This weekend, we had the opportunity to attend our first Korean wedding. My very first co-teacher got married! I was so happy to be able to attend. Korean weddings are very different than what one may be used to back in the states. If you ever find yourself in Korea, where’s what to expect at a Korean wedding!
Koreans tend to invite many acquaintances to their wedding. If you ever attend a wedding in Korea, expect many people. You may be wondering what to bring as a gift. Back home, you may choose to get a gift item off of the registry or you may decide to give cash or a check. In Korea, cash is what everyone gives. The cash that is received is used to help pay for the costs of the event.
When you first arrive, you will see someone collecting cash. You will be given an envelope to put the cash in and you will be given a meal ticket in exchange for your gift! That’s right — a meal ticket!
Let me rewind for a moment. Korean weddings are typically held in wedding halls. At home, you may be used to showing up at a venue where only one wedding is planned for that entire day or evening. Here, you will likely visit a huge wedding hall where many other weddings are going on at the same exact time!
When you arrive at the hall, you will need to go to the designated area for the wedding you’re attending. When we arrive at the hall, it was about 30 minutes before the scheduled time. There was a wedding going on in the room that would be used for my co-teacher’s event. Right next door, there was a room labeled “Bride’s Room.” This is where you can get your photograph taken with the bride!
The bride interacts with her guests before the event. Unlike Western superstition, it’s not unlucky for the groom to see the bride in her dress — so, you may also see him in the room, too.
After visiting the bride, everyone moves into the next room, right before the ceremony starts. You will likely watch the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom walk down the isle, then the bride, along with her father. While we’re used to having bridal parties back home, there are actually designated staff members who walk down the isle in addition to the bride, groom, and the mothers!
The whole event was only a few minutes — I’d say 20 minutes at the most. The event was also a lot more casual than a ceremony at home. There were so many people just looking at their phones or talking to their neighbors — during the ceremony. There were also quite a few people wearing jeans.
After the ceremony, we all moved along to a huge room where a buffet was set up. Everyone hands their meal ticket in and then can help themselves. Since the meal is also held in the wedding hall, there are many other guests from other weddings, all around you — possibly eating their meal right next to you!
We were glad to have been able to experience a wedding while in Korea — and it was extra special because it was for someone who means a lot to me!
To give you a little more insight into Korean weddings, I compiled some fun facts for you!
Here are 10 Fun Facts About Korean Weddings:
- There is no big proposal or engagement ring!
- The bride and groom pick out their wedding bands together and also pick out the wedding dress and groom attire together.
- Money is the only gift that is given by regular guests.
- Korean weddings are very quick events — most ceremonies only last a few minutes.
- After the regular ceremony is held, Koreans have a very small private ceremony with close family. At this private ceremony, the bride and groom wear traditional Korean attire, known as hanbok.
- After the private traditional ceremony is held (while guests are eating), the bride and groom come out, wearing their hanbok, to thank their guests for attending.
- Paper invitations are rare in Korea! Many Koreans send their invitations via a popular messaging app, called Kakao. It’s also common to get a verbal invite.
- In most cases, a couple doesn’t live together until after their wedding. This is why so many Koreans, especially those who are in their early 20’s, still live at home with their parents.
- Korean women keep their family name, even after marriage.
- Most women rent their wedding dress — I love this!
We hope you enjoyed learning about what to expect at a Korean wedding! Maybe someday you will find yourself attending a wedding in Korea! 🙂