A Japanese Wedding with a TWIST

This post includes a narration of our wedding day, and a list of things that we did that weren’t very Japanese. Since my husband and I are from two different cultures, we had to compromise.

Let me begin with the CEREMONY

On our big day, we arrived at the salon at 8:00 am, then, it took the staff about two hours to do my hair, makeup and to dress me up. They also did the same for my aunt and my sister, but they finished way earlier. As for my husband, he did not need anything but assistance to wear his hakama.

I kinda gave the staff a hard time because my hair is really short, so it took them a while to put all the flowers in it but, I loved the way it was done.  It looked very simple like my makeup.  Plus, I’m glad that they did not pale me up. Well, before we even started, I definitely made it clear that I wanted to look as natural as possible, and my wish was granted. Yay!

At  around 10:00 am, we moved to the shrine for a 30-minute pictorial and a 30-minute meeting.  However, since I couldn’t understand the instructions well because they were all in Japanese, we asked the help of a friend to translate everything in English.  As a consequence, the meeting was way longer than expected.

The ceremony was supposed to be from 11:00-11:30, but we started at around 11:30…

and finished at 12:15. 

So we only had another 10 minutes for picture taking because we had to go back to the salon, change clothes, and quickly go to the RECEPTION.

As far as I remember, we made it to the venue at exactly 1:00 pm.  By that time, everyone had been waiting for us inside the hall. 

The party started at exactly 1:15 pm, and it lasted for two hours, which is pretty standard because we also allot time for the nijikai or the AFTER-PARTY. 

At 3:20 pm , everyone started moving to the Karaoke bar.

We sang our hearts out from 3:30 to 6:00 pm. Then, my family went back to our hotel. It’s also where the reception was held.

Anyway, after everything, you know, I realized that there was actually not enough time to take pictures with the guests from the ceremony to the after-party because of the short time interval, but aside from that, it was a stress-free and easy wedding.  All we did was go with the flow and have fun.

But certainly, there were things that had to be discussed and agreed on:

1. In a traditional Shinto wedding, only the families of the couple attend the ceremony, but I wanted my friends to be there too, so my husband, Susumu, agreed to open it to everyone invited. In other words, my friends did not just party with us.  They took part in the ceremony as well, which was great!

2. My local and foreign friends planned and organized the wedding party, so we had wedding singers, which a usual Japanese wedding reception won’t have.  They don’t really play live music, but we had a band and they even brought their own instruments.  Also, Susumu and his friends also sang. That was really fun.

3. Instead of a wedding video about us, we just showed a slideshow of our pictures in the background, and we played games during the wedding party like the newlywed game, and we also had a quiz, which everyone participated in. Of course, games are something that wouldn’t exist in a traditional reception but this was our way of letting our audience know more about us like  the things we enjoy doing together, our engagement, the number of children we would like to have etc.

4. Our wedding dance.  Initially, Susumu didn’t want to dance, but I eventually swayed him to do it.  He told me that a Japanese wedding is very formal, the couple wouldn’t sing nor dance, but I couldn’t do that.  I like being involved, so we practiced a simple dance the day before the wedding.  It wasn’t perfect, but we enjoyed it.

5. The guests were so game.  Most of them joined us on the dance floor though there’s usually no dancing at a Japanese Wedding reception.

6. Susumu’s father and mother gave separate speeches.  My Japanese friends were very surprised because it rarely happens. Only the dads give speeches during weddings, so what we did was very unique. In fact, his mom’s speech was very heartwarming, and everyone was touched. I almost cried, but I stopped myself because I didn’t want to mess up my makeup. Anyhow, I know you would agree with me when I say that moms also have a voice, and they too, need to be heard. ;-) 

7. Lastly, my Aikido friends had a 5-minute exhibition of the basic stuff that a beginner learns. Again, not usually happening in a formal occasion like this. But my A friends are really passionate about it, and we wanted to share and promote it to everyone. After all, it’s the ART OF PEACE, and it is something that we definitely want to have in our lives.

There you have it!

My husband and I made sure that our wedding was a compromise between two people. It was very important for us to hold a party that respected each others cultures, and at the same time showed our very own personalities.

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Zero-cost Japanese Wedding

I’ve come across a few articles online saying that the average Japanese wedding with 70 guests costs about 4 million yen, and I’m very happy and proud that we did not spend that amount of money to get hitched.

My husband and I live in a rural area here in Ishikawa, and we are very simple people. So an extravagant wedding ceremony and party are not really for us.

In fact, our wedding cost us NOTHING.

HOW WE DID IT?

