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Crafting Beautiful Elopement Packages in Japan: Essential Elements and Traditions

Updated: May 24


Elope in Japan

Eloping in Japan offers a unique blend of natural beauty and rich cultural traditions, creating  unforgettable experiences.  However, if you are just starting your planning journey, you might find yourselves a little overwhelmed by all the different elopement package elements you need to consider. This is where elopement planners come in.


In truth, we don’t like to use the word “package.”  This implies that there is a cookie cutter approach to planning elopements, when in truth no two elopements are ever the same.  We build bespoke experiences from the ground up.  The only thing that our “packages” have in common, is that they all start with the same thing: planner and venue, without which, there can be no ceremony.


In this brief Japanese elopement guide we will go through some of the different traditional Japanese wedding elements, and the not so traditional, that we can pull together to create the perfect Japanese elopement “package”.


We’ll start with the basics for any package: Planning & Venue, Officiant, Photographer and Hair & Make Up.



The Basics to our Elopement Packages in Japan


Planner & Venue

As noted above, the first step to planning an elopement in Japan, and the foundation of any package is booking a planner and selecting a venue.  Japan boasts a variety of stunning locations, from serene shrines and temples traditional gardens and villas to scenic mountain vistas. Popular venues include Kyoto's historic temples, picturesque secret gardens, and the breathtaking views of Mount Fuji.


The planning fee generally covers initial consultations and on going planning, venue booking, and coordination of the various elements of your elopement. Hiring a local planner familiar with Japanese culture and logistics is invaluable, ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience.



Officiant

An essential component of your Japan elopement package is the wedding officiant, who will guide you through the ceremony and ensure all traditions are honored. The officiant is often venue dependent, for example: shinto priest in a shrine, buddhists monks in a temple or secular celebrant in a non-religious setting.


In the case of secular wedding ceremonies, you can work with the officiant to build a script from the ground up or use one the templates he or she has on file.  For shinto and buddhist ceremonies, there is a series of set protocols that need to be observed and on-the-day rehearsals may be necessary.


Regardless of the type of ceremony you opt for, the officiant not only formalizes the proceedings,  but also adds a layer of cultural depth and reverence, making your elopement truly special.



Photographer

Capturing the beauty and emotion of your elopement is essential, and a professional photographer can help preserve these memories forever. Our photographers have a unique eye for blending the couple with stunning natural and cultural backdrops. Whether it’s a candid moment in a bamboo forest or a posed shot in front of a historic shrine, the photographer will ensure every precious moment is documented.


Some couples in the past have considered themselves to be camera shy and thought this element of less importance than others.  Many of the couples who come to us for vow renewals often express regret for not having a professional photographer on their own wedding day.  We would hate for you to experience the same, and urge you to consider this carefully.


We have list of photographers, that we typically work with, whose styles you can see on our instagram profile: https://www.instagram.com/elopeinjapan/


All our photographers have different price points and styles.  So you can make your choice based on what is important to you.



Hair and Makeup

Rounding off the basics of any “package” is the Hair and Make Up.  To complete your look, professional hair and makeup artists are essential. Japanese stylists are known for their precision and attention to detail, ensuring you look flawless throughout the day. They can help you achieve traditional Japanese looks, such as the classic beauty of a Geisha-inspired makeup or a more contemporary bridal style, blending seamlessly with the cultural backdrop.


The cost of Japanese stylists tends to be much more competitive than in the west, meaning you can have the vogue look without breaking the bank!  We have a set list of people we work with, all of whose styles you can see on the photos here on the website and on Instagram.




Optional Extras


Videographer

A videographer complements the photographer by capturing the day’s events in motion, and compiling them into a highlights reel for later consumption.  It is also a great way to share your experience with those who might have not been able to make the trip.


Imagine having a beautifully edited video that includes not just the ceremony but also the heartfelt toasts, joyous laughter, and serene moments of reflection. A videographer can also capture the unique sounds of the environment, like the rustle of leaves in a Zen garden or the chanting of monks, adding another layer of immersion to your memories.



Kimono

Japanese Wedding Kimono

Wearing a kimono adds a profound cultural touch to your elopement. There are various types of kimono to choose from, each with its own significance and style.  The traditional white wedding kimono, known as "shiromuku," symbolizes purity and elegance.  Alternatively, you might opt for a more colorful "uchikake," often adorned with intricate patterns and embroidery.


Dressing in a kimono enhances the visual aspect of the day and connects you deeply with Japanese heritage.


