A Very Korean Wedding


Jeremy is one lucky guy. I can guarantee that if we were living in the states right now, we would have gone to more than a few weddings in our almost three years of marriage. But lucky for him, it’s not all that common for foreigners to be invited to a Korean wedding. So when one of his students invited us to his, I jumped at the opportunity (to be fair I had been to one before but I was a friend’s date and hardly knew the bride).

korean wedding

Traditionally there is a western wedding and a traditional Korean wedding but just like in the States, each is as unique as the couple getting married. The wedding we attended was beautiful but definitely interesting. The bride wore a typical western wedding dress which is usually rented, not bought. And I have been told that to rend a dress, it can be in the thousands! I’m so glad that I paid a fraction of that and got to keep mine!

When we arrived at the hotel, there were two tables, one for the bride and one for the groom. Men were sitting behind them and collecting envelopes of money, a typical gift at weddings. I had put our money gift inside of a card that I wrote a small note in and when I handed them a card instead of a money envelope, I had to explain that the money was inside. I guess it’s not that common, oops. Once you give your money to either the bride or grooms table, depending on who you know better, you receive a ticket for the buffet, often held in the same building immediately following the ceremony.

korean wedding

After getting our meal stub, we walked into a small room where the bride was sitting on an intricate couch where we were invited to sit with her and have our picture taken. There was a long line of family and friends waiting outside the room for the same purpose.

korean wedding

Once the ceremony started, the couple walked in together, stopped at the back and waited as a video montage played at the front. After walking down the aisle hand in hand, the ceremony was ready to begin. I wish I could say that I understood everything that happened but let’s be honest; I know about 30 words in Korea so that’s just not going to happen.

korean wedding
korean wedding

From what I saw, I almost felt as if they tried to combine a traditional western wedding with the reception. There was the traditional repeating of the vows, a friend coming and singing to them mixed with the Korean traditions such as bowing to each other and to each set of parents. But then there were other things that took place during the actual ceremony that usually are seen at the reception or the exiting of the couple. Such as bubble machines while they said their vows, smoke machines as they poured champagne into a tower of glasses…which by the way were never drunk from. And then they rolled out a giant (delicious looking might I add) three tier cake in front of the couple. They proceeded to cut it and then…it was rolled away. Never to be seen again…until the next wedding where I’m sure they use the same one. I wonder if they realize that they’re missing out on the best part!

korean weddingkorean weddingkorean wedding

In addition to the western style wedding, many couples also have a small private traditional ceremony as well. Everyone dons the traditional hanbok and special rituals are performed. Such as the mothers tossing chestnuts into the brides lap. However many she catches is supposed to signify the number of children she will have. I know if it were my mother in law she would pin me down and dump all the chestnuts into my lap. Thank goodness we don’t have a tradition like this in the states.

korean wedding
The adorable couple dressed in our company’s uniform

I loved being able to see a wedding from a different country and culture than my own. It’s really eye opening and humbling to how even though we come from different backgrounds, different cultures and different ways of living, love truly is universal.

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  • Luchessa Grossmann

    Hi Chelsea, i bet that was a big experience and fun to assist. Thanks for sharing the story & pictures with us. I love getting to know new traditions.


    • http://lostintravelsblog.com/ Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      it was such a blast! i love seeing how people celebrate weddings in different cultures, so eye opening! glad you liked it too!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08797568345510218583 Megan C. Stroup

    This looks like such a neat experience! I got to attend a wedding reception when I was in Rwanda a few years ago; watching the music and traditions was really cool.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02913265997617945920 Esther Ju*Lee

    fun! the last one is such a cute photo! i don’t even understand half the stuff they say in a ceremony. i don’t feel like it’s common everyday language.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08300509693671365389 Sam M

    It’s fun to see what weddings are like all over the world. They do the same money thing in Cambodia, that’s actually how most families pay for the wedding. They also rent their wedding clothes, but most brides don’t wear western dresses, they’re just so intricately beaded, so they’re real spendy. That’s so fun that you were able to go and capture it in pictures to remember later.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07894832851934334471 Rachel

    A Chinese wedding reception that I went to (actually two of them that I’ve been to, had the fake cake and the tower of champagne glasses as well!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15491893490987800723 Kayli Schattner

    Wow! What a cool experience! I’ve always wanted to see a wedding performed in another country. I think learning about other culture’s ceremonies and celebrations is so interesting! Glad you guys had a fun time. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08208720750081935596 Kym Fox @ Travel Babbles | Living the (hockey) Life

    This was a lovely post!! I love learning about another culture’s traditions!! Thank you for sharing, and wonderful pics :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10888956203263380230 Susannah

    How increadibly interesting! Growing up in Taiwan, I got to experience some really cool Taiwanese wedding ceremonies! :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05820007078755677537 Marisha Bailey

    If they don’t eat the cake, that’s my conclusion as to how they stay small! 😉

    I’d love to experience a wedding somewhere else. I was invited to a friend’s wedding last week in Brazil but I wasn’t able to make it. :( Hopefully there will be another time though!


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13102172304221199163 Aryn Hill

    So cool! I’d love to experience a wedding in another culture. Maybe one day!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06720694596549999667 Caroline

    Taking a picture with the bride – so funny! It’s like the princesses at Disneyland! And you cracked me up with the comment about your mother-in-law… I mean, whatever works, right? :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07238434752028472905 Jenna

    That is so interesting! I find it strange that they poured champagne and never drank it and brought out cakes but never ate them. Would love to know the cultural intricacies behind the tradition :) xxx

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12050447967374041694 Rachel

    Yes! I feel like I’ve been waiting for you to post about this my entire life. 😉 BUBBLE MACHINE!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09543581308363689982 Chantal

    They are such a cute couple! I love that last photo. I like the idea of rented wedding dresses… I mean, here you buy one and then what? It usually sits in a closet!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02924287399418536406 Holly Nelson @ English Girl Canadian Man

    I have only been to about four weddings and they were all traditional western weddings. I would have loved to have experienced this!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07177081269343759076 Treasure Tromp

    the wedding I went to in Korea had a translator since the groom and half the attendees were American expats. very helpful. And I seriously want a money table instead of gifts.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14647707557228625706 Amanda

    I loved getting to take a peak at these photos. It looks like a great (but expensive) wedding! x

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16723431374621324385 Bailie @ The Hemborg Wife

    How interesting, I really love the couch picture part I would have loved to do that at my wedding!

  • http://an-american-abroad.com/ an-american-abroad.com

    That wedding looks like SO much fun! That must have been such a cool experience! I love checking out your blog as I’m in the process of doing research for moving to South Korea!