In Brief

Japanese agency offers 'solo weddings' for single women

Single 'brides' can buy a dress and even pose with a 'decorative man' between the ages of 20 and 70

A Japanese travel agency is offering "weddings" for single women to encourage them to have "positive feelings about themselves".

Cerca Travel's two-day "solo wedding" package enables women to choose their own bridal gown, bouquet and hairstyle before taking part in a photo shoot in the city of Kyoto.

The company's website says it is offering the opportunity to "experience the feeling of being a princess" to single women who are not sure if they will get married but want pictures of themselves in a bridal gown while they are "young and beautiful".

It also offers the service to women who are already married and for women who "believe that you don't really have to get engaged to be able to wear a bridal outfit".

Prices start at ¥300,000 (£1,600), which includes a wedding kimono or dress, plus accessories, hair-styling, make-up, hotel accommodation for one night, a wedding bouquet, a mini photo album and transfers between the studio and shooting locations.

There is also an option to have a "decorative man" between the ages of 20 and 70 to pose alongside the bride, says Japan's Rocket News 24.

"I always wanted to wear a wedding dress and I didn't want to regret it, but I also didn't want to pester my boyfriend," says one woman on the Cerca Travel website.

Another woman tells Kyodo news agency: "This package boosted my sense of self-esteem… the effect was equal to a more extraordinary experience, such as visiting a World Heritage castle."

About 30 women, half of whom were already married, have become "solo brides" since the service was launched in May.

Yukiko Inoue, the company's president, tells Kyodo she created the package "to encourage women to have positive feelings about themselves", but admits that "some people have said it would be 'lonely, miserable and sad' to use it".

Cerca Travel also offers a "broken heart taxi" tour in which customers can change their hairstyle, let go of their negative thoughts at Yasui Konpiragu shrine and forget their worries while shopping for "cute Japanese craft items and miscellaneous goods".

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