Trend Watch

Shotgun Weddings Rise in Japan

Shotgun-wielding future fathers-in-law are out, and the "Double Happy" wedding service is in. Japanese wedding planners are beginning to cater to the pregnant bride niche, with services like elasticized rental gowns, double-padded church pews, low-pollen bouquets, napping anterooms, and assistants ready to pounce with ice water if morning sickness rears its ugly head. The Times of London reports that "pregnant and proud" weddings now account for about 30 percent marriages that take place in Japan and reflect a shift in cultural attitude. In the 1990s, the taboo of pregnancy outside marriage began to weaken although, as the Times put it, "a strong tradition of being married by the time of birth remained." The average amount of time between marriage and birth of a first child fell from 10 months to six months by 2004. The weakening of the taboo coincides with a 28-year decrease in Japan's under-15 population; as fewer women choose to have children, prospective grandchildren are welcome, no matter the circumstance of pregnancy.