(Closed) Korean-American wedding – help!

posted 8 years ago in East Asian
Post # 3
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

Congrats on your new engagement!!^^

I’m not sure if I can be entirely helpful as I am a white Canadian marrying my Korean FI and living in Seoul.  Therefore, I’m not sure if there are some differences between Korean and Korean-American traditions (and since I’m a foreigner I know my FILs are not expecting the same level of tradition from my family.) The following is based on what I’ve heard from my friends’ weddings, and what my FMIL has told me.

In traditional Lee Dynasty customs, the burden was greater on the bride’s family.  They not only bought new clothes for the groom’s immediate family (and his wedding clothes), but also clothes for his extended family.  The groom’s parent’s bought the bride’s clothes and jewelry which were delivered to the bride’s parents’ house as the ‘ham.’

Today, what I have normally seen is the groom and brides’ families give each other’s immediate family members money which is supposed to be used for new clothes.  Most of my male friends have also purchased jewelry set(s) for their brides.  (I read 5 sets…but when I told that to my FI he almost had a heart attack! So I guess 1 or 2 is usually the norm!!^^)

Of course…then the groom is supposed to pay for the apartment (technically supposed to be $100 000…although that wouldn’t buy much in Seoul these days!), and the bride is supposed to furnish the apartment (traditionally $30 000). 

I have no idea about who pays for what though.  In most cases where I was close enough to the bride and groom to talk about money issues with them, the actual way the bill was split widely differed depending on the economic situation of their parents and if they were Korean marrying a Korean or Korean marrying a foreigner.  Traditionally paebek is only done to the groom’s side (and thus, they give the paebek money), but most people I know now do paebek to both sides. 

I hope this helps, although I fully realize your customs in the States may differ from what is happening in Korea.  And of course…even though things are supposed to happen, in reality customs are actually quite diverse.

FI’s parents have very little money while FI and I are economically comfortable, so I know we’ll be paying for almost everything (and therefore receiving the wedding envelops!)  Be careful of that…I know of lots of couples who paid for their wedding…only to have parents take the money given by wedding guests!!

Happy planning!!

 

Post # 5
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

I’m not sure when gifts are exchanged these days.  However, since a lot of the time it is money, the time is probably more flexible.  I’m going to ask my FMIL and get back to you.^^

As for who actually gets the apartment…by all accounts men still seem to take on the majority of this burden.  My relationship with my FI is pretty ‘Western’ and we have a very egalitarian relationship.  However, with regard to our future apartment, he feels very strongly about being able to provide that for me.  Do you know about the jeonse system?  Housing prices in Seoul are very high, so many people put down a large ‘key money’ deposit (say $100 000) and then do not pay rent for a two year contract.  The landlord invests the money – makes interest off of it – and then returns the deposit back to you at the end of the contract.  I don’t think most middle class families have the ability to give their children an apartment – but many provide some or all of the jeonse.  And in these cases, the burden falls much heavier on the groom and his family.  The housing situation has been really stressful for some of my Western male friends marrying Korean as this is one of the questions the girls’ families always ask.  Most of the Western males I know end up paying the rent or putting down a larger amount of key money, but I do know of one case where the bride’s family payed the jeonse because the groom was a foreigner without a lot of money saved. (In this case the jeonse will be returned to her family should they decide to leave the country or move to a rental – wonse apartment).

Here’s an article on the jeonse issue, but the ‘average’ amount of a wedding here is much lower than I’ve seen in other articles.  The currency exchange between the American dollar and Korean won has changed dramatically in the last two years, so that might be why they keep quoting different numbers between articles: 

  http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/biz/2009/08/123_50084.html

And another on the money expectations men and women have.  Honestly though, I don’t think people actually expect this money!  I think it’s more of a wish.  How any middle class late 20-something man has 500 000 000 won….??? I don’t know!

