In Part-1, we write about the different types of weddings in Japan, and what to prepare. In Part-2, we feature what to wear for a wedding ceremony. If you haven’t read it yet, read Part-1 and Part-2 first.
Before the wedding begins
Time to head to the wedding venue
Try to arrive at least 15 minutes before the start time written on the invitation.
*You may be asked to come to the venue about 5 minutes before the start time of the ceremony to prevent coronavirus infection.
*If you are going to be late, please call the wedding venue as soon as possible, or if you know anyone who will be attending the ceremony, ask them to inform the wedding staff that you will be late. (Please do not contact the bride and groom.)
At reception desk
When you arrive at the reception desk, say 「おめでとうございます (omedetou gozaimasu)」or just “Congratulations” to the receptionists. Tell them your name, and hand them the envelope for the wedding money. Make sure that the bottom of the envelope faces the person you are handing it to (so that they can read your name). Write your name and address in the notebook on the desk, and the process is over.
After passing the reception desk, there is a drink service, so you can take a break there and wait to be guided to the venue for the wedding.
During the wedding ceremony and reception, the staff will basically tell you when to enter and leave the venue, so please follow their instructions. If you are not sure, go along with the people at the same table or chair.
“What if I need to go to the bathroom in the middle of the wedding?”
Basically, you cannot leave during the wedding ceremony. If you really need to go, exit quietly from the aisles at both ends, not the middle, and talk to the staff near the rear door.
You may go to the restroom during the reception. It, however, is not polite to go during someone’s speech, so we recommend that you go during the bride and groom leave for 「お色直し (おいろなおし / oironaoshi / “costume change”)」.
“What if I would like to bring my child with me?”
If you want to bring a child whose name is not on the invitation (not invited), please check with the bride and groom before replying to the invitation.
If you are bringing children, the price of the wedding money will vary depending on the age of the children (the amount of food they eat).
For baby: If you don’t ask them to prepare food for your baby, you don’t need to prepare money for the baby. If you ask them to prepare baby food, you can give them about 3,000 yen, or you can send them a gift of about 3,000 yen later.
Ages 3 to 5: About 5,000 to 10,000 yen
Ages 6 to 10: About 10,000 to 15,000 yen
11 years old and up: About 15,000 to 20,000 yen
*The most popular outfits for children are the ones shown in the picture below. White, the color of the bride and groom, should be avoided.
“Why do guests have to pay such a high price for the wedding ceremony?”
From other countries’ points of view, it seems quite expensive, doesn’t it…? This is because, in Japan, it basically costs nearly 25,000 yen for each guest, including food, drinks, and souvenirs. The odd number that is close to this amount is 30,000 yen, which is why the standard price for the wedding money is 30,000 yen.
Since there is no culture like a wedding registry (wish list), wedding money is basically the only thing to give as a congratulatory gift.
Surprising things at a Japanese wedding
We interviewed people who have participated in weddings in Japan and asked them what they found surprising about weddings in Japan.
“I was surprised to see a non-Christian couple having a wedding in a building that imitated a Christian church.” (France)
“I was surprised to see the elegant design of the congratulatory envelope. We have similar envelopes in Taiwan, but they don’t have such detailed decorations.” (Taiwan)
“I was surprised that we were the ones who were invited, but we were the ones who had to give the money. And it was expensive! But when I saw the gorgeous food that was served, I knew why.” (Pakistan)
“When I told my name to the receptionist, he suddenly handed me some money and said 「お車代 (おくるまだい / literally means “car fare”)」, which really confused me. A friend of mine explained to me that they just wanted me to pay a part of my flight.” (Dubai)
“I was surprised that they even invited the boss of the company. Their speeches were long and boring, but the people at the same table didn’t put their hands on their food and listened to them very politely.” (Canada)
“I had heard that 「二次会 (にじかい / nijikai)」 was an after-party, so I imagined that there would be good music and everyone would be dancing. But there was no dance time at all.” (Brazil)
When you actually attend a Japanese wedding, let us know in the comments section what surprised and amazed you, and how nice it was!