In Japan, the act of getting married isn’t really all that exciting. I don’t mean that weddings here aren’t memorable affairs, as they’re packed with all the joy and emotion you’d expect (and sometimes the video game references and crazy cakes you wouldn’t). The ceremonies held at churches, shrines, and wedding halls in Japan don’t constitute a legal union, though.
The only way to be officially hitched is to turn in a marriage application, called a konintodoke, to your local ward office or city hall, where you and your beloved will be pronounced husband and wife with all the stirring pageantry that goes along with a clerk stamping his authorization on the paperwork. When my wife and I submitted ours, the clerk offhandedly told us “Otsukaresama,” more or less “Thanks for stopping by,” instead of “Congratulations.”
Thankfully, there’s now a way to add a little color to the otherwise bland proceedings, with a new line of artistic marriage applications that’re not only approved for official use across Japan, but also free!