Should You Bring The Kitchen Sink?


I am always excited to get an invite to a wedding. However, I have yet to be included in a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony. A local reader e-mailed us needing help on the proper etiquette that is appropriate to attend this big event. Needless to say, you won’t be printing out the wedding registry at the local Jusco to find the gift. Read below for some blissfully good informative information. Thanks Kandy and Kaho!

Cambria asked:

“My husband just found out that we are invited to an Okinawan wedding THIS Saturday, and I am very nervous.  My neighbor told me there are very many American mistakes made at an Okinawan wedding, and I don’t want to make them.  I have tried searching on the internet for the details, but am having problems finding the answers…like what to wear (is revealing shoulders a no-no?),  what kind of gift or how much money to give (many internet places say up to 30,000 yen, which is a lot for an acquaintance)  Please help me!  I don’t want to be one of those Americans”!

Our lovely editor Kandy recommends:

I would wear something very conservative..think funeral.  Also, by experience, wear shoes that aren’t too difficult to get on and off and ALWAYS wear stockings (no bare feet) because you’ll be taking your shoes off at some point.

Also, as far as money, you need to put it into a “wedding envelope” Ask someone at a store (Jusco etc) for a Noshi-bukuro (special envelope) for a Yuinou (Yoo-ee-no-oo) It will look like the one in THIS picture.  More importantly, the envelope itself varies depending on your relationship to the bride/groom which also determines the amount of money in the envelope. Since you’re just an acquaintance, Y10,000 would be okay (around $100 of Yen)

I just asked my mother and she confirmed it sounds right.

And charming Kaho also adds:

She has to find the correct envelope.  You don’t want to bring an envelope saying “happy newborn”, “happy 60 years old” or “condolences” to a wedding, you know!  Here are pictures of envelopes for many different events here.  The wedding one is on the top.

I would recommend her printing this out and bring it to a stationary store and point to the picture of the wedding envelope.

So hopefully this is some good information for all you lucky invitees out there.

Have any of you been to a local Okinawan wedding?

Do share!


  1. On the other side of attending the wedding, what if an Okinawan couple gives us (an American couple) the traditional wedding gift? We were recently married in the states and returned to Okinawa. I was so surprised when the owner of the house we rent gave us this beautiful envelope with a crisp bill inside. Is a thank you card like I am writing for all our American guests appropriate? Or is there something else we should do to show our appreciation?

  2. We took tons of pictures and video at our friend’s wedding and reception here in Okinawa last month. The bride in our case, did not change clothes at all but there were at least 10 diffferent performances and we all had a really great time. I wore a dark dress (because it was the only dress I could wear here in summer and not overheat) and it turned out to be just right. I wore strappy sandals without hose and fit right in.

    We found our envelope at the 100 yen store at Navel Kadena and while we were looking we discovered that many of the envelopes have stickers inside that allow the envelope to be used for more than one thing. Make sure you put the correct sticker on….the clerk can tell you which one to use.

    The ceremony itself was in a western style chapel and was Christian based. The reception was in a hotel ballroom. We were given gifts from the hotel as we were leaving as well.

  3. I`ve been to 4 weddings of Okinawan friends in the past year. The `rules` I now follow are as such:
    *Do dress conservative. All the weddings I attended, the guests look liked they were headed for a funeral. No bare shoulders, no short skirts, dark colors are a safe bet.
    *Unless you are an exceptionally close friend, you generally only will be going to the reception not the ceremony.
    *Unless you are an exceptionally close friend or family, 10,000yen is the socially accecpted amount of gift money in Okinawa (differs on mainlad i`ve been told). Make sure you`re giving a nice crisp new note not an old one (as you do for a funeral)
    *If you want to bring an actual gift rather than (or in addition to) money, there is usually a time in the evening where such things are presented to the couple.
    *You can buy the correct money envelopes from 100yen stores and convienence stores too, just check with the clerk. Prepare this in advance as there are specific rules that should be followed (get a Japanese friend to help is good)
    Sit back and enjoy the food, preformances and many costumes of the poor bride 🙂

  4. Turns out we only attended the reception and it was a lot of fun! Upon the advice of many of my friends and a couple employees at the Bx, I wore a black cocktail dress with a small cardigan and some heels and I fit in perfectly with all the other women that attended the event. Maybe it’s an Okinawa thing, but many women wore shoulder revealing dresses, some even spaghetti straps, and not many wore hose (thank goodness, as I didn’t either). We did not remove our shoes during the reception. It was amazing to see the couple change outfits 3 times and we enjoyed a host of dances, bands and even eisa drummers that played throughout the 3 hour event. Thank you for the advice on the card, as our friends brought an American wedding card, and they were not allowed to place it in the gift basket as we did but had to give it to the couple personally. I can understand why people only give money as gifts – I can’t even begin to imagine how much money was spent on hosting the reception! Thanks again Kaho and Kandy for all your advice, I felt so much better after emailing with you ladies!!!