How to Have a Shinto Wedding

Japanese weddings are elegant affairs that incorporate Japanese traditions, as well as the individual traditions of the joining families. Include your families in your wedding planning for an authentic Japanese wedding. Follow these steps to plan a Japanese wedding.


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    Choose your wedding date. Use the old Japanese calendar and ask for advice from your older relatives. Your family should be involved in choosing an auspicious wedding date.
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    Perform the yuino. This is a betrothal ceremony performed between the two joining families. They exchange gifts wrapped in rice paper in order to bond the two families. A modern twist of this ritual is to have a dinner between the two families instead.
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    Throw an announcement party. Invite your friends and family to celebrate your upcoming nuptials. Decorate the party in red and white, which are traditional Japanese colors of happiness and good luck.
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    Find a ceremony location. Many Japanese couples opt to have a small ceremony, with just close friends and family, before having a larger reception. Find a Shinto shrine to use for your wedding ceremony.
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    Plan your attire.
    • The bride should wear a kimono made of white silk. These can be expensive, so save your money before you make this purchase.
    • The groom should wear a haori--which is a type of shirt--and a hakama instead of trousers. These should both be in black.
    • Have the bridesmaids also wear kimonos. The bride will choose the color. Consider having each bridesmaid dress in a different color kimono.
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    Buy your kimono at least a couple of months in advance. Practice putting it on before the day of the ceremony, as it is difficult to get the fit right on the first try. Have someone help you if you are unsure of how the kimono should fit.
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    Change clothes during the ceremony. It's becoming common to wear a kimono for the wedding ceremony and a traditional white wedding gown for the reception, or vice versa.
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    Plan the menu. Serve traditional Japanese food, such as sushi, sea bream, or kombu soup. French and Chinese food is also often served at Japanese weddings. Try not to serve the courses in groups of four, as this number has negative implications in Japanese culture.
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    Have the sake ceremony. This is performed during the wedding ceremony between the bride and groom and is called san-san-kudo.
    • Stack three cups on top of each other.
    • Take three sips from each of the cups, starting with the smallest cup and ending with the largest cup.
    • Have family members drink after the bride and groom so they are included in the new marriage.
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    Perform a tea ceremony. This is also performed during the wedding ceremony. It is performed by the bride and groom, and its purpose is to show respect and thanks to their parents for all they have done for the couple.

Things You'll Need

  • Venue(s)
  • Decorations
  • Invitations
  • Kimono
  • Bridesmaids' kimonos
  • Haori and hakama (for the groom)
  • Japanese food for the reception
  • Japanese tea

Article Info

Categories: Shinto | Weddings