So today, jet-lagged and only a mere 48 hours back in Korea from visited my family back in the States, I attended my first Korean wedding. Now, I just recently got married to my husband, but it was only the paperwork. The ceremony is next year! But for now, I wanted to see how different Korean weddings were from Western weddings.
To start off, venues are different. Most Koreans either get married in Wedding Halls or churches (if Christian). This isn’t totally different, but wedding halls consist of a dining halls and wedding rooms where the marriage takes place. The guest show up (and Koreans will call friends out of the woodwork) and usually, depending on the intimacy of the relationship to the bride or groom, they give an amount of money. Something like $50 or $100. After gathering the monetary gifts. friends usually chat for a while until proceeding to the hall.
(It’s important to note that Korean wedding halls go through weddings like any scheduled appointment. People from the last wedding might be hanging around or people from the next wedding will start to show up. Not like I could tell a difference of who did or didn’t belong!)
After people are seated, there is someone who directs the procession in addition to a preacher (or the equivalent in this case). The mothers of the bride and groom proceed down the aisle, light candles, bow to each other and the guest. Next comes the groom, and finally the bride with her father. They bow to each other and then the preacher goes on talking about the couple’s story together (from what I understood in Korean. I was too busy crying and telling my husband to leave me alone Haha). After, the couple bows to the respective set of parents, then each other, exchange rings, the preacher continues and that’s pretty much it. One of the groom’s friends sung a song and the groom danced (not with his wife) and we were straight to the food after a quick photo shoot. I watched it all from the back and I was definitely distracted by the lack of formality. Koreans naturally dress nice but some were just dressed for a day out and people near the back were talking through the procession.
After the ceremony was over, it was time to eat at the buffet. The food wasn’t bad at all and since my return I hadn’t had Korean food (my beloved Korean food!) so I was happy. The bride and groom changed into their traditional clothes and greeted everyone throughout the eating time. Then, you saw the workers start to set up for another couple’s guests and you knew it was time to go.
For my husband and I, we went out to coffee with some of his friends after and it was such a pleasant experience. I’m too embarrassed to speak Korean, but they spoke some English for me and in return I felt better about speaking some Korean to them. This was my favorite part of the day without a doubt!
My reaction to the whole thing was mixed. What girl doesn’t grow up dreaming of being a beautiful bride, walking down the isle with her father, all eyes on her while hers are on her husband. It was beautiful in that sense, but something struck me wrong. Weddings in the Western sense are very close, intimate engagements. Time is taken for the procession, things are rehearsed, and attention to detail makes it special. Korean weddings are very cookie cutter and very much procedural events. Needless to say that I am not wanting a Korean wedding hall wedding for myself.
I am curious if any other countries have something similar to Korea? Or something completely different?