A normal conversation:
“I’m going to be free after 3PM because I have a wedding to attend before that,” said my sassy self.
“Oh no,” reacted my friend “Are you sure you can meet us?”
“Uh… yeah? Duh?” responded my sassy self.
If you think this was a conversation between you and me, my friend. You thought wrong. I have had this conversation so many times whenever I had a wedding to attend and a non-Korean friend wanted to meet up. About four times if I remember correctly.
I believe in some countries a wedding is a week-long celebration. I mean, seriously? But in Korea, you’re typically done in less than an hour. I mean, seriously?
I had to attend two weddings just in the month of November so I decided to just write a post on weddings in Korea – how I see it.
It is kind of hard to explain how a modern Korean wedding looks like because it just does not make sense to non-Korean people why it’s so short and not intimate. Well… Let me explain. Remember though that I am explaining solely from my experiences and I am not a Wikipedia post updater.
So, what’s up with Korean weddings?
Modern Korean weddings to be more exact. *rapid eyebrow raising*
Why is it so short?
Well, I don’t know if it entirely makes sense but Koreans have this 빨리빨리 (ppal li ppal li) meaning “faster faster” culture. Everything needs to be done quick. They even decided to make weddings finish faster too! I actually don’t know if this is a fact or a joke but grown-ups have told me that weddings have been shortened after the Korean War (/teardrop fall for dramatic effect) because life was hard and they would rather look for ways to work and make more money than to waste their time in attending wedding ceremonies. (That’s how I took it anyway.)
There you have it. After 6 years and 3 months in this nation, I still don’t get it.
Pre-nuptial photo shoots
Pre-nuptial photos are most of the time not done outdoors. No. (I knooooooow. It’s so different.)
They wear their dresses and an option for 2 more dresses or just another one at times and have their pictures taken in a studio. The guys wear a tuxedo of course. Outdoor pre-nup shoots are much more expensive and not many people do it.
Although, those couples who are in a budget decide to do their own wedding pre-nup shoots or ask their friends to take pictures for them in the outdoors.
There is also a worry for the weather too. Korea has four seasons and if you shoot it during colder days of spring, autumn or autumn. The couple might freeze to death before even getting married.
Invitations and Guests
There are two ways. Either you meet people and give it to them in person while sharing a meal or having a coffee, or you could also send them an online wedding invitation. That’s right. Through “KakaoTalk” too. Yeaaaaaap. I don’t know if it also exists in other parts of the world, but it exists here.
So you invite your family, friends, relatives, co-workers and almost everyone you can think of. Either they show up or send a “congratulatory money envelope” through another friend.
It is really up to the couple who to invite and it is also really up to the invitee if they will give money.
I just observed that they invite EVERYONE in the office and maybe some friends. They might consider not inviting a few of those whom they haven’t talked to for a while. Otherwise, everyone they know is invited.
TIP : Due to superstition beliefs, people only give congratulatory money in odd numbers. So it starts with 30,000 / 50,000 / 70,000, so on and so forth. They believe that even numbers will bring them bad luck.
Traditional Korean Wedding
My parents got married in a traditional way and I still have the picture of the picture in my head. (Get it?) They both wore traditional clothes and bowing and all those stuff. However, people nowadays opt for the modern weddings or western-style weddings with the white gowns and tuxedo. Whilst the traditional portion is still included, it is after the western-style wedding and is help only among direct family members and close relatives. They call this 폐백 (pyebaek) wherein (the dictionary says) it is a traditional ceremony to pray respect to the (bridge)groom’s family by the newly-wedded couple right after their wedding.
This ceremony involves traditional food on display and etc. with gifts exchanged between families and throwing of chestnuts.
Chestnuts? The parents toss (not throw, that would hurt) chestnuts unto the bride (softly, not baseball toss) and the more chestnuts they receive, the more children you’ll have. (PROSPER!!!)
Just a fun fact. 😛
Types of Wedding Ceremonies (a.k.a. WHERE DO YOU PEOPLE GET MARRIED?!)
I guess this is more of a where-do-they-get-married type of information.
a) Church (Catholic)
Yes, there are Catholics in Korea and the wedding ceremony takes 1 hour including the mass.
Guests do not prefer to stay and might move on straight to the reception. Korean weddings are short (will explain below.)
Protestants (I have not seen many) hold their weddings at the church as well and it takes to almost an hour as well.
b) Wedding Halls/Hotels
The most common venue to get married. EVER. Expensive too. There are buildings dedicated to being wedding halls all year round. For those living in Cebu, just think “Cebu Convention Center” in multiple place around the city. Or maybe think of ordinary buildings and on the top floor are 2-3 wedding halls.
I mean… seriously. You exit the elevator and greeted by tons of people and you try to locate the reason why you’re there. Literally. See pic below.
These ceremonies usually last 30 minutes the longest and 15 minutes the shortest (I have ever seen.) They hire or ask a friend to precede the wedding, introduce stuff and whatever. And they have another person, either a Pastor or I don’t know – someone to officiate the whole wedding. These days, they omit officiating and just exchange vows and exchange rings and exchange kisses and greet the parents and pictures and, voila! It is finished! (in French accent.)
Yeah, there are friends who sing for the couple or the bride and groom sing for each other or something but even with that the whole ceremony takes 30 minutes.
If people have the money, they do have their weddings in (super-arse) expensive hotels.
c) Small Weddings
This is becoming a trend lately. Small weddings mean, intimate weddings between close friends and families. Or something that was planned by you and not using a wedding planner like what people normally do. Some small weddings do inquire the help of wedding planners on things they cannot do themselves.
There has been more and more start-up companies for small wedding ceremonies and I really encourage these types of weddings. I admire that people are coming to know the importance of intimacy and not just getting hitched in 15 minutes. Just saying.
Supposedly the most favorite part of the wedding for guests. There is no such thing as “wedding reception” in Korea. Not in my own dictionary anyway. If it exists, it might be the either eating in a buffet before or after the wedding ceremony.
So, let me explain. You arrive at the venue, head off to the “congratulatory money drop off section” which can be found in front of the wedding hall, give money to whoever is standing guard and ask for “meal coupons”. If a wedding starts at 1, please arrive earlier and eat your lunch at the wedding ceremony. If you have already eaten, just come in time for the wedding and eat after the ceremony.
No, there’s nothing more.
Oh, yeah. The couple comes out to greet their guests while they eat after the ceremony in their traditional Korean clothes after their pyaebek ceremony.
That’s all. Finished!
So, attending a wedding will only take you 30 minutes to an hour.
What’s up with the weddings in Korea?
So if I do get married (hopefully, God-willing), I will make sure that my pre-nuptial photo shoot will be outside, our wedding ceremony (when I find a guy or he finds me) will last the whooooooole afternoon and I will have a proper reception. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. (Wish ko lang.)
‘Til the next post. Keep walking! 😉