Japanese Wedding 

The Cost of Japanese Shinto Wedding

Of all the weddings around the world, a traditional Japanese wedding is believed to be the most expensive, but this happens to be a profound misconception.

Statistics indicate that a typical traditional Japanese wedding is about $30,000 when in fact a Shinto wedding will cost a hundred times less than that.

$1,000 is more than enough to afford a couple an extravagant Japanese Shinto wedding. Some of the tricks to maintaining a low budget include:

  • Settle for the natural shrine and forget about rental event spaces.
  • The couple should not feel pressured to adorn expensive traditional kimonos. Traditional Japanese attire is sufficient.
  • Keep the guest list low.
  • Observing a purely Shinto wedding without adding western elements will help in keeping the traditional wedding expenses low.

What to Wear

Kimono is the most popular wedding garment among the Japanese culture. Therefore the most popular and expensive of bridal kimonos is the shiromuku or the white kimono.  As the ceremony progresses, the bride will change into either a black kimono known as the kurofurisode or the photogenic and colorful kimono called iro-uchikake.

The groom gets to wear one garment, the haori hakama. To complete it, 5 family crests are imprinted onto his kimono.

Clothing, food and sake will perhaps be the main purchases made for a tradition Japanese wedding.

The main difference between a cheap Japanese Shinto wedding and an American wedding is the purchase of sake. Even though liquor is purchased in American weddings, its purpose is less significant compared to that of ceremonial sake. Taking of ceremonial sake is comparable to the exchange of rings in a western wedding ceremony.

In terms of footing the bill for a traditional Japanese Shinto wedding, there is no clear set guideline. Records indicate that sometimes both families will cost share but it’s clear that parents will do anything to pay for the wedding even if it leads into debt. Parents are better many managers than young couples and so they will avoid unnecessary costs and keep the overall costs low.

In recent times a trend where couples are able to fund their wedding is becoming more and more prominent but either way parents are always readily supportive.

The Shinto wedding ceremony is pretty straight forward as outlined below:

  • A shrine maiden escorts the couple and guests towards the shrine. They do so as gagaku or classical Japanese music plays in the background.
  • At the entrance or nyujyo, the family members enter the shrine in order of those closest to the couple first. The bride’s family sits to the left of the altar and the groom’s family opposite them. The couple is led inside by the shrine maiden, once the group sits down.
  • The first ceremonial ritual is for the priest to purify the congregation and the bride and groom. This ceremony is called shubatsu-no-gi.
  • Next, the priest reads performs a prayer ritual seeking blessings and protection for the couple. After he finishes the gathered group stands and bows. This ritual is referred to as norito-sojo or Shinto ritual prayer reading.
  • What follows is known as sankon-no-gi or the exchange of cups. Here the bride and groom sip sake from three cups. Then their parents sip and nine sips complete the ritual. The ritual is called san san kudo or three, three, nine times and symbolically the first three represents the three couples present, the next three represent the three human flaws, ignorance, passion and hatred. The last three sips are meant to free the couple from the flaws.
  • After that, Shinto shrine maidens perform traditional music and dancing as an offering to God. This is known as kagura hono or the dedication of the sacred dance.
  • Then the couple approaches the altar and the bride adds her name to the wedding vows as her soon to be husband reads them out. The reading of the vows is called seishi sojo.
  • The couple them offer a sasaki branch or tamagushi tied with cotton strips to the Gods. They then bow and clap twice.
  • In silence the bride and groom yubiwa-no-gi ot exchange rings.
  • In celebration those present from both families take three sips of the sacred sake. This drinking of sake is known as shinzokusakazuki-no-gi.
  • Everyone present then bows in front of the altar, an act known as saishu aisatsu where the people celebrate with words.
  • The ceremony has come to an end and after everyone bows again in front of the altar they can leave at their pleasure. This is known as taijyo or the exit.

The Reception

After the religious ceremony the newlyweds invite select guests to a reception party. In order to keep the cost low, regulate the guest list and choose a less extravagant venue. A residential home with home-cooked food is far better than expensive catering.

A traditional Shinto wedding reception is started off by the groom taking three sips of sake; the bride does the same, followed by the parents before the guests get to be served. This comes after speeches have been said emotions have flowed.

Japanese weddings feature drinks and meals but it’s rare to find dancing, except for the younger generations is popularizing dancing at Japanese weddings.

A common custom is to only serve odd numbers of plates at a Japanese traditional wedding, because this is believed even numbers could divide the couple. Food stuff at the wedding includes:

  • Sweets also called daifuku.
  • Japanese sushi cakes, made from mainly sushi rice, eggs and salmon.
  • A rolled omelet known as datemaki.
  • A soup served with tofu, called kombu or kelp.
  • A mixture of toasted sesame seeds with salt known as gomashio and served with sekihan, a red rice and azuki beans delicacy.

Apart from the delicious Japanese traditional recipes, most couples prefer classic Japanese wedding songs. Karaoke is a much more popular form of entertainment among Japanese weddings. 


The best ways to pull off a cheap Japanese Shinto wedding is by avoiding rental service packages and avoiding western style elements of a Japanese wedding. Sticking to two venues and home cooked food may perhaps result in the guests’ gifts surpassing the initial wedding budget.


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