It was intimate. There were only 40 guests because the shrine could only accommodate 40 people. Usually, only the family members attend the ceremony, but growing up Catholic, it is more important to me than the party itself, so my close friends were welcome to witness the ceremony as well.

Considering the small number of people expected to come, we just did everything mostly by ourselves.

  • Our invitations were ordered online. We got 30 pieces, and it only cost us a little over 10,000¥. It was reasonably priced, and I must say that the company really surprised me because the invitations really looked way better than its pictures online. It was worth it.

  • We had a solemn Shinto Wedding Ceremony at Keta Taisha Shrine in Hakui, and we got a simple package that cost 150,000¥.  This included hair and makeup, my kimono,  my husband’s hakama, photographer, and a bridal car with driver and an assistant to help me throughout the ceremony.  The wedding kimono is really heavy, and I needed assistance the whole time.
  • Aside from those, we paid 40,000¥ in total for my sister and my aunt’s kimono.  That also included hair and makeup. Compared to other places in our area, I can definitely say that it’s really cheap, and it’s definitely a good deal.
  • For our change clothes, we just rented Susumu’s tuxedo for 35,000¥ and my wedding gown for 65,000¥. It’s actually a trend here in Japan to rent dresses, so people can save money and of course, help the environment. I’m glad that it’s an option because I didn’t really want to buy an expensive dress, which I would only use once.
  • Our wedding rings were five weeks in the making, and they cost us 215,000¥.
  • We just ordered our wedding cake at a local bakeshop near the hotel where we held the wedding reception, and they only charged us 10,000¥.
  • There was no professional wedding coordinator/planner. The person-in-charge at Keta Taisha Shrine took care of everything, while my close friends planned and organized the wedding reception. That means, we did not need to pay for them. We just gave them gifts after the event. Also, since we already had a photographer for the ceremony, we didn’t hire another one for the reception. Our friends just took many pictures, and we didn’t have a videographer either. I just compiled the pictures and videos together, then made a wedding video through magisto.
  • The total cost of the wedding reception including the decorations and my wedding bouquet was 250,000¥. The guests had a set menu, and they were free to order any alcoholic drink that they wanted.
  • Our hotel room, as well as my sister and aunts’, with dinner and breakfast cost 50,000¥. It means that it was just 12,500¥ per person.
  • We also had other expenses like the souvenirs my sister bought from the Philippines. We gave one for each guest. All of it was just 40,000¥.
  • Lastly, we went to a karaoke bar near the hotel for the after-party. There were 30 people present. It was all-you-can-drink with some really good snacks. There were fruits like strawberries, kiwis and some mixed nuts. Everybody seemed to have fun, and towards the end of the party, each guest paid 2500¥ for our two-hour stay at the karaoke bar. Hence, it was about 75,000¥, but we just paid for ourselves because it’s how it is done here. The guests pay for the after-party if they decide to come.

To sum it all, the total wedding cost from the ceremony to the after-party was about 940,000¥ = 8,580 USD = 450,000 PHP .

Now, here’s the catch, it’s the Japanese tradition to give gift money during weddings.

The standard minimum amount of money that colleagues and friends give is 30,000¥, while bosses, family members and relatives give at least 50,000¥. This money covers the guest’s meal, and the return gift, which is sent to them a week or two after the wedding.

To make it clearer, a guest who gave 30,000¥ is entitled to a gift item worth 9,000¥, which is 30% of the gift money s/he gave. For this, we asked the help of a gift shop near our house. We just gave them the attendees’ names, addresses and paid them. Then, they contacted the guests by sending them a catalog of gift items that they can choose from. From there, they waited and sent the guest’s preferred gift a few days after the response.

As for the remaining money from the guests, if any, those are used to pay for other wedding expenses.

Since we had international guests, we didn’t impose anything. Everybody had the liberty to give us a gift item or money, but still, everybody gave cash.

We received different amounts, and we’re grateful that they covered all our wedding expenses. In other words, at the end of the day, we spent ZERO.

I find that great about the Japanese culture – that we didn’t break the bank to get married because everyone shared for the cost of the wedding, and the attendees’ greatest gifts to the newlyweds are their presence, love and support.

Filipino-Japanese Marriage Procedure in Japan

Happy Reiwa!

It’s the very first day of our new era, and I wrote this post to share with you how easy it is to get married here in Japan.

Here’s how!

The first thing that you should find out is if you need to apply for LCCM or your legal capacity to contract marriage either in Tokyo or Osaka. It depends on where you live. Since I am based here in Ishikawa, I am under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Consulate General in Osaka.

Then, I prepared the documents and went there with my fiance. Note that personal appearance of both parties is required.

So aside from yourself and your partner, what else should you bring to the consulate?

