A Traditional Japanese Wedding Celebration

A few months ago I had the opportunity to attend a traditional Shinto Japanese wedding in Nagoya, Japan.  Being able to experience the customs of such a unique country was absolutely amazing.  I have to share some of my faves!

The ceremony began with the calling of the Gods.  There was a Shinto Priest (shown below) and an “alter” area set up as a shrine with offerings to the Gods.  The bride and groom actually entered the ceremony space together, a custom that I really like.  The bride wore a traditional Kimono, complete with a dagger!  The daggers are tucked into the kimono and historically were used in case the bride were to dishonor her family on her wedding day – yep, she’d have to dagger herself.

After the ceremony the bride changed into a second Kimono (and had a complete new look with hair and make up) as the guests were escorted into the reception space.  The bride and groom were seated at the front of the room at what we would consider a “sweetheart” table, however, instead of having the closest family members near by, they do the opposite!  The closer family you are to the bride and groom the further away you sit from them.  In other words, friends sit closer to the couple than the family.

The reception was made up of a 9 course meal (however their portions are much smaller than ours) and a sake ceremony.  Sake is symbol of purity in Japan and the bride and groom must break a sake barrel and serve each other a sip of sake from a cup for good luck – much the way we slice a wedding cake and toast each other with champagne (only a lot fewer calories!).  After they broke the sake barrel the bride and groom walked around to each table offering sake to the guests (in Japan its customary to serve your guests rather than pour your own drink).

At the end of the reception the bride and groom served each guest tea and sweets and then gave everyone a present as they exited the building.  They did so much to show us their gratitude for celebrating with them!  Of course, after the first reception ended there were 3 more we attended before jet lag kicked in.  Enjoy the pics, unfortunately, they are just the ones I took on my iphone, nothing fancy!

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