J-STORIES - A wedding, the beginning of a new life together, is an event filled with celebration and happiness. And many couples look for ways to remember that special occasion and hold on to those feelings.
To help them, a Japanese company has designed a new kind of marriage certificate that’s far more than a piece of paper from the registry office providing a legal stamp of approval to their bond. In fact, this bespoke document could be called a piece of art, which newlyweds can display as an eternal renewal of their vows.
The service is provided by Tokyo-based, Chariot de Citrouille, which was set up with the specific goal of creating bespoke marriage certificates.
The certificates are used as a decorative embellishment to civil or church ceremonies, typically being signed to the applause of guests. The certificates, which are created using alcohol art inks, also serve as striking display art for newlyweds’ homes.
Such a celebratory aide-memoir might be just the fillip Japan needs. Like many other developed nations, marriage is being shunned by Japan’s young, while divorce has become increasingly common.
According to government data, the number of marriages in Japan peaked at 1.1 million in 1972, but fell significantly over the following 50 years, reaching just under 505,000 by 2022. One in three of these marriages will end in divorce. And while data shows that 60 percent of married couples who have been married for more than three years hold weddings and receptions, only 40 percent of couples who divorce do so.
This, together with the declining birthrate and the super-aging population has placed a strain on society.
Nonetheless, among those who do decide to tie the knot, many are choosing not to hold wedding ceremonies, a reflection of more diverse attitudes to weddings and marriage in recent times.
However, data shows that couples who hold wedding ceremonies are less likely to divorce. It is as though the emotion of a marriage ceremony and its lingering memory play an important role in strengthening the marital bond.
The way in which people get married in Japan has also become more diverse. Venues now cater for those wanting a smaller, more intimate experience, some for just the couple themselves, while others involve only photos. Some are purely ceremonial, eschewing expensive receptions.
Whatever the wedding choice, the occasion deserves to be marked for prosperity, says Chariot de Citrouille CEO Rina Kusaka. ”Having a symbol of marriage reminds couples of the emotion of their wedding and brings fulfillment to their daily lives,” Kusaka told J-Stories.
The inspiration for Kusaka’s company came from a very personal experience. Wanting to add a personal touch to her own wedding, Kusaka commissioned a designer to produce an original marriage certificate. The reaction from friends encouraged her to start Chariot de Citrouille, which was named after the carriage that took Cinderella to the ball in the eponymous folk tale of love and marriage. “My friends said the alcohol-ink wedding certificate was very attractive, stylish, and that it suited me,” she says.
A framed “artwork” certificate on display in a home looks less formal than many standard wedding photos and fits in with any interior design, she says. “I have mine in the living room and whenever I look at it, it reminds me of the emotion of when I got married and fills me with kind feelings toward my husband. I hope it will help us return to our original feelings from when we got married and stay considerate toward one another.”
The certificates, which are not legally recognized, are available in three colors of alcohol ink, with hairdryers and other similar appliances employed to blow and spread the inks to create unique patterns and hues. The document is then signed by the couple and laminated.
Sample certificates are uploaded to the company’s Instagram and other social network accounts so that customers can choose the one they want to use. “People feel the same about marriage everywhere,” says Kusaka, adding that she hopes that the certificates could also prove popular in other countries.
In fact, feedback from customers suggest the certificates are effective in elevating the nuptial experience. One woman commented that her husband seemed comparatively less interested in the exchanging of vows experience. “But by signing and displaying this certificate in our home, it seems to have increased his desire to continue our married life,” she says.
Chariot de Citrouille founder Kusaka believes the bespoke certificates will play a crucial role throughout a couples’ marital years. “Over the years, as my family grows, I think this marriage certificate will help me and my husband to return to our roots as a couple and recall the original intention of our marriage,” she said. “I’ll be very happy if I can contribute in a similar way to the future of other happy families.”
Translated by Tony McNicol
Top page photo provided by Chariot de Citrouille
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