Korean Wedding: The Yucks and Yums

May 21, 2018

After attending a handful of Korean weddings and planning my own, I have some thoughts. Once I put the thoughts into words, I realized that the pros and cons are each different sides of the same coin.

(If you missed the post I wrote about the details of our Korean wedding day, you can find that here.)

Yuck: Mass-produced and Impersonal

We went for the typical Korean wedding at a wedding hall. Wedding halls are usually located in multi-storey buildings with one or more wedding halls on each floor. You choose which wedding hall you'd like considering the number of guests you expect as well as which already-installed decor you prefer. 

Our choices were relatively limited because we live in a smaller city, but we still were able to visit around 5 different wedding hall buildings which each contained 3-4 styled wedding halls. Regardless of the city, I've found that the decor of wedding halls tends to be pretty much the same: dimly lit rooms with black walls decorated with assorted flowers, an aisle up the middle which leads to a brightly lit stage and seats along each side of the aisle. 

Image © Grand Hyatt Seoul

I was originally very much against having our wedding in a wedding hall because they seem so impersonal; hundreds of couples before us had been married in this place. Once I started planning the Canadian wedding, however, I realized how tedious and ultimately unimportant it was to have things personalized. 

I had all but given up on the search for a wedding hall I would genuinely like until we walked into this one. As Korean wedding halls go, our wedding hall was unlike any other we had seen. Despite our wedding taking place in December, it gave off European evening garden party vibes. 

Another aspect of Korean wedding venues that was new to me was the bride's waiting room. Each wedding hall has a matching room off to the side and each one we saw was similar: a white room with a couch which was sometimes embellished with rhinestones. The one that went with our wedding hall looked as though fairies would come prancing out at any moment. 

One thing I still don't like about the wedding hall is the blatant conveyor belt nature of the day. Our wedding started at 11:30am, and there was a desk outside the hall which collected gift money.  A family member (in our case, PH's cousins) volunteers to man the booth and collect the cash. Right across from our "booth", however, was another booth set up for the wedding that would be happening after ours. There may even have been a third booth for another wedding ceremony happening even later in the day. The hallway outside of our hall was quite small, so it was cramped, but there was no time wasted.

Wedding halls also come with a non-customizable buffet. You get the choice between the basic buffet or the slightly more expensive buffet. These buffets do not take place in any private location special to your guests and are actually shared amongst all the weddings happening at that particular time in the whole building. During lunch, the bride and groom circulate the floor trying to find their guests which was no easy feat and we later realized how many people we must have missed. 

Yum: One-Stop Shops

While the conveyor belt nature of Korean weddings irked me, I also absolutely loved it. Planning for our Korean wedding was done within a few months and all by visiting 2 separate locations: the wedding hall (venue, meal) and Seongdeok Wedding (tux rental, hanbok rental, bouquet, accessory rentals, make up, hair). We found our invitations and photographer online, and that's pretty much all that was involved. Planning our Canadian wedding has made me particularly thankful for the Korean system existing as it does.

Yum: No guest lists or RSVPs 

Speaking of invitations, Korean weddings don't involve any decision-making about who to invite or not; the general rule is to just invite as many people as possible. Impolite? Cold? I call it efficient. Not only are there no guest lists or seating charts, but there are also no RSVPs to keep track of. As mentioned before, the meal is a buffet and you simply have to give the wedding hall a general number of guests you're expecting. If you go over that estimated number, you simply pay for the overages later.

Our invitations were single sheets of stock paper. No inserts or extras required. PH and I each carried stacks with us to hand out to people we ran into. 

Yuck: Uninterested and Noisy Guests

Handing out invitations to every acquaintance (including those of your parents') means that not everyone who attends is as invested in watching the actual wedding as they are in digging into the buffet. When the wedding begins, there is no hushed silence that comes over the crowd; people will potentially continue their obnoxiously loud phone conversations just outside the doorway.

Yuck: No Reception

Although we reserved a local craft brewery for an after party, Korean weddings traditionally don't have anything resembling a Canadian wedding reception which, in my opinion, is what makes it all worth it. 

Yum: Short and Painless

Korean weddings are very much straight to the point. I should mention that we did not opt for the traditional Korean portion of the wedding process (폐백/pae-baek) which would have prolonged the process. We probably spent more time getting ready at the hair shop in the morning than we did actually getting married at the wedding hall. Our ceremony was about 20 minutes which included vows, a witness' speech, greetings to our parents, and a congratulatory dance by PH's students. 

Yuck: No Wedding Buzz

Everything involved in the wedding planning process was a business transaction; No one congratulated me on my engagement or told me to prepare for *the best day of my life*. 

Yum: No Wedding Buzz

Everything involved in the wedding planning process was a business transaction; No one congratulated me on my engagement or told me to prepare for *the best day of my life*.


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