August 27th, 2007

Japanese Marriage Rituals: difference between theory and practice.

Alright, I've looked up the subject of Japanese Marriage Rituals on the internet and have all sorts of very helpful details from the customs to surroundings to the history, even the type of food that might be served at the banquet and the type of gifts the bride and groom exchange, but I need answers that can only be provided by someone who has actually attended such ceremonies.

I know there's quite a difference between Buddhist and Shinto ceremonies (this won't be a Christian ceremony). The couple and their immediate families are not religious, so they would only choose one or the other for the sake of tradition and even that is not something which would bear too heavily on the event. Here's what I need to know:

I understand that many modern young women in Japan are choosing not to get married. This couple are modern, and this is a love match. Would they be more likely to go for a civil ceremony rather than a traditional one?

I know some ceremonies can be huge group events with up to fifty different unrelated couples getting married at a time, but would it only be the bride and groom and immediate family who would be in attendance? What about friends and extended relatives? Or would they celebrate at the reception?

Would a wedding be considered a sufficiently important occasion for dear friends from the past to reunite? If they were very responsible people with extremely busy schedules, for example, would they conceivably fly in from around the world to attend?

How might a friend from the distant past, someone who is not an immediate family member, someone who has flown in especially for the event, experience that day? What would their obligations be as a guest? What sort of customs would they be expected to perform / what sort of obligations or behaviour would be expected from them?