How much does it cost to get married in Japan?

Updated: Nov 24

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How much does it cost to get married in Japan? This is the million dollar question! In the years since we started doing this business, we have been given shoe string budgets, tight budgets and ample budgets to work with. Sometimes it has been easy to put together the perfect plan for our couples, and sometimes it has been a challenge. The challenges are often exacerbated by social media.

The ubiquitousness of instagram and Pinterest have enabled brides everywhere to dream big when it comes to their wedding day. Dreaming big is great! We love it. However, what the Instagram and Pinterest posts often fail to mention, is just how much it costs to hold the perfect ceremony/reception in the perfectly decorated venue at the perfect time of year.

I am sure you have all seen those gorgeous images of beautiful brides in their designer wedding dresses standing on stunning, curved staircases that have been spectacularly decorated with hundreds or even thousands of fresh flower garlands. Those photos are mind-blowingly beautiful, and a wonderful testament to the creative minds that think up and execute such exquisite settings.


However, as beautiful as these photos are, they can often give brides-to-be an unrealistic expectation of what can be achieved in the confines of most people’s budgets… The sad truth is, that the costs involved for creating such instagram masterpieces are far more exorbitant than many realize. The cost of the above scenario alone will exceed what most couples might want to spend on a complete elopement, or in some cases an entire wedding.

For a start, flowers are not cheap. The cost of purchasing the flowers to decorate the said staircase will come into the thousands of dollars, possibly the tens of thousands of dollars! Then there are the man-hours that need to be accounted for. A small army of florists will be required create and hang the garlands.

The photographer(s) also needs to be paid, not just for the photoshoot but the editing and touching up that takes hours following the shoot. And then there is the dress…


Woah…

The point I’m trying to make is that costs for this single shoot alone would be more than most elopements!


Now, this post is not about scaring you away from the idea of an elopement in Japan, but rather to empower you by illustrating that it can be done without breaking the bank. If you want to splash out and go all out for your special day, more power to you; we will be glad to help your vision see the light of day!


In this post, we will explore some of the typical costs of an elopement in Japan and then also compare the differences between micro-weddings and weddings in general. It is prudent to note that the costs quoted are best estimates based on years of experience in the industry, and that prices are subject to change over time and in accordance with market conditions.


How much does it cost to get married in Japan?
An intimate ceremony followed by a photo-shoot in quintessential Japanese surroundings is accessible to everyone.

All events are different

Each couple has a unique vision, which in turn requires a unique set of vendors and timelines. This inevitably means that costs will vary, sometimes greatly, from couple to couple. This makes it hard to suggest one price and partly explains why we don’t display prices on our website.


Ayako and I have often debated among ourselves about whether or not to display prices on our website. Indeed, it is a common question that many people in our industry and wedding related industries have to contend with. There are many reasons for and against doing so. However, since we are planners, most pricing is out of our control. Vendors and venues will change the pricing all the time, depending on market conditions, the time of year and demand, among other factors.


Because of this, we abandoned the idea of having set plans with set pricing menus a long time ago, in favor of presenting ideas from which to build unique events for all our couples, within a budget that works for them. However, it is only natural that the first question people ask is “how much does it actually cost to elope in Japan?”


The trip alone will require a substantial sum of money, so many couples will be keen to know how much their well earned cash will stretch for an elopement. After all, in a previous post we quoted that an elopement in Japan was much more cost effective than a wedding in one’s home country. So how much does it actually cost to elope in Japan?


Before we get to that question we have to be clear on how we define the three different types of weddings people often inquire about.


  • Elopement: a ceremony and photoshoot for the couple and/or up to five guests; typically 5 hours on the day

  • Micro-Wedding: small wedding with up to 20 guests; typically 7 hours on the-day

  • Wedding: 20+ guests and full day assistance + day before


So, what’s the difference between the three?


We regard an elopement as a ceremony and photoshoot with just the couple and perhaps one or two guests. Our cut off point is 5 guests, after that, in terms of logistics, it really turns into a Micro-Wedding.


A micro-wedding is somewhere between an elopement and a full wedding. The venue might be low-key but the reception/party might be a full on service, or vice-versa. The number of guests however, can make outdoor planning a tad more challenging than a simple elopement.


A wedding on the other hand, is an out-and-out full-day affair, sometimes two or three days including setting up and taking down. Guest numbers might reach the low hundreds. Full on catering services are required and - depending on guest numbers - can take the lions share of the total costs.



How much does cost to get married in Japan?

Elopements

Elopements typically take up to 5 hours, including the preparation time. After this, most of our couples will complete their celebrations with a romantic dinner for two or simply continue on with their trip. (NB: All costs in Japanese Yen - ¥)


A typical Kyoto garden elopement might cost somewhere between ¥550,000 ~ ¥850,000 and include the following:

  • Planning, coordination, in-house officiation, bouquet, simple ceremony decor, if venue permits.

