The art of getting to “yes”: Wedding proposals become big business in Japan

Tokyo — it looked like a normal date. After dinner in a sumptuous restaurant, take a romantic stroll through the restaurant grounds. But suddenly, out of nowhere, a smiling staff appeared, ushering us through the fairy-tale gates and up the steps of the English-style chapel.

As his date stood awkwardly, the man sprang into action, getting down on one knee and brandishing a small box of engagement rings. I didn’t have much time to mutter.

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A man, a client of Anniversaire, a Tokyo-based wedding, event and proposal consultancy, proposes to his girlfriend on the stairs leading to the company’s Western-style “chapel” in the Japanese capital.

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Another mission accomplished for Anniversaire, a Tokyo-based wedding and events company. Anniversaire has recently entered the thriving business of proposal consulting that began overseas and is starting to gain momentum here as well. In Japan, it generally involves guiding men in their late 20s to early 30s to the finer points of reaching “yes”.

Anniversaire began responding to inquiries from curious groom candidates in 2014. This trend has been accelerated by the rise of social media.

“When men research ‘where to propose’ online, they find many posts where women flaunt engagements in (luxury) locations,” she told CBS News.

In the age of Instagram, simply declaring your private devotion at home isn’t enough.

“There are a lot of women who want a redo,” Nishimura said. One of her couples who had already scheduled their wedding paid extra to schedule a lavish engagement reenactment at the company’s lavish wedding venue.

“When a woman proposes, she wants to tell her friends.” Young men, too, seem to be fixated on the idea that when it comes to engagement, it’s place, place, place, preferably a dramatic night sky.

A man prepares to propose to his girlfriend on the stairs of a Western-style ‘chapel’, part of a wedding and engagement facility offered by Tokyo consultancy Anniversary.

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Money may not buy love, but money can certainly help secure the services of a proposal planner. Starting at around $200, you can buy her 1 hour with a proposal consultant and her 30 minute location rental fee. At the company’s fashionable location in Tokyo, the romantic backdrop of choice is a chapel, a recently renovated “church” featuring 140-year-old stained glass and royal blue carpets. Weddings are often held in buildings resembling Western houses of worship, with foreign actors acting as priests, and in the non-Christian country of Japan, such ceremonies are the majority. )

Nishimura helps nervous suitors compose the pitch. Unless it’s short and to the point, like “Marry me!” She recommends reading from carefully composed notes. Some men struggle with which leg to kneel on (either works, but the best camera angle is on the man’s “open” side).

But clients don’t have to sweat. More than 2,000 proposals have since been made, but Nishimura said she has not had a single rejected suitor. “If clients are paying cash to propose, couples are already more or less on the same page about settling down,” she thinks.

Most clients are willing to pay extra for things like renting formal wear and transporting their soon-to-be fiancée in a stretch limousine, so the average price in 2022 will be almost $1,000. That fee does not include the purchase of an engagement ring, nor the modern practice of presenting a betrothed with a huge bouquet of 108 roses, which means “eternity” in Japanese. In this case, Floral Eternity weighs over 10 pounds and costs close to $400.

Inside the “Chapel” of Anniversaire, a wedding and engagement consultancy in Tokyo, Japan, a young man gives his girlfriend a bouquet of 108 roses just before proposing marriage.

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Clients can choose to immortalize the moment with a cinematic style film. The company’s online examples from real customers aren’t exactly “Notting Hill,” but they seem perfectly tuned to activate the tear glands.

The rise of proposal consulting offers a small glimmer of hope in Japan’s struggling wedding industry, which includes hotels, restaurants, wedding venues, and upscale “guesthouses” like Anniversaire.

In the 1980s, when celebrity weddings made headlines, the Japanese often indulged in glitz. A couple descending in a gondola accompanied by clouds of dry ice, loud music and light productions. However, according to a report by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on the restructuring of the domestic bridal industry in 2021, the number of couples tying the knot had already declined by 2013, dropping more than 12% to reach 500,000 in 2020. Slightly above..

Those who get married commonly spur 1980s circus-style weddings.

With fewer and fewer domestic customers, the wedding business is starting to look to foreign tourists to make up the difference. Destination suggestions, anyone?

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