Last month I got to go to my first Korean Wedding!  I was excited to get to see one at last, Nara has been to several and his parents seem to go to one every other week because they know so many people, so I was really curious.  My impression from them based just on what I saw online was really bad honestly, on youtube I saw lots of noisy crowded halls with people talking, phones ringing, and lots of the “Korean + Foreigner” weddings just seemed even worse or they never even got married due to the cost.  Since I am engaged I learned a bit more about the costs, and prices here are REALLY high~ I will get into that in another post sometime… but I guess that explains what I saw ^^

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What makes a wedding “classy” or “cheap” depends a lot on the location here, and Korea has lots of halls for sure!  Nara told me that some of them when over the top tacky here, but in a good way~ like swan ice sculptures, bubbles, and one hall has a waterfall behind the bride and groom haha that sounds kinda awesome!! This wedding was being held in a very nice location, so I put on a cute dress and prepared myself!!

The hall was a very nice one to start off with, It was very fancy and quiet!  I had been told some halls have several weddings going on at once, so it is a bit chaotic in the main hallway~ but this place was nice and peaceful.  We started by signing in the couples guest book, just like you would at home ♥

After that we had to check in with another table to show our invitation and get a meal ticket.  Some weddings actually have buffet dinners in a main dining hall (with people from other weddings apparently) but this wedding was a fancy one so it was a sit-down meal. We also had to drop off our envelope of money

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Yes, in Korea when you are invited to a wedding you bring a gift of money~ not something from a gift registry! Sometimes weddings are so large that the money helps pay back for the cost of the wedding, that is why Koreans invite everyone and the service can get very large.  You attend Weddings and give gifts of money with the anticipation that down the road you can invite them and get money as well… its a little wacky, but it works.  If the hall is a super fancy/expensive one you gift about 100,000 won ($100 usd) a head, if it is a normal wedding you gift about 50,000 a($50 usd)  head.

Outside the hallway was lined with gifted flower arrangements for the couple and the parents waited to greet guests

The hall had a slideshow of photos of the bride and groom going on a loop for people to watch

The room had labeled seating in the front areas and open seating in the back for misc people and acquaintances.  Weddings here are not nearly as intimate as they are back home, they invite everyone they know from work, school, old classmates, whoever, so sometimes only a handful actually know the family very well.  Because of this I noticed most of the people in the back open seating came dressed very casually vs the ones in the front, jeans and shirts.  Nara knew the Bride from High School, so we had seating in the front area which was nice because I could get a good view of what was going on ^^


The hall had a back room for viewing the bride before the ceremony.  In Korea it is not bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the ceremony, so sometimes he is in the room with her.

Both mothers walk to the front~ I love the hanboks!

Father walking her down the isle ~ and joining her groom at the front to face everyone and bow

Let the marriage begin

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I don’t have a photo, but after the vows are finished someone in the family (or that the family knows) always sings or gives a musical performance or some kind.  At this wedding they had a group of men singing that were friends of the Groom.

And now time for some family photos!

Time to snack!! Various kinds of rice cakes out to nibble on~ the white ball kind are really good!

The Dinner menu for that night~ sounds very nice!

The courses were actually not that bad! Presentation was very nice ♥

After the service while everyone was eating, the bride and groom went to a back area for traditional photographs~ we got to peek in and see! These are what a formal wedding hanbok for a Man and Woman in Korea look like, they are really cute!! These are almost always provided by the wedding hall as part of a package deal~ it must have been tiring to run around changing for photos so much though. They also take a series of photos just before the ceremony as well..

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Since I was a bit far from the front I could not take as many photos as I would have liked, but some things went by really quickly.  They had a large cake display (I really don’t think it was real) and they walked over and made a slice, then immediately walked over and each lit a candle at the end.  After that she stepped forward and tossed the flowers at her friends and then they rushed off to take photos and greet people.  It was set up like stations really, so they had cake cutting and threw flowers… but it was a bit different from what I am used to for sure!

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I know some weddings do have after parties at a club or something, but these are rare and for wealthy people like at Shilla Hotel mostly.  After everyone ate, people quickly started to leave and head out, so it felt a little like dinner and a show almost ^^  That being said, her wedding was beautiful and I was very happy I could attend and experience a semi-western style wedding here!  Sadly no bubbles or sparkle waterfall, but Nara said that it is only a matter of time before we see one hehe.

Dress: Forever 21 | Bow: Tarina Tarantino| Shawl: Liz Lisa | Bag: Prada | Shoes: Amazing Korea find

What did I learn today about Korean Weddings?

– Location, Location, Location

– Not bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her dress before the wedding

– You are rushed around taking photos all day, its a series of photo opps. and outfit changes

–  No Dancing! No Garter toss!

– Cake cut, but no wedding cake itself! I think the cake was fake…

– Usually the wedding hall provides everything (flowers, food, hanbok, photos, even wedding dress sometimes!) as a package price

– Korean weddings can get *extremely *expensive for just an “average” one

– Korean weddings are usually huge and filled with lots of people you hardly know. It is all about the parents

I will do a post about weddings in Korea in MUCH greater detail after I go to a few more! Still learning some of the process for my own wedding, so I will be sure to share those things here for other girls (or guys) that are curious about getting married here.

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7 Responses to “My First Korean Wedding”

  • This was so much fun to read! I love learning about the details & differences I would never know or think about normally. The mothers’ hanboks are so adorable!!

  • Custom avatar Christina:

    Sooo cute I love your photos and sense of style ^.^

  • Ah what a great post!

    I really like the idea of people giving money. It means that you don’t have to worry about what to get them or anything. And they can use that to buy what they like or help out with the wedding costs.

    I think its really interesting that the whole thing is like a big show. Is it true that sometimes Koreans have 2 weddings? One is the actual wedding ceremony and then the second is when they actually register the marriage. Also I believe I heard that couples do couple shoots before the wedding together is a series of different dresses and locations as like pre-wedding photo’s.

    Its so interesting I wish I lived in Korea!

    • Elle:

      Hi Steph 🙂 I’m not sure about having a 2nd ceremony after registering the marriage, but they do have lots of pre-wedding photos before the event happens AND the day of the actual event! The girl who’s wedding we attended in this post sent Nara some of the wedding photos for me to use, so I will be adding them to the blog this week since they are so pretty 😀 It is a lot of couple shots and wedding dress sort of shots, very sweet ^^

  • Custom avatar Cha:

    Awesome post! I am new in your blog and I am loving all the things I read and see here. I like their culture so much.^^ It’s good to know much about their traditions through your blog. Keep it up!^^

  • Custom avatar ms.potter:

    Hi…i badly needed info on wedding halls expenses in korea..basically wedding cost except my gown… Its worrying me…i want simple…quiet..yet elegant..m filipina my bf s korean.. Pls help me… Pls email me…thank u sooo much..maybe 100 guests..

    • Elle:

      Hello! It *really* depends on the hall, I find them very expensive overall for the quality though~ but 100 guests is quite small for a korean wedding so you should be able to find lower cost options. I saw smaller halls rent for about 2,000,000 won ($2,000 usd) but I think the wedding ones can start at 10,000,000 and go up to 90,000,000 won depending on the size, location, and what you want in your package deal. Korean weddings at halls usually group a bunch of things together in the cost, so the price often includes the hall rental, food or buffet, photographs, traditional hanbok rental for photos, flowers, and some even include wedding dresses.

      I will try to post some wedding info in the near future~ I’m having mine here next year so I should be looking at places soon.

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