updated 24 Dec 2010, 20:13
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Mon, Sep 27, 2010
The Korea Herald/ANN
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Koreans look for affordable hotel weddings
by Kim Yoon-mi

After learning that he could kill a bird with two stones serving his wedding guests proper meals at an unhurried pace and paying less-than-expected fees for the use of the hotel's wedding hall, Yoo Choon-man, a 28-year-old office worker living in Seoul, decided to have his wedding at an Incheon hotel.

What most bothered Yoo when watching other couples get married in wedding halls was that guests, mostly family and friends, have to be rushed to eat before or after a 20-minute ceremony. Many wedding halls, built only in Korea, tend to accommodate multiple ceremonies simultaneously, throughout different halls in the building.

"The hotel staff said they would give me three hours for the wedding. So, I thought I could properly serve our guests," Yoo told The Korea Herald.

"Although the hotel is in Incheon, the hotel provides two large buses to transport our guests from Seoul to Incheon two hours before the wedding. So, the distance was not much of a problem," he said.

Yoo said he expects 200-250 guests and he will pay 50,000 won per guest for food, decorations and flowers. If he gets 200 guests, the total cost, which Yoo will share with his wife, will be 10 million won (S$11,000).

Yoo is one of many young Korean's looking for hotel wedding packages that offer affordable prices hotels that are a little out of the way, holding ceremonies on weekdays or during slow season in January and February.

Hyatt Regency Incheon, located near Incheon International Airport, began offering a low-priced wedding package in early September. The fees start from 40,000 won per person.

The hotel, which previously was at a disadvantage when it came to weddings because of its location, reports the growing popularity of its new low-priced wedding package.

"Couples find it convenient to stay one night at the hotel and go to the airport next morning," said Lee Seung-hyun, a Hyatt Regency Incheon PR manager.

According to wedding planners, most Korean couples prefer modern-style wedding ceremonies. They could be held at independent wedding halls, hotels or luxurious houses built for weddings, with average costs ranging from 30,000 won to 40,000 won per guest in wedding halls to 50,000 won to 100,000 won in hotels and to 70,000 won to 200,000 won in luxurious wedding houses.

Hwang Jin-ryoung, a wedding planner at Very Good Wedding Company, said independent wedding halls are still dominant with 70 per cent of couples choosing them.

However, hotel weddings (20 per cent) and luxurious house weddings (10 per cent) are becoming increasingly popular.

"Especially when the number of guests is expected to exceed 300, many couples consider hotel weddings because independent wedding halls often cannot accommodate many people," said Hwang who has eight years of experience in wedding planning.

"Friday evenings and winter seasons are good to have wedding ceremonies at hotels with discounted prices," she said.

For weddings on unpopular days like Monday and Tuesday, the Ritz Carlton Seoul offers a special wedding package starting from 53,000 won per guest and a 10 per cent discount on wine.

The Lotte Hotel Seoul lowers wedding fees by 20 per cent on Sunday evening, Monday and Tuesday and 10 per cent on Thursday.

Novotel Ambassador Gangnam, which revamped its Grand Wedding Hall recently, has also begun offering an affordable package starting from 49,000 won per guest. From Monday through Thursday, couples can get a 10 percent discount from 49,000 won. The hotel noted, however, the package will only be available until April next year.

Jo Ja-young, a 23-year-old office worker in Seoul, plans to have a wedding in December or January. Until recently, when she did not know much about discount options, she did not consider having a wedding at a hotel.

She said she recently started to consider having her wedding at a hotel since her boyfriend mentioned one he'd attended.

"After going to that, my boyfriend seems to think that proceeding with a wedding ceremony while food is served to guests at each table would be nice, although we had been planning a church wedding," Jo said.

"I may consider affordable hotel options as well but my parents will make the final decision," she said.

Hwang noted that it is mostly the parents who decide where the couples will get married because parents usually cover the costs of the wedding in Korea.

In a 2008 survey by Korea Statistics, 79.3 per cent of the couples said the costs for the wedding were partly covered by their parents. Only 11.3 per cent said they covered the costs themselves and another 9.5 per cent said their parents paid for everything.

Another reason for parents' influence in deciding the size and place of the wedding is that there are more guests of the parents' than of the bride and groom, Hwang said.

"Parents even consider in advance how much in cash gifts their friends and families may make. In such cases, hotel weddings may not be so expensive to them," she said.

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