Ostentatious luxury hotel weddings or outdoor events are starting to make way for more dignified, solemn venues that feel like chapels, but these are proving far from cheap.
"The trend has come from Japan," said Lee Duk-jin, an editor of magazine My Wedding. "As more and more people started to look for venues with character for their special day instead of boilerplate wedding halls, chapels have captured the imagination of brides and grooms."
Many high-end wedding venues have rushed to keep up with customers' tastes. They have stripped off flashy decorations, installed subtle lighting and replaced chairs with long benches often found in churches.
"As a number of celebrities including Lee Hyo-ri had small-scale private weddings with a select number of guests, many young brides these days hope they too can have a private wedding in a quiet place like a church regardless of their religion, said Son Hye-kyung, CEO of wedding planner Wise Wedding.
These chapel weddings cost considerably more than ceremonies held in actual churches.
Most luxury wedding halls in Gangnam simply change their interiors to look like a chapel to meet the new demand. Food costs well over W50,000 to W60,000 per head (US$1=W1,037), and there are usually extra organizational costs, Lee said. "Today's chapel weddings are far from small and modest affairs. The only change is that brides now prefer elegance over glamour."