Recently, I was at a shrine and happened to see a wedding ceremony going on. This made me realize that I didn’t know much about weddings in Japan and decided to do some research. Today I will be presenting my findings to you🙂
Wedding Ceremony Styles
Overall, there are two main types of Wedding ceremonies in Japan. The traditional Shinto style or the more modern Western, Christian style.
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The Shinto ceremony is conducted with the bride and groom wearing traditional kimono.
The bride’s kimono is pure white called a “Shiromuku” and the groom’s is called a “Hakama” which features his family’s crest.
The ceremony is held at a shrine and there is a traditional ritual called “Sansankudo” where the bride and groom drink from nupital cups of sake and make an offering of a branch of Sasaki to the gods.
Christian style weddings feature a priest and singing of hymns with the bride and groom in traditional Western style dress and a suit. However, these ceremonies are rarely for religious purposes, just for the appearance.
The ceremony is often kept small with just family, close friends and some co-workers/ your boss. After the ceremony is the reception, called the “Hiroen”.
Food is served and there is usually some entertainment such as singing by the bride and groom’s friends and speeches.
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< Reception hall > Japanese style
The bride and groom may choose to change their clothes for this. Some may even change several times! This is called “Oironashi” and it literally means changing colors. They often change to different styles of clothes, so if the bride was wearing a traditional white wedding dress during the ceremony, she may change to a kimono for the hiroen.
When you attend a wedding, you should bring money instead of a gift. This gift money is called “Goshugi”.
Friends and colleagues usually give 30,000 JPY and if you are the boss of the bride or groom, you should give 50,000 JPY. Sums beginning with an even number should be avoided. This is because since an even number is easily divisible, it has the image of splitting up and you don’t want the just married couple to split up right?
Also, be sure to present the money in a nice envelope and the bills should be fresh and crisp. Many stationery stores sell envelopes just for this purpose. You will find a wide variety of styles ranging in flashiness.
The general rule is, the fancier and flashier the envelope, the more money inside. You can’t go wrong with a simpler envelope just make sure you choose the right one! You don’t want to accidentally get an envelope meant for a funeral or other event.
Attendees will also receive a little gift from the bride and groom. They are usually composed of sweets (“Hikigashi”) or an object such as tableware (“Hikidemono”). Lately, it has become popular to just provide a gift catalog where the attendee can choose what gift they want and have it delivered to their home. I am not sure how to feel about this custom. It is certainly practical but seems kind of impersonal.
The After Party
Since Japanese weddings can be quite expensive, most people try to limit their guest list. However, in order to be able to celebrate with all their friends and others who they couldn’t invite to the ceremony, they will have an after party called “nijikai”.
Some people could be invited to just the ceremony or just the nijikai and some could be invited to both. If you are invited to a nijikai, take note that you will be expected to pay.
The rules of wedding attire have become more relaxed in recent years. Women often wear dresses and men wear suits.
White should be avoided although a white tie is traditional for men to wear to a wedding. Women should also avoid showing any shoulder. Although black clothing is okay, black ties should not be worn as that is traditional funeral wear.
Well, I think that’s a pretty good primer on Japanese weddings although of course you won’t be able to really know what it’s like without going to one for real. I have not had the chance to attend a wedding in Japan but I hope I will be able to at least once while I am here.
Thanks for reading and see you next time!
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