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Whether you’re from a traditional family or merely find yourself obsessed with all things Japanese, Shinto weddings will bring along centuries of practice to your big day.  Unlike most other cultures, the Japanese wedding encompasses a whole day, as well it should!  After all, with any luck you’ll only be doing this once, so it’s worth taking at least a whole day out of your life to really celebrate and honor it.  The Japanese are so big on weddings that they usually have two!  One Shinto wedding for traditions sake, and one Christian wedding because it’s the fashionable thing to do.  Let’s take a moment to examine the various elements of a Shinto wedding, beyond the wardrobe of course.

San-San-Ku-Do

Who doesn’t like Sake?  A rich, potent rice based drink that is as old as Japan itself.  Good news for the sake aficionado, it plays an important, in fact some would say central, role to the ceremony itself.  During a more Western wedding, the only oaths that are taken are your wedding vows, one set from each bride and groom.  In a Shinto wedding there are NINE oaths taken during a part of the ceremony called san-san-ku-do, which literally translated means “three-three-nine-times”, indicating the three oaths that the bride and groom will take, three times each.  Even better, each successive oath requires an increasingly larger sake glass to drink from!

The Reception

The reception is easily as big an affair as the wedding itself, and as we mentioned previously it has more wardrobe changes!  Japanese receptions are traditionally held in expensive and elaborate hotels or wedding halls, absolutely draped with white fabrics arranged on majestic pillars around the room, all carefully lit to catch the mood.   Another Western tradition that’s been incorporated into the traditional Japanese weddings is the cutting of the cake, watch out though!  Often the wedding cake is a 6 foot tall fabrication, either made of inferior cake or plastic, some even emit a puff of smoke when you cut into them.  Thankfully, there’s always an actual sheet cake to follow, so you get to enjoy the sweets regardless!

Wedding Gifts

You’ve probably caught on that everything about a Japanese wedding is big big big!  Well, wedding gifts are no exception at all.  Instead of a gift registry the Japanese make a much more direct approach, elaborately decorated envelopes containing cash amounts that start at £300 and just go up from there.  The closer the relative, the bigger the ££ amount is how it usually goes.

If you’re planning on having a Japanese style wedding, be sure to do your research and locate an accommodating Shrine if you’re going to go all out.  Further, you’re going to want to alert your guests as to the differences in the wedding as part of the invitations.  Another tradition you may want to consider incorporating is the parties that happen after the reception, because too much is never enough on your big day!