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Wedding customs in South Korea

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Jun 17th, 2010, 12:48 PM
  #1
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Wedding customs in South Korea

I'd be grateful for any info re usual wedding traditions in Korea ~
specific questions:

Does bride commonly take groom's surname?
Diamond engagement & wedding ring? Double ring ceremony?
Bridal attire - white dress & flowers?
Saturday the most popular day of week?

I realize each wedding is very individual, but I'm hoping to find what would be most common. My only experience has been domestic, so I apologize if my questions are way too westernized. Thanks to any who might have insight!
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Jun 18th, 2010, 09:33 AM
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I will ask my son who just returned from living in Korea and post his answers in a couple of days.

He did describe several weddings he attended. They have big wedding halls and he said they run it like a big wedding factory. He said there is a room like a storefront window display where the bride sits pre-wedding so guests can take pictures. He said the ceremony there was brief and not religious. He described guests talking to each other and on their cell phones during the ceremony while children ran up and down the aisle. After the ceremony everyone filed into a banquet room, were served a quick meal and then exited as another group was coming in for their meal!
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Jun 19th, 2010, 08:14 AM
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Thanks in advance, SeeHag ~ If it makes a difference, the bride is Korean and the groom from the U.K. And please thank your son for the information already provided!
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Jun 20th, 2010, 11:07 AM
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SEEHAG


pardon the intrusion but I have had the ablation and posted on your site asking about it. Hope you see this and go back to your A Fib posts.

Good Luck
Mahya
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Jun 21st, 2010, 06:09 PM
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Okay...I just quizzed my son.

The weddings are usually western style for the most part. He attended one traditional ceremony that was held at a Confucian school but all of the others were in one of the wedding halls I mentioned earlier. His take on it is the wedding ceremonies are primarily for the purpose of getting gifts which are usually in the form of money. He said at most of the weddings there is a designated are to turn over your cash and only then do you get your ticket to the post wedding banquet. He actually said that there are usually 7 or 8 weddings going on at the same time and the banquet area is used by more than one wedding group at a time! The brides either wear a white gown and carries flowers or wears traditional Hanbok. The groom wears a tuxedo. A diamond wedding ring is the norm, he wasn't sure about engagement rings or the double ring ceremony. Traditionally the Korean husband is responsible to buy the home and the bride is responsible for the home furnishings.

He said that anyone who is used to the nature of a wedding in the US or UK will probably be shocked at the assembly line nature of a Korean wedding hall ceremony. He went to more weddings while living in Korea than he did here. He said everyone the couple knows is invited!

Are you attending the wedding in Korea? Just curious, it would be fun to hear a wedding trip report!!
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Jun 21st, 2010, 10:47 PM
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As with most weddings in Asia, a distinction has to be made between the Korean wedding dinner and the Korean wedding ceremony. A large number of people are usually invited to the wedding dinner which take place at hotels or wedding halls, and the bride generally wears a white wedding gown after the western fashion (for at least part of the dinner, she may change outfits during the evening). The objective of the dinner would seem to be to obtain money as gifts, but it is also to celebrate the marriage and show how prosperous the family is that can sponsor a big wedding. Relative strangers can be invited to the dinner, and a large number of business colleagues are often invited, much more so than you would find in the US or UK. I believe this stems from the traditional practice that the entire village would be invited to a wedding dinner, in the modern context this is extended to mean everyone known to the bride, groom and their families. The bride and groom often rent the dress and tuxedo, and have pictures taken many days or weeks before the event; as the concept of the groom not seeing the bride in the wedding dress before the wedding day does not exist (despite centuries of belief in avoiding bad luck, this particular western taboo has not been adopted in Asia).

The actual wedding ceremony is generally much smaller, and only includes family and perhaps a few close friends. Traditional attire is worn to that. A tea ceremony is often involved. Traditional gifts are exchanged between the families. The ceremonies can go on over several days.

Then there is of course the civil ceremony where the wedding legally occurs and is registered, this takes place at a government office and can occur several days or weeks before the wedding dinner and wedding ceremony.

All of the above assumes that the bride and groom are not Christian. If they are, then there may be a church wedding ceremony to which a large number of guests would be invited.

As for engagement rings, again this would depend on the bride and groom, their education and income levels, and their exposure to the western practice. I would say this is becoming more common than not, but I don’t think it is expected to validate an engagement. Gifts of other types if jewelry would certainly be expected as part of gifts to the bride (e.g., jade).

I can’t speak to whether Saturday is the most popular day for a “wedding”. In my experience with weddings in Asia generally, which does not include much in Korea, weddings in Asia are more likely to take place on other days of the week, and are chosen based on an auspicious days/months and even time of day. Again, you may be confusing the wedding dinner and the wedding ceremony. The dinner can occur at any time, and it may be that Saturdays are the most popular. The dinner can of course occur some days or weeks after the actual ceremony and civil registry wedding has occurred.

I believe it is still rather unusual for the bride to take the husband’s surname. I don’t believe that legally occurs as part of the civil marriage ceremony in Korea. This is in keeping with standard Asian practice, where you normally would not refer to someone as “Mrs so and so”, but would refer to them by their maiden name (or sometimes a variant like “mother of –“ once they have had a child.) This subject is very complex in my experience, and I would not be surprised that there would be variants within Korea by region and religious group. So it is better to ask the particular bride and groom involved. If the bride and groom are western educated, they may undertake the practice of the wife being called “Mrs” by their western friends. At home and with family, they would be quite unlikely to have any name change.
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Jun 23rd, 2010, 07:22 AM
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Thank you all for the info -- it is fascinating. I especially like the "shakedown" aspect of the wedding celebration and I so appreciate all the insight!

(SeeHag, our attendance is up in the air as now they're thinking about a destination wedding, further afield.)
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Jun 23rd, 2010, 10:21 AM
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Please keep in mind that my info is coming from a somewhat cynical 27 year old guy! He really likes Korea and will probably wind up living there again after grad school but he is not a big wedding fan to start with so I hope my description was not disrespectful.
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Jun 23rd, 2010, 11:51 PM
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I guess one more important distinction to mention is that in most every Chinese/East Asian wedding tradition of which I am aware, the family of the groom pays for the wedding dinner and most of the other costs, not the family of the bride. This varies from country to country, and even within countries by region (I recently learned that even within tiny Hong Kong, there are variations mainly based on which area of the mainland the families are originally from); but as a very general matter, that is the tradition. So if you are the parents of the groom, you may want to have a discussion with your son about what the bride's family may be expecting of you.
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Jun 29th, 2010, 11:16 AM
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I recently inteviewed Korean expert Sonja Vegdahl. In her recorded interview she discusses a wide range of cultural issues and etiquette including weddings. You can listen to her hour interview at the link below.
http://www.nicholascrowderbooks.com/...HOCK_KOREA.htm
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