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.
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!