Gift Money Preparation
Preparing for a Japanese wedding can be quite challenging. The notes have to be brand new by changing at a bank, the facing of the notes into the envelope has to be proper and the way to fold has to be according to occasion. It is so complex that you need to refer to the attached instructions of the envelope to make sure. Even the number of notes has to be an odd number, symbolically meaning that the couple cannot be divided.
The "market price" for women seems to be at least 30,000yen and guys at 40,000yen (10,000yen note x3 + 5,000yen note x2). This depends on the seniority of the attendee and the location of the ceremony. Women usually pay less because we have to buy a nice dress or pay for professional make-up and hairdo. But all these didn't deter my excitement in attending my friend's wedding reception last year on 13th Oct 2012!!!
Hair and Make-up
Unlike in Singapore where we just do our own hair and attend dinner, Japanese women go through great lengths in making sure that they appear their absolute best for the wedding ceremony! This includes paying for a professional makeup and hairdo session at a beauty parlour. The cost ranges from around 2000yen to 4000yen, depending on the hair length and complexity. Because we were attending the morning ceremony, we had to request for an early opening so the parlour charged us an additional cost.
My friend's husband was apparently quite wealthy so we had a reception at a gorgeous Japanese garden in Yokohama. The shrine can only accommodate two wedding ceremonies a day and only on weekends, so booking has to be made almost one year ahead in advance!
We were greeted with a huge sea bream, called "Tai" in Japanese and sounded like congratulations, so they used it as a decoration for good fortune.
The ceremony was separated between family & relatives on one side, and friends on the other. We sat on the left in this photo. It was a long ceremony and stomach growling can be heard occasionally :P
The priestess served us Japanese wine in these shallow plates as part of the ceremony, probably for us to bless the couple. It was excellent wine :)
The couple broke the seal of the wine barrel that was blessed earlier in the ceremony...
... and then it was served in these nice squarish lacquer bowls.
Apparently wedding videos are universal, showcasing the couples from when they were young till how they met and started dating.
Flowers that were used to decorate the meal tables were given to all single ladies to wish us luck in getting married! (Need to find a boyfriend first XD)
These are the wedding gifts to thank guests for our attendance.
These Japanese sweets look gorgeous, but all taste the same... DAMN GOOD!!! :P~
We were also given a magazine catalogue to choose a gift from, and mail back the postcard or login to the website to claim the gift. I didn't know that the couple had already pre-paid the gift so I threw the catalogue away... (I hated myself for a few weeks...)
Luckily I got another copy from my classmate that was supposed to be for our professor, who was absent because he totally forgot about it
Since it was a more expensive catalog, I ordered something easy to share with other friends. It was very delicious!
Overall, it was an unforgettable experience and very different from other countries. Now I understand why they need to earn a lot before they can get married in Japan! I sincerely wish my dear friend a blissful marriage and forever happiness :)