Ahhhh weddings….The Beatles said it best “All You Need is Love” and I couldn’t agree more. A few weeks ago we were part of being witness to that kind of love that the beetles sang about, yes, in my book the most wonderful feeling a human can experience, LOVE! It’s just as good sitting in the wedding hall on the sideline in the crowd and getting to take it all in at its most optimistic and perfect form. Swoon!
The day was filled with smiles all around, loving glances shared, and laughter! This was the first time we had been to a Korean wedding and friends told us we were in for a treat. We wanted to share our experiences in the event you too find yourself in Korea invited to a friend’s wedding.
Are you ready? Lets just jump right into it…
There were many differences when comparing a Korean wedding to a western wedding. The first thing that comes to mind is the location. Most Korean wedding and ceremonies are held in a wedding hall where many other couples are also having theirs. This wedding hall was located in downtown Seoul. Let’s just say that there was a close call with a traffic cop so from one friend to another… give yourself ample time to find the location beforehand. The entire day (couple of hours) is every prompt and efficient with everything being timed down to the last second. There are no casual drinks, toast being given by the best man and no reception dance party afterwards. Sorry folks, no getting down with the chicken dance on this side of the world.
Before you enter the area of the hall that your friends will be getting married in, there is typically a table set up where they are taking money. Forget the gift cards, coffee pots, or toaster you might so graciously gift the happy couple, instead you need to take an envelope and give the gift of cash. Guidance given on gifting cash is centered around your closeness to the couple. If you are family or close friends they say 100,000 or more, acquaintance or co-worker 30,000 – 50,000 won is well received. Once you give the money you will be immediately handed tickets. These tickets are your meal card. Basically the money you just gifted purchased your meals for the wedding buffet (spoiler alert more on that in a few). Pretty clever when you think about it.
Next you will quickly notice that guest are dressed in whatever they want. The whole philosophy of being overdressed rather than under dressed absolutely isn’t applying here. The attire ranged from jeans a tee and sneakers to a more formal style of dress pants and tie… I think I might have even seen hiking gear?? The ceremony is very informal when doing the comparison. There were people walking in and out during the service, talking or playing games on their cellphones, chit chatting, laughing, etc. I was stunned coming from a culture where you can probably hear a pin drop during our ceremonies.
Getting to witnessing a wedding in another culture is just so interesting to me! This wedding the bride and groom wore western style wedding attire, both rented. The dress was beautiful and the bride looked stunning! After the ceremony, the couple do a quick ensemble change into a traditional hanbok to show respect to their past generations and go to greet their family and friends at the dinner buffet.
After the ceremony you are ushered into the elevators to head to the hall’s gigantic dining area and large buffet. You will quickly see now that there are a lot more people here and that is because you are now dining with all of the other wedding hall’s guest. Just seek out an empty spot because there are no assigned seats, or table numbers.
Our friend that teaches in Korea told us that the children in her class say that the best thing about Korean weddings are the buffet. Some even just show up to eat and leave. LOL! Honestly, the children had it right! The spread is incredible! Tons of dishes and tons of Korean desserts to choose from …BUT… no sweet icing laced traditional wedding cake to be found. (Hands down my other favorite part of a wedding).
Another feather to add to our culture caps! The day was a lot of fun and we really appreciated the opportunity to be apart of our friends special day and learn more about the Korean culture and also have the opportunity to share it with all of you.
Have you ever attended a wedding within a culture unlike your own? What was it like? We’d love to hear!