FAQs

General

How do we pay Serendipity?

There are three ways to pay:

For those living Japan and with a Japanese bank account, a direct wire transfer is the easiest way.

For those living abroad, you can either use PayPal, which enables credit card transactions, or TransferWise, which allows you to transfer directly from your non-Japanese bank account to ours.

For Wedding Planning:

For wedding planning, we require an upfront, non-refundable deposit of 20% of the total planning fee – usually ¥70,000.  This is considered a research fee, and assures you of our commitment to the chosen wedding date.

Once the venue has been chosen, booked and confirmed, we will send out a second invoice for the balance of the planning fee.

Please note for full wedding planning, if paying through PayPal, with the transaction fees ( actual price + 40¥ divided by 95.9%), the total planning cost comes to ¥365,005.  If you choose pay by TransferWise you can drastically decrease the transfer fees.

Fees for all other plans, include the transaction fee.

How do we pay venues and vendors?

The couple enter into individual agreements or contracts with vendors and venues, and are required to pay them directly.  Most venues require a direct bank transfer, for which we recommend TransferWise.  

Most venues require a deposit payable on the confirmation of the wedding date, with the balance payable in the month or week leading up to the wedding.  

How far in advance can/should we book?

This depends on whether you are having a full wedding, elopement or vow renewal.  

Most vow renewals can be booked in less than two months.  For our Garden Vow renewal plan we use public gardens in Tokyo that cannot be confirmed more than two months in advance.

For plans in Nara and Kyoto, we can book further out.

Weddings: we recommend you book no less than 10 months out, to increase our chances of securing your chosen venue on your chosen date.

Are you contracted to/with any particular venues and vendors?

No.  While we do have favorite vendors we like to use repeatedly, we are not contracted to or with anyone.  All suggestions are free from obligation and while we will make recommendations, with the exception of Tokyo Garden Vow Renewal, which is dependent on garden availability, you have the final choice in which vendors or venues you decide to use.

Can you organize tours for us and/or our guests?

We are not a tour company, so we can’t organize tours.  However, we can and are happy to make recommendations of any good tours that we know of.

Why is the planning fee more expensive for elopements and vow renewals outside Tokyo?

Quite simply, this is because we have to cover our transportation fee.  We are based in Tokyo, so any event outside the city will incur travel costs and if necessary, hotel stays.

How far in advance can/should we book?

This depends on whether you are having a full wedding, elopement or vow renewal.  

Most vow renewals can be booked in less than two months.  For our Garden Vow renewal plan we use public gardens in Tokyo that cannot be confirmed more than two months in advance.

For plans in Nara and Kyoto, we can book further out.

Weddings: we recommend you book no less than 10 months out, to increase our chances of securing your chosen venue on your chosen date.

Are you contracted to/with any particular venues and vendors?

No.  While we do have favorite vendors we like to use repeatedly, we are not contracted to or with anyone.  All suggestions are free from obligation and while we will make recommendations, with the exception of Tokyo Garden Vow Renewal, which is dependent on garden availability, you have the final choice in which vendors or venues you decide to use.

Can you organize tours for us and/or our guests?

We are not a tour company, so we can’t organize tours.  However, we can and are happy to make recommendations of any good tours that we know of.

 


Weddings

Can we have our marriage legalized in Japan?

Yes you can, but we don’t recommend it.  Getting a marriage license involves going to the embassy and the city hall.  Sometimes, it involves multiple trips to the city office, to confirm and clarify questions they may have.  

We can help with the legal paperwork, but with a big disclaimer – we cannot guarantee that the embassy nor the city office will grant the license; too much is out of our control.  

That said, if you are adamant that you want to have the wedding legalized in Japan, we will be happy to help you process the paperwork and do the translations for you, but since it involves a lot of legwork we would have to charge ¥80,000.  If it involves translation into anything other than English, we would have to employ the services of a third party translation service, the price of which we have not control over.

We have already booked our venue but we are having communication problems, can you help us?

We will be happy to, and have done so on a number of occasions.  Contact us for a quote.  

Can we bring in our own photographer?

We have no objection to this, however some wedding venues are contracted with certain photographers and so they would have to pay a cancellation fee to the vendor which is passed on to the customer in the form of a “bringing-in” fee.  This can be as little as ¥10,000 or as much as ¥100,000.   This is always one of the first questions we would ask a potential vendor when we meet with them.

