So I don’t know if you know, but me and my wonderful boyfriend have been engaged since April of this year, 2018, and ’tis the season to start making wedding plans…
One word: EXCITE AF
Another word: A BIT STRESSED AF
My initial twenty-two-year-old plan of eloping slowly becoming no longer an option (wah wah waaah), my current plan is now to have two weddings: one in the US for my family and one in Japan for his family. But when it came to the Japanese wedding, I was a bit at a loss to say the least. At first, this was because I didn’t know what my options were there at all.
AKA: What venues do they have available in the Tokyo area (where most of my guests live)? How much do they typically cost? Would the venue allow a ceremony? How many people are typically allowed in smaller, budget-friendly Japanese venues?
It was through asking friends and getting advice that I discovered that Japanese weddings nowadays can be pretty much the same as US ones. It was also by asking around and doing more research on my own that nice weddings themselves cost quite the pretty penny out there. We’re talking Cinderella Tokyo Disney Castle Wedding at ¥7,700,000 for 50 guests. And that’s not including park tickets for guests. Salty.
Believe it or not, one of the most popular spots for wedding ceremonies and receptions is Hawaii or OUTSIDE Japan, since many younger couples can’t afford the dream wedding in Japan. As a matter of fact, when the fiancee had done his rounds with a few wedding planners out in Osaka, both had recommended Hawaii; one even claimed they had no other options BUT Hawaii, which is interesting.
So, let’s talk venue-hunting. Recommendation for getting started Número Uno: zexy.net
ゼクシィ Zexy (https://zexy.net/)
To start with, Zexy’s search tool is what I used to find some of my best potential venues. I’ve also used Minna no Wedding, another popular place to get personal reviews, but Zexy has a lot more information available on each venue, which is great for quick comparisons.
There are a ton of resources and searches available on this website that can help you find dresses, flowers, photographer, the works, and even ceremonies abroad, but I’ll leave the exploration up to you and just walk you through one of the searches I did, which was the…
二次会 (reception) search
I’m a girl of simple needs. After talking things over with the fiancee, we decided on a 二次会 (nijikai = reception) or 1.5次会 (ittengojikai = more informal reception); an informal, restaurant reception only that met these criteria:
- Gotta be in Tokyo (where a majority of my guests live)
- Gotta be buffet-styled (so people have the chance to mingle and not just sit and eat, which is common traditional Japanese wedding reception style – boring, I know)
- Gotta have speakers for my video game music playlists
- Gotta have cake (EDIBLE cake. Old school Japanese weddings have a giant, fake cake that only has a tiny edible portion that the bride and groom get to cut. Why? I don’t know.)
- Gotta be photogenic and fun
- Gotta be something within my budget (which Zexy does offer, but it takes looking)
Off to Zexy, I searched. First, under the 二次会 (reception) link, choose your エリア (area) you want to search for in Japan. I chose 青山・表参道・渋谷 (Aoyama, Omote-sando, and Shibuya) all in Tokyo, and hit 検索 (search).
Because this initial search doesn’t actually show you as many results, hit the small, pink button that says “検索条件を変更する” (change search conditions).
After making my changes, here’s what my advanced search looked like:
エリア (area): I included 埼玉県 (Saitama), 千葉県 (Chiba), 東京都 (Tokyo), and 神奈川県 (Kanagawa), just to see what else comes up.
I also checked these bad boys off my こだわり (points) list:
- ビュッフェ形式 (buffet)
- ケーキオーダー (cake)
- マイク・音響 (microphone/sound)
- ＢＧＭ手配 (background music)
- ゲーム各種手配 (gaming arrangements)
This time, my advanced search brought me 72 results. After you click on one that interests you, (for this example, I chose “Omote-sando Café”, which looks lovely), scroll down to see the こだわりデータ (the checklist of points included at this venue), and scroll down further to see general prices and plans.
For the life of me, I haven’t found a link to the venues’ actual websites, but nothing DuckDuckGo (or Google) can’t find. Let copy/paste be your friend.
Then bookmark what looks good and come back to it later once you’ve begun the narrowing-down process. Some other important keywords I decided to narrow down later in my search were ゲスト人数 (number of guests) and the highly-important 予算 (budget).
Zexy is first and foremost a wedding magazine, which showcases lots of ideas and lots of expensive venues for you to choose from. The magazines are great, but again; they’re wedding magazines. AKA Zexy’s general market is for the wealthy, but that aside, the magazines are great to thumb through for ideas and for finding places you would like to visit and/or get tastings from. These magazines can be bought at any bookstore or convenience store (Seven Eleven, FamilyMart, Lawson, etc.) for about ¥500. The fiancee found one at his local Tsutaya shoten, too, which you can find pretty much anywhere.
A quick warning about tastings, though, is that as much as I would recommend getting as many tastings done as you can (ahem free food, people), the tasting can last up to three hours, because of marketing staff going through options and whatnot. It’s all formality, but hey, free food.
Aaaaanyways, that’s my lowdown for getting a start on your international wedding in Japan! I may be keeping you all up-to-date as I discover more and get further along in my planning, but for now, while it’s still in its early stages, I’d like to recommend you a good first place to start.