- Wedding: December 2014 - Maui
I’m American, but I’m living in Japan and I’m engaged to a Japanese man. When a couple gets engaged, there is usually no ring or romantic proposal. What usually happens is the couple agree to get married, and the parents of the couple meet face to face. It’s traditional for the groom’s family to offer a generous cash gift to the bride’s family, something like $10,000 or more, which will be used by the bride and groom to buy stuff for their new place. This isn’t always done nowadays. Some guys do buy rings, but they usually choose it together with the bride after the proposal, and they are much smaller than American rings. Around 0.2~0.3 carats is average. They still cost quite a lot of money though. Women usually do not continue to wear their engagement rings past the wedding, and only wear them on special occasions. Engagement periods are really short, maybe only a few months. This is because the only way to get legally married in Japan is to file paperwork at the city hall. Wedding ceremonies are only symbolic and have no legal weight, so couples tend to get the legal paperwork out of the way quickly, and plan the wedding ceremony for later. They don’t really do casual engagement photos like in America, but they do take formal studio portraits in traditional kimono, wedding dresses, or fancy colored dresses. These photos are often displayed somewhere at the reception.
As for the wedding ceremony itself, it can be done in tradtional Shinto style at a shrine in kimono, or it can be done western style in a “church” with the white wedding dress. The “church” is usually built into a hotel and is only used for weddings. Western style is much more popular. The wedding reception is very formal and extravagant. It is pretty much always a full course French or Japanese meal, open bar, and involves lots of speeches. The bride usually changes her dress iat some point. There is no dancing, but there are videos, songs, skits, etc. performed by guests to keep people entertained. Everyone brings cash in envelopes instead of gifts. The amount of cash varies depending on the relationship with the couple, but it is generally $300 and up. This is the unspoken rule but this varies across Japan. In my part of northern Japan, people are poor so $150 is standard per person, and the amount is specified on the wedding invitation. This seems rude to westerners to flat out ask for money on the invitation, but here it is just seen as being kind and generous to your guests, because if no amount is specified everyone will feel obligated to bring $300 or more. The money is collected before the reception begins and is used to help cover the wedding costs. Wedding costs are normally quite high, national average is $35,000 but where I live it’s around $20,000. Most places don’t allow DIY stuff to cut costs. When you choose your wedding venue, you basically choose their set plan and can’t deviate much from it. Even the dress is rented through the venue as part of the plan.
Oh yeah, and there are no bridesmaids or groomsmen, no bachelor or bachelorette parties, no bridal showers.
Overall it’s all pretty costly and elaborate here so we are skipping it and eloping to Hawaii. 🙂