How soon and how do we receive the photos?

This is different per photographer and their schedules.  Sometimes we have received within four days of an event, at others as much as three weeks.  

Our photographers deliver the photos direct to us, which we then deliver to the client via Drop Box.  

Given the distance this has proved the easiest, quickest and cheapest way.  Couples can then choose which photos to print through a local printing company.

What is a bringing in fee?

Many venues require couples to use their own vendors, services or facilities such as catering, wedding cake, dresses, photographers, hair and make up artists, etc.  Should the couple not need or require any of these, the venue will need to pay a cancellation or penalty fee to the vendor.  This is passed on to the couple in the form of a “bringing-in” fee.   This is sometimes negotiable, but is different from venue to venue.

Can you book accommodation for us and if necessary for our guests?

To be honest, this is something we are reluctant to do.  Every hotel has different pricing policies and terms and conditions, which can be a full-time job to stay on top of.

In addition to this Japan is unique in that some hotels charge per room and some charge per customer.  This is not always obvious, and so to avoid any problems or misunderstandings caused by potential games of “Chinese whispers” we suggest that couples book their accommodation, either directly or through third party booking sites such as expedia.com or booking.com.  

What we can do however, is present a list of hotels that we recommend – but please be sure to do your own research, and ask your guests to do the same, before booking any hotels, hostels or holiday rentals.

That said, some hotel venues will offer discounts for their wedding clients and any guests, this is an agreement that the couple will enter into with the hotel/venue.  We will help you to understand the terms of the agreement, but we cannot make the decision for you.

Can we wear western wedding attire at a shrine?

This is dependent on the shrine, and would have to be confirmed with each individual shrine we talk to.

Can we buy the kimonos?

The vendors we tend to use rent out their kimonos.  If you want to buy, we would have to do a bit of research with other suppliers.  Please note, the cost of kimonos range from as little as ¥300,000 ($2711) to as much as ¥10,000,000 ($90,393 at the time of writing).

Can we get kimonos for my parents and guests?

Yes, but depending on location, we may or may not be able to attend the fitting with the parents and/guests.  On the wedding day, our priority is the couple.  We will present a list of options, with which your guests can use to make a decision.

Is hair and makeup included?

Yes, but this is always optional.  Hair and makeup prices tend to start at ¥35,000 + tax and transaction fees.

Can we have a reception at a shrine?

This depends on the shrine.  Some larger shrines have reception rooms, however, most do not.  Only couples who have had their ceremony at the shrine can hold their reception there.

We want to have a welcome/rehearsal dinner, can you make restaurant reservations for us?

If you research the restaurant, we will be happy to contact them on your behalf and reserve a table.  We also have a list of favorites!  🙂

Is the wedding ceremony in English or Japanese?

If the ceremony is held at a Shrine, it will be in Japanese.  At all other locations it can be in any language you choose, as long as the officiant is able to do so.

We are Catholic, can we get married in a Catholic Church?

Yes, we will be happy to liaise with the Catholic Church on your behalf.  But please note, they are very strict about who can and cannot marry in their venues.  Couples are sometimes required to attend “marriage guidance counseling” and must produce certificates from their own church in their own country.   

Some churches require the use of their own priest; others are not open to a foreign congregation…

Full disclosure – we have yet to work with the Catholic Church in Japan. 

Can we bring our own officiant?

Yes, as long as the venue (Catholic Church) is open to this, we will support your choice of officiant. 

If the ceremony is at a shrine, we must use a Shinto priest, otherwise, we are happy to work with officiants you prefer, regardless of faith or denomination.  

Please note, in the case of the Catholic Church, they are very strict on this issue, and so we would have to take it under advisement.

Can we say our own vows?

In a Shinto ceremony, you are given a Japanese script (romanized) to read off, but for all other ceremonies, you can write and recite your own vows.  We strongly recommend you do so.  This is the heart of the ceremony, the more personalized, the better!

How many meetings can we have?

This is technically unlimited, but we aim to have at least one meeting per month.  We will give you homework and tasks with deadlines that can be discussed and reviewed at each meeting.  All meetings take place on Skype if the couple are outside Japan, but with the option to meet in person if they are in Japan

How will we communicate once the planning has started?

