Japanese Wedding Traditions: What We’re Skipping

Hive, I’m extremely excited to get married in Japan and I can’t wait to incorporate some Japanese traditions into our wedding! Modern Japanese weddings are somewhat similar to western weddings, but they have their own unique characteristics. We’ll be incorporating a few traditional Japanese wedding elements while skipping others.  As Mrs. Turkey and Mrs. Mongoose have done before me, I will go over a few wedding traditions that we’re skipping.

The Ceremony
If you’re getting married in Japan you can generally choose from three styles of wedding ceremonies:

The Traditional: This is usually done at a Japanese temple or shrine depending on your religion. The bride and groom wear traditional wedding kimono which are stunning. We didn’t choose this option as it would be very expensive to rent the costumes and it never really felt like “us” since neither of us are Buddhist or Shinto. It would also be an added expense to Mr. Gondola’s family who would also have to rent or buy kimono.

Traditional Japanese Wedding/ Image via wikimedia commons

Traditional Japanese Wedding/ Image via Wikimedia Commons

Fake Christian Ceremony:  Most wedding venues offer a Christian- style wedding. They have a chapel that has a few crosses, and a western gentlemen (usually a college student or English teacher)  wears a priest costume and conducts the ceremony. I understand the appeal of this type of ceremony, as it is usually the type of wedding that is portrayed  in Japanese media, but the idea of being married in a fake church with a fake priest just never sat well with me and Mr. G.

This is an actual ceremony at my venue

This is an actual ceremony at my venue.

Vow Affirmation Ceremony: This ceremony takes place in a simple chapel. There is no officiant, and the bride and groom just state their vows in front of friends and family in a chapel. It’s a very simple ceremony, but it would cost about $1500 and we didn’t think it would be worth it.

None of the ceremony options really appealed to us so we won’t be doing a ceremony in Japan. Instead, we’ll skip the ceremony and just get married at city hall(its much easier to get married in Japan than America- less paperwork) so our Japanese “wedding” will consist of the reception and after party. It may sound strange to have a reception- only wedding, but quite a few couples are doing it nowadays in Japan.  I also thought it would make the ceremony in America more special since that will be the only one.

The Dress Change
“How often did the bride change her dress?” is a common question to ask someone who has been to a Japanese wedding. During the reception the bride usually changes her dress anywhere from two to five times. The dresses she changes into are usually pretty elaborate.

These elaborate dresses are not my cup of tea as I’m not really into lots of frills. I also don’t want to leave the reception numerous times to get changed so I have decided to wear my wedding dress the entire night.I think our guests will be a little disappointed that I won’t be changing dresses, but I figure I will be giving them a little taste of America by staying in one dress the entire night.

The Groom Gloves
Japanese grooms often wear a fancy white tuxedo with tails. Now I’m at a total lost of why this done, but Japanese grooms go through the entire reception clutching a pair of gloves when they wear this type of tuxedo.

Notice the gloves in the grooms right hand?


These are photos taken at friend’s weddings. Notice the gloves in the groom”s right hand?

Mr. G has flat out refused to do this and insists on having use of both of his hands so he will be wearing a normal suit.

The Formal Portrait
I really, really, really wanted a formal portrait of Mr. G and I in formal Japanese attire (red kimono for me, black kimono for him). We took a trip to a photo studio and were shocked to hear that formal portraits would be about $525. This would include costume rentals and one photo- no digital images, just one single photo. Mr. G said it was just way too much money and suggested we just wear our cotton kimono (yukata) and take a picture of ourselves.

Me sporting my yukata

Me sporting my yukata

Out of four things that we aren’t doing the one thing I’m still iffy about is the formal portraits. What do you think? Should we bite the bullet and spend the money or put that money toward the honeymoon?

What traditions are you skipping?


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