The Traditional Japanese-Style Wedding
Some Japanese people still have a traditional wedding, whereas many others opt for a more Western-style ceremony. Some will have both or some sort of combination of the two. Unlike the western wedding, a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony is more intimate, with only immediate family members in attendance. It takes place at a Shinto shrine with traditional music, although in modern times, the shrine can be set up at a hotel where the reception will take place. The couple wears traditional wedding kimonos (see “Kimono” section of site) and take part in a “san-san-ku-do” ceremony. Miko maidens dressed in red or white dresses serve the bride and groom during the san-san-ku-do ceremony, which is literally the drinking of sake three times by the bride and groom and is part of the religious ceremony that binds them in matrimony. The Miko will pour a small amount of sake into the three nuptial cups and the bride and groom drink a small amount of sake from each of the cups three times, followed by their family members. The drinking of sake signifies the marriage union and the unification of their families. After the san-san-ku-do, the bride and groom make an offering of twigs from the sakaki sacred tree to worship the gods, a very solemn and formal end of the marriage ceremony.
Most weddings, including the traditional ones, include a reception after the formal ceremony. It usually takes place at a hotel or some banquet hall, much like a modern-day western wedding. The reception will begin with go-betweens, people familiar with the families of the bride and groom who begin the reception with an introduction of the couple and their families’ backgrounds. Rather than placing emphasis on the couple, more importance is placed on the families, which differs from a western-style wedding reception where people toast the couple and praise them. The bride will usually wear a very colorful kimono during the reception or western-style clothing, whichever she prefers. Similar to a western wedding reception, guests will make speeches, partake in entertainment, give gifts, and be served a meal. At the end of the wedding reception, the bride and groom will thank their guests for attending.
Like a western-style wedding, the cost of a traditional Japanese wedding is similar. The average cost to rent a wedding dress ranges from 100,000 yen to 300,000 yen, while the banquet hall rental costs on average 2,400,000 yen. Then there are the charges from the photographer (150,000 yen), video charges (10,000 yen to 100,000 yen), catering (100,000 yen to 1,000,000 yen), etc. So expect to spend a lot. Many modern couples decide on more simple weddings to cut costs and to have a more intimate setting.
So where do Japanese couples go on their honeymoons? Do they even have honeymoons as we do in the West? Yes, they do with the most popular destination being Hawaii. Other popular destinations include Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the west coast in the U.S. and southeast Asia. For those who cannot afford such extravagant places, they choose domestic places, including Hokkaido, Kyushu and Okinawa. The honeymoon can last between a week and three weeks depending on the couple’s budget and time available and can cost approximately 500,000 yen for two people.