It is important to note that the idea of “cultural appropriation” is not a thing in Japan.  So if you are on the fence about whether or note it is appropriate, don’t be.  When we are out on shoots, Japanese people often stop our couples to say they look great, beautiful or cool, and sometimes they stop and ask for a selfie!  The Japanese are clearly happy to see people appreciating and enjoying Japanese culture.


We’re not here to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t wear a kimono. At the end of the day you must be comfortable with your decision.  But, do dispel any notions of “cultural appropriation” from your minds and make your decision with a clear conscience.


It is your day, and part of our job is to make sure you have no regrets about any decisions you make or do not make. So go on, wear a kimono if you want to!



Florist

Floral bouquets play a significant role in any wedding, and for a Japanese elopement, they can add an extra layer of beauty and meaning. The choice of flowers can reflect personal preferences, seasonal availability, and traditional symbolism.


Cherry blossoms, or "sakura," symbolize the fleeting nature of life and beauty, making them a poignant choice for spring elopements. Other popular options include peonies for good fortune and happiness, or chrysanthemums for longevity.


Incorporating flowers into your bouquet, hair accessories or the grooms lapel not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your ceremony but also connects you with Japanese cultural traditions, adding depth and significance to your special day.


It is important to note that while in the west there is a tradition of having a bride’s fresh flower bouquet (or replica of) pressed and dried, none of these would make it through customs on your return trip. These days, with recent advances, artificial flowers offer the perfect, everlasting solution to this problem.



Tea Ceremony

Although not part of wedding traditions in Japan, a Japanese tea ceremony, or "sado," can be a peaceful and meaningful addition to your elopement. This ritual involves the ceremonial preparation and consumption of matcha, or powdered green tea.


The tea ceremony embodies harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility, making it a perfect symbol of the union you are celebrating. Participating in this serene and reflective ritual can provide a moment of zen and connection amidst the excitement of the day.



Japanese Traditional Music

Tea ceremony and koto player
Enjoying a traditional Japanese tea ceremony to the sounds of the koto creates an ethereal experience, that will never be forgotten.

Incorporating traditional Japanese music into your ceremony can elevate the atmosphere and deepen the cultural experience. The gentle sounds of instruments like the koto (a stringed instrument) or the shakuhachi (a bamboo flute) provide a beautiful and soothing soundtrack. This music can accompany the ceremony, the tea ritual, or even the walk down the aisle, adding an authentic and emotional layer to the experience.



Sake Barrel Ceremony

Kagami Biraki

The sake barrel ceremony, or "kagami-biraki," is a joyful tradition involving breaking open a barrel of sake to share with guests. This act symbolizes good fortune and harmony. Including this ceremony in your elopement adds a fun and interactive element and honors a time-honored Japanese tradition of celebration.


We often describe this tradition along the same lines as the cake cut in the west. But whether you are eloping with or without the presence of guests, it is a great addition to the proceedings.  And it can also loosen you up before the main post-ceremony photo-session begins!


If you are not much of a sake drinker, we can replace it with wine or beer or even halloween candy (yes, we have done this!) in the barrel!!



San-San-Ku-Do

San-san-ku-do wedding ritual
Originally part of a Shinto Shrine Wedding ceremony the San-San-Ku-Do can also be possible to incorporated into secular proceedings.

The San-San-Ku-Do ceremony is a traditional sake-sharing ritual performed during Japanese Shinto Shrine weddings. The bride and groom take three sips each from three different cups of sake.  This symbolizes the binding of the couple, their families, and their mutual promises. This ritual, rich in meaning and history, is a profound way to seal your vows and create a lasting memory of unity and commitment.


Whether or not you have a shrine wedding, weaving this into a secular ceremony is a great way of incorporating and honoring Japanese traditions, and makes for great photos!


Enhancing the Experience

To enhance your elopement further, consider additional elements such as:


  • a pre or post ceremony day photo-shoot with your chosen photographer to capture some of the other amazing sites in Japan.

  • ending your day at an amazing restaurant experiencing the finest Japanese cuisine can offer.

  • Arranging a calligraphy lesson and immortalize your experience with some choice words written in picturesque Japanese characters.


The list is endless!


Find out more

Planning an elopement package in Japan involves weaving together various elements that celebrate both your love and the beauty of Japanese culture.  From selecting a stunning venue to incorporating traditional rituals, every detail contributes to creating a memorable and deeply meaningful experience.


If you are ready to start considering the options and plan your perfect elopement in Japan, reach out to us today and let's talk!


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