Over half of Japanese newlyweds haven’t been bothering with a wedding ceremony – The Foreigners magazine In tokyo
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Over half of Japanese newlyweds haven’t been bothering with a wedding ceremony

Written by on November 17, 2021


Billy Idol might say it’s not a nice day for a white wedding.

Way back when my wife and I decided to get married, we considered our options and paying an enormous amount of money to be the center of undesired attention at a large event didn’t really appeal to either of us. So, we made the decision to instead just get some rings, take some wedding photos, and have a small family get-together at a restaurant, saving a heap of money in the process (rings notwithstanding).

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It was probably rather unconventional back then, but it’s comforting to see that we were actually trendsetters, because about half of Japan is doing the same thing now and abandoning the traditional wedding ceremony when getting married.

According to a survey by Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance in honor of “Good Couples Day” on 22 November, of all those surveyed who were married since October of 2019, 58.8 percent did not have a ceremony. Perhaps unsurprisingly, an even larger number forwent their honeymoon at 68.8 percent.

This is up nearly three times from those who were married before October, 2019. Only 20.4 had opted out of the wedding back then, but the timing would suggest rather strongly that this trend was heavily influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on travel, social gatherings, and the economy.

Some comments online, however, felt that the traditional wedding ceremony was on its way out anyway. COVID-19 had simply accelerated the inevitable.

“It’s no longer realistic to spend money on calling people together to eat or drink in large numbers, and I think that’s good.”
“Anyone who really wants to wear the dress can just have a nice photo shoot. Even without COVID-19 weddings were on a downward trend.”
“I think the number of people who can’t afford weddings is increasing. COVID-19 is just a convenient excuse.”
“Weddings and company drinking parties are the only two victims of COVID-19 that I’m happy about.”
“Doing the honeymoon is still okay, but save the rest of the money for getting a home.”
“Chances are you’ll get divorced anyway, so why bother?”
“I’d feel like a nuisance just inviting someone to a wedding.”
“Getting nice pictures taken and gathering with close families is fine.”
“Weddings really are a waste of money.”

However, one thing that can be said for weddings is that they’re pretty huge engines for economic activity. If weddings dry up, then a lot of ancillary businesses will be affected.

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So what could be done to boost the number of weddings being held in Japan? Providing people with the purchasing power to hold them through higher wages could be a start, and further embracing the concept of same-sex marriages in Japan would also help to at least curb the exodus of ceremonial brides and grooms.

Either of those options would be pretty cool, but I won’t hold my breath for both to happen. At least I can feel good about being a trailblazer in this current trend, and comfortable in my prediction that in eight years’ time there will be a huge uptick in wives getting super pissed-off at their husbands for buying AirPods.

Source: The Sankei News, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert image: Pakutaso (1, 2)
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