From a young age, girls, in particular, are encouraged by the media and the world around them to dream of one day walking down the aisle in a beautiful wedding gown. Personally, I find it quite difficult to merely pass by a wedding gown without admiring the artistry of it – “Oh look at that lace!”, “What lovely bead work!”, and so on. Sometimes, it may not even be about the wedding itself, but rather the urge to have one day where they feel like the most beautiful woman on Earth, and as the bride, are naturally the star of the show.
However, sometimes life can get in the way and women become more invested in their careers. Some choose to marry in a hurry without the opportunity to make a huge fuss over their big day and some opt for a very small and simple wedding at a registry office. Either way, it’s great because everyone is different.
So for those who would like to experience being pampered like only a bride-to-be can, Cerca Travel offers a unique experience where you can enjoy a wedding without the actual marriage!
Cerca Travel is run by a 48-year-old divorcee Yukiko Inoue and is primarily a travel agency that arranges tour packages for Japanese women who want to travel safely in Europe. Two years ago, the solo wedding was derived from her colleague, Natsumi Akai’s own interest in getting her photos taken professionally in a wedding dress. From that idea, they thought perhaps other women would be interested too. Sure enough, as of this moment, more than 100 Japanese women – and a handful of foreigners – have paid around 380,000 yen for the two-day package which includes talking about your preferences, choosing a bridal kimono or wedding gown, hair styling and make-up, accommodation, and the grand photoshoot.
The whole process is arranged in collaboration with professionals so you won’t be disappointed. Hair and make-up are led by a professional stylist, Mayumi Hayashi, and you won’t have to worry about missing any magical moments because a professional photographer, Yuuki Kuwabara, will be there to capture all of them for you. For a wide selection of bridal gowns and wedding bouquets, Cerca Travel has partnered with Ayumi Bridal and Atelier Cotocoto. Also, English-speaking visitors who are interested in Cerca’s solo wedding don’t have to worry about any language barriers as the website can be viewed in English and Cerca has an English-speaking coordinator.
Although some people may find the idea of a solo wedding strange and unusual, Natsumi Akai says she can attest to the fact that a solo wedding is very therapeutic. She, herself, carries her solo wedding album everywhere she goes and says that “When I get angry or irritated, I can look at it. That was when I was at my best. Many women keep their solo wedding a secret. I want it to become something that is not shameful. There is not a large culture of therapy in Japan, and the solo wedding is therapeutic”.
The solo wedding is also about self-empowerment and self-confidence. As Natsumi said, “In real weddings, the main character is the same, the woman, but the goal is different. A solo wedding is a jumping-off point; a celebration of yourself.” In fact, Cerca used to offer a “stand-in groom” but not one client chose that option so it was removed. What does that say about the clients of Cerca? It shows us what we already know. This isn’t about the wedding or living happily-ever-after. It’s that one moment when a woman can be confidently beautiful. It is that one moment when a woman is not only a bride but a princess.
Weekdays and Off-season Prices:
Bridal kimono: 380,000 yen
Wedding dress: 320,000 yen
Weekends, Holidays, and High season (10/31~12/10,3/20~5/10) Prices:
Bridal kimono: 400,000 yen
Wedding dress: 340,000 yen