In an era of declining marriages and smaller weddings, a leading bridal fashion designer is helping to revive the custom of holding hometown nuptials that feature local food and traditional crafts.

“A bride used to prepare for a wedding at the home where she grew up, full of memories, and receive the blessing of her neighbors,” Yumi Katsura said in a recent interview.

“Having looked at the bride, children in the neighborhood long for marriage,” she said.

As one example, Katsura said, a couple hold a ceremony at a local shrine and walk with their families to the reception venue, greeting people on the way. At their reception, local specialties are served.

“We hope we can help create opportunities for the couple having their brand-new start congratulated by everyone in town,” Katsura said.

With fewer people getting married and small, low-key weddings now popular, Katsura believes hometown ceremonies can help remind people of the important role that weddings play in the community.

The All Japan Bridal Association, which Katsura chairs, has organized a competition for hometown weddings since 2012, granting awards to those who organize ceremonies or receptions that incorporate modernity into regional traditions.

Katsura, who declines to disclose her age, has loved fairy tales involving princess characters since she was a child.

After graduating from university, she spent a year researching weddings across the world.

She began designing dresses in 1964, offering an alternative to the traditional kimono worn at most weddings.

“I wanted to make a dress for those who wished to marry in a Western dress,” Katsura said.

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of her career as a designer. She said the most inspiring part of her job is seeing the smiles on the faces of the brides.

“I found my job worth doing whenever a bride tells me, ‘Everyone at the ceremony loved my dress,’ ” Katsura said.

Her current goal is to establish a bridal museum to display the wedding dresses that she designed.

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