  • Travel and accommodation for Ayako and Ross (round trip from Tokyo)

  • Photographer + Travel (Photographer based in Tokyo)

  • Venue

  • Dinner (optional - some might want to include this in the planning, others might not)

  • Hair and makeup

Photographer fees vary greatly, starting at around ¥70,000 per two hours - ie the ceremony and photoshoot afterwards. For a more extensive affair, including preparation photos, extending to around five hours, it typically comes in at anywhere between ¥100,000 and ¥150,000 for photoshoot and editing. However, it is not unheard of for photographers to charge in excess of ¥250,000. How much you pay will depend on where your priorities lie.


Needless to say, travel and accommodation costs are extra. Add ¥10,000 ~ ¥50,000 for this, depending on where they are based. Currently, our photographers are based in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara and Nagoya.


The venue in the above scenario is a private garden, with private dining rooms attached, coming in at around ¥120,000. For other gardens you might be looking at costs ranging from ¥50,000 for a public space up to ¥300,000 to hire out and close a whole garden after hours.


Hair and Makeup: this can be done by a freelance who will accompany us on the day or at a salon which we visit at the start of the day - average costs for this might be around ¥40,000. In this scenario we used a local hair and makeup artist who accompanied us at the ceremony and shoot. Going to a salon, might in fact be cheaper, starting at ¥10,000.


Should the you require kimonos, as many couples do, then you’ll need to add a further ¥100,000 ~ ¥150,000 to your budget - but this includes hair and makeup, so this does not need to be considered separately.


For decor, couples sometimes request a flower arch for the ceremony location. This is a great accent to any location - assuming we are allowed to bring external decor in. However, just like the staircase example at the beginning of this post, it can be more expensive than expected. We were once quoted ¥100,000 for a simple floral arch for a location near Mt. Fuji… I know right?! It did include delivery and assembly, but it is still more than some couples might be prepared to pay…


For Tokyo based elopements, just subtract the travel.


Possible total costs might be as follows (ballpark estimates):


Kyoto, without kimono: ¥550,000 ~ ¥730,000

Kyoto, with kimono: ¥610,000 ~ ¥850,000


For a shrine/temple weddings in Kyoto, costs vary greatly. Expect to pay at least an extra ¥200,000, possibly as much as ¥800,000.


Tokyo, without kimono: ¥450,000 ~ ¥650,000

Tokyo, with kimono: ¥550,000 ~ ¥750,000


For shrine weddings in Tokyo, ceremony costs are generally more confined to around ¥130,000 ~ ¥200,000


How much does it cost to get married in Japan
A private ceremony at one of Kyoto's world heritage temples.

Micro-Weddings

We consider a Micro-Wedding to be up to 20 guests, including restaurant/reception venue support on the day for a total of around 7 hours.


In addition to the ballpark costs we calculated for an elopement, you will have to consider reception venue / restaurant fees. Furthermore, for the extended time expectations, vendors will also charge a little more than for an elopement (which might typically last 5 hours).


Again, the venue will be a big variable and so too will the reception, if it is in a different location. The number of guests can put a strain on some of the venues we might use for an elopement, and make it difficult to obtain licenses for outdoor locations. So we might have to look elsewhere. Generally speaking, with guest numbers ranging from 5 ~ 20, we are not able to use some of the public places we might use in a low key elopement. Therefore, we have to limit our searches to private or remote locations, each with their own cost and logistical challenges.


Venue hire for Micro weddings might start at ¥90,000, either per hour or for the day, rising to ¥200,000 for the day. On top of this you’ll need to consider catering, which, depending on vision, might be as little as ¥5,000 to ¥20,000 per head.


All things considered, you could expect to pay a total of around ¥740,000 ~ ¥1,250,000


Weddings

Pre-COVID, most wedding venues in Japan might have capped the number of guests at around 80 ~ 100. On the whole, weddings are smaller than they are in the west, and unlike the west, they are not whole day affairs. Most reception venues have a two hour time limit that may or may not be extended in 30 minute increments. Because of this, many couples choose to plan a “ni-ji-kai” (second Party) or even a “san-ji-kai” (third party)!

Photographers and hair & makeup artists will also have a separate whole day fee for weddings, which might come in a twice their elopement rates, perhaps unto or exceeding ¥250,000.


Reception venues will also add service charge and tax, coming in at an extra 20% in total. This can be a considerable extra expense which can take people by surprise.


Needless to say, costs for weddings probably vary far more than elopements and micro-weddings due to the infinite number of moving parts and time involved.


Total costs might range from ¥1,500,000 ~ ¥5,000,000.