|Bridal kimono with Wata-boushi (wedding headpiece)|
When you have a wedding ceremony at a shinto shrine, you are required to wear the traditional Japanese kimono. It doesn't need to be a white bridal kimono, but a coloured kimono is also allowed to wear. The white bridal kimono has 3 layers. We had our wedding ceremony in the middle of summer, August, in Japan. Summer in Japan is terrible, because it's very humid and very hot. So, wearing that kimono in summer was very hard.
|Tsunokakushi (wedding headpiece)|
The wedding ceremony is held inside of the shrine. Some shrines allow only families and relatives of a bride and a groom to be inside of shrine, but Toga-jinja allowed all my guests to be inside of the shrine and witness our wedding ceremony. The ceremony is performed by shinto priests. They give us a chant in front of shinto god. Then the groom reads an oath, saying something like "thank you for leading us to be together, we promise to make a happy and healthy family, promise to help other people and to contribute to the society.". This oath is usually read by a groom, so my husband practiced very hard to read this oath in Japanese, and he did a great job. After the oath, we have a ceremony called "san-san-kudo (三々九度)", in which the bride and groom take three sips of each of three different bowls of sake in turn. After that, many people exchange wedding bands following the Western custom. But, for me, it is very weird to bring the Western custom into the traditional Japanese wedding and also because I wanted to leave the exchange of rings for our wedding in Croatia, we didn't exchange the wedding bands in that time. After that, Miko (female attendants) gives a traditional shinto dance. That's the most of the Japanese style wedding ceremony.
After the wedding ceremony, we had the reception, which is tightly scheduled so as to end in 2 to 3 hours. For the reception, I changed to a Iro-uchikake (a coloured kimono with patterns). This also has 3 layers. I could have changed my hair to a western hair style from wig, but because I didn't have much time for that, I decided to keep wearing the wig. Wearing kimono is not easy. Usually, we have 2 assistants who dress us kimono.
During the reception, we have "candle service", cake cutting or opening a sake-barrel, mini-games, entertainment by your friends and so on. The candle service is often carried out after you change your close and enter into the reception room again. Before you reach your table, you visit each table and chat with guests while lighting candles on the tables. The cake-cutting is the same as in Western-style wedding. In addition to the cake-cutting, giving "a first bite" to each other became popular in Japan. The first bite in Japanese wedding means, you give a spoon of cake to each other. Opening the sake-barrel is often carried out instead of cake-cutting. When the bride and groom wear the traditional Japanese kimono for the reception, often this alternative is chosen. We had this sake-barrel opening. After you open the sake-barrel, you pour sake to each guest's cup and toast! There seem very much things to do in a tight schedule and you may get panicked or nervous, but don't worry. There are many staff working for you and they keep time and give you instructions what to do next.