1000 Cranes for My Wedding

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1000 cranes

Three years ago today, Eric and I got married surrounded by family and 1000 origami cranes, called Senbazuru.

I got a lot of questions about why I did this.

Are you Japanese?

Um. No.

Have you read Sadako and the Thousand Cranes, and if so, what does your wedding have to do with the bombing of Hiroshima?

No. And nothing.

What were your wedding colors? Those birds are so many different colors!

Why does my wedding need to be color coordinated?

Oh God, next thing you know you’ll be saying you didn’t wear white. 

Oh, I wore white. Just not a white dress. A white suit.

[Sigh.] Okay, so really: where did you get the notion to fold 1000 cranes?

I loved Northern Exposure, and if you watched that show, then you might remember Adam and Eve’s wedding.

Northern Exposure, “Our Wedding” 3:22

Eric’s family folded a few hundred cranes for me (thank you), and I folded the rest during the 2008-2009 NFL playoffs. I could fold pretty fast—one crane in two minutes—and so I could crank out 20 or 25 birds an hour and still catch all the big plays.

I folded the 1000th crane during Super Bowl XLIII as the Steelers beat the Cardinals.  Then I put the birds in big paper grocery bags in groups of 100.

We got married in the beautiful backyard at Eric’s parents’ house in LaPorte, and had the small reception in their sun porch. That’s where we decided to hang the cranes—in the windows that looked out over the scenic back yard.

Traditionally, Senbazuru strings are comprised of cranes stacked on top of each of other, but I wanted a little space between each bird, so I cut up drinking straws to use as spacers.

We spent the day before the wedding stringing. Forty birds per string. Twenty five strings total.

crane straw crane straw crane straw…

Or maybe it was twenty-five birds per string, and forty strings total? Whichever. It was a lot of birds, and it was beautiful.

An ancient Japanese legend promises that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish. What did I wish for as I folded those birds? It’s hard to put into words, but it felt the way this song sounds.

No marriage is kissy poo and cranes every single day. Certainly not mine. But so far, my wish has come true. Not every single day, but most days. At least 1000 so far.

Cranes re-purposed for the reception.

What happened to the cranes?

Technically, you’re supposed to burn the cranes after your event in order to send your wish aloft. But I couldn’t bring myself to do that. My sister, who is a grade-school teacher, asked if she could have them to hang in her classroom. I said sure. But before she could get them hung, something else happened. A man and his two children were killed in an awful semi truck accident in southeastern Indiana, near where she lives. The mother’s wishes were to have 1,000 cranes at the funeral for each of her loved ones. So, she donated her cranes to the family to help them cope with their terrible loss. This makes me very happy indeed. Here’s the full story.


About Cathy Day

I'm the author of THE CIRCUS IN WINTER and COMEBACK SEASON, and I teach at Ball State University.
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4 Responses to 1000 Cranes for My Wedding

  1. Aaron Singh says:

    Beautiful. Loved the inclusion (or lack thereof) of your wish. Great song.

  2. Great that you repurposed such a tradition from one culture, mixed & matched, Cathy. Paper cranes and such are too important to stagnate and die. I have such a fond spot for them because my kids were into them when growing up, some grade school thing . . . becoming American folk art, perhaps.

  3. tedstrutz says:

    Congratulations on 3 big years, Cathy. The cranes are beautiful.

    I’m wondering… did you serve Spanish Hot Dogs at your reception?

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