Weddings involve a lot of little cultural details and chances are, if you are attending a wedding overseas, you will run into unfamiliar practices. When it comes to attending a Korean wedding, there are some key differences I have noted compared to Singaporean weddings. This article is for those of you who are preparing to attend a Korean wedding for the first time and to help you avoid some awkward moments. Enjoy!
What to Wear to a Korean Wedding
It can be hard to pick an outfit for a wedding here in Korea. You shouldn’t look too under or overdressed. Both can be seen as rude. However, for ladies wearing cream, ivory, or white is a definite no-go at most weddings and is considered very inappropriate. Firstly, brides normally wear western-style white dresses at modern Korean weddings, so it can be seen as throwing shade at the bride. Plus, white is traditionally a color representing death and mourning. So, what can you wear?
Bright colors can make one stand out, and that is not what we want. The bride and groom should be the stars of the show. Think along the lines of office wear! Pairing a brighter top with darker bottoms can make you look elegant yet not too overdressed. For example, a unique lavender blouse paired together with charcoal or black slacks gives you that luxurious vibe without standing out too much. Then, pair it with a quality leather bag, pearl earrings, and some black heels – and you’ve got yourself the perfect outfit. Also, never wear jeans!
If you prefer dresses, toned-down colors such as gray, taupe, or even a classic black dress will do. If you are worried about wearing black to a Korean wedding as it can appear too dark or brooding, you can pair it together with a little bling and a bright-colored purse to bring the boring outfit to life. Also, try not to have the dress be too short or showy, as it can also be seen as inappropriate.
As for the men out there, you guys have it pretty easy. A simple blazer, dress shirt, and slacks paired together with some dress shoes, and you’re all set! Just remember to keep it simple and to pick an outfit that would not outshine the groom.
Click here for a video about what to wear to a Korean wedding during the summer.
Get There Early
At a Korean wedding, guests usually turn up earlier than the appointed time. It is pretty standard to show up an hour early. Weddings normally start exactly on time. Before the ceremony starts, you normally take pictures with the couple, greet the parents, hand in the wedding money in exchange for tickets to the buffet, and then find your seat.
If you arrive late, you might not be able to take pictures with the bride. Plus, there is a high chance that you will have to stand throughout the entire wedding ceremony. In some cases, you will miss out on the buffet tickets as well. There are usually spaces for guests to wait before the wedding hall doors open. So, be sure to arrive at the wedding quite a bit earlier than the appointed time.
Bring Money to a Korean Wedding
In Korea, this part of the wedding culture is quite similar to some weddings held in Singapore. Often, the guests will bring money as a wedding gift in exchange for buffet tickets and to show gratitude for being invited to the wedding. However, here in Korea, it is compulsory. If you do not bring a cash gift with you, to a Korean wedding, it is extremely rude. Plus, giving the wrong amount can leave a lasting negative impression. Now, you might be wondering, how much money should I gift?
Well, it depends on how close you are to the bride and groom. If you were invited to your friend’s wedding, then about 150,000 Won to 300,000 Won is expected. The range really depends on your closeness with the couple. I have seen some even give up to 1,000,000 Won. But, if that is out of your budget range, then they will understand. If you are a student or unemployed then 30,000 Won to 50,000 Won can be acceptable for acquaintances in some cases. Honestly, it’s difficult to give an exact answer and it’s something that even Korean people stress out a lot over. Just try your best and ask those around you.
If you do not have an envelope ready, do not worry. They will have envelopes available at both the bride and groom’s booths. There will also be pens and markers for you to write your name on the envelopes. But, take note that you should prepare fresh, clean bills. They shouldn’t be torn or wrinkled.
I hope this article has helped you prepare to attend your next Korean wedding! I wish I had read an article like this the first time I went to a Korean wedding. It definitely would have saved me some embarrassment!
If you still feel like you need a bit more insight on Korean weddings before attending one yourself, Click Here to read one American expat’s experience.