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/03/117_41455.html

In my case, my FI is providing most of the jeonse, although I might add some of my money in, and then I will buy most of the furniture.  We’re splitting the Korean wedding cost, and my mum is paying for most of the Canadian wedding cost.  I think FI’s parents would like to contribute more, but it’s just not possible.  We’re also paying for their tickets to Canada because FI really wants them at the Canadian wedding.  But we’ll receive all the money from our wedding guests, so I think that will cover a considerable amount of our wedding although not apartment costs.  I’ll ask around and see what people usually do about who pays for the wedding…..

 

Post # 6
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

If you have an engagement party between the families, this seems to be the most common time to exchange gifts/money for gifts.  As to who pays…..everyone I asked had a conflicting idea about ‘tradition.’  Thesedays however, it seems that most middle class people split the cost between their families or the bride and groom themselves.  (I don’t know about Korean-Americans, but Koreans usually save for their weddings years in advance). 

If his parents are refusing to pay anything, could you just do paebek to them?  Then your parents wouldn’t have to give additional money.  I suppose it depends on how big his family is.  If his family is small, you wouldn’t get much back from paebek…

Post # 8
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

It’s funny….my FI is in the oppostie situation.  His father’s family immigrated en masse to LA in the 80s (minus his father who refused to go).  Also, his mother’s sister lives in Australia, so he has a very small family in Korea.  I don’t think any of his overseas family will make it to either wedding.  We’re not even totally sure we are going to do paebek.  Our friends got married last weekend and didn’t do it which got FI thinking…plus FIs parents have very little money.  We’re already doing a full traditional wedding (live chickens, kama, alcohol…oh my^^), so he thinks that his parents might be okay with that.  I don’t really care what he does as long as my mother doesn’t have to participate because she’s really uncomfortable about people bowing to her.

I’ve heard stories about people having to buy grandma/grandpa/aunt/uncle/older cousins etc. clothes, but I’ve never actually met someone who did.  Usually they just bought clothes for the parents, and sometimes for older siblings or siblings in general.  I guess it might depend on how wealthy the family is and how demanding family members can be.  We will just be buying clothes for his parents and possibly his older brother (who might be his best man in Canada).  I thought I might have to put my foot down on family-related spending, but so far they haven’t been demanding.  We’ll see if anything comes up this weekend over 추석! 

Post # 9
Member
8 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: May 2010

Could anyone let me know what the dollar amount we’re supposed to give korean relatives to buy clothes with is? Also, how far extended does this money get given out to? And how do we give the money? In an envelope? I’m in the same situation and confused =)

Post # 10
Member
53 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I have always seen the extchange of money.  Gifts from both sets of parents to children and also from other family members presented at Korean “wedding” ceremony.

Post # 11
Member
8 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: May 2010

Do I need to give anyone anything as the bride?

 

Also, what would my parents need to give?

 

I’m a bit confused!

Post # 12
Member
53 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

@wishinpink

I’m not sure where you’re located but there are korean companies, I guess you could call them, that you hire that come and do your “wedding” ceremony for you.  They provide an emcee, all the traditional things (dates, nuts, ducks etc..), your hanboks and help you with all the traditional things. 

Post # 13
Member
873 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

Wishinpink – please see my posts above…money has to be given before the wedding (because it’s for wedding clothes for the wedding).  Usually this is at an engagement ceremony if you are having one.  We’re not, so we’ll give the money to his parents and siblings prior to the wedding in an envelop (as I said above – depending on the family I guess you could give to aunts and uncles…but most middle class Koreans give to their parents and siblings.  You need to talk to your respective parents about this though as there might be family expectations.).  I have no idea what the dollar amount is as we’ll be paying in won….I’m sure prices are much different between Korean and the States too. 

As to what the ‘bride’ and the ‘brides’ parents give’…in Korea this line is blurred considerably.  Most couples work before marriage now, so they are often saving a portion (if not all as in our case) of the money.  In cases where the parents are contributing to the wedding/living expenses, there’s not much difference. 

