GuestsJapanese weddings typically have between 20 - 200 guests. Guests dress formally in white tie.
Bride's DressJapanese brides often choose to wear Western style wedding dresses. In many cases, the bride changes dresses several times during the reception. She may wear both Kimono and Western style dresses.
Wedding GiftsGuests give money as a wedding gift. Money is presented in special decorative envelops called Goshugibukuro.
The amount given should be an odd number of 10,000 yen bills. This is symbolic (the money can't be divided by 2). The most common amount is 30,000 yen. Older relatives may give 50,000 yen or more.
Bills must be new. People go to their bank and specifically request new bills.
The Goshugibukuro are dropped off at the sign in for the reception.
Christian WeddingsChristian style ceremonies are popular in Japan. There are mock churches and chapels constructed for this purpose at hotels and wedding facilities.
The minister who performs the ceremony is often not christian.
Legal WeddingCouples must register their marriage at their local city hall before the wedding ceremony. The wedding ceremony itself has no legal significance in Japan.
The ReceptionWedding receptions take place in the afternoon at hotels or special wedding facilities. They run about two hours. The newly married couple will be seated at the front of the room. Coworkers and business associates are seated at the front. Close family are seated at the back of the room (this is a humble gesture on the part of the family).
A professional wedding MC officiates the reception. It's filled with speeches, performances by friends and the cake cutting.
There's often a slide show or video featuring the life story of the couple. The newly married couple walk around to each guest table to light the table candle (candle service).
Second PartyCouples have a second reception at a bar or restaurant. The second reception takes place directly after the first.
Invites to the second party may include close friends and coworkers. It tends to be a younger crowd (older relatives aren't invited). There's a cover charge for the second reception that covers the costs of the party. Light snacks and drinks are served. There's music and games.
The duration of the second party is normally 2 hours.
Third PartyImpromptu third parties break out after the second party. Guests head to nearby izakaya (Japanese pubs) and karaoke.
In many cases, the newlyweds join the third party. By this time they are likely hopelessly intoxicated. The groom is often under pressure to accept drinks from friends, relatives and coworkers.