December Replaces May as Favorite Wedding Season
Wedding halls are now more crowded in winter than in the traditional spring season as more couples wed at year's end.
According to Statistics Korea, December was the month with the most weddings last year with 27,600 (10.4 percent), followed by May (10.2 percent) and November (9.3 percent).
One reason may be that Koreans traditionally count their age in whole years from the year they were conceived, so many rush to tie the knot at the last minute before they are a year older.
"As many people, who have delayed marriage, decide to get married within the year and need time to prepare, they try to get it done before the year turns," wedding planner Kim Mi-jin said. "More people deliberately marry on Dec. 24 or Dec. 31, thinking of a wedding as a party, with an increase in small weddings."
Last year, the average age of first marriage was 32.9 years for men and 30.2 years for women, up around two years from a decade ago.
But there are other reasons autumn and early winter have become peak season for wedding businesses.
"Many couples from Southeast Asia, where they have no snow or autumn foliage, come to Korea to take pre-wedding photos with the scenery, so we get busier when the weather gets colder," said Jung Eun-mi at a wedding studio.
Some attribute the shift to the economics of the business. Most wedding halls do not charge cancellation fees if canceled at least a month before the event, so many couples book three to four wedding venues for spring or fall and only then start thinking about the best time and price.
"When you count the number of weddings that actually take place in spring and fall, when wedding halls are fully booked, fewer weddings take place in these seasons than in winter," a wedding planner said.