Post # 14
Member
39 posts
Newbee

Watches. Definitely watches.

My husband is a guitar player and does not wear any jewelry (except for a very delicate and out of the way wedding band). Tradition is watches. So while FI was out with my folks, they kept “finding” themselves by watch stores. We stood our ground however that an extravegant watch would be wasted on him. So my mom helped get him a guitar.

But she is always asking if he needs a wrist watch. And pointing out guitar players wearing watches and bracelets – saving pictures, etc. How does he tell time!

Post # 15
Member
2 posts
Wannabee

Congratulations! So happy for you Miss Monkeynme!

Honestly, one of the reasons why I delayed getting engaged was the dreaded gift giving expectations associated with marrying a Korean. I’ve observed KoreAms are far more traditional than FOBS, and the traditional culture highly favors Korean males. Sadly, I’ve had friends who abruptly ended engagements because the honsu/wedding dowry wasn’t sufficient for the groom’s family.

Ultimately, these antiquated practices only apply if the groom is highly successful (as Korean ahjumah’s define as dr, lawyer, investment banker, ivy league educated, etc). If he falls into this definition, his family will expect:

1) Three Keys – one key for house, one key for new car, and one key for office/bank deposit box : If you live in a metropolitan area, this is not reasonable as very few people have the cash to buy all these items.

AND/OR

2) Watch – giving a watch, is like giving the ring. You are expected to give a watch as luxurious as the engagement ring you received

3) Gifts for his entire, extended family TREE – jewelry (ruby, sapphire, emerald) and hand bag (Chanel, Hermes) to his mom, custom made suits for the uncles, brothers, father, etc.

4) Cash – my friends who recently got engaged had to exchange “balance sheets” at the engagement ceremony for both sets of parents to review. One friend was excommunicated from his family because the bride didn’t appropriately disclose her financial condition. CRAJEE!

There’s the saying if a Korean man has three daughters, the three pillars of his house will collapse – because you have to send your daughter off to get married (since women were considered a burden assumed by the groom’s family), requires a fortune!

What does the Bride Get? There’s a hahm party. Again, the bride’s party is expected to host and pay for dinner/drinks, but the groom’s party arrives to the party late with a treasure chest full of jewelry and presents for the bride from the groom’s family. The bride’s father is expected to provide cash to “bribe” the groom’s party to hand over the hahm.

Who pays for the wedding? Traditionally, the BRIDE’s FAMILY. I had a friend and the groom’s family refused to support the wedding if they had to pay for the wedding. It was this huge fight. Ultimately, the bride (my friend) threatened to break off the engagement unless the groom’s family paid for part of wedding. Ultimately, the bride’s parents paid 50%, groom paid 25% and the groom’s parents paid 25%.

The moral of the story is, just try your best, but don’t overextend yourself. Planning your wedding should be the best time of your life! Good luck!

Post # 16
Member
20 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: December 2010

I’m actually really confused with the whole korean wedding who pays what. So when the FI and i got engaged i specifically told him that I wanted both sides of the families to pay half and half. We had our yak hok shik (engagement party) with just close families and the bridal party and my side of the family paid for that. My mother said that the girl side pays for the engagement party but also because we didnt get the FI a watch or anything. He has a watch and doesnt even want another one and wanted a fountain pen instead. He does a lot of paper work and wanted a really nice fountain pen and thats what we got him. His parents own a jewelry store and my e-ring was made from his dad who’s a designer and so I felt bad for that too and just ended up paying for the engagement party.

Now as we are planning our wedding theres deposits that needs to be made and all and so the FI lives in NY and I live in Jersey so whenever theres a deposit that needs to be done in NY his side will do that and we make deposits anything that happens in Jersey.

I think each family should just put in as much as they can afford to put in. Talk to your FI and discuss it with him. If your parents cant help out much.. let him know…

We’re in the states… it doesnt HAVE to be the korean way.

Good luck to you!

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