A Japanese wedding ceremony is an elaborate ritual interwoven with Japanese culture & tradition. It is usually small & private. In Japan, the Shinto ceremony is the standard. Some Japanese-American couples choose to combine East and West. Christian, Buddhist, or Shinto style are all wonderful options.
Known as one of the oldest traditional Japanese wedding customs, san-san-kudo, or sharing of sake is still performed today. This custom is the heart of a Japanese wedding ceremony and takes the place of vows. The groom, then the bride takes three sips of sake from three different sake cups. They then offer the sake to the families: first the groom’s father, then his mother, the bride’s father, then her mother. This beautiful gesture represents a new family bond and demonstrates respect for the parents. If it’s a Western or Buddhist ceremony, the sake ritual happens at the reception.
In Japan, brides may wear a colorful silk kimono or a shiromuku, a formal gown passed down over the ages and still used today as traditional bridal dresses. Some Japanese brides choose to wear a modern wedding gown. In Japan, white symbolizes purity, elegance and “new beginning”. Only very traditional Japanese brides don white face makeup, painted red lips, and a wig with expensive combs and decorative ornaments. After the wedding, the bride will change into the irouchiakake, a beautiful silk kimono with red, gold, silver, and white colors. This kimono usually features a crane which symbolizes a long life. Near the end of the reception, the bride changes into the furisode, a kimono with wide sleeves worn by an unmarried woman. The tradition symbolizes the last time she will wear the furisode. The groom usually wears a men’s kimono called haoiri-hakama or a tuxedo.
The Kekkon Hiroen or wedding reception is formal. Consequently, reception attire is also formal. Women guests attending the reception may choose to wear kimonos. The style and scale of wedding receptions vary depending on the regions in Japan. Traditional Japanese bride and grooms partake in a ritual that consists of lighting a candle at every guests table to symbolically share their warmth and light. The music at the reception can vary. Traditionally, stringed instruments called Samisen and Japanese drums will provide the music for the reception. Wedding guests are highly respected in Japan. Consequently, it is not uncommon for the bride and groom to spend $50 or more per guest on hikidemono or parting gifts. Less pricey are the kohaku manjyu, round steamed buns with bean paste filling, which are often presented in pairs to guests, one red bun and one white bun.
Guests attending a Japanese wedding reception are expected to bring Oshugi, a cash gift. Sometimes, the amount is specified on the invitation. Typically the amount depends on the guest’s relationship with the couple. The cash is presented in a decorative envelope called Shugi-bukuro.
1,000 Pape Cranes
According to Japanese legend, cranes are thought to live a long life. The construction of 1,000 paper cranes symbolized good fortune, fidelity and longevity.