The Dreaded Bring-Your-Own Fee

After Mr. G and I became engaged we started to look for wedding venues in the Kyoto area. Mr. G and I visited about seven places during our venue search over a few weekends. All of the venues would charge, even if it was one of the most expensive hotels in Kyoto or a very simple hotel in the countryside, about $25, 000 to $30,000 for the wedding. Japanese wedding venues handle everything—the ceremony, the reception, the invitations, the photographer, the food, the dress, the decorations, everything—so during the presentation they also give you an estimate of all the fees.


Here’s a quick translation of a part of one of the estimate charts I received.

Mr. G and I wanted to do our wedding on a budget, so we figured we could do our own invitations and decorations. I also wanted to buy my own dress in America rather than rent my dress in Japan. (Most Japanese brides rent their dress rather than buying one.)

At the first venue we went to, I mentioned that I wanted to bring in my own wedding dress. She looked up at me, smiled, and said, “No problem—we will just charge you a bring-your-own fee of $1,000.” Huh? What? I was planning on buying a $600 wedding dress at David’s Bridal, so why would I need to pay $1,000 to bring that in? I figured that I had misheard what she said in Japanese, so I moved on to the hair and makeup section. I mentioned that I have my own makeup artist and she said, “No problem—we will just charge you a bring-your-own fee of $300.” After, that I knew my Japanese wasn’t a problem and that I heard correctly. We left the place and moved on to another venue thinking that the previous venue was unique in its bring-your-own fees. I was very, very, very wrong. Every venue we went too would charge us a bring-your-own fee for anything we wanted to do ourselves. For example, if we made our own invitations we would be charged about $5 per person, and if we chose our own wedding favors we would be charged about $50 per person.

I started to get very frustrated. I felt that throwing a wedding in Japan that was uniquely Mr. Gondola and me would be impossible, or if we went ahead and did it it would cost us double (the fee to make it ourselves and the bring-your-own fee). I felt like I was being penalized for trying to be original.


Argh, why are you stopping my creativity?!

That was until I found our wedding venue called With You. During our meeting we were handed the fee sheet, and the first thing I asked was how much the bring-your-own fees would be. Our wedding coordinator said, “Oh, we don’t charge bring-your-own fees here.” Hive, the heavens parted, angels started to sing, and I would have hugged the guy if hugging wasn’t considered so awkward in Japan. He later showed us the menu, and it turns out our venue is owned by our favorite French restaurant in Kyoto. Win! We started to discuss other things such as having a photo booth and making our own centerpieces, which other venues told us we weren’t allowed to do, and our coordinator said it was fine! Our wedding coordinator let us know that we could basically do whatever we want, no problem!


Image via

I am so grateful that I found a place that doesn’t charge bring-your-own fees. Our wedding will be considerably cheaper thanks to our venue!

Have you ever run into any bring-your-own fees in your wedding planning? Did you go ahead and pay the fee or look for another vendor?


Mrs. Gondola

Wedding Date:
October and November 2013
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  1. Member
    sbruin99 135 posts, Blushing bee @ 7:07 am

    That is CRAZY! I have never heard of that. I am so happy for you finding this other venue!


  2. Member
    blonde17jess 1290 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:09 am

    Wow, that’s such an interesting concept! In some ways, planning a wedding there would be so much less hassle because you don’t have to really do much, just pay them to handle it all! On the other hand, it doesn’t work for wedding-crazed brides like us who want to DIY, personalize, and control every little detail of the wedding!

  3. Member
    Mrs. Orchard 72 posts, Worker bee @ 7:21 am

    I’m so glad you found a great venue to work with Miss G! It is so interesting to read your posts- I never really thought about how different the process of planning for a wedding could vary. I know customs and traditions are different everywhere if course but I never gave the basics a second thought. I’m learning so much from you!

  4. Member
    Mrs. Blue Whale 633 posts, Busy bee @ 7:49 am

    That’s crazy!! I’m glad you didn’t have to settle!

  5. Member
    Mrs. Sword 1023 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:58 am

    I’ve never heard of those bring your own fees, how annoying and what a rip off! So happy to hear you found a place that was more accommodating! These cultural wedding differences are awesome to read. :)

  6. Member
    pacnwbride 171 posts, Blushing bee @ 10:42 am

    My Vegas wedding chapel has in house photographers. Our package only comes with ceremony candids and anything else is pretty pricey through them. Their fee for bringing your own photographer onto their grounds is way out of our budget which makes me sad because the chapel is so beautiful and I would love some shots there but it’s just not happening.

  7. Member
    Mrs. Rubber Stamps 794 posts, Busy bee @ 11:52 am

    What crazy fees! I have never heard of that before. So glad you were able to find an accommodating venue!

  8. Member
    Mrs. Waterfall 1324 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:12 am

    What an interesting concept, so glad you found a place that didn’t charge that fee!

  9. Member
    Mrs. Gondola 981 posts, Busy bee @ 4:26 am

    @Blonde17Jess: Exactly, there are hardly any DIY brides like there are in western countries. I wonder if Japan will ever get wrapped up in the trend.

  10. Member
    AmericanInJapanBride 8 posts, Newbee @ 2:18 am

    I really hope my wedding inspires DIY in my city! People are amazed at how little we are spending to have a wedding with 50 guests. I just hope it inspires originality! It really is something that is lacking with weddings here.

  11. Member
    Mrs. Gondola 981 posts, Busy bee @ 12:51 am

    @AmericanInJapanBride: My wedding is about half the cost of a typical wedding thanks to all of the DIY and not doing what is expected just because its expected.

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