Sunday, May 17, 2009

Korean Weddings Need not be Expensive

May is the peak wedding season in Korea and even though the times are difficult many Koreans opt for expensive weddings. The government during the non democratic days tried hard to change the habits derived from the culture but with little results.

In recent days there have been articles in the daily papers showing how expensive some of the weddings are but also those who make it a point of having a very simple wedding. If they choose to have a wedding in a first class hotel the weddings can cost 100 million won. This would include flowers, makeup, photographs, gift for the in-laws music and the wedding banquet. For many who are not that well off, the cash gifts from the guests which can range from 20,000 to 100,000 won will help pay for the expenses.

In Korea as elsewhere there is not any hard and fast rule that you can lay down and say this is the way it is done. The Culture for the most part influences the wealthy more than the middle and working class but the facts are that there are as many different ways of marrying as there are couples and this is truer today than in the past. There was a time when it was said that the grooms families asks for three keys from the brides family: a key to a security box, car and house. These are the types of stories that make the papers. Those who are not wealthy have more freedom to do as they please while the wealthy may be more concerned about what others will think and what their social peers expect of them.

Just recently we had the wedding in the States of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moons son. It took place in a small Catholic chapel (Holy Family Church) in Manhattan where 150 well wishes attended even though he only invited 100 of close family and friends. Cash gifts were declined. There was no rent for the wedding hall, no flower garlands, no red carpets- a Church Mass and the exchanging of vows before the priest. Bans two daughters also had very simple weddings by Korean standards.

A Catholic Church wedding can cost very little. In many cases it is the Mass stipend if there is to be a Mass . The rest will depend on how much the family wants to spend for photographs, clothes and banquet. This can be done with very little if the customs of the area do not make it difficult for the couple to do what they feel is appropriate.

We need more Koreans who have the place in society that the Secretary General has , who are willing to do what their common sense tells them is the thing to do. With the mass media carrying stories of this type a great deal can be done to change the way people conduct their weddings in our Society


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