Markus and I have been lucky enough to attend three Korean weddings in our two years in Korea. Three of my dearest unnie's have gotten married while we've been here. Korean weddings are completely different from American weddings. It's almost shocking how different. At the first wedding we attended, I was overwhelmed and really confused. By this third one, Markus and I were pros. We knew all the tricks and it made for an enjoyable wedding experience. Despite the differences, there are still some really amazing things about Korean weddings and I'm thankful that I had the chance to witness real Korean weddings.
One of the biggest differences in Korean weddings is the venue. The wedding and reception is in the same place. Basically throughout Korea they have these nondescript office buildings and inside them are wedding halls. I once asked my co-teacher if Koreans got married in churches and she said that some did, but they were poor. Many Koreans look down on the couple if they don't get married in a wedding hall. It's sort of sad in a way because all the weddings I've been to have looked exactly the same. There is nothing unique or different, the only difference is the bride and groom.
One thing that I don't like about Korean weddings is the lack of reverence for the bride and groom. Everyone sort of stands outside the seating area and just talks loudly while the ceremony is happening. Everyone comes and pays their respects and then they just do their own thing. It's a bit strange, but it's completely normal. At this wedding, there were so many people, the most I've ever seen. They were all talking so loudly and blocking the view that I couldn't see much. I got a bit annoyed and gave up. Instead of trying to fight for a view, Markus and I headed to the buffet.
The best part about Korean weddings is the food. Traditionally, everyone gives a monetary present ranging from 30,000 won to 50,000 won ($30-$50) depending on how close you are to the bride or groom. Once you arrive at the wedding and hand over your present, they give you a ticket for the lunch buffet. After you've seen the bride and said your greetings, you can stay and watch the ceremony or head to the buffet. Since this was our third wedding, we knew the score. Almost 50% of the guests will go straight to the buffet. After Markus and I watched a little bit of the ceremony we quickly headed to the buffet to try and avoid large crowds. When we arrived we were shocked to see the place was full and that everyone had the same idea. The food at this buffet was quite exceptional and really delicious.
After attending three Korean weddings, I can say that I truly do miss weddings back home. I miss the sweetness and elegance of the wedding ceremony. I miss being able to dance and have a great time at the reception. Weddings in Korea are so rushed and for some people it's only an hour or two out of your day. I can't wait for some of my friends to get married so I can experience an American wedding again, it's been way too long.