The difference between photo wedding, garden wedding, traditional wedding, and elopement wedding in Japan

“Henry’s Adventure Elopements & Intimate Weddings” is first to bring original western style elopement weddings to Japan. With a team of experienced Japanese professionals we are bringing a choice of having a free style wedding ceremony combined with traditional aspects of Japanese culture providing options for both Japanese and foreign couples alike.

While the term elopement is already familiar to western couples, it is still unclear for people in Japan. 

Our aim is not only to provide the unique experience, but also to educate couples why we think that they should have a choice when dreaming about one of the most important and meaningful days of their life.

This article will hopefully help foreign couples who like Japan and would like to elope in Japan to get a clear picture of the wedding scene in Japan.

Like many other things, Japanese like to do things in their own way which is sometimes part of their charm, however, finding your way among the labyrinth of seemingly familiar terms can quickly become a nightmare and a turnoff as you find out that you are not getting what you expect.

We’re here to help clear things up from a western person perspective and hopefully give you a chance to make an informed decision.

What is “Photo wedding” or “Wedding location photo” in Japan?

Those terms describe a photo shooting session that is taken in a nice location for the purpose of getting pictures that Japanese couples often use later on in the reception space or wedding books for their wedding party after the ceremony which is usually held in a shrine, hotel, or a restaurant. 

It is a portrait session, often staged and in the case of Japanese photographers, heavily posed. It is often held in a popular photo spot where a couple is usually surrounded by hundreds of other visitors in the area who came to admire the natural beauty of the spot, such as park, a sunset spot, a popular hiking spot, or a popular location by the sea. 

Depending on the skill of the photographer, the couple enjoys the session and the pictures  in varying levels. Resulting pictures (to a certain point again depending on the photographer’s skills to make the couple feel at ease) show more or less emotion.

Elopement, on the other hand, is an actual wedding ceremony. It basically eliminates the need for a location photo. It produces a memory which is in quality incomparable to a portrait photo session and filled with emotion. 

It can be in a natural environment, however, not in a busy popular area frequented by other visitors. Because there is no time constraint the couple is more relaxed. And because it is the couple’s wedding day which is designed to bring the focus of the day to the couple, the pictures are genuine, natural and amazing. And there is time for some amazing memorable portraits as well!

What is a garden wedding, or a tent wedding?

You may think that because the garden or tent wedding is outside that it also has the benefits of the elopement wedding. Unfortunately, that is not true in Japan.

Garden wedding or a tent wedding in Japan is basically a traditional style wedding in a different environment setting. 

All other elements of a traditional hotel or a restaurant wedding are still there. Numerous guests (even a small hotel wedding has 50-80 people), wedding planners, venue staff, and most importantly detailed and strict schedules run by time limitations dictate the couple’s day. 

This brings us to the most important and basic question.

What makes elopement wedding experience different from all the above forms of traditional wedding?

In the society where the mainstream wedding industry is shaping the couple’s thinking about what their wedding day should look like, it is no surprise that everyone’s image of the wedding day is more or less the same. We all know what the traditional wedding day looks like. 

And the traditional wedding industry keeps telling you that “your wedding day is about the two of you“, or “you will be the center of attention“, or “you will never forget this day“. 

We have seen many traditional weddings and we always see the same thing happening.

What is most important during the wedding day? You would think it is the couple. After all, the wedding day is a celebration of the two people deciding to commit their lives to each other. However, in a traditional wedding, everything that happens during the day takes the energy and focus away from the couple. 

From the very start, when you put together the wedding invitation list, to the seating arrangements, to what you will do to entertain your guests, to choosing what they will eat or drink, what gifts you will give them and what venue or table decorations will impress them the most, it is not for you as a couple. It doesn’t elevate your relationship or makes it more meaningful as this day should.

What happens is that you stress about what everyone will think of you or other people, and will everything be good enough for everyone present.

  • How many times have you seen the bride and groom’s tired faces while they try to feel cheerful doing countless toasts with all the guests, or running around making sure they take pictures with everyone? 
  • How many times have you heard your friends who got married that they wished they spent more quality time during their wedding day with the people who really matter to them? 
  • How many times have you seen food on the plates of the couple not touched at all because they didn’t have time to taste it or enjoy it? 
  • How many times we’ve seen couples staying behind the guests in a small room just to grab a quick bite before the second party? 
  • How many times have we seen faces of the bride and groom when the venue staff comes to tell them that they have to leave soon or that something has gone against the agreement? 
  • How many times have you seen an MC or a venue staff rushing the party and the couple because they had to leave too soon and they want to satisfy the agreed itinerary so they can show they are doing their job? 
  • How many times have you seen flashing photographers turning the wedding day into a photo session? 
  • How many times have you heard the couple say the day finished too quickly and they can’t remember a great part of it?

Way to many.

Does this sound like the best day of your life? 

Does this sound like something you want to relive over and over?

This is not to blame the staff or the venues. Generation after generation they have been conditioned to behave the certain way. After all, all their friends, all their parents and grandparents have followed the same pattern, and for them there is no other way.

We are here to give you a choice. 

We are here to tell you that there is another way and that this day can be for you, not for everyone else.

It really can be relaxing, stress free, dream-like experience, filled with meaning and love for the two of you. It can be effortless and intentional so that every moment of it stays in your memory forever. 

It doesn’t make you a selfish person if you want that.

It makes you a caring partner about the importance that this day has to your relationship.

Best thing is, you can share it with people who mean most to you in the place that really suits you as a couple. 

And you can have an intimate party the same day, or throw a huge party only on a different date.

More meaningful, more intimate, and more intentional wedding is a choice. 

We can’t wait to hear from you what you dream about for your wedding day.

We will get to know you and guide you through planning of your dream day. 

We will open your horizons.

Everything from personalized unique location list, recommended like-minded vendors, helpful tips & tricks, we are here to offer a truly memorable experience that you will re-live over and over through the genuine natural pictures that we will take for you on your wedding day.

We can’t wait to hear what you have in mind for your elopement or an intimate wedding!