Japanese Wedding Traditions
Getting Married in a Japanese Shinto Shrine
Historically, Japanese wedding ceremonies were performed in Shinto Shrines. Many of Japan's wedding sites, therefore, provide shrines for couples who want to follow Japanese wedding traditions.
Japanese Wedding Day
The Japanese bride-to-be is painted pure white from head to toe, visibly declaring her maiden status to the gods. The bride wears a white kimono and an elaborate headpiece covered with many ornaments to invite good luck to the happy couple. A white hood is attached to the kimono, which the bride wears like a veil to hide her 'horns of jealousy' from the groom's mother, who will now become the head of the family. Japanese grooms wear black kimonos to their wedding ceremony.
While the bride and groom exchange their wedding vows, their families face each other, instead of the couple getting married. Central to the traditional Japanese marriage ceremony is the ritual of drinking nine cups of sake, after which newlyweds are considered united. Families and guests also drink sake, to symbolize the bonding of the couple as well as of the two families. The father of the groom, and of the bride, then introduce their respective family members.
Japanese Reception Celebration
For the wedding reception, the new bride changes into a red kimono and again later into a western-style gown. The wedding party and invited guests engage in games, skits and karaoke during the wedding reception. Guests are expected to offer the couple goshugi -- money -- in a festive envelope either before or after the wedding ceremony.
Due to better climate, many Japanese brides prefer spring and fall wedding dates. Certain wedding anniversaries are thought to be lucky, so it is common to see dozens of newlywed couples heading for their honeymoon on the same day.