In Japan, internet companies make weddings more affordable

Minna no Wedding has made weddings affordable for many in Japan

It can be hard to make Japanese weddings unique or special, since so many of them are held in the same kind of reception rooms in hotels or typical wedding venues. It’s not uncommon for couples about to be married to flip through wedding magazines like Recruit’s Zexy agonizing over the details of their ceremony.

But recently we’re seeing newcomers who challenge the conventional ways of organizing weddings. Amazon just opened up its own sort of wedding store, which can be helpful for couples who might have little time to prepare for a wedding. Rakukon operated by Best Bridal, where couples can pay only 200,000 yen for their wedding in advance (about $1,957) and then pay the rest with congratulatory gift money (Goshuugi). This way, couples do not have to pay out of their own pocket. Rakukon’s pricing is unconventional considering that on average couples spend over 3 million yen on a wedding (about $29,355).

Making it affordable

Perhaps the biggest game changer in the wedding industry is Minna no Wedding (roughly be translated as ‘Everyone’s Wedding’) which launched back in Feburary of 2008. The service was originally a DeNA offering, but it was split from that company in October of 2010. The site has about one million unique users and 10 million page views per month. This count is very impressive considering that visitors to the site are limited to couples planning to marry.

Minna-no-Wedding-billMinna no Wedding’s killer content — and what differentiates it from competitors — are the wedding venue reviews posted by couples after they marry. Previously, all wedding-related information was pretty favorable when describing venues, since the venues were the ones paying to be published. People post reviews for many reasons, but many do so share the excitement (or disappointment in some cases) of their wedding. There is also an incentive system called Goshuugi points where posting three reviews can be rewarded with over 1,000 yen (about $10) worth of points.

By reading genuine opinions and reviews about venues, the likelihood of a successful wedding is obviously much higher. Reviews must be detailed, though, and are required to be more than 300 characters.

Another interesting feature of Minna no Wedding is the bill statement. Couples are sometimes surprised by the difference in the initial estimate and the final cost as venues try to recommend additional options in the preparatory process. Since the actual statements are online, it helps to remove some anxiety for couples.

According to Nikkei, the number of marriages in Japan was about 700,000 in 2010, which is 36% lower than back in 1972 when we experienced the second wave of baby boom. Among those who get married, only 300,000 to 350,000 couples celebrate by having a wedding ceremony. For the rest of the couples who opt to skip the ceremony, Minna no Wedding offers an attractive service that might change their minds.

To see how the website works, check out the video below.