What to Expect at a Japanese Wedding
Summer is the season of love and with romance in the air, you may have found yourself on the receiving end of a few wedding invitations – or perhaps you’re planning your own.
Whether you’re headed down the aisle, toasting a happy couple, or just daydreaming about your future special day, there are so many different customs and themes out there that you may not be aware of.
So if you’re headed to a Japanese wedding this season and want to know what to expect, or perhaps you’re just curious to know more about Japanese wedding traditions, we’ve rounded up some of the traditional customs, wedding attire and gift ideas, so you are fully in the know.
Ceremonies take different styles
There are a few different styles of wedding in Japan. The most common is a traditional Shinto wedding. These services are typically held in Shinto shrines and are generally quite intimate affairs, with only the close family members in attendance.
The ceremony is performed by a priest and the bride and groom exchange cups of sake as a symbol of the union. Taking three sips from three different cups, this is a ritual known as sansankudo. In these ceremonies, the bride will often be painted white as a sign of purity and both will wear the traditional kimono.
While most Japanese weddings will be Shinto ceremonies, western-style weddings have become more popular. These ceremonies will involve both extended family and friends and often take place in Christian churches or dedicated wedding chapels. The service is then performed in either Japanese, English, or a combination of both.
How to RSVP
Whether you are able to attend the wedding or not, it is expected that you return a written response to confirm if you will be there on the day. The invitation will typically be a beautiful Japanese written card that is sent out by the fathers of the couple. This invite will include another enclosed card for you to return. Avoid using any taboo words in your reply – things such as ‘cut’, ‘split’, ‘divide’ and ‘break’. These are thought to bring bad luck. Stick with the basics with a simple ‘congratulations!’. Our Shugi Bukuro are authentic Japanese greetings cards that are perfect as a wedding invitation or congratulations card.
What to wear
Much like western weddings, the attire for Japanese ceremonies is similarly formal. A suit, tuxedo or your fanciest frock will suit the occasion. Although, women are expected to dress in something that isn’t too revealing, so avoid strapless outfits and make sure your skirt or dress is below the knee. Wearing the colour white is also a big no as this colour is already taken by the bride.
The gift of money
While British weddings may see us buying towels, crockery or an assortment of kitchen appliances as a wedding present, Japanese wedding gifts customarily come in the form of money. This is traditionally given in a special decorative envelope, known as goshugi bukoro. This is gifted to the couple to help them start their married life together.
Of course, if you wanted to give something in addition to money for a more personal touch, our unique and thoughtful collection of Japanese wedding gifts are perfect for the happy couple on their big day.
Goodies for guests
It is custom for wedding favours to be gifted by the newlyweds and their families. As an expression of gratitude for guest’s attendance on their special day, this is a tradition known as hikidemono. These are large gift bags which often contain confectionary, tableware, hand towels and catalogues, which will all be beautifully wrapped up.
Be prepared to make a speech
Spontaneity may be fun, but if you aren’t prepared to be thrown into the spotlight it can come as a bit of a shock. At Japanese weddings you could be asked to give a speech without any prior warning. It might be a wise idea to have one prepared – or at least have an idea in mind. This way you won’t be caught completely off guard should the glasses start clinking for you to make a toast.