Korean Wedding Planning – 결혼식 준비

Finally! Wedding planning is in full swing. We set a date for our wedding in Korea a few months ago, but it didn’t feel like it was real then. Now, we are less than 60 days away and I’m getting really excited.

Our wedding will be a traditional Korean wedding, held at an outdoor/indoor venue up on a hill. There are lots of traditional wooden buildings, greenery, and when we walked in the first time to visit, we felt like we were in a period drama.

Although the venue does many traditional Korean weddings, they also transform the space into a white wonderland for couples who wish to have a more Western wedding. Most of the traditional weddings held there are requested by international couples, like us. My friends are also getting married there in April, the same month as we are, and the bride is Korean while the groom is from the United Kingdom.

At first, my fiancé Junkyu was worried that his mom might not approve of us having a traditional wedding. I think by now, many people do the Western style weddings, which are where the couple rents an hour or so in a “wedding hall” or a convention center, where the buffet is what most people come for. We visited a few of his friends weddings, and it shocked me how impersonal and quick they were. We decided to steer clear of those weddings in favor of a more personal and meaningful one.

I’m glad we are doing a traditional Korean wedding because it gives me the opportunity to experience it. Next year, we are planning on having a second wedding in America for my friends and family there, so having two white dress weddings would have been too much. I already bought my wedding dress when I was back in America last summer, so I am looking forward to wearing that, but I’ll get a chance to dress in white tomorrow!

In Korea and other parts of Asia, many couples go into photo studios to get pre-wedding photos taken. It’s a whole day of getting dressed up, having your makeup and hair done, and posing for pictures together. Some of my friends have expressed confusion as to why so many people go through this experience, but to me it makes perfect sense. For those who have Western-style weddings in Korea, the whole thing lasts about 30 minutes tops, and it consists of the bride, following the groom, walking down an aisle, listening to a speech, being sung to by one of their friends, and then taking pictures with some of the guests. Then, they are ushered out because the next couple is waiting to have their big moment. It must feel so rushed.

To remedy this, Koreans go get pre-wedding photos done, where they can wear multiple dresses, pose in many different settings and angles, and the whole day is dedicated to just the two of them. Ever since I saw Bubz, one of my favorite YouTubers, go to Seoul to have hers done before her wedding, I knew I wanted to do it. Thankfully, I am marrying a Korean guy, so I didn’t have to convince him (too much).

A few weekends ago, we figured it was time to start really planning our wedding, since all we had done was reserve the venue. In all fairness, our venue is doing most of the work. We basically only have to show up and get told what to do. However, before and after the wedding, there is a lot of things that need to be done. We need to order invitations, which I picked out the other day, so we are closer to having that ticked off our list. We also need to make sure we have someone to photograph and video record our actual wedding. Our rings were also something we hadn’t done, and the list grew and grew until we knew we had to spend a Saturday figuring things out.

We made an appointment to visit a wedding fair, where many different vendors related to weddings set up booths with representatives to help us decide on the things we wanted. We knew we wanted to visit a few of them to compare prices, and that was easy, seeing as many wedding vendors set up shop in the same area. The first one we went to asked us what kind of things we still needed to prepare, such as skin care, photos, rings, gifts, etc.

We went straight to the pre-wedding photo studio representative, who let us look at all the albums of the studios we could contract with. I chose this wedding fair because the studio I most liked when looking online was one that they contract with. After looking through many books of pictures, I was still sure I wanted to go with my favorite, and she told us that I could actually go to four studios in total, have my pictures done in all of them, and then choose the photos we wanted for our finished album.

It was a great value, and she also told me that I would be able to wear 7 different outfits (5 dresses, a hanbok, and our casual clothes). Knowing that most places only let the bride wear two or three dresses, I was really excited. However, Junkyu wanted to make sure we were getting a good deal, so we told her we’d come back after reviewing other options. On our way out of the building, we passed a jeweler’s case, and stopped to look at the rings.

A representative came over and told us about special offers she could give us, and at first I thought Junkyu was going to say, “Maybe next time,” but he listened to her talk for almost 30 minutes about rings, diamonds, gift jewelry, sets, etc. We knew that we wanted to get his wedding ring to match my engagement ring, but after seeing the ring, necklace, and earring sets, I suddenly really wanted something for myself.

He got her information, and he told me we could visit her shop on a weekday when less people were there, so we could get special attention and the ability to choose exactly what we wanted. I couldn’t believe a search for a photo studio would turn into a prospective four studios, plus jewelry!

We went across the street to another wedding package place, and we, again, looked at photo books and discussed options for different studios. Some of them were really pretty, but nothing was exactly what I wanted, like the other place, and the prices were much higher. Plus, they were going to ask us to pay a wedding planner fee, and we don’t really need a wedding planner at this point. The lady we spoke with also told us that we wouldn’t be able to take our photos on a weekend, as everything was already booked. Neither Junkyu nor I can take off work on weekdays very easily, so we decided to go back to the place that gave us a better feeling.

The representative we first talked to assured us that a Saturday photoshoot would be no problem to book, and she asked us how the 13th of February was. It being the day before Valentine’s Day, I knew it would be perfect. We booked our shoot and left with a pamphlet from the jeweler’s, and our full day of wedding planning was done.

The next week was a rough one. We couldn’t go to the jeweler’s Monday or Tuesday, and Wednesday I had rehearsals for our theatre group’s upcoming performance. It was located right near the store, so I got my hopes up that we could visit after my rehearsal was over. However, when Junkyu picked me up, he was not feeling well at all and wanted to go home asap. We decided to try going the next day, but he worked late again. Friday, he promised we could if nothing came up at work, so I prayed all day we could go. Thankfully, we made it, but maybe I’ll save that story for when our rings come in!

Tomorrow is our big pre-wedding photoshoot day and I’m so excited! Lately we’ve been having a lot of fun talking about our weddings and how this upcoming year is going to pan out. It’s been stressful at times, but we have each other, so I’m sure everything will work out, and we’ll have fun along the way.

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