My husband and I got married at the City Hall in March 2021 during the height of the pandemic when borders around the world were still closed, flights were limited to a handful in a week and people had to wear masks constantly and keep a significant distance from each other. We knew it was not going to be easy to organize an event like this especially because we both have never done so, let alone in a foreign country but we persevered! I have always wanted the traditional style wedding with a whole entourage and our families in attendance, but then, we knew we had to make the best of what we could at that time. The date we decided on for our celebration was December 2021 because a lot of friends were available at that time.

Before the Wedding

Finding Venues

It is no secret that it can be quite expensive to rent wedding venues in Japan. A typical wedding venue can range from ¥300,000 to ¥1 million and we simply did not want to splurge that much for one day. We looked around for multifunctional venues hoping we could find one that would suit our budget and luckily, our local municipality had one that cost us less than ¥10,000 to rent! It was a beautiful location with Japanese-style changing rooms, a kitchen a large function room where we held both our vow exchange and our reception.

Budget: Around ¥10,000

All About the Outfits

I was your typical starry-eyed girl who had a dream wedding; a ball gown like Cinderella with exquisite glass slippers as I walked down the aisle. I had always dreamed of wearing something extravagantly beautiful on my wedding day… But that was not the reality we were living in at that moment and we had to be practical in terms of the gown and suit we were going to wear for the event. I mostly shopped on Amazon and other online stores for shoes and for the wedding dress I wore along with other accessories like my jewelry, veil, and flower crown. My husband, on the other hand, had his suit tailor-made a month before our wedding in a local shop near our area that specialized in men’s formal wear.

Budget: Around ¥50,000

Makeup/Hair Dressing

This was a painstaking endeavor for us as it was very difficult to find stylists who were willing to go to the site and some hesitated due to how early we needed them for the event. Fortunately, we found one nice lady who did makeup and hairdressing a few stations away, and she did a fantastic job as I opted for wavy hair extensions and a light, no-makeup look for the wedding.

Budget: Around ¥20,000


Since the venue we rented did not have anything that would be fit for a small and simple wedding reception, we planned ahead of time and shopped around for balloons, decorative flowers, a red carpet, lanterns, string lights, and more to make the event as magical as we could

despite our limited budget and capabilities. We also bought centerpieces and some cute items since we knew we did not have the luxury of having the input of a wedding planner, we had to be hands-on and even got most of our stuff from Daiso and other affordable shops.

Budget: Around ¥40,000


The photographer was most likely one of the hardest for us to find as we knew that we would need to shell out a significant amount of money if we wanted to get a professional photographer to capture our memorable but ephemeral moments. We knew how exorbitant it would be so we asked around and found out that my old coworker moonlights as a photographer for engagements and other party functions but that our wedding would be the first time he would be covering a wedding as both the photographer and videographer. We were grateful and his photos, as well as the wedding video, turned out wonderful.

Budget: Around ¥100,000


One very important aspect to consider when holding a wedding is to make sure that the guests are well fed so this was one of our priorities. One problem we encountered while planning was that, due to COVID-19 restrictions, we could not hold a buffet so our guests could enjoy eating as much as they wanted. The venue advised to prepare packed lunches that were individually wrapped and packed for each individual.

We reached out to a good friend who knew someone who could be in charge of the catering and planning the menu which included sauteed chicken, Chopsuey salad, and desserts like fruit salad. She also kindly offered to give us a discount as she was also the one baking the cupcakes we opted to have as opposed to having an actual wedding cake. Our guests loved the food and needless to say, we felt very appreciative and even included our caterer as one of our guests.

Budget: Around ¥45,000

Van rental

The venue, albeit very scenic and beautiful had its challenges. It was almost 20 minutes away from the nearest station and we did not want our guests to walk for that long by the highway in the middle of winter while dressed in their formal attire. Our caterer knew someone with a 9- seater van and was willing to pick up the guests and drop them off at the location for a very affordable price. Everything was falling into place and it was such a relief knowing so many people were willingly helping us out with our small DIY wedding celebration.

Budget: Around ¥35,000

Invitations/Souvenir Items

Our invitations, signboards, and schedule cards were all personalized by me. I was already making spreadsheets and editing and designing them months ahead with my very limited graphics design skills and although we could have paid for a professional artist, we figured that it would be best for us to make them, print them, and put them together ourselves. Our souvenir items were also stuff I crafted from crafting stores and 100-yen shops while also working full time. It was indeed a very exhausting time for me but I look back and feel very proud of myself that I was able to pull through despite our limited knowledge of wedding planning.

Budget: Around ¥15,000


We were unable to fly our close family and relatives on the day of the event due to the pandemic but we were still really glad that many of our friends and coworkers were able to attend and made our day beyond special. We had last-minute cancellations which saddened me a bit, but I was still very grateful to those who made time to attend our special day. There were 25 people in attendance and we definitely had a blast!

The Day of the Wedding

The Vow Exchange

The thing I did not like about our City Hall wedding was that there were no vows or ring exchanges. Instead, you just go in with your future spouse, sign a few documents, and then, that is basically it. You are married! That is usually how it is done in Japan as opposed to courthouse weddings in other countries which still allow the couple to exchange vows and rings. It didn’t feel like an intimate and extraordinary event for me-it felt more like running an errand and going there to make a transaction like paying your missed tax payments instead. It was really important for me to have this solemn part of the wedding where we both could share our adoration and love with people witnessing and sharing this moment with us so we decided to make this a major portion of our party.

We decorated the venue hall the day before our wedding- just me, my husband, and two other friends of ours, and decided a separate ceremony area was essential. As I was walking down the aisle with all of our friends watching, I had an overflowing feeling of mixed emotions. It was not the wedding I dreamed of as a child- not having my father walk me down the aisle and in a foreign country, but it was the best outcome I could have ever imagined! It was magical seeing myself approach my husband with tears in his eyes with Canon in D playing in the background. We asked my husband’s best friend to act as the Host and my close friend to be the Ring Bearer.


Our guests had the opportunity to get to know each other as we gave them time to talk with the other attendees and partake in the drinks. We sadly were unable to serve any alcoholic beverages due to the hall restrictions but had several juices and teas available. After the meal, we played a short music video with pictures of us and our journey as a couple. We also had a short intermission number to which we danced to “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran barefoot but barely remembered the steps which took us forever to practice. The thing, however, that most of our guests fondly recall and would mostly mention was the part where we talked about how we met and started dating, as this wasn’t exactly openly known in our circle of friends. Our love story was definitely an interesting one-something you don’t typically hear every day but I will save that story for next time.

We also added a few unique touches to the event by opening some of our guests’ nicely wrapped gifts in front of everyone and thanking them. This was a tradition in my culture to do at weddings and many of my Japanese friends were quite intrigued by this. Lastly, we ended the event by having our guests help pop all the balloons we had put up as a way to help clean up the venue and also to make it a fun and exciting conclusion of the event before handing each of them their souvenirs, a quick hug and thank you as well as pictures before they leave and be driven back to the station. It was exhausting and I still had to change into my casual clothing to take everything down since another booking was slated to be conducted at the same venue a mere 1 hour later! It all worked out in the end with our close friends and the caterer staying behind to assist us. We probably spent only a total of ¥350,000 for the entire wedding ceremony and made wonderful memories as well. It was very simple and not extravagant in any way but was more than enough for us.

If you are thinking of having your own budget-friendly wedding in Japan, then please know that it is indeed possible. It is surely harder with the constraints of making the budget work and finding people who would offer to give a discount on some of their services but if you work together with your partner, it will definitely be worth your while!