Korean Wedding!

A couple of my friends got married yesterday–she’s Korean, he’s American–and well, it was just fun.  There were lots of differences between it and a typical western wedding.

You don’t choose your wedding colors

There are a lot of people in Korea, and not much space.  We arrived at the convention hall about a half-hour before the ceremony.  One wedding was just wrapping up, and as soon as the couple finished taking pictures, we all filed in and the ceremony started.  After we were done, there was another crowd waiting outside and we got to watch the ceremony after ours on projector screens while we were eating dinner.  More on that later.

Basically, you do your thing and then make room for the next person!  So all the flowers and decorations and such were the same for all the ceremonies that day–I’m assuming the center was in charge of those with little input from the brides?

(I’m assuming this is conditional–obviously Seoul is a pretty busy place, and other places you’ll have more space and time.  But in talking with people, I don’t think it’s a huge deal, overall, to have a ton of decorations.)

Applaud like it’s your job

We clapped when the groom walked in, we clapped when the bride walked in, we clapped when the people in charge of singing special songs had sung their special songs.  Lots of clapping!


That’s right. There was an MC!  He said each thing in Korean, then English, and he often told us when to applaud, as well.

Sometimes, they play comedic relief and poke fun at the groom, even making him prove his strength by picking up the bride.

No groomsmen or bridesmaids.

Also, no “giving the bride away.”

And no ring bearers or flower girls or the like.

Traditional clothing

The mothers lighting really important candles that signify something

The mothers wore hanboks.  But the men wore suits.

Although, I did see one guy running around in a man’s traditional garb, but I don’t really know what his job was.

Oh, also, everyone wore gloves.  The parents, the bride and groom, the pastor. It all looked very fancy.


You can't see the groom because he's on the floor 🙂

It’s a big deal here.  During Chuseok, the young people bow to the elders in their family, for example, while they’re all decked out in hanboks.  Weddings are no different.  The couple did the full-on official bow, too.  I’m not sure of the exact format, but you are almost flat on the floor to show your respect for the person you’re bowing to.  Although in this case, the bride die a half-body bow while the groom did the full-floor bow.

Cut the cake

Yup, that's a sword

And do it with style!

Unfortunately, we didn’t actually eat any cake.

Rice cakes were the only “dessert,” which, needless to say, left us westerners craving sugar.

But I’m sure they used the same cake for all the weddings that day, so that would explain that!

I just wanted one little piece...

Wear lots of different dresses

It’s customary to take wedding pictures before the wedding–so the groom sees the bride in bunches of different wedding dresses on that day!  The day of the wedding, she wore her wedding dress, then a reception dress, then the dress she ran away in.  And she was dazzling in all three!

Everyone takes pictures!

I love the little boy in his suit next to his mother in her hanbok.


Like I said, the attitude is just a little different.  My one friend, Karen, had been to a Korean wedding a few months ago where they watched the bride and groom enter, then went to the dining hall to eat while they watched the rest of the ceremony on a projector screen!

So yeah, the reception was basically a big banquet hall where there were still some leftover people from the wedding before us.  We all sat down and enjoyed some ritzy Korean cuisine (oyster soup, rare meat, cooked meat, fish, a few side dishes, some fruit, and of course, rice cakes and soju!) as the bride and groom went to each table to say thanks for coming.

The funny part was, the Koreans all ate and cleared out, but the four or so tables of westerners hung around chatting and having a grand ol’ time!  Until the caterers started clearing our tables as a hint, and people from the wedding after us started sitting down.

We were all done by 7:30, which is about the time a reception would just be getting started, so we relocated to finish the celebration.

There were other little things–like when a group of people sang a song in honor of the couple and at the end all did giant “Korean hearts”–but those cover the main differences, I think.

It reminded me a little of a wedding I went to last May.  The then-bride is Chinese (hi Chang!) and she also had large group-photos taken with her guests after the ceremony, and also changed into a different dress for the reception.  It was neat to see some overlap.

I’ve got another wedding of some friends two days after I get back from Thailand, so I guess ’tis the season!

No bouquet toss

We set up one where the bride tossed the bouquet to the girl getting married in a month, which was fun, but yeah.  No groups of girls tackling each other over a bunch of flowers!

Ooh wanna know a secret?  Well not really a secret, just a little something.  I go back and forth on the whole marriage-deal–which is not really related to Korea so doesn’t belong here–but assuming I do that at some point…

When they were all taking pictures at the end, I started thinking about the dancing–

OH, there’s no dancing! At the reception, no dancing. Also wasn’t any dancing at the aforementioned wedding last summer.

–anyways, so I started imagining what it would be like to dance with my dad for the father-daughter dance, and I started to tear up a little.  Just a smidge!


4 responses

  1. Rachel, that was truly interesting learning about a Korean wedding! I love all your good messages, but don’t always comment. It was nice to have pictures, too, of the event. Once in River Forest Grandpa and I walked over a couple of blocks from his family home to see a Catholic wedding. It was something like your account here in that several weddings were scheduled for the same day. After photos were taken of the new couple outside and folks cleared away somewhat…the new wedding party commenced their activity and a bunch of different people entered the church. That went on in tandem all day.
    Love, Grandma

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