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Okinawa weddings now cost more than ¥3 million on average

Date Posted: 2009-06-11

Wedding bells are sounding frequently across Okinawa, but the tones being emitted are far from cheap.

An Okinawa Wedding Information Company owner who’s compiled the Okinawa Bridal Book says the love-to-marriage process is now complex, and expensive. Masataka Itokazu has surveyed 100 couples who took the blissful plunge in Okinawa, and says the average wedding draws 250 guests and costs ¥3.1 million.

While that sounds like enough to spur most couples to elope instead of the trip down the traditional aisle, Itokazu says the custom of guests bringing gift envelopes filled with money typically offsets the hefty price tag. In some cases, he says, the bride and groom may actually start the marriage with a small nest egg. The typical wedding is ¥3.1 million, but it’s not uncommon for guest to offer the special envelopes containing ¥3.19 million.

Weddings by Okinawans are typically larger in scale than those from visiting mainland couples, who tend to invite fewer guests. Weddings in the countryside tend to attract more guests, sometimes as many as 500. A larger city wedding, held in a downtown location, can draw 435 guests and money envelopes containing as much as ¥8 million.

Who puts all that money in the envelopes? The couple’s parents are generally the largest contributors, shelling out ¥253,765. Brothers and sisters put in ¥70,540, and relatives about ¥15,550. Company guests typically dole out ¥10,980, while friends of the bride and groom contribute ¥10,000 each. “It’s a ver good chance to let everybody know about the relationships of relatives and couples,” says Itokazu. “Otherwise, couples don’t know the relatives’ faces, or even the value of money.

One thing that’s dropped out of the cost of most 21st century weddings is the fee for a matchmaker. Little more than a decade ago, in 1996, about 49% of couples being married were linked by matchmakers. Most couples don’t use matchmakers anymore, eliminating the ¥84,000 matchmaker fee.

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