THE LEGEND OF 1,000 CRANES “According to Japanese lore, folding 1,000 Origami Cranes is truly a labor of love. Tradition holds that the bride who finishes this task, called ‘sembazuru’, before her wedding day will be richly rewarded with a good and happy marriage. Paying homage to the majestic crane, which mates for life and is said to live one thousand years, the bride ensures her own good fortune.”
– Linda Mihara, in B FOR SAVVY BRIDES magazine, 1998
In Japan, the tradition of folding 1,000 cranes is done when someone has a wish, be it for peace, health or luck. Today, couples will fold 1,000 cranes as a wish for a long and prosperous marriage. Others will fold the cranes to wish congratulations on a 50th wedding anniversary or as a get well wish for someone who is ill. The folding of the cranes can be done with entire families and friends, not just the bride or the one making the wish. It is believed that the more people involved, the more luck you will have! Having heard about this tradition when I moved to Asia, I was quite excited to do it for our wedding someday. It was a long journey – and truthfully, we lost count after a few weeks, but it was an insane amount of paper crane folding!! Some students of ours were touched by my wish to include this tradition in our wedding, so a group of them went around to various stationery stores finding the exact yellow and white origami paper that I needed. I began folding straight away. I folded at home, I folded at the airport and on the flight to South Africa, I folded while waiting for hair and nail appointments, and I folded every night before bed. For me it was a very therapeutic process. In the hustle and bustle of trying to plan a wedding (which, when done from another country, is extremely difficult) it felt good to have those quiet, peaceful moments where I just sat and did nothing else but fold. In a way, it felt like meditation. I wasn’t alone though – Justin’s family were amazing! They helped us fold, creating a production line with each person doing a particular part of the folding process. At the time I am sure that it might have become tedious for them, but they were always up for the task and they would eagerly announce how many cranes we needed to make on any given afternoon. Between sightseeing, wedding planning, and social gatherings, we mainly slept, ate and folded cranes while we were at our guesthouse in Cape Town.
The box of completed cranes kept growing and growing and growing…
As our wedding day approached, we had multiple boxes of folded cranes waiting and ready to be transported to the venue.
The day before the wedding, Samantha (one of my bridesmaids) and I sat in the reception hall threading the cranes onto fishing line with a needle. It was a long process, especially because the lines got easily tangled. We had to lay the completed threads of paper cranes on the floor in neat lines to keep them all apart. We tried to hang a few of them for the entrance hall ceiling but we were clearly too short… I needed my boo there but he was being a good son and he’d taken his family sightseeing for the day. Samantha and I soon realized that we would only be able to thread them, and the hanging part would require some extra (taller) manpower.
Of course, I couldn’t leave my dressing room on the day of the wedding, so I never got to see the hanging of the paper cranes. That wasn’t a bad thing though because I got to see them for the first time as Justin and I entered the reception hall for the first time as Husband and Wife. The cranes were hanging from the beautiful bamboo ceiling in the entrance way. I remember that breathtaking moment as we entered, and I looked up and saw all of the cranes hanging all around us! It was nothing short of magical!
Above, we left our thumbprints on our Wedding Tree and then walked into the hall where all of our family and friends were waiting. Below you can see the paper cranes behind us as we enter the hall. The sun had almost set by then, and the cranes were catching the last glow of the day. It was as if we got to view the cranes at the most perfect moment and the most perfect day!
We kept a few of the cranes, and many people grabbed handfuls of them as we were leaving the hall late that night. I couldn’t have been happier with how our “1000 Paper Cranes” wedding project turning out! I especially love this part – “The folding of the cranes can be done with entire families and friends, not just the bride or the one making the wish. It is believed that the more people involved, the more luck you will have!”