Japanese defy recession on wedding day

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Despite rising unemployment and falling wage packets, Japanese couples are refusing to compromise when it comes to the most important day of their lives.

Japanese spent an average of Y3.31 million (€25,080) on their wedding ceremony and reception in the fiscal year that ended in March, with the cost of a honeymoon adding another Y1.1 million (€8,335) to the price tag.

According to wedding magazine Zexy, which has conducted a cost comparison study every year since 2004, the figure is an increase of Y113,000 (€857) on the previous year, and up an eye-catching Y370,000 (€2,805) from the first year of the report - when the Japanese economy was booming.

In comparison, Chinese couples spend an average of €13,861 on their wedding day, the figure comes to €25,446 in Britain and €19,995 in the United States.

"In the 1980s, Japan went through a phase of extravagant and very expensive weddings," Koichi Imabayashi, president of Tokyo-based wedding company Full Throttles, told Relaxnews.

"That went down dramatically when the economic bubble burst at the start of the 1990s, but we are now finding that the people who got married in the 1980s are mothers and fathers today and they are helping their children financially to make their wedding days very special events," he said.

"I would estimate that around 90 percent of couples today receive financial assistance from their parents for their wedding," he added.

According to Zexy, the average amount contributed by relatives comes to Y1.98 million (€15,000), up Y170,000 (€1,288) from the figure reported in 2005.

The study indicates that young Japanese are quite happy to spend large amounts on one of the most important events in their lives but, at the same time, are reducing outlays on their living expenses during the recession.

"We are also seeing families in Japan becoming smaller, with many couples only having one child," said Imabayashi. "This means that when it comes to the wedding for their son or daughter, they are happy to spend larger sums on giving them the best possible experience."

Some 726,000 couples tied the knot in 2008, with that figure roughly the same for the last decade or so, according to the Japan Statistics Bureau. The number of marriages in Japan broke through the 1 million barrier in 1970, dropped off through the rest of the decade but bounced back in the 1980s to the level that exists today.