Almost poetic in nature, Japanese weddings are full of symbolism and traditions that bring a special old-school charm to the ceremony. Each each family brings its own culture and tradition to the ceremony, which makes it even more special. While several families have now adopted Western church weddings, a few of them still decide to go for authentic Japanese weddings.
Not unlike Western weddings, Japanese weddings also require a rehearsal which usually occurs a couple of days prior to the actual ceremony. Upon the last rehearsal, the bride’s mother usually adjusts a veil across her daughter’s face- a symbolic gesture that represents the very last act that she will do for her child before sending her off as a married woman. In church Japanese weddings, the father takes his daughter’s arm and walks her down the aisle, but, in authentic ceremonies, the entire bridal party makes a procession to the shrine.
Prior to the wedding, the groom offers nine presents to the bride and these usually include a fan, dried cuttlefish, dried bonito and linen threads, among others. This is followed by the “Shinto” ceremony- or wedding- at the shrine. A Japanese priest, also known as the Shinto priest, guides the family into a series of payers. The priest also conducts a purification ceremony for the couple, hence preparing them for their wedded life.
Another popular tradition that occurs during Japanese theme weddings is the exchange of sake. An authentic rice wine, Sake is the Japanese celebratory drink by excellence and the bride and the groom often sip this drink right after the vows. The exchange of sake is quite a symbolic tradition because it represents the union of two different families; not unlike the lighting of a unity candle in Western weddings. Afterwards, the couple is paraded in a carriage to show their new union to their communities.
Japanese wedding receptions are also brimming with traditions that are thought to bring love, fertility, good luck and wealth to the newly wedded couple. The reception hall is usually very lavishly decorated in hues of gold and red for prosperity. If the bride wore a white dress for the ceremony, she might also change in a silk kimono for the party. The reception ends with the bride and groom lighting the candles at their guests’ tables to share some of their happiness and good luck. Another larger candle is then placed in the very center of the room and the new couple lights it before going away for their honeymoon.