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A traditional wedding in Korea involves the joining together of two families, not just the individual bride and groom. Korean families keep records of their ancestry and family lineage is an important part of Korea culture, even today Korean women will retain their original surname after they are married. The traditional wedding day would start with both families visiting their ancestral shrine hall, then the groom would travel to the bride's home for the ceremony. During this ceremony the bride and groom bow to each other face to face, this may well be the first time they have met, since many marriages were arranged in the past. A traditional Korean wedding ceremony is known as Daerye, meaning "great ritual", it would end with the with couple travelling back to the groom's home in a covered sedan chair (Palanquin).
Traditional Korean clothing is called Hanbok (한복), for a bride this consists of a colorful, elaborate top coat with long flowing sleeves and 2 large ribbons tied to form a bow. Below this is worn a wrap around skirt with a high waist, boat shaped shoes made of silk and white socks. The bride will wear little makeup apart from three red circles, these are painted on her face, one on each cheek and another on her forehead. For men the wedding outfit is a blue or maroon color jacket with large sleeves, loose trousers, a black hat and a pair of black cloth boots.
Nowadays, most couples opt for a short western style wedding ceremony plus a reception in a wedding hall or a hotel ballroom complete with tuxedos and a white wedding gown. Following the ceremony the couple may choose to change into traditional clothing to pay their respects to their elders. Guests attending a banquet are expected to bring gifts in the form of money (new bank notes) in white wedding envelopes, these are given to a guest registrar at a greeting table near the entrance to the reception. Typical gift amounts range from US$30 to US$100 (approximately 30,000 - 100,000 Won), the amount will depend on how close the guests are to the couple and the social level of the event. This gift helps the couple and their families to offset the costs of the wedding, which can be considerable, cash gifts are preferred in most Asian cultures instead of the western style of gift giving.
Getting Married In Korea
Ceremonies are usually officiated by a religious official in a church, or any other important person in the community for secular weddings, however the marriage is not legal until the couple have registered their marriage with the government. For non Koreans, this will involve filling out an affidavit of eligibility for marriage form at their embassy in Korea. Previously married brides or grooms will require proof that they are free to marry again (a death or divorce certificate). The affidavit of eligibility will be notarized by the embassy, then it can be taken to a Guchong (local office) where the couple will need to complete forms in Korean, they will also require the names and addresses of two Korean witnesses to their marriage.