japanese weddings

Posted on Jan. 31, 2011 by geoffropuff

sorry for not posting recently!  i was busy and sick over the break and i’m finally well and back at work with some free time.  i’ll try my best to catch up on stuff.  here’s a post that i should’ve done in october.

i talked about japanese weddings in a post back in 2009 but, at that time, i didn’t actually attend the wedding, only the nijikai (2nd party).  this time, mickie and i were invited to both the ceremony and the first reception.  i don’t actually have real relatives in japan but takashi, his family, and his new bride, sae, are the closest thing i have to family here so i was honored when they invited us to the joyous occasion.

me and mickie at the wedding

my beard got its own invitation.

as guests of the actual ceremony and reception, we were expected to give a gift, which i did not have to do for yoshi’s nijikai.  because couples give lots of gifts to attendees of their wedding, gifts are usually large cash gifts in fancy envelopes (shugi bukuro).  i didn’t take picture of our envelope but it was something like this one.

wedding gift envelope

it's like if you took one of those cheesy "pop-up cards" from hallmark, turned it into a card/envelope, and then classed it up. really fancy.

many weddings in japan are held at either a hotel or a wedding venue, very similar to the states.  unlike the states, however, is that the wedding venues mostly sell pre-set weddings, meaning that when you choose your venue, you’re choosing how your wedding will be.  and while the wedding was a classy and fun event, i couldn’t help but feel like japanese weddings are like assembly lines.  first, guests are herded into the waiting room to have juice or tea while the chapel is being set up.  (the chapel is set up like a christian/catholic church, complete with organ and choir hymns, even though the people getting married in them are very rarely believe in jesus.  it’s very interesting.)  next, they are sent to the chapel for the ceremony.  (while walking to the chapel, you see guests for the next wedding being herded into the waiting room)  after the ceremony, you are again herded from the chapel to the reception room.  (again you see the group that was in the waiting room being sent to the chapel)

wedding line

we all formed a line from the chapel to the reception room and were handed rose petals to throw at the bride and groom.

the reception is filled with the standard affair that you might expect in an american wedding except there’s more speeches and less dancing.  as in, NO dancing.  the thing that’s really nice about that is that since there’s nobody dancing, the bride and groom have more time to walk around and mingle with their guests.  we got to have a pretty good conversation with them, rather than just a hug and a congratulatory message.

takashi and sae making the rounds

they took that basket around and gave each person a small gift.

another thing that’s really interesting is that there are wardrobe changes, sometimes multiple wardrobe changes.  takashi and sae only changed once (tux and wedding dress to suit and party dress) but i’ve heard of cases where the bride and groom changed 3x (traditional hakama and kimono to tux and wedding dress to suit and party dress to another suit and another party dress).

takashi and sae before wardrobe change

before the wardrobe change...

takashi and sae after wardrobe change

AFTER the wardrobe change. although, to be fair, it looks like he didn't change.

and the last, most exciting thing about weddings (for guests) is the gift.  each person receives a gift, sometimes picked especially for each person, sometimes just a gift that every person receives, but our gift was different.  i looked in my gift bag and was confused because there it was heavy but there wasn’t much in it, only some sweets and a box.

wedding baum kuchen

sweets consisted of chocolate almonds and baum kuchen (a rolled and frosted type cake that japanese people LOVE).

inside the box was a catalog.  and this is what confused me.  why did i receive a catalog?  i got a catalog because my gift was the gift of choice.  each guest at the wedding was able to choose one item from the catalog to be shipped directly to their house.  many times, people throw away the gifts they receive at weddings, or the gift just sits in the closet for years, but if you choose your own gift, it assures both parties that the guest really enjoys and makes use of it.  there’s plenty of choices, from specialty foods and produce to days at the spa to luggage or household items.  every person would most assuredly find something of their liking.

mickie and the wedding catalog

mickie perusing through the gift catalog. she ended up choose environmentally friendly chopsticks, while i chose a kitchen knife.

and with that, we’ll end this education on the japanese wedding.  some things are the same, some things are different, but it’s still a day to celebrate a new couple.  congatulations, takashi and sae!

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michigan Bride, Geoff Tsudama. Geoff Tsudama said: first blog post in like a month and a half. it's on japanese weddings and the gift catalog: http://geoffropuff.com/2011/01/japanese-weddings […]


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