All my friends are now turning thirty and this is usually the average age to get married. Somebody has been married already since years, somebody simply doesn’t even think about it but the majority of the couples I know is ready to take that step or thinking about it very seriously. Especially consolidated couples who are already living together.
A long introduction to say that weddings have not been uncommon events lately but an invitation to a Japanese wedding was an absolute surprise. Especially since the invitation was for a traditional Shinto wedding ceremony.
After the initial excitement I started to worry about to wear and what gift to give and if you will be invited to a Japanese wedding I hope my experience will help you.
What to wear
To attend the Shinto ceremony there is the option to wear a kimono, I thought about it seriously but considering the expenses for the flight from Europe I couldn’t afford it. If you decide to rent a kimono keep in mind that you are not only paying for the kimono but also for undergarments and things that after you will keep like tabi socks. On top of that you have to pay for the service of helping you wear the kimono and tie the obi properly. Prices are around 30000 yen. Than it is recommended also to have your hair arranged accordingly and that increases the price. Don’t think about the rentals for tourists, those are not the real thing but I admit they cost definitively less. It is not recommended anyway to go to an event such a wedding with a fake kimono. I also considered buying a second-hand kimono, there are beautiful ones that do not cost a fortune around internet, but adding the cost of an obi, renting the undergarments and having somebody helping me to wear it at the end was expensive anyway. To make a long story short I would have loved to wear a kimono but, at least this time, I could not do it.
I decided therefore to wear western clothes. The rules are more or less the same that apply to western wedding ceremonies. No total white, no total black, no too much skin exposed, not too informal, meaning no jeans and T-shirt.
I wore a long blue skirt and a blue silk shirt with a big necklace. Some of the guest wore a kimono but the majority was wearing western clothes so I didn’t feel out of place.
Men can easily get away with a suit, even black, but there is an exception to the western dress code. The tie has to be white. You will not be kicked out if you are not wearing a white tie but it is a tradition so you might feel out of place if you are the only one with a colored tie.
Gifts are another interesting chapter.
The usual gift is money, the problem is what amount to give. The amount should cover the cost of the banquet and there has to be a little extra of around 10,000 yen or more if you are really close friends. We were very lucky, our friends simply informed all the guests on the cost of the dinner per person so we knew exactly what to give. We used a traditional envelope closed with a mizuhiki knot which is a symbol of affection. The cash in the envelope has to be brand new without wrinkles and you should avoid the number 4 so do not put 4 notes or 40,000 yen because the number 4 is considered unlucky. The notes should be odd as a symbol of the unbreakable union of the couple. Remember that the more elaborate the envelope the higher is the amount of cash inside so don’t buy a highly decorated envelope if you are not going to put a large amount of money inside.
In the next post I will talk about the ceremony, you can read here Attending a traditional wedding in Japan: the ceremony. If you have any question feel free to write a comment. If you like to contact me privately you can write me a message from My Japan Slice Facebook Page or write me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers from Ichigo Soda o(*>ω<*)o