Scaled-down weddings on the rise

Good morning everyone,

Well, it's looking like we may see rain for the next three days...then a spot of sun on Saturday before clouding over and starting to rain again on Sunday. I'm declaring the beginning of rainy season-I don't care what the weatherman says...ha ha!

The bridal industry in Japan is shrinking, the result of demographics and changing lifestyles. There are fewer young people now because of Japan’s declining birth rate over recent decades—and a growing proportion of that dwindling population is choosing to remain single.

And wedding styles are also changing: more and more couples are opting to hold smaller, more intimate receptions, rather than inviting lots of people to more flamboyant affairs, industry people say. In response, the bridal industry is now offering more options for small parties to attract customers.

These days, many couples only invite family and a few friends-not their bosses or colleagues, which means that they don't have to worry as much and can enjoy their day a lot more.

Previously, party plans for groups of less than 50 people were relatively expensive as they required non-standard arrangements. Now to meet the latest trend in the wedding market, companies have made smaller receptions a standard offering to lower fees.

Makiko Suwa, division manager at Novarese-a wedding planning company, said, “Marrying couples who had already attended their friends’ receptions often place importance on beautiful scenery and good food rather than ordinary fare.” The company has seen double-digit growth in sales of small-party plans since August. Demand has been so strong that in April, Novarese opened a reception hall in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, exclusively for smaller parties of up to 40 guests.

Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward, which has offered plans for groups as small as six people for the past 20 years, has also seen growing demand for smaller receptions. It says the annual number of wedding receptions it handles has remained relatively steady the past several years, but the number of small parties has been increasing at a 10-to-15 percent annual rate. Wedding manager Kazuhiro Kawashima said couples with very demanding jobs are too busy to spend lots of time planning big receptions, so prefer to have small parties. For such couples, the hotel offers such options as more elaborate menus, instead of hosting a large group of guests.

People’s preference for smaller but finely planned parties has also brought a change in the wedding gift market. Newly married couples often give presents to guests at their receptions to thank them for coming to their cerebration. Traditionally, a popular item has been a gift catalogue from which guests could choose and order the product they liked best. But products in those catalogues tend to be one-size-fits-all and common, critics say. To avoid that criticism, Ring Bell, a Tokyo-based gift company, compiles catalogues with products suitable for different age groups. It does so by collaborating with magazines and fashion brands targeting different segments of society.

I think these changes are a good thing. Not because I'm against big, lavish weddings, but because I'm all for the idea of the bride and groom getting to choose a wedding that suits them. Some people love those big days where the bride gets to feel like a 'princess' and others prefer something quieter. If the wedding industry diversifies more and more, people will be able to have the wedding they want with the budget they can afford.

How about you? Are you a big wedding person or a small, intimate wedding person?

Have a great day!

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