WEDDINGS

Wedding costs hit new high in Japan, but Hong Kong still takes the cake

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 2:21pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 10:43pm

The cost of getting hitched in Japan has risen to a new high of Y3.59 million (HK$268,418), according to a study by a bridal magazine, at the same time as the number of guests attending couples’ nuptials is on the decline.

The average cost of a wedding in the year to April 2016 was up Y70,000 (HK$5,232) and worked out to around Y62,000 (HK$4,636) per guest, an increase of approximately Y3,000 (HK$224) from the previous year.

The annual study, published by Zexy, only included the wedding ceremony and reception, omitting the additional cost of a honeymoon.

And while the cost of getting married in Japan is on the rise, it is still some way behind the average amount that couples lash out in Hong Kong.

In December 2015, a survey by e-commerce web site ESDlife determined that the average cost of a wedding had risen 1 per cent from the previous year to $313,933.

Over the last few years, I have definitely seen a decline in the number of weddings that we are performing and I think it’s fair to say that is because Japan has a declining population
Chris, civil celebrant

Japanese couples are under a lot of pressure to stage an impressive show for an event that is meant to be a once-in-a-lifetime event - even though the divorce statistics suggest that is also an old-fashioned notion - despite falling disposable incomes and reduced job security for many young people.

That has translated into couples seeking more bang for their yen on the big day.

“We are seeing a lot more couples making special requests on their wedding day, whereas in the past they tended to generally go for the standard package,” said Chris, an Australian national who wears a cassock to work as a civil celebrant at wedding halls in Yokohama.

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“They want a more customised service and the company’s sales staff are having to accommodate those requests in order to secure that business,” said Chris, who asked that his full name not be given.

Requests at weddings can range from musical performances to the involvement of pets.

“Over the last few years, I have definitely seen a decline in the number of weddings that we are performing and I think it’s fair to say that is because Japan has a declining population, particularly among the younger generations, coupled with the rising cost of weddings.”

And Chris agrees that the number of people attending weddings over which he has officiated has also fallen.

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According to government statistics, more than 1 million couples were getting married every year in the early 1970s. By 2011, that had contracted to 662,000 weddings and in 2015 the total came to 635,000 newly wed couples.

In 1995, men were getting married at an average age of 28.5 and women were 26.3 when they walked down the aisle. In 2015, the average groom was 31.1 years old and his wife was 29.4.

Inevitably, fewer weddings and unions later in life have led to falling numbers of children being born and a looming crisis for Japan’s population, which is expected to contract from 125 million in 2020 to 107 million in 2050.