All cultures have different wedding customs and it has been a great experience to attend a few Korean weddings during my time in Seoul. Korean weddings greatly differ from the weddings I’ve attended in the US. Also, to give some perspective, I come from Mexican heritage, so I have experience attending Mexican style weddings and American style weddings - both of which are very similar to each other not that I can compare the two with Korean weddings.
First, I want to mention that the weddings I have attended so far have been for people that I am not too close with. So, I am focusing mainly on writing about three elements about attending a Korean wedding that stood out to me - not about how Koreans propose, meet the in-laws and prepare for a wedding. So, let’s begin!
Korean weddings take place in wedding halls that are decorated very luxuriously. In the middle of the wedding hall is what can best be described as looking like a runway. The runway leads up to the main stage. On each side of the runway down the middle of the hall there are many tables and seats, decorated nicely with centerpieces. The guests take seats on the side that correspond to the wedding party that invited you.
The wedding halls come with a hefty price tag. The prices do vary by which wedding hall decoration package is chosen.
20 Minute Weddings
The expensive wedding halls, I just mentioned, are only rented out for 20 minutes, plus time for group photos. In those 20 minutes, the groom makes an entrance. Then, the bride walked down the runway by her father. There is an MC - usually a friend of the groom. There is a speech to summarize the couple’s love story. The entertainment of the wedding is that there is a singing performance by friends of the couple. Also, the groom sings his bride a song. After the performances, the couple goes to each side of the walkway to bow to their parents. They first bow to the bride’s parents and then to the groom’s parents. Lastly, they walk down the aisle together as a married couple as everyone cheers. That concludes the ceremony part of the wedding.
The couple walks back to the main stage, so that the photo taking can begin. The couple takes photos with their parents first. Next, the family members of both parties go up for a group photo. Lastly, the friends of the bride and groom join for the last group photo.
Now, it is not the fact they have a buffet that stood out to me. It is the fact that it takes place at a buffet hall in the wedding hall building and that all the couples being married in the building use the same buffet hall. The married couple change outfits, then go out to the buffet hall to thank all of their guests for attending their wedding. Some couples choose to change into traditional clothing to go around thanking guests. However, not all couples do that. After the couple thanks everyone, then they tend to leave since they have honeymoon plans. So, the guests take their time eating and chatting for a while, then they head out to enjoy the rest of their day.
Regardless of the way a wedding ceremony is done by each culture, all weddings are touching and beautiful, as it a celebration of love. I'm so glad I've been able to participate and experience this aspect of Korean culture. So, did these elements surprise you as well?
Giselle Moreno is from California, USA where she attended the University of California, Riverside. While a student, she always worked with international students and she decided to teach English abroad upon graduating during her third year of university. It was through the experiences of being an English tutor for international students that she felt really fulfilled. She found it particularly easy to get along with Korean students which is why she decided to pursue a teaching opportunity in Korea. She even attended Yonsei University in Seoul for a semester as a study abroad student and fell in love with the city. She is currently working at ChungDahm Learning’s April Daechi branch located in Gangnam, Seoul.