Attending Weddings in Japan

Like many other countries, the most popular season for weddings in Japan is right around summer time, especially after tsuyu. From traditional Shinto wedding ceremonies, western-influenced “white weddings” (where the bride wears a white dress and the groom wears a white tuxedo), to a mixture of both, Japanese weddings vary greatly in style from couple to couple, which makes for an incredibly exciting experience to attend every chance you get!

To make sure you enjoy the most out of a wedding in Japan, we look into the etiquettes, things to watch out for and how weddings during the year of COVID has shifted.

Being Invited

Japanese weddings closely follow the same format of any other wedding with speeches, exchange of rings, delicious food, and even a cake-cutting ceremony. The invitation list is more intimate than western weddings, where usually only close friends, family, and bosses and coworkers are invited. These invitations are usually only for those invited and do not include a plus-one not only to cut costs, but to also keep the invitation within the bride and groom’s supervision. The after-party of the wedding is reserved only for the newlywed’s personal guest list, rather than the formal list of the initial wedding invitation, and oftentimes take place in smaller venues such as restaurants or Japanese pubs. As these events are exclusive, it is always seen as a great honor to receive invitations as it means that the newlyweds perceive you as a close friend. But being a guest at a Japanese wedding could also bring forth a number of responsibilities that many may find stressful.

Stressors of Japanese Weddings

According to MyNavi, the top three reasons Japanese people feel the most stressed for attending weddings are giving speeches, deciding how much to give for the wedding gift, and what to wear. The largest factor being speeches, over 80% of the surveyed people answered that they felt immense pressure to have to deliver a speech that would be captivating and entertaining. The second most stressful factor, deciding an appropriate amount to spend on the wedding gift, comes in at nearly 65%. Unlike other countries, Japanese weddings do not have gift registries or even a custom of gifting objects. Instead, it is customary for wedding attendees to gift the newlyweds money. This may seem like a wonderful way to cut time on shopping for gifts or worrying that the couple would not like their gift, but as a general value is not set, it can cause stress in deciding on an amount.

According to the Zexy 2020 Trend Report, the most popular amount to gift was 30,000-40,000yen from friends and coworkers (97.7%), and 50,000-100,000yen from employers and family (47.2%, 57.6%). As these gifts can be quite expensive, this is another reason why the invitation list is kept at an intimate level to not burden those who are not as close to the newlyweds. In return, each guest is given a gift when leaving the reception. In 2020, the most popular items that were given were gift catalogues as well as small snacks such as cookies and cakes. These gifts range from 5000-6000yen per guest, and totals up to 300,000-400,000yen in fees (Zexy). Gift catalogues are a popular return or ‘thank-you’ gift in Japan where a prepaid catalogue full of items ranging from specialty foods to home appliances are handed to the recipient where they can choose the desired item they’d like to receive. By opting for gift catalogues, the guests do not have to worry about carrying heavy items back home, especially if they plan to attend the after-party, and they can also choose the best gift for themselves.

The third stressor, deciding what to wear, is a conundrum almost 63% of people face. In Japan, it is not only acceptable but it is actually preferred for wedding guests to wear darker colors such as black and navy, whereas in western customs these colors are avoided. At Japanese weddings it is best to avoid bright or bold colors and prints as it may be distracting and could potentially take attention away from the newlyweds. For women, dresses in neutral colors that provide modest coverage both to the shoulders and down to the knees is preferred, as well as close-toed shoes. Some women also opt to wear a traditional kimono as well. Despite the intimate guest list, weddings in Japan are still treated with high formality, which is best attended in appropriate formal attire. As formal clothing can be uncomfortable, especially when worn for prolonged hours like a wedding, kay me dresses are the perfect solution as the stretchy material provides day-long comfort. A recommendation that we have for weddings is our classic Navy Gather Dress, which is made from a breathable triacetate blend fabric, perfect for the hot summer months! The cut of the dress is modest, yet chic and feminine, and photographs beautifully from any angle.

Pair the dress with our 29-Pocket Wallet Bag that can be transformed as a clutch and hold all of your wedding guest essentials (including business cards!). The bag is available in an array of colors, including champagne gold, which is a perfect way to add a subtle pop of color to your celebratory outfit! Transform the bag from a clutch to a crossbody when attending the after-party to keep your essential items close to you while keeping both of your hands free.

Weddings during COVID-19

With events in the past year being heavily affected by COVID-19, weddings in Japan have slightly shifted in order for guests to safely celebrate the newlywed couple. Some of these changes are of course the implementation of masks, hand sanitizers, and maintaining social distance, but also how guests attend the wedding. According to Cross Marketing, in a demographic of women aged 30-60 only 34.8% attended weddings in person during 2020. Instead, they opted for sending letters and packages to celebrate the newlyweds, had live calls during the wedding, or attended the wedding ceremony virtually. Interestingly, in the same demographic range of men, the physical attendance rate was 54%, and a way those who chose not to attend in-person included holding a celebration event virtually hosted on a gaming platform. These innovative solutions served, and continue to serve, as a safe and convenient way for people to still attend or celebrate the wedding. Not only has this new style of wedding attendance served its purpose during these trial times, but it has also allowed family members and friends who cannot normally attend these celebrations due to health, location, or any other complications, to join the celebration with a few clicks.

Although attending a wedding alone may seem intimidating at first, it serves as a perfect opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and to network with other guests who are most likely attending by themselves as well. There may be a number of stressful factors as a wedding guest, especially when you are in unfamiliar settings, but in Japan it is custom for weddings to have a set itinerary and tight-knit schedule that is sent to the guests prior to the wedding day to avoid any confusion and to answer questions guests may have. Slip on your favorite kay me outfit to feel confident, beautiful, and comfortable all day so you can just simply focus on enjoying the wedding and celebrating the embarkation of the couple’s new life together!

Make getting ready for your next special occasion fuss-free and easy with our latest selection of machine-washable, stretchy dresses.

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