Many Asian weddings are much more restrained, traditional, and demure than American or African ones. That’s because of the temperament differences. So some Korean wedding traditions are pretty unusual, but it makes them even more interesting. For instance, Koreans took presenting cash as a wedding gift to a whole new level – most wedding guests actually just give money instead of buying toasters, cutlery, or adorable trinkets. There is even a fixed rate for different guests as to how much money they should give. Let’s see what other wedding traditions are there in Korea.
#1 Wedding guests should come in advance
At a Korean wedding, the guests come in before the ceremony to congrat the couple and take photos or selfies with them. Especially, if you’re from the bride’s side. There is a special room where the bride – in all her glory and beauty – receives the congratulations and has a few minutes with every guest. This is the best chance to talk to her, wish her happiness, and just hang out with her a bit because after the ceremony begins, she won’t have much time for chatting with guests or for selfies with them.
So, if you’re a close friend or relative, come in about an hour before the actual wedding ceremony. If you’re a coworker or not so close to her, you can come 30 minutes before the event.
At the same time, the groom is not with his bride. He is with his parents before the wedding starts. And he receives the congrats there. It is a little bit easier to get him to talk to you and take photos. So, you don’t need to spare a whole hour for that.
#2 How to give money as wedding present
Almost at any wedding in Korea, there is a place at the venue where you can bring your cash as a wedding gift and leave it there. They have envelopes, so you don’t have to think about it. You just come to the table, put the money in an envelope, and be gone with it.
How much cash should you give? Again, if you’re not very close to the bride and groom, like a colleague or something, there is a standard that says you’re to give $50. If you’re close friends or relatives, you bring $100. Or if you’re financially well-off and want to help the couple with their expenses, you can give $200 and more. A large part of this money will be spent on the wedding itself – the venue, buffet, honeymoon, and other expensive stuff. So, in Korea, usually, most of the people present money to the bride and groom instead of the other gifts.
Here is another important piece of advice. If the wedding guest is very close to the couple, they don’t pass the money to the official place but give their envelopes to one of the bride’s best friends who is in charge of collecting money for her. And this money come directly to the couple’s pocket. They aren’t spent on wedding expenses.
#3 Short wedding ceremony in a packed place
Korean wedding ceremonies usually are rather peculiar events because of the venue where they’re held. It could be a church and a quiet, humble ceremony, but these are comparatively rare. Or it could be a hotel, which is very expensive, thus, not everybody is able to afford it. Or it could be an event hall, which is affordable but it gets really packed up. Usually, 2-3 weddings are held in one event hall at the same time, so it is loud, lots of people are trying to talk and celebrate and congratulate the couple, etc. There are strangers everywhere from other weddings, so you don’t have a lot of privacy. But this ceremony only lasts 20-30 minutes – the wedding guests eat their meals, chat, the bride and groom come to every table and every guest to thank for coming, and the event ends.
#4 Group pictures
Of course, a must-have at every wedding is the group photos. This is one of the easiest events. The announcer or whoever is in charge at the wedding invites the relatives first to make the group pictures. And then, friends and other guests come to the couple and lots of photos are made.
#5 No one is left hungry
If the wedding ceremony is held in a hotel or in some private venue, then the guests are already at their tables for the ceremony and they continue to eat and celebrate there. If it was an event hall, everybody comes out and heads to the buffet. By the way, remember when you presented money as a wedding gift at the official place? That’s where you also get a ticket to the buffet. So, you just grab a plate and choose your food. Some wedding guests (the people who aren’t too close to the bride and groom) don’t even watch the ceremony, they pay money as a congratulation and immediately turn to the food. Of course, at a Korean wedding, no one is left hungry and the guests continue to stuff their bellies and celebrate a happy occasion.