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No Groom? No Problem! Newest Trend In Japan – ‘Solo Weddings’

By Hanssie on December 27th 2014

If you missed the boat on getting the perfect gift for the Cat Lady in your life, well, look no further than this.

Proving the power of marketing and how to repackage something for a niche market, one Japanese travel agency, Cerca Travel is offering all the single ladies…all the single ladies, a bridal portrait session (groom optional) “to have some pictures of yourself in a wedding gown or in a gorgeous bridal kimono now, when you are young and beautiful.” With prices starting at £1,706 ($2,645), the bride will get the ~KYOTO SOLO WEDDING~Japanese Luxurious Wedding Kimono or Dress + Location Photo Shoot Experience Tour package which includes 2 days and 1 night in a hotel.

[REWIND: 5 WAYS TO HELP YOUR CLIENTS LOOK (AND FEEL) LESS AWKWARD IN PORTRAITS]

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Upon arrival, the bride will be whisked away to a dress shop to be fitted with her dream wedding gown or kimono and a florist will create a matching bouquet. The next day, the bride will meet with a stylist for accessories, hair and makeup, proceeded by a photo shoot with a professional photographer. After the shoot, the bride is invited to preview her images and have a cup of tea with the photographer and stylist. Within a few weeks, she will get her photos via USB and a mini album, and the memories, of course.

Optional add-ons include, a Japanese man to pose as an ‘image partner,’ dinner with the tour guide (if you can’t stand to dine alone), or a spa treatment.

The founder of Cerca Travel came up with the idea of ‘Solo Weddings’ to help women feel better about themselves. 39-year-old Tomoe Sawano, Cerca’s first client to book this package, describes her solo wedding experience as a “holiday”and said, “I was really entertained and reinvigorated by this package. It boosted my self-esteem. I had always looked tired, but with the help of the staff I managed to capture the beautiful shape I have while I’m still in my 30s.

As of this year, the company has sold about 30 of these packages and not all of them to lonely, single, Pinterest happy women. About half of the clients are already married and because they either had no wedding ceremony or were unhappy with their photos, booked a session.

Says Sawano, “Being single at this age, I was frustrated by pressure (to get married), but after this experience I left my worries behind me. I hope to find a partner but now believe that even if I can’t, I can enjoy life. If women take the initiative to enjoy themselves, I think new forms of wedding-related services can be generated.

Thoughts

Love the idea or hate it, the ‘Solo Wedding’ experience is basically a repackaged ‘Glamour’ portrait session appealing to the women who have dreamed of being a bride since they were little girls, and are probably nearing an age when it is socially unacceptable to be single and not a divorcee. This woman gets pampered and treated like a princess for a day or two, her self esteem gets lifted and she gets lovely photos of herself.

Cerca Travel has teamed up with industry vendors to create an experience for a niche market, that is remarkable and different. From an industry standpoint, it’s a win – you have a whole new niche market and you get to collaborate with your friends. From the client’s standpoint, if it empowers the woman and no one has put a ring on it yet, well, then why the heck not.

Personally, I wouldn’t do it, but I would be happy to photograph it.

[Via Mashable/Japan Times]

About

Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at www.hanssie.com and www.fittedmagazine.com. Follow her on Instagram. Email her at:
[email protected]

16 Comments

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  1. Graham Curran

    Japan is just plain weird

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  2. Gustavo Urena

    I do glam photography and you’ll be surprise how many women ask me about wedding gown glam photos. Late 30’s early 40’s women that haven’t have the opportunity but have the desire to be married fantasizes about being on that wedding gown usually will go for it. I think this is a very interesting idea and knowing my market it could have a lot of potencial—with the right wording when marketing the experience this could work. I think this is totally doable here in the US or a least here in NYC.

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  3. Rafael Steffen

    Great article! I am really loving this site more each day.

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  4. AJ Luna

    This is marketed to boost women’s confidence but this is just so sad (and sexist. no package for desperate grooms?). These fake brides will be celebrating their wedding anniversary with whom? The travel agent?

    Although the article mentioned that some of the women are already married and hasn’t had the chance to have their weddings photographed, why not just hire a photographer who can potentially imbibe your vision so you end up with images that you imagined them to be and not stand in a pre-set garden? And since it’s a wedding photoshoot, ask your husband (and/or kids) to be there?

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  5. Wale Ilori

    Unfortunately, this trend has made its way here. I was just watching this on tv yesterday and did a quick search to find the article online and have provided the link below.

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/richardhjames/this-woman-married-herself-after-being-single-for-six-years#.chG1xjZ8no

    I guess my issue with it is the long term implications and what it does to people’s thinking about marriage. I can’t see the point of it to be frank.

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    • Graham Curran

      It’s sad because people are being presented with some fantasy idea of getting married.

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  6. Stan Rogers

    I have trouble with Japanese-to-English translations. I get the pampering. I get the princess-for-a-day thing. But I’m pretty sure there’s a major grammar bump in the memorializing-the-experience-of-being-left-standing-at-the-altar-without-actually-having-gotten-even-that-far thing. Probably some exotic verb tense we don’t have in English.

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    • David De Fotograaf

      hahahaha!!
      Yeah, that’s how I think about a lot of Japanese stuff happening over there.
      And believe it or not, I know a few (less then a handful, but still) who already did something like this, here in Europe.
      One of them being an older model who wanted some pictures for old times sake. (strange as it may sound.)

      Now let’s all say it up loud: the world is slowly going to sh**. (and the strangest stuff coming from over there.)
      :o

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  7. robert s

    check out this fad in japan- what psychos!

    http://travel.cnn.com/tokyo/life/tokyo-dentist-offers-make-your-teeth-look-worse-035816

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/01/yaeba-japanese-double-tooth-trend-expensive-crooked-smile_n_2596720.html

    you pay dentist to mess your teeth up. double teeth and crooked teeth are considered hot and in demand..

    no thanks. ill stick to my straight teeth. to me a women with ugly teeth are a huge turn off.

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    • robert s

      I guess when men arent too interested you have to do what you can to attract them.

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  8. Andrew Merefield

    I don’t really understand it, but why not?

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  9. robert s

    see the documentary from BBC called “no sex please were japanese”

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1voex5_no-sex-please-we-re-japanese-documentary-youtube_tech?start=21

    and then itll make sense. bottom line men today dont want to commit.

    also other things to see

    dr helen smith book “men on strike”

    and I recently saw “divorce corp” and Im glad im not married in the US. id be scared as hell if I ever had to get a divorce there. happy wife happy life is my motto

    basically more and more single men in the 40’s who just dont care to commit and dont have to. there arent many incentives.

    goto OLD and see a huge amount of women from 30-40 desperate to get married and have children and guys who just wanna play the field.

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  10. David Hall

    Uh.. just don’t get it. I really can’t imagine many ladies taking this on. I may be wrong, but I just can’t see many indulging in this. If you want some type of fantasy photo-shoot, there are better uses of costume and themes!

    Just my opinion.

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    • John Cavan

      In Japan? The fad capital of the world? I can see it catching on if they’ve done a good job with the images. Stranger ideas than this one have been smash hits in Japan…

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    • J D

      My uneducated guess is that it is a cultural thing. I do not think it is such a big deal anymore not to have the whole “family” thing and its more socially acceptable to work and remain single. Women who want to get married who cannot or do not want to find a partner can still experience everything without waiting for a man to have their special day. Would it work in North America? I doubt it but who knows. Its not my cup of tea at all but if its legal and it makes someone happy then who am I to judge.

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