Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Getting married in Japan Part 4 – Financing the wedding

As I hinted at in my previous entry in this immensely popular series of posts, getting married in Japan can prove to be a quite costly affair. Like everything, you can of course pay a higher or lower amount depending on how you chose to do things. A small crappy hotel in Yamanashi prefecture obviously will save you a lot of money compared to an extravagant wedding at the Four Seasons Hotel in central Tokyo .

But you will need to spend some money, this cannot be avoided. The actual ceremony you can probably get away with relatively cheap even if you splurge on having a Caucasian English teacher playing the role of priest, at a fee of roughly $1,000 for 10 minutes of actual work (we didn’t). But after that, it is normal to have a wedding reception where food and drinks are served.

Since I am a respectable Salaryman with a stable income, and Ms. Sunshine comes from a respectable family, it was more or less required that we have a reasonably nice reception with a full course menu and a decent selection of drinks so our guests could at least get a little wasted to compensate for their time. But treating a relatively large number of guests to a full course dinner menu with drinks at a nice location with professional staff, not to mention the required gifts to the guests (that’s a separate entry) will cost you, there’s no escaping that fact. Add to that the green napkins and other stuff that I brought up in the last entry and you might face a quite intimidating sum at the end of the day…

But do not despair! You see, in Japan , the guests do not bring those annoying gifts you neither need nor want, instead they come with cold hard cash. Not only is it cold and hard, it’s also required to be newly printed bills without a wrinkle in a fancy envelope. The rules are also there: if you are a friend, it is expected that you bring 30,000 yen (~$300) as a gift (less than that and you have cheap friends who need to learn some manners!) and family members usually give more if they are senior (uncle, aunt etc.). Keeping track of this can be pretty difficult, but the sum from the families is usually governed by what has been given earlier;
Say for instance that uncle B’s son got married a few years back and Ms. Sunshine’s parents brought X amount of money as a gift, then they are expected to give the same amount back at their daughters wedding.

The money is basically circulated inside the system, don't get too attached to it since when that uncle B's son has grown up and is getting married you have to give it back to him, but no worries, as long as you have a child who then gets married you'll get it back. So the money you can expect from the family members can be predicted if related cousins or such has been married before. Yes, it is complicated.

I basically did a business case before the wedding and knowing roughly how much we would get from friends and family, we managed to keep our private losses at a minimum while having a pretty pleasant reception without going on the cheap. Hell, with some level of innovation, I'm sure that this could be turned into a systematic money machine!


Chris said...

Heh, a very Asian thing, cash as a gift. At least it's not as blatant as mainland Chinese weddings is it? I hear that there is desk at the door and you plonk down your wad of notes there, the amount to be recorded. The bigger the amount the more you are showing off, as such. The stacks of notes collected can apparently be very impressive at big weddings with well off guests.

One cousin got married to a Laotian guy here in Aust, and there were 600(!) people there, my gawd, talk about out of control. I looked up the stats, and that was 1% of the entire Laotian community in Australia! I don't even want to think about how much they spent, though I think his parents paid for a lot of it.

Anonymous said...

Heh, a very Asian thing, cash as a gift.--

nope. its usual around the world.
the biggest weeding party do indians. some from their high castes are going bancrupt for decades to get married.

jlpt-2kyu said...

I thought most of the 30,000en goes into the gift you give back to them.

Or did you skank them with a 3,000en gift...?

Anonymous said...

So, they charge you 100 man for a Caucasian English teacher/priest or is it 100 man for the ceremony, choir, organ, two hymns, photographer and faux priest. The reason I'm asking is as a faux priest I only get my lily white hands on a little less that 18 000. I'm wondering how much my employer (gaijin broker) gets for his troubles.

Gaijin priest
p.s. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon. By the way, I usually end up sitting around for at least two hours so the payoff goes down a bit. There is also the very real fear of making a mistake on the names. And other stuff, too.

Martin said...

Gaijin priest - If you started some kind of Elvis imitation combo i guess you could double your salary?

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