Congratulations on your engagement!
It must be very exciting planning a wedding in Japan! Here are some culture differences between Japanese weddings and some Western style weddings.
Note that it may not apply to all venues, but are based on my experiences with some venues.
It’s very often that venues have their own “in-house photographer”. This may be a photographer based in the venue or a studio that regularly partners with the venue. A photographer that is hired exclusively by the client, for this explanation of this article, will be called “external photographer”.
Knowing the culture differences can help reduce miscommunication and stress on your wedding day.
1) Getting ready
It’s quite often that the Japanese photographers only shoot the Getting Ready scenes after the bride has completed her styling and put on her dress. The Getting Ready shooting is usually very short and kept to about 15 minutes or less. If you wish to have authentic documentary of you getting ready from the very begining , please communicate this to your wedding planner. Some venues may not allow external photographers to shoot the getting ready scenes at all. Please do check with your venue regarding any restrictions with regards to photography,
2) Wedding Bands and wedding items
Many wedding planners will collect the wedding bands or some of the wedding day items at the beginning of the day. If you wish to have your wedding bands or other wedding day details photographed, please kindly keep these items with you until the photographer has photographed them. This will help to reduce time wasted if the photographer has to hunt down the wedding planner to get the items.
3) Bridesmaid vs. Attendant
In most Japanese weddings, bridesmaids are rare. On the wedding day, the stylist will be the one that helps the bride put on her wedding dress. An attendant is usually attached to the bride to attend to her needs throughout the wedding day. For example, she will help the bride with the dress, bouquet, pulling out the chair for her etc.) If you want your bridesmaid to attend to your needs, please communicate this to your wedding planner.
4) Before the ceremony
In some venues, the bride is usually hidden from the guests before the ceremony begins. There may be limited locations within the venue the bride can be at. If you are looking to have portraits with your bridal party or First Look outdoors, please communicate this to your wedding planner.
5) The Ceremony
In Japanese weddings, the Mother-of-the-bride will put the veil down for the bride at the entrance of the ceremony hall. There is also usually a signing of a non-legal certificate during the ceremony. Again, it’s rare for bridesmaids and groomsmen to participate during the ceremony walk-in. If you want the bridal party to march in, please communicate to the wedding planner. It will help reduce some stress and miscommunication during the wedding day rehearsal.
6) Photography during ceremony
Some venues can be rather strict with regards to photography during ceremony. First of all, be sure to check with your venue that external photographers are allowed to photograph and move around during the ceremony . Some strict venues do not allow external photographers to capture the wedding ceremony or may restrict external photographers to sit down during the ceremony . Some venues also do not allow photographers to step onto the aisle during the wedding ceremony. Please check any photography restrictions with your wedding planner.
5) Reception Setup
In many Japanese receptions, the bridal couple sits at their own separate table from all the other guests. It is because it’s more common for guests to go up to the bridal couple table to offer toasts and speak to them.
In many Japanese receptions, there is usually no bridal party march-in. Again, communicate with your wedding planner if you require a bridal party march-in.
Speeches are often in Japanese weddings. The groom usually makes the speech on behalf on the couple. The bride usually does not speak.
In Japanese wedding, it’s common for bride and groom to feed each other a spoonful of the cake after cake cutting. This is called “First Bite”.