Korean Wedding Dos and Don’ts

Korean Wedding Dos and Don’ts

Korean Wedding Dos and Don’ts

Disclaimer: I’ve been to two weddings in Korea. I’m not an expert, but let’s just say I have more knowledge than the average, non-Korean wedding attending population. Here are my dos and don’ts. Follow these and you’ll only make a minimal fool of yourself.

Korean Wedding Dos and Don’ts

DOs

Do: Bring money as a present. Most people bring money anyway, and with both the weddings I’ve been to you have to give an envelope of money to get your ticket to the buffet (and you want the buffet). They have little envelopes that you can write your name on and write congratulations. There’s a whole proper way to do it but I don’t know how; my friends do it for me. I just slip them some money and hope for the best.

Do: Greet the bride’s and groom’s families. Maybe they only speak Korean and the extent of your Korean is smiling and nodding. Maybe their English is flawless. Doesn’t matter. You should greet the families that are hosting the party. They’ll probably be very happy to see you. Shake their hands, nod, smile, say hello and say thank you. It will mean a lot to them.

The first wedding buffet I went to had sushi topped with a chocolate dipped coffee bean. It was pretty much the greatest thing I have ever eaten, and I’ve eaten plenty of food.

Do: Stock up at the buffet. During any given day, about 75% of my thoughts revolve around food, and Korean weddings dish out lots of tasty food. The first wedding buffet I went to had sushi topped with a chocolate dipped coffee bean. It was pretty much the greatest thing I have ever eaten, and I’ve eaten plenty of food.

DON’Ts

Don’t: Show up looking like you just got off a bus. The first wedding I went to I did not pack an adequate coat so I was freezing. My friend kindly offered his jacket to me so I wouldn’t die of hypothermia but the problem was that I forgot to take it off. When I was escorted into the Bride’s room to meet the bride and take a picture with her, I was wearing the jacket, which was much too large for me. I probably looked like an idiot.

At the second wedding, I had just gotten off a 4-hour bus ride with my backpack in tow. My friend urged me to leave my bag in one of the subway lockers and I rebuffed him saying there would definitely be a coat check or someplace to leave my bag. WRONG. There was no place to put my bag, so I had to carry it around the whole time.

It should also be noted that my backpack is neon pink, neon green, and neon blue, so yeah, that was a mistake…

This was a fancy wedding in Gangnam, the rich area of Seoul, so I looked a little ridiculous all dressed up carrying around a backpack in the wedding hall. It should also be noted that my backpack is neon pink, neon green, and neon blue, so yeah, that was a mistake…

Don’t: Expect to be there for very long. All the weddings I have been to at home in America were very long, and I mean that in a good way. The Korean weddings I went to weren’t really like that. First of all, they both started around noon, which seemed pretty early to me. Second, the ceremonies were fairly speedy, but not as speedy as the buffet afterwards.

I was at the first wedding for two, maybe two and a half hours before leaving. I was surprised. Where’s the dancing? I thought. Where’s the DJ or cover band to serenade us? They didn’t have those. So after my friends ate five to seven plates of buffet food, we left.

For the families involved, I’m sure the whole process is very time consuming, but as the foreign who doesn’t really know anyone, it’s speedy.

At the second wedding we were only there for an hour and a half before the waiter at the buffet told us they were packing up soon so we should eat now if we were still hungry. For the families involved, I’m sure the whole process is very time consuming, but as the foreign who doesn’t really know anyone, it’s speedy.

Don’t: Worry too much! I’m a worrier, so this is my advice for anything in life from attending a Korean wedding to getting a manicure. Before the first wedding I was so worried no one would want me there, that my outfit wouldn’t be appropriate, that I would be expected to do something in Korean, not know how to do it, and then ruin the whole wedding. As is often the case, I needn’t have worried.

My dress was fine, people were happy to see me and thanked me for coming, and as a random foreign guest they really aren’t going to expect anything out of you. So chill out, have a drink, and watch the wedding unfold. I’m sure you’ll have a good time, or at the very least you won’t forget it anytime soon.

 

Korean Wedding Dos and Don’ts

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Have you traveled to South Korea? What were your impressions? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you.

About Kylie Genter

Kylie GenterKylie Genter is an English teacher in South Korea.

One thought on “Korean Wedding Dos and Don’ts

  1. Avatar
    Sabina
    August 2, 2019
    Reply

    Thanks for these tips. I’m going to a wedding in Korea in September. Is it true that Koreans generally wear semi-casual wear for weddings or is it more formal?

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