A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which means it should be celebrated in a big way! Couples in Japan love to have big receptions or wedding banquets after their wedding ceremony. Some even skip the ceremony and have a big party with friends instead.
In this article, you’ll learn what happens at a Japanese wedding banquet and how Japanese couples prepare for such a big party.
What Happens at a Japanese Wedding Banquet
Wedding banquets are usually held both after either western-style weddings or some traditional Shinto weddings.
After the guests have arrived, the bride and groom are introduced by an emcee as they are making their grand entrance. Many couples play a special video to accompany this part.
Soon after, the couple prepares for the cake-cutting session. This is considered the couple’s first act of teamwork. The cake used to be fake, but nowadays most couples cut a real cake, which is later used to serve the guests.
Family members and close friends give toasts and speeches, followed by free time for guests to eat and talk together. It’s not free time for the couple, however—this is their time to go around the room to greet each table.
After an hour or so, the bride and groom leave the party temporarily for the bride to change her second dress, usually in a vivid color. This dress change is called o-iro-naoshi (お色直し) or “color change.”
The bride and groom re-enter the party for the second half. They may take photos with guests, or someone will provide entertainment for the wedding.
Friends of the couple may prepare a special song or performance, or the couple themselves might give a special performance for their guests.
The rest of the ceremony is made of special moments between parents and children. The bride usually reads to her parents a sweet letter that tugs at the heartstrings of every attendee.
The bride and groom give a bouquet of flowers to their parents to thank them for everything they’ve done for them.
Finally, the parents give a short greeting to thank the guests for celebrating their son or daughter. The groom gives his own greeting, and then the bride and groom leave the venue.
As guests leave, the bride and groom say goodbye to them and give them a gift so that they can remember the special day.
Giving Gifts in Japanese Wedding
Though wedding guests usually shower the bride and groom with gifts, the couple prepares special gifts for their guests, too.
The gift they give is called hiki-demono (引出物) and is often a high-quality and branded gift that can delight their guests and remind them of their wedding. Popular gifts include aromatherapy oils in decorative bottles or high-quality tableware.
Many couples will add a premium snack or food item called hiki-gashi (引き菓子) to the gift, costing from 2000 to 3000 yen.
How to Prepare Wedding in Japan
Wedding experts advise starting planning a wedding 8 to 10 months in advance. Japanese couples tend to a find a venue for the wedding 6 to 8 months in advance, but a banquet venue only 1 to 3 months in advance.
It’s best to determine the budget at the same time you find the wedding venue. And no later than 3 months before the wedding, couples are advised to choose their guest list, clothing, and food.
After choosing a banquet venue, couples create the schedule for the party and choose music and entertainment. Finally, once all RSVPs are counted, it’s important to make sure that you have the right number of food and gifts.
Are you planning to have a wedding in Japan? What’s your favorite part of the banquet?