Not too long ago I received a query from a lady overseas who was interested in celebrating her wedding here in Kyoto. Who can blame her for wanting to be married in Japan’s very own city of romance? A marriage in the elegant surrounds of one of Kyoto’s ancient shrines or temples must be a truly unforgettable experience. However, organizing and coordinating all the aspects of a wedding: the ceremony, photography, banquet and so on can be a nightmare in one’s home country, never mind trying to do it over here! Fortunately, there is an organization catering for English speakers who can arrange a complete bespoke wedding package and its name is Kyoto Weddings.
Kyoto Weddings is the only wedding planner in Kyoto that can coordinate special events in English that cater to individual needs and styles. We can arrange traditional ceremonies and wedding banquets, as well as bridal photography.
Made up of a small international team of locals, Kyoto Weddings can consult with clients directly in English to arrange events at world famous shrines, restaurants and even a Zen temple.
Besides traditional wedding ceremonies, Kyoto Weddings also arranges photography sessions in bridal kimono. “The photography plans are great for couples visiting Japan and who are looking for a unique way of celebrating their anniversary,” says Sachiko Nakamura, the senior wedding planner. Photo plans include in-studio as well as outdoor location packages at nearby Japanese gardens and parks.
Visitors can wear top quality bridal kimono — for the bride, the elegant shiromuku (white kimono) or the luxurious iro-uchikake (coloured kimono), and for the groom, formal black montsuki (family crested) kimono with hakama (wide-legged pants). Bridal kimono are the most exquisite of kimono and derive from wedding customs of the samurai classes during the Edo period.
“Not all weddings in Japan need to cost a fortune,” says Nakamura. “We can help you plan a simple ceremony followed by a meal at a nearby restaurant.” But for those who want to experience the finest in Kyoto hospitality, there are options such as a full-course dinner at ryotei, traditional gourmet restaurants and maiko entertainment.
Our bi-lingual team of local and international staff not only have the expertise to coordinate your special day, but can also give you cultural context to Japanese bridal traditions, and deepen your experience of a Kyoto wedding.
The Bridal Kimono Rental Plan
340,000 yen per couple
• White shiromuku kimono for the bride
• Black montsuki kimono and hakama for the groom
• Kimono dressing and attendant during ceremony
• Professional make-up and hair styling, including rehearsal
• Undergarments for the bride
• Tabi socks and sandals for bridal couple
• Bridal taxi to and from shrine
• Planning fee
• English interpretation
Five per-cent discount for Deep Kyoto Readers!
Weddings held in Kyoto also help to support traditional craftsmen and local businesses. All the more important after the battering the Japanese economy has taken recently! So I am pleased to announce that I have teamed up with Kyoto Weddings to win Deep Kyoto readers a 5% discount on the final bill for any wedding plan they choose!* Take a look at the Kyoto Weddings website first to see which plan you like, and then use this link to the Deep Kyoto contact form.
*The discount does not include the bill for the shrine or temple ceremony as Kyoto Weddings do not receive any payment for this.
Japanese Wedding Ceremonies
Traditional ceremonies for marriage in Japan are usually only attended by small groups of family members and close friends. The bridal couple wear special silk wedding kimono – for the bride, the elegant shiromuku (white kimono) or the luxurious iro-uchikake (coloured kimono), and for the groom, formal black montsuki (family crested) kimono with hakama (wide-legged pants).
The Shinto religion is native to Japan and this style of wedding is most common amongst Japanese people. Shinto is based on respect for both nature and life, and Shinto shrines are often set amongst cherry blossom trees and other picturesque Japanese flora. The elaborate ceremony, conducted by a Shinto priest, involves the couple exchanging ritual cups of sake to symbolize their union, as well as offering small branches of the sacred sakaki tree to the Shinto gods. Ceremonies take 30 or so minutes and are usually followed by a meal,
either at the shrine or a nearby restaurant.
Buddhist-style Weddings at a Zen Temple
Kyoto is home to some of the most famous Zen temples in all of Japan, temples that helped nurture Japan’s traditional arts from the Muromachi period up to the present day. A visit to the exquisite rock gardens of temples such as Ryoan-ji, Daitoku-ji and Myoshin-ji are a must on any Kyoto itinerary. As Zen Buddhism grows around the world, Kyoto Weddings presents a unique opportunity to experience a spiritual union here in Kyoto.
Weddings at Buddhist temples are less common amongst Japanese but are
nonetheless a very special experience; especially so at one of Kyoto’s serene Zen Buddhist temples. The ceremony is much simpler and involves the chanting of Buddhist sutras and exchange of formal vows before a Buddhist priest.
When are Japanese weddings usually held?
A: There is a belief that mornings are more auspicious than afternoons for weddings, which is why ceremonies are usually followed by lunch at a restaurant. In terms of seasons, spring and fall are best due to the comfortable weather.
How much does it cost to hold a wedding ceremony at a Shinto shrine?
A: Prices vary according to the shrine, but Kyoto Weddings is partnered with Okazaki Shrine in eastern Kyoto. The ceremony fee is 90,000 yen (without kimono). Please consult us if you are interested in holding your ceremony at a specific shrine, as some shrines require the bridal couple to make the reservation directly. We may be able to negotiate with the shrine on your behalf.
Do I need to be of Shinto or Buddhist faith to have a wedding at a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple ?
A: No, you do not. Although Shinto is the native religion of Japan, there is no official scripture or dogma. All are welcome, and you will never be asked about your religious beliefs. Marriage ceremonies differ depending on Buddhist sect, but we are partnered with Shunko-in, a Zen temple which holds spiritual unions open to everyone.
What do the bride and groom traditionally wear?
A: The bride and groom traditionally wear bridal kimono – for the bride, shiromuku (white kimono) or the luxurious iro-uchikake (coloured kimono). The groom wears a formal black montsuki (family crested) kimono with hakama (wide-legged pants).
About Bridal Kimono
Here’s all you need to know about Japanese wedding kimono.
For the bride:
Shiromuku 白無垢 – Originally worn at weddings in samurai families, the shiromuku has become one type of wedding kimono worn by brides in Japan. White has symbolized the sun’s rays since ancient times, and from the Heian period, pure white bridal kimonos became prized. The shiromuku stands out due to all its parts — over-robe, under-robe, obi sashi, etc.. — being pure white. Another reason for the pure white color of the shiromuku is that the bride may “take on the colors of the groom’s family she is marrying into”.
Wataboshi 綿帽子 – The wataboshi (bridal kimono hood) is derived from the “katsuki”, a hood worn outdoors by married women in samurai families from the Muromachi to Momoyama periods. From the Edo period, this custom was taken up by younger women. Originally worn outdoors to keep away dust and prevent from the cold, the wataboshi now is worn as the equivalent of the bridal veil in Western tradition. Wearing the wataboshi hides the bride’s face from all others except for the groom until the end of the wedding ceremony. The white wataboshi is worn only outside with the shiromuku, not with colored wedding kimono or during indoor receptions.
For the groom:
Montsuki-Hakama 紋付袴 – The standard traditional Japanese attire for men, it consists of the montsuki, a black kimono with one’s family crests on shoulders, and the hakama, wide-legged pants. Without the family crest, this attire is often worn by men at other formal settings such as tea ceremonies and martial arts events.