Saturday, February 11, 2012

Got invited to the wedding

I have been to many Japanese weddings. And I have to agree it has been a quite different experience compared to my home country. While only few of the weddings I really loved to go because I was really close friend to the couple and was happy to see them together, some of the weddings offered quite a interesting insights into this increasingly rare phenomenon in Japan.

For first wedding, I had to give a lot of thought to how much should I pay as a gift. Some of the wedding invitations make it easy for you by simply asking you certain amount as 'participation fees'. This was not the case. So I went to Google. And found that even Japanese people themselves need guides to intricacies of the ceremony.

For example,

This site (in Japanese) lists out details of manners at wedding or how you should fold the gift voucher or how you should avoid any numbers indicating 4 (pronounced same as the letter for death) or 9 (pronounced same as the letter for sufferings) and much more.

For reference, here is the translated version of how much you should pay as gift.

To Whom Your Age Invited as couple? Region
No Yes
20s 30s 40s Husband Only Wife Only Kanto Kansai
Collegue 30,000 30,000 - 30,000 30,000 - 30,000 30,000
Subordinate 30,000 30,000 30,000 30,000 - 50,000 30,000 30,000
Brother/Sister 100,000 100,000 - - - 100,000 30,000 100,000
Nephew/Niece - 50,000 100,000 50,000 30,000 100,000 50,000 100,000
Cousin 30,000 30,000 30,000 30,000 30,000 50,000 30,000 30,000
Other relatives - - 30,000 50,000 - 100,000 50,000 50,000
Friend/Acquaintance 30,000 30,000 20,000 30,000 30,000 50,000 30,000 30,000
※ I have absolutely no idea about the logic behind this or some of the inexplicable hyphens in the table.

Some fun and some gloom facts about wedding and marriages in Japan :
  • After the wedding ceremony, generally couple receives gifts from the guests one by one. Many times, the groom has to toast with each group of guests. To avoid getting drunk, a small bucket is placed by his side so that he can throw away excess of drinks and just take sips. I have seen this.
  • Traditional Japanese wedding dresses have cranes displayed on them which are symbolic to lifetime fidelity. Although I haven't seen much of this. I was referring to cranes, not the fidelity ;)
  • Average cost of wedding in Japan (as of 2011) is from 3.5 to 4.5 million JPY with around 50 guests.
  • Having wedding outside Japan is around 30% cheaper than in Japan.
  • Dwindling couples: Very recent survey has shown that singles and those who never want to get married in Japan are all time high.
Another surprising thing for me was getting invited in the first place for couple of weddings I was invited. As I bearly knew the guy or the girl. But I later found out that strength of your bond with the Shinpu: 新婦 or Shinro: 新郎 (Bride or Groom) has nothing or very less to do with whether you get the invitation or not. I respectfully declined citing some inconvenience with my schedule but this also reminds me comments from one of my Japanese friend.

"One of my friend divorced in 6 months, I paid 50,000 in their wedding and for what? Now I have decided never to attend any wedding. It's a waste of money"

I hope you don't have to attend such weddings and also that your brother/sister, nephew/niece doesn't get married in Kansai ;)