Today, Satoshi is attending a wedding for one of his co-workers.
Before even getting married, there is a formal ceremony called yuino, an engagement ceremony, Satoshi and I didn't go through this, so I didn't experience this first hand but have heard that the families meet with the couple and discuss the circumstances of the marriage (like the bride will/will not work after getting married, children, etc.).
The groom's family also gives the bride some money to be spent on furniture and other items needed for the couple's new life together. There are also some symbolic items that are exchanged, but I don't know much about them, so I can't go into detail.
In Japan, weddings tend to be very expensive and very formal. Like most other life events, a bit too formal if you ask me. Most times, when a person is invited, the spouses/children usually aren't.
I remember our wedding reception in Japan (we actually had one in Hawaii and one in Japan).
The details were pretty much arranged between my in-laws and the hotel, all we pretty much had to decide was how much we were going spend. (Actually how much my FIL was going to spend...)
I remember being quite upset having to take off from work, fly to Japan (twice), to sit in a meeting with the hotel....and not being able to have the reception look/flow the way "I wanted it to".
Most receptions in Japan invite 80 to 100 people, sometimes less. I think nowadays, more couples have their receptions at restaurants rather than at hotels, just because it is just too expensive and too impersonal.
Many get married overseas (like in Hawaii) because they can save buku-bucks (lots of money) on their wedding and reception.
We picked out French food (which I never got to eat), I remember it was almost US$180 per person! No buffet lines here, everything is sit-down style with lots of alcohol.
The flowers on the table...I wanted tulips, but since they aren't in season in January, had to go with gerbera.
I remember having to find people I invited to say speeches about me...sigh. Why they have this at Japanese wedding receptions, I don't really know, but these speeches run almost the whole reception time taking turns between people who know the groom and people who know the bride.
Writing a speech to thank my parents, then presenting them with a bouquet of flowers and a bouquet to my in-laws, presented in front of everyone. (I was told, most brides are supposed to cry while saying their speech, though I didn't)
The formal meeting of families before the reception starts...and the formal photo taken of the family (no one smiling! well, maybe just the people from Hawaii?? Isn't it supposed to be a happy occasion?)
The expensive gifts, called hikidemono, which you give guests who come to your reception, kind of like favors only on a higher level. I think the value of the hikidemono has to be at least half of what you expect to receive as monetary gifts.
As guests leave, they are given a big bag filled with the hikidemono gifts.
Needing something to change into because many brides/grooms do something called ironaoshi (literally change color, some actually do this more than once!)...we went with a matching aloha shirt and muu-muu with maile lei and ginger lei.
Oh, and if you are a guest, don't think you can just get by with a card and a little cash or a gift...the minimum is 30,000 yen (about US$300), though this rule is not written anywhere.
Even numbers in Japan are considered bad luck, and 10,000 yen seems a bit "cheap", which is why the minimum is 30,000 yen...of course, the closer you are to the bride/groom (like family) the more you need to give...(though Satoshi says he didn't give his brother anything when he got married)
Wedding registries are not common here and it is bad luck to give knives or glass items as presents for fear of "cutting" or "breaking" the bond. Oh, and glass items are not good gifts for housewarmings too (for fear of the house falling apart)...sigh.
Men attending wear black suits with white ties (always!) and women, well, you can wear almost anything as long as you don't one-up the bride (which means wear black or grey)...
After the reception is over, usually there is a 2nd party called nijikai, which the people that weren't invited to the original reception go to....sometimes there is even a 3rd or 4th party...
Even though the reception in Japan was very formal, too formal for me, it was a good experience. Different types of receptions/ceremonies are done in different parts of Japan.
Nowadays, some couples choose catalogs to have guests choose what they would like to receive as hikidemono, I think this totally defeats the purpose of the gift...hopefully I'll be able show you what Satoshi receives.
Have a good week.