In addition to the aforementioned Skype, we have a comprehensive specialist wedding planning program that we use for each full wedding.   We can communicate through this service, and we also recommend WhatsApp for more frequent conversations, updates or urgent matters.  

When is the best time of year to get married?

This is very much personal choice, but here is a list of things to consider:

  1. January New Year Celebrations, most shrines unable to perform wedding ceremonies at this time.
  2. February/March – Cold, but beautiful in the mountains with wonderful powder sow in places like Nagano and Sapporo.
  3. March/April – Cool, and at the end of March and Beginning of April a chance of coinciding with the cherry blossom.  This is also a very busy/popular time of year for Japanese, and so most shrines and venues with good cherry blossom views book up years in advance.
  4. May – the first week of May is Golden Week; a series of public holidays in succession, meaning many Japanese take paid holiday on either side to make a week long period off work.  This is a very busy time of year for weddings and as with Cherry blossom, venues book out well in advance.  High season in Japan – higher than usual accommodation costs.
  5. June – Getting warm, but not too hot; beautiful flowers and greenery – an all round good time to get married.
  6. July – Starting to get Humid
  7. August – Very hot and Humid; high travel season, expensive accommodation costs. 
  8. September – starting to cool down, but a chance of Typhoons and rain.
  9. October – the start of changing leaves, or “momiji”.  Another popular time of year to get married.  Not hot; not cold; beautiful colors; need to book at least a year in advance for wedding venues.
  10. November – getting cooler but still a lot of “momiji” autumn scenery.
  11. December – First two weeks OK, after that Shrines are preparing for the New Year Celebrations.  From the 28th December ~ 3rd or 4th January, most venues will be closed.  It will be challenging to find a venue open to hosting a wedding at this time – will incur higher than usual planning costs.

 


Elopements

Can we have our marriage legalized in Japan?

Yes you can, but we don’t recommend it.  Getting a marriage license involves going to the embassy and the city hall.  Sometimes, it involves multiple trips to the city office, to confirm and clarify questions they may have.  

We can help with the legal paperwork, but with a big disclaimer – we cannot guarantee that the embassy nor the city office will grant the license; too much is out of our control.  

That said, if you are adamant that you want to have the wedding legalized in Japan, we will be happy to help you process the paperwork and do the translations for you, but since it involves a lot of legwork we would have to charge ¥80,000.  If it involves translation into anything other than English, we would have to employ the services of a third party translation service, the price of which we have not control over.

Is the wedding ceremony in English or Japanese?

If the ceremony is held at a Shrine, it will be in Japanese.  At all other locations it can be in any language you choose, as long as the officiant is able to do so.

Can we say our own vows?

In a Shinto ceremony, you are given a Japanese script (romanized) to read off, but for all other ceremonies, you can write and recite your own vows.  We strongly recommend you do so.  This is the heart of the ceremony, the more personalized, the better!

Can we bring our own officiant?

Yes, as long as the venue is open to this, we will support your choice of officiant. 

However, if the ceremony is at a shrine, we must use a Shinto priest, otherwise, we are happy to work with officiants you prefer, regardless of faith or denomination.  

Can we wear western wedding attire at a shrine?

This is dependent on the shrine, and would have to be confirmed with each individual shrine we talk to.

Can we buy the kimonos?

The vendors we tend to use rent out their kimonos.  If you want to buy, we would have to do a bit of research with other suppliers.  Please note, the cost of kimonos range from as little as ¥300,000 ($2711) to as much as ¥10,000,000 ($90,393 at the time of writing).

Can we get kimonos for my parents and guests?

Yes, but depending on location, we may or may not be able to attend the fitting with the parents and/guests.  On the wedding day, our priority is the couple.  We will present a list of options, with which your guests can use to make a decision.

How many guests can we invite?

For elopements the guest number is usually quite low, up to ten.  Please note that many Shrines request an additional guest attendance fee, usually a flat fee of about ¥30,000.  

If you are not having a shrine elopement, depending on the venue and the size of the space, we may also request a guest attendance fee.

Any guest count of more than 20 will be considered a full wedding.

Can we have a reception at a shrine?

