Some traditions, steeply rooted in history, may be found in modern Japanese weddings. However the nuptials celebrated by most couples in Japan today are not as traditional as people may think.
While Japanese culture, etiquette and influences are very much still present in Japanese weddings, the whole affair tends to blend contemporary style with traditional elements for a more modern, westernized event.
So here are 4 traditions to look for in Japanese weddings
Prior to the wedding ceremony and party, the guests receive an invitation normally by postal mail. In the envelope, the postcard can be found to reply whether you are going to attend or not, and the guests are expected to answer to the invitation within a certain timeframe. Filling out the postcard in the correct manner is sometimes tricky even for Japanese.
In ceremonies where the couple chooses Shinto style, the bride will wear a traditional white kimono called “shiro-muku”. This symbolizes purity and the idea that the bride will become the colour of her new husband's family.
If the bride wears a colorful wedding kimono, it is called iro-uchikake. A bride wears her hair in a bun and carries a small purse called a hakoseko, a small sword called a kaiken and a fan in her obi belt which is said to represent her happy future.
Although many modern day Japanese weddings aren't richly steeped in tradition, a sake-sharing ceremony is part of traditional Shinto wedding ceremonies. Cups of sacred sake are exchanged between the bride and the grooms, and their families.
This Shinto wedding ritual is very connected to Japanese culture and we call exchanging cups of sake between brides and grooms, 'San San Kudo.'
By drinking sake from the same sake cup, the couple is firmly united as husband and wife.
There are three types of sake cups: small: past, medium: present, and large: future. The small cup represents gratefulness for the ancestors who raised the couple and for the past that the couple have met. The medium cup represents the couple's current aspiration to marry one another and work together as a team. The large cup represents the couples desire to build a happy family and pledge eternal love.
One of the unique traditions of weddings in Japan is that the guests give a gift of money to the groom and bride. There are elaborately decorated envelopes especially designed for wedding money gifts. The wedding gifts start at ￥10,000, and can be ￥30,000, ￥50,000 or ￥100,000, depending on the relationship of the guest and families. The guests usually do not bring store-bought gifts.
It is usually the guests who receive take-home gifts at the wedding. The gifts from the couple to the wedding guests are called “hikidemono”. This is an old tradition that used to mean to display the family’s wealth. The gifts often include tableware, baked goods, and their own selection from a catalogue.
During recent decades, Japanese couples have introduced many Western elements to Japanese weddings. Many brides choose to wear white dresses, and some religious ceremonies may be held in Christian style at a church even though the couple is not Christian. The ritual of cake cutting, the exchange of rings and honeymoon are a few other very commonly adopted elements.
While traditional weddings are not that common to witness, Japanese weddings are rich in culture, food and traditions that are a treat to experience.