Nowadays, Western-style ceremonies have become a popular choice for couples in Japan. A Western-style ceremony consists of a stereotypical chapel wedding with a priest or minister officiating the wedding. While this practice does not necessarily violate any law in Japan, it does, however, overlook the fact that traditional Japanese wedding practices are often neglected due to this common Western-style weddings.
What people fail to see is that with will and a little effort, Japanese traditional wedding practices and modern weddings can still intertwine, and complement each other to create a more meaningful, yet contemporary Japanese wedding.
Embodying Japanese elements and tradition in a contemporary wedding
1. The shrine
A traditional Japanese wedding is usually held in shrines or “Shinto.” In order to maintain that tradition while still embracing the modern times, couples, depending on the venue for the reception, may choose to do their weddings in shrines located in the hotel where the reception will be. In this manner, they do not only follow traditional Japanese culture, but they are also officiated by the right person for their religion – the Shinto priest.
Some even opt to incorporate two simultaneous wedding ceremonies to be in line with the popularity of Western-style weddings. The Shinto and Christian weddings are held simultaneously, with both the priest and minister officiating the Japanese wedding.
2. The clothing
Typically, a Japanese wedding would be held with everyone, including the guests wearing kimonos as proper attire for this event. The bride even wears a symbolic white kimono and headdress which embodies purity. This white wedding ensemble can still be incorporated in today’s modern western-inspired bridal dresses because while the dress or clothing is different, it still embodies the traditional Japanese symbolism of gentle purity. With a little tweak, a wedding dress can still remain as conservative as traditional wedding kimonos.
3. The guests
In Shinto ceremonies, the guests are commonly few. They are usually only composed of very close friends and family members of the bride and groom. This element is a great idea to incorporate in a contemporary Japanese wedding because it holds the significance of solemnity, and a very intimate gathering of close friends and family in a momentous event.
After the wedding, a big reception or wedding celebration can be held by the couple where all of their loved ones can join them and celebrate this holy matrimony. This maintains a level of solemnity during the wedding while still incorporating the aspects of the big and joyous occasion that it is.
4. The wedding gifts
Western cultures in modern weddings nowadays, involve registering the gifts they need in stores and supermarkets to tell guests what presents they want to receive. However, sticking to the Japanese culture of receiving cash as gifts is a great cultural practice to maintain in a modern Japanese wedding if you wish to incorporate a traditional way of receiving gifts. Receiving cash is an excellent idea for a wedding because it enables the groom, and bride to think more about their spending priorities that could help strengthen their relationship as husband, and wife.
5. The wedding receptions
Traditional Japanese weddings involve a grand reception where the bride and groom enjoy their wedding feast through their guests’ performances and speeches. This is similar to western cultures and can therefore, be easily retained if you intend to have a modern Japanese wedding. In this modern take on traditional Japanese weddings, the bride and groom can opt to create their own program of activities, and choose certain guests as the corresponding speakers, and performers for their wedding.
6. The wedding gifts
Traditionally, the bride and groom are required to give out party favors or “hikidemono”, as parting gifts to those who attended their wedding. This can still be easily done in contemporary Japanese weddings. Due to the variety of options that we have now, the newlyweds can even go out of the traditional fancy silverware, or expensive dessert presents, and give out gifts inspired by their memories together or be more creative by giving out something really useful for their guests to remember them by.
Japanese traditions are very sacred and important. It is a culture worth cherishing and protecting. With creativity and the right ideas, Japanese wedding traditions can be molded and crafted to truly complement the essence of Japanese tradition in modern weddings.