Posts Tagged ‘weddings’

The more, the thriftier: guests indispensable for expensive weddings

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Almost a church: a wedding chapel in Chiba Prefecture

Japanese weddings, with their interminable sentimental speeches and stage-managed atmosphere, can be more grueling than heartwarming for some guests, and what non-Japanese usually fail to realize is that they are expected to pay for the privilege of enduring these festivities. Unlike funerals, where guests pay their respects, eat a little food, and leave, friends and relatives who attend wedding receptions pay cash gifts to the happy couple. According to the bridal magazine Zexy, while there are no hard and fast rules regarding the amount of the gift, the customary contribution is ¥20,000-30,000 for “friends and colleagues” of the bride and/or groom, ¥30,000-50,000 for a boss or supervisor, and ¥50,000-100,000 for relatives (calculated as couples). In the West, guests are expected to celebrate by giving something, too, but they usually offer gifts that are presumably for the couple’s new life together. Japanese cash gifts are meant to go toward paying for the wedding.

Zexy estimates that a couple spends on average about ¥1 million on their wedding themselves, and whatever difference there is is made up for by cash gifts from guests (goshuki). That means the more guests they invite (and actually show up), the more the couple can spend. In the wedding business parlance, there are two general types of wedding receptions. Hade-kon are “showy” weddings, meant to stress appearances; while omotenashi-kon emphasize “hospitality” by putting guests first. Hade-kon are not necessarily more expensive on a per-person basis, and in any case the venue will make as much money as it can regardless of the real intentions of the people involved. Anyone who has been to a Japanese wedding will probably note that there’s always way too much food and the presents the couple gives out to guests (selected from a list provided by the service provider) are usually superfluous.

Continue reading about the requirements of a big fat wedding in Japan →

Wedding planners make killing despite recession, population drop

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Now where did I put that prenuptial agreement?

Now where did I put that prenuptial agreement?

According to the Teikoku Databank Service, the number of total marriages has been dropping steadily year-by-year for a while now, the result of the population decline and the trend for getting married later. Nevertheless, wedding planning companies are doing better business than ever. Teikoku found that the top 69 companies in the so-called bridal industry made altogether ¥361 billion in 2009, a 3.6 percent average increase over 2008, which saw a 4.7 percent average increase over sales for 2007. Thirty-eight of the companies in this group told Teikoku that they have enjoyed two straight years of profit increases.

Why such good business, especially since there were fewer marriages (710,000) in 2009 than there were in 2008 (730,000)? The reason is that, while couples are waiting longer to get hitched, when they finally do they tend to be more financially comfortable. Most of these companies’ revenues are coming from couples in their 30s getting married for the first time. These people have likely already been employed for a while and have two incomes. They want “the real thing” (honmono) when it comes to a wedding, and are happy to splurge for it. The big bridal industry trends now are big house weddings and restaurant receptions, rather than hotel weddings or special “bridal hall” package deals. The average starting cost of a wedding (before the many add-ons) has stayed mostly stable for a decade, at about ¥3 million, but big house weddings, where couples rent large luxury homes for their receptions and maybe even the ceremonies, start at about ¥4.5 million. For comparison, hotel weddings start at about ¥4 million.

Autumn is wedding season in Japan, and a lot of bridal companies are now taking advantage of the high yen and offering discount wedding packages overseas. NHK recently visited the wedding planning company Watabe Wedding, who said that their business for weddings in Guam and Saipan has already increased 14 percent over last year. They can even offer a basic ceremony in Hawaii for only ¥100,000, about half what it would normally be. A young couple who were studying wedding and reception plans at Watabe told NHK they would like to have their wedding overseas, but that they won’t get married until fall of 2011. “I hope the yen is still high,” the bride-to-be said, “so I can go shopping afterward.”

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