The Japanese culture is steeped in tradition. Even today in this hi-tech modern age of ours, it's kind of refreshing to think that the Japanese place such a high premium on "saving face" and doing "the honorable thing". The Japanese wedding falls right in line with other "traditions in transition".
Even today, about 10 percent of weddings are still arranged by a "go-between". Someone who acts as a mediator to ensure that the bride and groom are marrying into honorable (and well off) families. Likewise, Shinto is still the predominant Japanese religion and the traditional Japanese wedding - at least those that try to honor Shinto doctrine - is held in a Shinto shrine. That's not to say that many a Japanese wedding aren't held in other locations. For example, many Japanese hotels have wedding ceremony and reception rooms where everything can take place in close proximity. But as far as Shinto wedding ceremonies are concerned, they are very private affairs with only family and close friends in attendance.
The Japanese wedding also honors traditional clothing. The bride wears traditional Japanese dresses. In this case - a white wedding kimono that is known as the shiro-maku. Shiro-maku basically means white and purity. And obviously most grooms would like to think that their bride falls into that category. The bride will also comb her hair in a traditional pinned back style. And the brides face is painted white as well. To reflect her virginity. This practice is common in many other countries as well and not just the orient. The groom is dresses in a traditional male kimono as well. Called the montsuki. The groom also dresses in a handmade overcoat which profiles his family's coat of arms.
There are other traditions present as well. The bride wears a veil and stays covered up until the wedding vows are exchanged. Traditional Japanese music is played during and after the ceremony and reception. As stated before, the dominant religion in Japan is Shinto, so it's natural that a Shinto priest conducts the ceremony. First by purifying the bride and groom with holy water and then by honoring the couple with sake.
Sake plays a big part in a Japanese wedding. The couple has to perform what is commonly known as the Sansan-kudo exchange of nuptial cups. The bride and groom will drink from 3 different cups; one small, one large and one medium. And they sip from each cup 3 times.
Another marriage element that involves the number "3" is the number of Japanese dresses the bride wears. The bride wears a pre-ceremony, ceremony and post-ceremony dress. Hey, it's important to look good.
Last but not least is the cost of Japanese weddings. Japan is one of the most, if not the most expensive country in the orient. If you figure a Big Mac costs $25 dollars or so, then the price of the dresses, rings, reception halls and gifts etc. is going to carry a price tag that will cripple most budgets. How the heck the Japanese manage to pull it off is beyond me. In fact many Japanese weddings are held off the mainland as a means of combining the honeymoon and ceremony and reducing the cost incurred by catering to so many guests. At least someone is thinking economics.