Friday, November 23, 2012

Getting Married in Japan: Searching for a Venue

Continuing on from our introduction to marriage in Japan, today we will look at fun-filled process of selecting wedding venues.

If you are not a girl, chances are that embarking on a search for the perfect wedding hall is about as exciting as filing your income tax returns. But if you are an awesome husband-to-be-like myself, you will devote your every waking hour to helping your dear fiancee find the wedding venue of her dreams.

Wedding Web Sites
As always, your good friend the Internet is here to take a wee bit of hassle out of your search.

Despite the much-bemoaned population decline and stagnating marriage rates in Japan, there seems to be no shortage of wedding halls (kekkon shiki-jo 結婚式場) across the nation. As a matter of fact, new ones seem to be popping up all the time despite the fact that many couples find it more economical to celebrate their marriage overseas than to do it locally. Needless to say, you will have plenty of places to choose from, all with an overwhelming array of options, from chapel types to festive themes.

Here are some of the more popular websites (all in Japanese) for searching venues. You can filter results by location, amenities, themes, and so on:  
  • Zexy- Run by job-search giant Recruit Corporation, Zexy is one of the oldest wedding search franchises in Japan. It started out as a magazine (see below) but now has expanded to include a website with everything from venue listings to bridal makeover tips.
  • Mynavi Weddings- Similar website to Zexy, this site is run by Recruit's arch-competitor, Mynavi. While not as (excessively?) chock-full of features as Zexy, this site lists a hefty collection of just venues for searching and perusing.
  • Mina no Wedding- An independent wedding search site. While not as visually appealing as Zexy or Mynavi, it has the advantage of showing detailed price breakdowns (hiyo meisai 費用明細) for different venues. This is especially useful since the bulk of a Japanese wedding's cost comes from the not-so-optional "add-ons."
Aside from side-by-side comparisons, the ability to save your selections for later viewing, and other handy tools, web sites allow you to view kuchi komi (口コミ) or reviews left by wedding guests and hosts. How unbiased these reviews actually are is hard to say, but it is a good tool to get an impression of the wedding hall.

Wedding Magazines
Despite the veritable treasure trove of digital information available for happy couples, print media is still a big deal. Wedding magazines can be found in just about any and every book store. And they are hard to miss, seeing as how many are the size of an Encylopedia Britanica volume with heft to match.

Some big names include Zexy, ELLE Marriage, 25ans Wedding, MISS Wedding, and so on. Most are actually printed under the imprint of popular fashion magazines. There are also annually published, extra-large, special editions and sub-editions for niche markets like overseas weddings, small weddings, re-marriages and so on.

Check back again soon as we cover some important wedding venue vocabulary. Also, if you have any stories to share about finding a wedding hall, let us know!

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