Kyoto Weddings

Have a traditional wedding ceremony in Kyoto

Unique, exotic, cultural, romantic…in the ancient capital. Having no off-season, Kyoto, the capital and centre for culture and the arts from the years 794-1868, is world renown for the beauty and romantic atmosphere of the four seasons.

With the cuisine, dining ware, alcove scrolls, and kimono/obi changing monthly, there is no better place to experience the true Japanese kokoro (heart/mind/ spirit). We will work with you to create a totally unique and unforgettable experience for you on this very special day.

Japanese Wedding Traditions

A Japanese wedding ceremony can be Christian, Buddhist, or Shinto style. Since most Japanese aren’t religious, the style doesn’t necessarily match with their religion.

There are many weddings held during the spring and fall in Japan. Spring and autumn are the favourite seasons for Japanese weddings.

Spring especially, will be much more expensive than other times during the year. Dates to avoid are January and mid August.

Please remember that summer in Japan is unbelievably hot and sticky. On certain days, which are considered auspicious in the Japanese almanac, there may be as many as forty couples united in Japanese weddings at a Shinto shrine.

Also be aware that summers are hot, well in the region of 38 degrees plus and sticky.

The Shinto Ceremony

The traditional Shinto ceremony honours the kami, the spirits inherent in the natural world. After a purification ceremony using a special branch called the harai-gushi, the priest calls to the gods to bless the couple. The ceremony ends with a ritual sharing of sake from three flat cups stacked on top of one another. Popularly called san-san-kudo, this ritual can be performed any number of ways, depending on family customs. The groom may lead, taking three sips from the first cup, followed by the bride, who also takes three sips from the first cup. Then they move on to the second and third cups. The sake is then offered to the couple’s families.

A Shinto wedding is accompanied by the traditional music and attended by “Miko” maidens who serve “Sake” in red and white dresses. Not to be confused with Maiko, apprentice Geisha. The exchange of wedding rings is also a popular practice today. The bridegroom and bride proceed to the sanctuary to offer twigs of “Sakaki” sacred tree in worship to gods to end the main part of the wedding ceremony. It is a short service, simple in procedure but full of solemn atmosphere.

Non-family members don’t usually attend the marriage ceremony itself; rather they go to the wedding reception, called “Kekkon Hiroen” in Japanese. The style and scale of wedding receptions vary depending on the regions in Japan. A typical Japanese wedding reception is formal, and it’s like a show. We can tailor this to your needs.

Geisha Entertainment

All weddings will include a geisha party.

You will be entertained in true Kyoto style by geisha and maiko. Your party will last approximately 2.5 hours approx.

We suggest either a morning ceremony with the geisha party in the afternoon or an early afternoon ceremony with an early evening geisha party.

For more information on geisha, please have a look at geisha descriptions

Specially Selected Venues

The famous Buddhist Temple or Shinto Shines are ever popular, though do get extremely busy.

We are lucky enough to have access to many of Kyoto’s lesser known temples, shrines and gardens, making it possible to have both romantic and intimate blessings no longer a dream.

Provisions can be made for those with disabilities.

For your reception we can accommodate from 2 to 100. The venue is dependant on numbers. We have a set menu, kaiseki style cuisine, and vegetarian menu on request. Seasonal delicacies. Drinks included will be sake, beer, plum wine and soft drinks.

Professional Photographer

Professional photography and video service for a beautifully shot photo album and DVD.

Kimono Hire and Dressing

In a traditional Japanese wedding, the bride’s hair is also styled in the traditional hair style called bunkin-takashimada and adorned with beautiful gold combs and accessories called kanzashi. A white wedding hood called tsuno kakushi is meant to hide two front golden “tsuno” or horns during the wedding ceremony to symbolize obedience

There are traditional wedding accessories that are worn for tradition and are said to bring good luck.

The bride carries a small purse style sack called hakoseko and a small-encased sword called kaiken. Lastly, a fan is worn in the obi belt for tradition holds that the gradual widening of the open fan implies a happy future.

In the picture above, the married sister of the bride is wearing a tomesode kimono. The tomesode is a black formal kimono and is combined with a multi-colour design on the skirt.

The all-white silk wedding kimono dates back to the Edo era (1700-1900) and the traditions of the brides of the samurai.

White symbolizes both a new beginning and an end, because the bride “dies” as her father’s daughter and is reborn a member of her husband’s family.

The bride traditionally wears her hair up, fastened by tortoise-shell combs. A white cloth and veil cover her head, and her face is painted creamy white.

The bride changes several times, once to an ornate gold, silver and red robe embroidered with auspicious symbols such as cranes and flowers, and again to a deep-coloured, highly patterned kimono usually reserved for young, unmarried women. This is the last time she will be able to wear this kimono.

Irises are a beautiful choice for the Japanese American bride; the colour purple is the colour of love in Japan. The groom wears a black silk kimono with his family crest in white, in five different places. Under this kimono is a striped, pleated skirt, or hakama. He carries a white folded fan and wears white sandals.

The traditional white Japanese wedding kimono is called shiro-maku. Shiro meaning white and maku meaning pure. The wedding kimono actually consists of two different kimono.

The white wedding kimono is worn for the wedding ceremony and an elaborate rich patterned silk brocade kimono called Uchikake is worn over the white kimono at the wedding reception. Here the bride is wearing a “Tsuno Kakushi” hood. This is worn to cover the brides “horns”, thus showing her obedience to her new husband. You can also see the big “Kanzashi” ornaments in the bride’s hair. The bride is wearing a gorgeous white “Uchikake” gown, the wedding kimono. These are also known as the “Shiromuku”. Below you can see a close up of the “Shiromuku” showing the great detail in patterns woven into the material. This is an example from Oriental Artefacts extensive range of kimono.

The bright and colourful Uchikake kimono originated in the Edo era and originally only worn by court nobles. The kimono is made of silk and silk brocade. Rich in fine embroidered patterns; the Uchikake is embellished with scenes of flowers, cranes, pines, flower carts or nature motifs. While red is the most popular colour for the Uchikake kimono, there are many different colours available from a stunning imperial purple to sea green. The bridal kimono is sometimes handed down in the family or made into futon bedding later in life.

During the wedding reception the bride will change into her second outfit, a silver, gold and red kimono detailed with images of cranes (symbol of fidelity), tortoises (symbol of long-life) and plum blossoms (symbol of perseverance). Later she will change into her final outfit; a very ornate, brightly coloured (usually purple, the Japanese color for love) kimono. This style of kimono is reserved for virgins, therefore this is the last time the bride is able to wear it.

Miscalleneous Information

  • All arrangements will be made by long-term residents of Kyoto.
  • Japanese musicians, koto, shamisen etc are added extras.
  • Sight seeing tours can be arranged on following/ previous day.
  • No hotel arranged, no flights.
  • Pick up and drop off room airport can be organised.
  • Please bear in mind you will not be legally married in UK.
  • No white make up or geisha dress up.
  • Guests most arrive minimum 48 hours prior to wedding.
  • English, French, German, Spanish, Italian interpreters available.

Please contact us to discuss your requirements.