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Creative ideas for minimal/budget-friendly wedding in Japan

jockeii

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Hello everyone,

My fiancée and I are currently considering getting married in Japan. She lives in the Philippines, and I live in Canada. Most specifically, we are targeting (ideally) Kansai region. Kyoto is the closest to our hearts, but we are very much open to Nara and Osaka as well, or somewhere near Himeji castle. That said, we are open to other alternatives !

The challenge is to find something to fit our specific needs, and that's where we need some help from more experienced people with some creative thinking.

As far as I understand it, a wedding in Japan is made official solely through the registration at a municipal office, which in theory should be the only necessary step. On top of that, however, we were also hoping for a simple and relatively intimate ceremony (between 10-20 guests) to make things a bit more special. Everything else we are very flexible with, and we could deal with separately (for example by having a standard meal with loved ones inside a restaurant instead of hosting a reception).

Our two main challenges are :

1 - Finding a venue for a simple ceremony within our budget. So far all options we found for a venue include everything inside one package instead of just the ceremony, which makes it a bit too expensive for our budget (options so far were around ¥400,000 minimum). Another option would be to improvise our own venue outside, but we think that the weather might be an issue if raining, especially with some of our elderly relatives.

2 - Finding someone to help assist us and/or translate documents at the municipal office. Again, most of the options we've seen for this come with a full wedding package. My question is, do we truly need assistance from someone for this step, and if so, is it possible to find this help outside of a full wedding package ?

We are currently spending most of our free time looking online for ideas and alternatives, but I think we've come to a point where we need help from people to approach this by thinking outside the box. We are open to any type of idea for any type of wedding (western or Japanese) and we can be quite flexible as we don't have any preconceived idea in mind.

Any help, random ideas and new perspectives would be deeply appreciated. Thank you !
 

Majestic

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You both live outside of Japan, right? You can have a ceremonial service in Japan, but you won't be able to actually register your marriage in Japan unless at least one of you lives here. Note that Japan is notoriously expensive for wedding ceremonies, and even a dirt cheap one at a typical wedding ceremony hall will be expensive (over uS$10,000, and that is just for the rental space and maybe a "celebrant" to officiate. Arranging for a ceremony at one of these venues from overseas would be extremely difficult unless one of you speaks excellent Japanese. There might also be a restriction on tourists coming into Japan... getting married might not be a permitted activity for a tourist. Anyway, moving past that, the only thing you might try is contacting a random church, maybe in the suburbs of Tokyo, and ask if they perform weddings for visitors. (i.e. try searching for "Catholic Church Tokyo Suburbs" and see if you can get any interesting leads.
 

mdchachi

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You live in Canada and she lives in the Philippines. So... why are you considering Japan? Because it's halfway between the two countries? Or are there other ties there?
Anyway for one random idea, how about doing it on a cruise ship, such as the Diamond Princess? People have ceremonies on cruise ships all the time.
 

jockeii

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Thank you both for the answers !

Yes, we both live outside of Japan, her in the Philippines, and me in Canada. We were considering Japan for a few reasons, the main one being that Japan is very close to both our hearts ; we both traveled to Japan three times each (first two times without each other), and it is the first place ever that we met in person (we took our last trip there together). So of course, several of the most cherished moments of our lives happened there. We liked the idea of not only going back for this special day, but also sharing with our loved ones something that many times made us so happy.

There seems to be an on-going debate about whether two foreigners can get married in Japan, but from the informations we've gathered (including from a wedding planner based in Japan, who's in contact with Japanese authorities), it seems like there usually wouldn't be any problems, in most cases.

We are, however facing a problem : even if Japanese government would be accepting our wedding, it's the Philippines' government that recently started refusing to issue the necessary documents for Philippines residents wanting to get married in Japan specifically.

We are still considering trying to do our ceremony there, after having a civil wedding in a different country (since we are planning to go to Japan for our honeymoon in any case), but admittedly we don't really know what to do anymore. The ceremony would basically have no meaning except for us (which was already the case, but seems even more true if a civil wedding is held in a different country beforehand, rather than if the papers are registered in Japan).

We are still considering it, but the extra cost of getting married somewhere else, along with the difficulty of having a ceremony that is convincing enough for our entourage to come along with us, is making things extra complicated.

Trying not to be too heartbroken about this, but admittedly it is a bit difficult. Any ideas would be deeply appreciated, but I understand that there are probably no miracle solutions. :)
 

mdchachi

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I guess the main question is figuring out where/how to file to get your wedding certificate in your home country. If all you need is some form and witness signature of the person who did the ceremony and then to file in your home courthouse, then maybe it's easy. From Japan's perspective I don't believe you could get legally married there. You're not even a legal resident. I can't imagine that would be possible. Even if it were, what would be the point? I think you should forget about trying to register your wedding in Japan and figure out how to register it wherever you need it to be registered. Canada or Philippines or both.

Alternatively you could separate the legal act of getting married from whatever ceremonies you do as you already said. I think it's very common thing to do. If you're afraid it will dissuade people from coming to celebrate with you, you could do it secretly. Either before or after the ceremony.
I got legally married a month before my wedding ceremony in order to start processing the U.S. paperwork for my bride. My immediate family knew but nobody else did. There was no point in telling them.

Then, the main question is where/how to do it at a reasonable price. I didn't even consider doing it in Japan due to the cost but we did have a sort of engagement party in Japan where we rented out a nice restaurant in Tokyo. So we did kind of a reception without the ceremony. Even that was not cheap. Several thousand dollars if I recall.

If you are thinking to do something religious then you should contact churches to see if they can help you. You could also try to get in touch with the filipino community in Japan. They may have some ideas.
 
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