Some shrines have the facilities to host receptions.  However, if you are thinking of having a reception you will need to upgrade to a full wedding rather than just elopement.  Elopement packages take care of the ceremony and preparations only.  Anything else requires full wedding planning services.

That said, for those who want to celebrate with dinner, we can book a restaurant on your behalf, but we will not be able to attend.  Just let us know at which restaurant you want to make a reservation.

Can we have a western wedding at a shrine?

No.  This is akin to expecting a Catholic Church to host a Jewish wedding.  People of any faith or no faith are welcome to get married at a shrine as long as they follow and respect the shinto way of doing things while they are there.

Is hair and makeup included?

Yes, but this is always optional.  Hair and makeup prices tend to start at ¥35,000 + tax and transaction fees.

Can we bring in our own photographer?

We have no objection to this, however some wedding venues are contracted with certain photographers and so they would have to pay a cancellation fee to the vendor which is passed on to the customer in the form of a “bringing-in” fee.  This can be as little as ¥10,000 or as much as ¥100,000.   This is always one of the first questions we would ask a potential vendor when we meet with them.

How soon and how do we receive the photos?

This is different per photographer and their schedules.  Sometimes we have received within four days of an event, at others as much as three weeks.  

Our photographers deliver the photos direct to us, which we then deliver to the client via Drop Box.  

Given the distance this has proved the easiest, quickest and cheapest way.  Couples can then choose which photos to print through a local printing company.

Can you book accommodation for us and our guests?

To be honest, this is something we are reluctant to do.  Every hotel has different pricing policies and terms and conditions, which can be a full-time job to stay on top of.

In addition to this Japan is unique in that some hotels charge per room and some charge per customer.  This is not always obvious, and so to avoid any problems or misunderstandings caused by potential games of “Chinese whispers” we suggest that couples book their accommodation, either directly or through third party booking sites such as expedia.com or booking.com.  

What we can do however, is present a list of hotels that we recommend – but please be sure to do your own research, and ask your guests to do the same, before booking any hotels, hostels or holiday rentals.

That said, some hotel venues will offer discounts for their wedding clients and any guests, this is an agreement that the couple will enter into with the hotel/venue.  We will help you to understand the terms of the agreement, but we cannot make the decision for you.

Can you make restaurant reservations for us?

Yes, we will be happy to do this for you, but please note, we will not be able to attend the dinner with you.

When is the best time of year to get married?

This is very much personal choice, but here is a list of things to consider:

  1. January New Year Celebrations, most shrines unable to perform wedding ceremonies at this time.
  2. February/March – Cold, but beautiful in the mountains with wonderful powder sow in places like Nagano and Sapporo.
  3. March/April – Cool, and at the end of March and Beginning of April a chance of coinciding with the cherry blossom.  This is also a very busy/popular time of year for Japanese, and so most shrines and venues with good cherry blossom views book up years in advance.
  4. May – the first week of May is Golden Week; a series of public holidays in succession, meaning many Japanese take paid holiday on either side to make a week long period off work.  This is a very busy time of year for weddings and as with Cherry blossom, venues book out well in advance.  High season in Japan – higher than usual accommodation costs.
  5. June – Getting warm, but not too hot; beautiful flowers and greenery – an all round good time to get married.
  6. July – Starting to get Humid
  7. August – Very hot and Humid; high travel season, expensive accommodation costs. 
  8. September – starting to cool down, but a chance of Typhoons and rain.
  9. October – the start of changing leaves, or “momiji”.  Another popular time of year to get married.  Not hot; not cold; beautiful colors; need to book at least a year in advance for wedding venues.
  10. November – getting cooler but still a lot of “momiji” autumn scenery.
  11. December – First two weeks OK, after that Shrines are preparing for the New Year Celebrations.  From the 28th December ~ 3rd or 4th January, most venues will be closed.  It will be challenging to find a venue open to hosting a wedding at this time – will incur higher than usual planning costs.

 


Vow Renewals

Is the vow renewal ceremony in English or Japanese?

It is in English.  Serendipity’s very own Ross Harrison, from the UK, usually performs the ceremony. 

Can we say our own vows?

Absolutely!  That is what you are here for.  If you don’t want to say your own vows, that’s cool too.  

Can we bring our own officiant?

