposed to Meg in her native Japanese. With the help of one of Meg's Japanese friends, he had also sent her parents a letter — written in Japanese — asking for her hand in marriage. He had hoped that the letter would arrive at her parents' house in Japan on the same day that he proposed, but they didn't receive it until a few days later.

The wedding: The couple had two ceremonies: a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony in Japan last July and the official wedding and reception on New Year's Eve at the Haile Plantation Village Center.

Both Meg and Matt dressed in kimonos for the Japanese ceremony, a small affair with about 40 invited guests, including Meg's family and friends. Matt had to create a cheat sheet of sorts to help with the pronunciation of a Japanese passage he read during the ceremony.

"I actually taped the phonetic pronunciation to the passage," Matt says.

"If you look closer at the picture, you'll see the paper clip," Meg says.

Meg describes the food served at the reception as "Western," but Matt has his doubts.

"It was Western food?" he asks.

"Kind of …" Meg says. "Well, we had a steak, a fish sauté, plus some traditional Japanese food. We consider that Western food."

Matt says, "When Americans think of Japanese food, they think of fish and sushi but there's a lot of other food we don't know about. I thought, 'Oh, I'll eat anything.' But it was getting harder towards the end."

The American wedding ceremony was short and sweet: The wedding took place at about 9 p.m. and was officiated by one of Matt's friends, an ordained minister. Meg wore a Western wedding dress this time, but the room was decorated with a Japanese theme, including paper lanterns and floral arrangements from The Plant Shoppe with the clean lines and simple elegance characteristic of Japanese design.

And the food? Chef Brothers Catering offered a blend of Eastern and Western fare. The Asian Station included seared tuna with Asian dipping sauce, spring rolls, chicken teriaki and pot stickers from Japan. At the French station, guests enjoyed a cheese, spinach and mushroom torta, cucumber tea sandwiches, jumbo Gulf shrimp with cocktail sauce and baked brie in a puff pastry.

Their team

Event coordinator: Ann Marie Denning at A'vie

Catering: Chef Brothers Catering

Attire: The bride wore a strapless ivory wedding gown by Jasmine from Solutions Bridal; alterations to the dress were made by Alterations Unlimited in Ocala. Meg bought her headpiece in Japan. Matt's tuxedo was rented from Mens Wearhouse.

Floral: Calla lilies and orchids from Betsy Gardner at The Plant Shoppe

Cake: A three-tiered chocolate and poppy seed cheesecake from Cakes by Jenny Wagner

DJ: Jay's Entertainment

Photographer: Amy Barry from Couture Photography

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