There's no way around it... if you're getting married in Japan, especially in a major city, you need to get Zexy. It's a giant magazine from publisher Recruit, and it's the bible of wedding mags. It costs 500 yen, comes out every month and weighs about 2kg. Sometimes it's so big that it comes with its own eco bag to carry it home in. It's also kind of overwhelming, as it has pretty much every vendor for rings, dress, venue, hair & makeup and so on. There are very few articles - usually just a small fashion shoot, a real wedding and an article on do's and don'ts and etiquette. But it'll give you a handle on the Japanese wedding industry, including what people pay for everything. It has all the main venues - restaurant, hotel, specialised wedding hall - organised by area. The one you can buy in Tokyo has sections for Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, West Tokyo and Central Tokyo, plus a small section on Nagoya.
|It's huge and usually comes with a fairly useless tip-on gift and 2 or 3 other mini mags|
|At least 5cm thick every month. I actually pulled a muscle in my thumb trying to pick it up!|
One of the best features is its price guide for each venue. You can see the quoted price from the venue - for example "80 people for 2500000 yen" (let's call that $25,000 for simplicity), then the average actual cost - maybe 3000000 to 350000 ($30-35,000). You'll always be quoted the basic, cheapest package to get you in, then you'll find the nicer flowers, the better meal, the dress that doesn't suck, etc etc will cost you more, and it's very easy to go over budget. We had a budget in mind first, and knowing that, I could easily eliminate places before I got too attached to them.
I'll dig out my old Zexy and give you a look inside next time.
There are other magazines for dresses, hair and makeup, and of course, you can find import magazines including Martha Stewart Weddings at stores like Tower Records, Kinokuniya and The American Pharmacy. Local magazines that aren't as scary as Zexy (and have more editorial showing 'real' weddings) are Anhelo - by the same publisher as Zexy, and Elle Mariage. Incidentally, for my relatives and friends overseas, sending pix of real weddings was really helpful to give them an idea of what happens at a Japanese wedding and what people generally wear. For example, the father of the bride usually wears a morning suit - even for an afternoon wedding (to which my father said, "no thank you"), men tend to wear a business suit and a light coloured tie, and almost no-one wears a hat, ever. You don't have to follow the 'rules', but it's good to know what they are, so you can decide whether you want to break them or not.
|Less scary, more pretty, though not as useful for planning|
This blog is obviously written by a woman. That would be me. As such, it threatens to get a bit girly from time to time. However, I know there are a lot of lucky fellas out there, who are also embarking on this mysterious journey. So for the man's perspective (and a very funny / useful read), I recommend you check out Salaryman in Tokyo's experiences, here: http://foreignsalaryman.blogspot.jp/2009/05/so-thinking-of-getting-married-in-japan.html