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Japanese Wedding Traditions

Sake Ceremony

Known as one of the oldest traditional Japanese wedding customs, san-san-kudo, or the 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. For a Western or Buddhist ceremony, the sake ritual happens at the reception. View our Black San San Kudo Set or Red San San Kudo Set.

Wedding Attire

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. This tradition symbolizes the last time she will wear the furisode. The groom usually wears a men's kimono called haoiri-hakama or a tuxedo. Shop for traditional Japanese Bride Dolls.


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 brides 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. Are you looking for favors or reception decorations? View our selection here.


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. View our beautiful Shugi-bukuro.

1,000 Paper Cranes

According to Japanese legend, cranes are thought to live a long life, and are therefore a symbol of such. The construction of 1,000 paper origami cranes for a wedding symbolized good fortune, fidelity and longevity. Looking for origami paper? View our selection here!