Korean weddings take on quite a different format to a western wedding. What comes to mind when you hear the word wedding? Perhaps you think of a bride and groom, family and close friends. I know that’s what I think about when I hear the word wedding.
I must be honest one of the things I really look forward to after the ceremony is the endless dancing and the picture booth at the reception. I know, I know, sometimes I can be so vain. Anyway, my overall thought process of weddings is that it should be a joyous celebration and full of laughter.
This past weekend, I went to my second Korean wedding within a month apart from each other. Two words to describe my second wedding experience: it’s different.
Everyone Is Invited
It’s Korean custom for the bride and groom to invite EVERYONE to their wedding. When I say everyone, literally EVERYONE they know is invited.
If the bride or the groom are teachers, their students are invited to the wedding too. Their students usually sing two special songs for their teacher.
So far the weddings I’ve attended the students were at the elementary level. It’s really nice to witness the admiration the students have for their teachers. Usually the first song is a sweet Korean song, where the students bob their head from left to right.
The second song is generally more comical where students do little silly dances in place. They end with 선생님 사랑해! 축하해요!(I love you teacher! Congratulations!) In my opinion, it’s a sweet addition to the ceremony.
No one stands for the Bride
In western culture, when the bride is entering the room, everyone stands up. It’s not the same in Korea. Instead, people just clap their hands until she arrives at the altar where her groom is anxiously waiting.
One thing that is similar to western culture is the father walking the bride down the aisle.
No Exchanging of Vows or Rings
As a foreigner, don’t expect to know anything that’s being said throughout the ceremony, unless your Korean is up to par. So, people will laugh out loud and you’ll just have to join in as if you got the joke.
Korean weddings do not have exchanging of vows or rings like westernized wedding ceremonies. Another difference is the bride and groom do not kiss, when announced as husband and wife.
Weddings in Korea are very conservative. The extent of affection shown between a bride and groom during their ceremony is the holding of hands.
Boogie Woogie What’s That?
One of the great highlights, at least for me, after wedding ceremonies is hitting the dance floor. I LOVE to boogie woogie with my hubby. I also love taking silly pictures in the photo booth.
Sadly in Korea neither one exist. After the wedding ceremony is over friends wait at least 30-45 minutes to take a big group picture with the bride and groom. Then everyone eats in this huge hall with endless amounts of Korean food.
Although Korean weddings don’t have a dance floor with bumping music and silly props to use at ridiculous photo booths; what they do have makes up for that missing piece.
It’s best to go to Korean weddings on an empty stomach. When the time comes to eat, trust me there’s enough food to fill anyone up for lunch, dinner and possibly supper.
There is so much variety too! Sushi, noodles, rice, chicken, steak, soup, dessert etc., just to name a few. Oh yeah, there are some healthy options too.
It’s also a buffet you can get as much food as you like. The food is so good! As I write this I am craving the small dessert cakes that were served. Instead of losing some calories on the dance floor, I gained some calories eating loads of food.
Overall, Korean weddings are different from what i’m used to but that’s the beauty of experiencing a new culture. I’ve gained a lot of rich experiences in my short time living here and i’m forever grateful for them.
Have you ever been to a Korean wedding? Or a wedding of another culture? What were your experiences like? Let us know in the comments section below.
Willynn taught in the education field for three years. It was her curiosity and interest to see the world from a different perspective that lead her to Daejeon, South Korea. Willynn is currently working with young learners teaching English for EPIK in South Korea. In her free time, Willynn loves to go on adventures with her husband, Micah, engage in language exchanges at coffee shops with the locals in her community. As well as participate at Open Mic events across Daejeon and Seoul sharing her spoken word pieces. Follow Willynn on Youtube or on WordPress.