Weddings are a huge milestone and day for many. It’s a day full of celebrations and love and in NZ, many people tend to have weddings at vineyards and outdoor set ups. This creates intimate memories, but have you ever wondered what Korean weddings are like? You’d be surprised by the differences in wedding etiquette between NZ and Korean culture. If you’ve been invited to a Korean wedding and unsure of the cultural differences and etiquette, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
The Dress Code
In New Zealand, unless specified by the bride and groom in the invites, the guests are able to wear whatever they like. Some guests turn up in fancy cocktail dresses especially during summer weddings but in Korea, the general unspoken rule is to wear neutral and muted colours such as grey and black in semi-formal attire; sort of like how you would dress for work. This is so that you are not attracting too much attention to yourself. We want to ensure the bride shines on her special day so generally white dresses are off-limits. During the wedding you’ll notice some people will be in the Korean traditional outfit Hanbok but this is only for the family members of the bride and groom so although wearing a hanbok may be on your bucket list, you may want to save your bucket list for another day.
Naver | @designsalgu
It’s very common in western culture to have a Gift Registry aka wishlist of what the bride and groom would like to receive and need for their new life together. The culture of gift-giving is uncommon in Korean culture though. It’s most common for the bride and groom to receive a ‘white envelope’ which is similar to a wishing well where the gift would be cash. The cash would go towards the bride and groom’s new life together. Now the tricky question may be, how much do you give the bride and groom? There is a saying in Korean culture where if you’re an acquaintance or a friend that’s not too close, give them 50,000 won which is the equivalent of roughly $50 NZD. They say if you’re a close friend, to give them 100,000 won which is the equivalent of roughly $100 NZD and if you’re best friends or family members of the bride and groom, it would be anything from 200,000 won, roughly $200 NZD onwards.
The Wedding Ceremony
@Instagram | @viajante_official
Wedding season is not only exciting for the bride and groom but also exciting for the bridesmaids, groomsmen and flower girls in the Western culture. It’s a fun time of bonding and preparing but don’t be surprised if you don’t see any bridesmaids or groomsmen at a Korean wedding! Generally, the main focus is on the happy couple and no other person is next to them on stage. It’s also not a surprise to the bride and groom if they meet someone for the first time at their wedding ceremony. The wedding ceremony is generally a time when the parents also invite their friends or acquaintances whom the bride and groom may have never met. It may seem strange as in Western and NZ culture, a wedding is an intimate and private event but this is normal in Korean culture!
Just to sum things up, Korean weddings are not as complicated as you’d think - all you need to do is wear a semi-formal outfit, have some money in a white envelope and you’re good to go! The main thing is to congratulate the newly-wed couple and be happy for the start of their new life together 😍