While preparing for our wedding, my Japanese wife once said, “There are three important days in one’s life: his date of birth, the day he gets married and the day he passes on. But we can only remember the events happening on our wedding day”. Her words stay etched in my mind because they reflect the significance a typical Japanese person attaches to weddings. Indeed, weddings are monumental occasions for Japanese people, so no wonder that a recent trend, Kyoyukon (Shared Wedding) is now gaining in popularity in Japan. Just what is Kyoyukon, and how do couples organize one? I will be sharing examples from my own wedding to illustrate this fad, so read on to find out!
Simply put, Kyoyukon refers to the happy couple’s desire to let their invited guests share in the festivities rather than take the back seat and just be mere spectators. Hence, Japanese couples thoughtfully incorporate activities that require active participation from their guests. This helps make the wedding a fun-filled, immersive experience!
Just how did my wife and I get our guests to involve themselves and have fun at our wedding? Well, first of all, a wedding ring exchange ceremony will definitely be included as part of a customary Western-style wedding. Thus, we decided to inject some excitement from the get-go by hiding our rings in wedding boxes and placing one box each underneath every guest’s chair. Imagine the lively commotion and awesome vibes it created when our guests were roused by our emcee to hunt for the rings! We then invited the two guests who had the boxes with the rings inside up to the chapel to present us the rings before we went ahead with the ceremony.
The cake cutting ceremony is the highlight of many a wedding. My wife and I did not really want our guests to just watch us feeding each other cake. Guided by the desire to create a casual atmosphere in which people could just relax, we decided to serve our guests slices of wedding cake (and other desserts!) personally at the manicured lawn outside our reception hall. This really lent an air of informality to the occasion as we could exchange a few words with every individual and share our joy in a more intimate manner.
A unique feature of Japanese weddings is that friends and colleagues oftentimes come together to give surprise performances for the couple. In my case, I was a member of a local yosakoi dance group and got my dance friends to dance along with me to the boisterous tune of a local folk song, complete with our happi coats and naruko clappers. Before dancing, my friends and I taught the guests some easy hand movements that gelled with the rhythm, so it was heartwarming for me to see them sportily dance along with us!
Before my wedding, I always thought that Japanese weddings were solemn sit-down events in which everyone patiently listens to congratulatory speeches, one after another. I could not have been more wrong! Kyoyukon are a great way to decrease the sense of distance between the couple and invitees and allow the latter to rejoice and celebrate more openly. Hence, for readers planning to get hitched, why not take a leaf out of Japanese couples’ book and think of intriguing little touches to infuse into your wedding?