If you have another officiant in mind, we will be happy to work with him or her.  This will not affect our pricing.

Can you book accommodation for us and our guests?

No, unfortunately now.  Every hotel has different pricing policies and terms and conditions, which can be a full-time job to stay on top of.

In addition to this Japan is unique in that some hotels charge per room and some charge per customer.  This is not always obvious, and so to avoid any problems or misunderstandings caused by potential games of “Chinese whispers” we suggest that couples book their accommodation, either directly or through third party booking sites such as expedia.com or booking.com.  

What we can do however, is present a list of hotels that we recommend – but please be sure to do your own research, and ask your guests to do the same, before booking any hotels, hostels or holiday rentals.

Do we have to wear kimonos

No, you don’t.  This is entirely optional.  If you don’t wish to wear kimonos, the price will be ¥60,000. 

Can we buy the kimonos?

The vendors we tend to use rent out their kimonos.  If you want to buy, we would have to do a bit of research with other suppliers.  Please note, the cost of kimonos range from as little as ¥300,000 to as much as ¥10,000,000 ($2711 to $90,393 at the time of writing).

Can we get kimonos for my parents and guests?

With the Tokyo Garden Vow Renewal, this is easy to arrange, since we use tourist kimono vendors.

If you want something more special for you or your guests, please contact us before hand so we can arrange this for you, and discuss pricing options.

How many guests can we invite?

For the Tokyo Garden Vow Renewal, there is a general limit of just five guests.  

If you want to invite more, contact us and we will put together a personalized plan at a different location.

How many photos will we get?

The photo shoot will take up to an hour, and we will take as many photos as possible during that time.  We never count and don’t guarantee a specific number.  We take out the bad ones and send you all the good shots.  Clients usually receive anywhere between 150 and 200 photos.

How soon and how do we receive the photos?

This is different per photographer and their schedules.  Sometimes we have received within four days of an event, at others as much as three weeks.  

Our photographers deliver the photos direct to us, which we then deliver to the client via Drop Box.  

Given the distance this has proved the easiest, quickest and cheapest way.  Couples can then download all the photos and choose which ones to print through a local printing company.

Is hair and makeup included?

If you choose the Tokyo Garden Vow Renewal, hair styling is included, but not make up.

If you choose to put together a bespoke Vow Renewal plan we can book this for you.  Hair and makeup prices tend to start at ¥35,000 + tax and transaction fees.

Can you make restaurant reservations for us?

Yes, if you know which restaurant you want to dine at, we will be happy to contact them, and make the reservation on your behalf.

When is the best time of year to renew our vows?

This is very much personal choice, but here is a list of things to consider:

  1. January New Year Celebrations.  Most Gardens will be closed up to and around the 5th January.
  2. February/March – Cold, but beautiful in the mountains with wonderful powder sow in places like Nagano and Sapporo.  
  3. March/April – Cool, and at the end of March and Beginning of April a chance of coinciding with the cherry blossom.  This is also a very busy/popular time of year for Japanese, and so most venues with good cherry blossom views book up years in advance and may be crowded.
  4. May – the first week of May is Golden Week; a series of public holidays in succession, meaning many Japanese take paid holiday on either side to make a week-long period off work.  This is a very busy time of year for weddings and as with Cherry blossom, venues book out well in advance.  It is also high season in Japan, so higher than usual accommodation costs.
  5. June – Getting warm, but not too hot; beautiful flowers and greenery – an all round good time to get married.
  6. July – Starting to get Humid, but too humid.
  7. August – Very hot and Humid; high travel season, expensive accommodation costs. 
  8. September – starting to cool down, but a chance of Typhoons and rain.
  9. October – the start of changing leaves, or “momiji”.  Another popular time of year to get married.  Not hot; not cold; beautiful colors; need to book at least a year in advance for wedding venues, but most gardens will be available.
  10. November – getting cooler but still a lot of “momiji” autumn scenery.
  11. December – First two weeks OK, after that Shrines are preparing for the New Year Celebrations.  From the 28th December ~ 3rd or 4th January, most venues and gardens will be closed.  It will be challenging to find a venue open to hosting a vow renewal during this period and will incur higher than usual planning costs.

What is your cancellation policy?

Please check out our cancellation policy for vow renewals here.