Things that a Philippine National need in order to secure an LCCM:

  1. Application form
  2. Valid passport and a copy of the data page
  3. Original PSA Birth Certificate authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)
  4. Two (2) passport size photos, mine had blue background, and they were accepted at the Consulate in Osaka, but if I remember correctly, it has to be white for the Embassy in Tokyo
  5. Proof of visa status in Japan :  One (1) copy of the residence card or Japanese visa
  6. One (1) self-addressed envelope with stamps worth 930 yen or (one) self addressed Japan Post Letter-pack 510 envelope with your full name, mobile number and address on it
  7. If you are single: 
    • Certificate of Non-appearance in Marriage Registry (CENOMAR) issued by the Philippine Statistics Office (PSA) and authenticated by the DFA. When you request it, please write “FOR MARRIAGE” as its purpose.
    • If you are between 18-20 years old, submit an Affidavit of Parental Consent (together with the copy of the passport of the parents).  Your parents may either file the affidavit with you at the consulate or submit an affidavit notarized in the Philippines and authenticated by the DFA.
    • If you are between 21-25 years old, submit an Affidavit of Parental Advice (together with the copy of the passport of the parent).  Same as above, your parents may either file the affidavit with you at the consulate or submit an affidavit notarized in the Philippines and authenticated by the DFA.
  8. If you are a widow:
    • Please submit a PSA death certificate of the deceased spouse authenticated by the DFA or a death certificate issued in Japan and a copy of the Kosekitohon of the deceased.
    • Include, a PSA Marriage Certificate with the previous spouse authenticated by the DFA
    • Also, you need an Advisory on Marriage issued by the PSA and authenticated by the DFA
    • Lastly, you have to remember that widows can only apply for the LCCM if 300 days has passed since the date of death of the spouse.
  9. If you are divorced or annulled:
    • Philippine Judicial Recognition of Foreign Divorce or Judicial Decree of Nullity of Marriage with a Certificate of Finality issued by a Philippine Court and authenticated by the Department of Foreign Affairs
    • Annotated PSA Marriage Certificate with the previous spouse authenticated by the DFA
    • Advisory on Marriage issued by the PSA and authenticated by the PSA

As for your Japanese Partner:

  1. Passport or driver’s license (present the original and submit 1 photocopy)
  2. Application form
  3.   Kosekitohon
  4.   Juminhyo 
  5. 2 passport size photos

Now that you already have an idea of what you are supposed to bring, let me share with you the experience of going to the Philippine Consulate General in Osaka.

Well, honestly, our train ride, which was almost 5 hours was longer than our actual stay at the office. Last March 06, it was a Tuesday, we left our town around 10:15 am and arrived there at around 4:00 pm, and it was not busy at all. I only saw one person who applied for passport renewal, and another one applying for LCCM.

Just a tip though, you might see some staff on the glass window for passport renewal, but none for LCCM. If that’s the case, don’t just sit at the waiting area forever. You’d need to go to the empty glass window and call someone in that room to assist you. Then, give all the documents; they will verify it while you and your partner fill in another form. After that, you’d just have to pay. Once you’ve settled the bill, which is approximately 16,500¥, you may leave. It was really quick; I remember staying there for only 30 minutes.

In the span of two weeks, you will receive the document by post.

As you can see, translation is already included in the document itself, so you don’t have to worry about it. It’s part of what you’ve paid for.

Having the LCCM in your hands, you and your partner can go to your city hall anytime within 120 days.

My husband and I did it after a few months, and the whole process of filing marriage documents at our city hall only took us 15 minutes maximum, but of course, we made sure that we had all the documents necessary beforehand.

Don’t forget to bring everything inside the envelope sent by the consulate/embassy to you. Also, bring your passport, residence card, hanko and application form. On the other hand, your partner needs his residence card, kosekitohon and hanko.

By the way, you definitely have to get the form at the city hall a few days before. Fill it in with your partner, and ask two Japanese witnesses to write their names, address and stamp their hanko. You can choose anyone of legal age, but I think, if you prefer foreigner witnesses, they have to go with you when you submit your marriage documents, but Japanese Nationals don’t have to come. This is why Susumu and I asked two of his closest Japanese friends to do it for us.

One last thing, when your partner requests for kosekitohon from his hometown, tell him/her to ask for two copies because you need it for both (1) the consulate for your LCCM and (2) the city or town hall where you intend to get married.

Best wishes!

And don’t forget to have fun in between!

For more details on the requirements or for the Tagalog version, please visit the Philippine Consulate General’s link below: https://osakapcg.dfa.gov.ph/consular-services/civil-registry/lccm

For downloadable forms, click the link below: https://osakapcg.dfa.gov.ph/testing