October 07, 2023 08:19
Couples are struggling to find venues for their big day as wedding halls have been closing down left, right and center since lockdown put a halt to their business.
According to the National Tax Service, there were just 737 wedding halls left across Korea in peak wedding season in May, 41 fewer than last year.
Their numbers plunged by 62 in 2020 and 50 in 2021. Compared to before the coronavirus pandemic, they have dwindled by 21.2 percent. Over the same period, weddings only declined by 15.3 percent to 101,704, and there has actually been a surge since lockdown was lifted.
As demand outpaces supply, the cost has naturally gone up. Matchmaking company Duo polled prospective couples and found that the cost of renting a wedding hall increased from W8.96 million in 2021 to W10.57 million this year (US$1=W1,350).
One 31-year-old decided to postpone her wedding until July next year because it was so hard to find an affordable wedding hall. "I searched everywhere for a wedding hall but found that venues were fully booked until early July next year," she said. "I considered getting married in the fall, but even then it costs more than W10 million to rent a space."
Couples are advising others online to book their wedding halls at least a year in advance. One 28-year-old who plans to get married next month said, "I searched for a wedding hall seven months in advance and was only able to find unpopular locations on a Sunday. Everybody's saying that you need to book a year and a half ahead of time to find a good place."
Instead, many prospective couples opt for alternatives like university auditoriums to hold their wedding. One 28-year-old in Seoul said, "I plan to get married in the first half of next year and found out that even the auditorium of my old university was fully booked until June next year."
Lee Eun-hee at Inha University said, "More public institutions and other spaces should be made available for young couples who want to save wedding costs."
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