Visiting “Dress Shops” as a Bride-to-be in Korea

Bridal salons, the place where you get to shop for wedding dresses, are called “dress shops” in Korea. Here’s my experience of a “dress shop” in Korea.

Stage 1: RESERVATION (예약)

The wedding planner showed me thick albums of sample wedding dresses from different bridal salons. We narrowed it down to two locations and made a reservation for a 드레스투어 (dress tour) on the same day back-to-back.

Stage 2: DRESS TOUR (드레스투어)

On the dress tour day, my fiancé and I met our wedding planner at the first bridal salon. We were sent to a room that was separated into a stage and a waiting area. The stage had a round mini-stage for me to stand on, huge mirrors in the back and on the left, and a dresser. In the waiting area, there was a big sign saying “no pictures.” 😦 I was told that you can’t take pictures of the dress until you sign a contract with them.


The staff asked us about how many dress shops we would be visiting and also asked for the names of the other shops. They also wanted to know which dresses I wanted to try so I showed them some screenshots of what I found from their Instagram page.

When I moved onto the stage they closed the curtain between the stage and the waiting area. On the stage, I changed into their bra, wore their underwear over my own, and wore a gown that I would wear between the dresses.

After I changed, the staff came back onto the stage from the back door and quickly put my hair up and added some head accessories and clip-on earrings. They put me in the dress, had me hold a bouquet, and they opened the curtain for my fiancé and my wedding planner. After I tried on four dresses back-to-back, it was difficult for me to remember what I wore and which one I liked best…

We paid 30,000 KRW (cash preferred) and moved on to the next bridal salon.

The next place was also divided into a waiting area and a stage. The stage had one huge mirror and a dresser, and the second mirror was across from the stage in the waiting room. The mini-stage in this bridal salon was slightly lower and to make up for the height difference, there was a set of heels in the middle of it. While I was wearing the four dresses, I lost my balance a few times because I am not used to wearing heels. We also paid 30,000 KRW at the second bridal salon.

At the end, the wedding planner wanted me to choose the second bridal salon, but I asked for more time to think, and I was told to give her an answer by lunch of the next day. At first, it was very difficult to choose because both had pretty dresses, but in the end, I chose the bridal salon with a more friendly staff that spoke in slower, easier Korean for me.

Stage 3: FITTING (피팅, 가봉)

On the fitting day, which was a month before the photo shoot, I chose three dresses to wear for the photo shoot. My wedding planner suggested that I should choose one A-line or ball gown style dress and two slimmer mermaid or trumpet style dresses. Her reasoning was that A-line and ball gown styles start to look more similar, so it’s better to change it up with the ones with unique designs. She also recommended avoiding sparkly dresses because it looks good in person, but doesn’t show up well on the photos.

Because my fiancé could not make it to the fitting, I asked one of my friends to join the wedding planner and me. The room layout was the same as the one from the dress tour, and this time we were allowed to take pictures to compare. It all happened much quicker than I had expected and I wore six dresses and chose three within 45 minutes.

After I chose three, the staff made sure that they got the correct photo shoot location and time, offered an extra mini dress for the photo shoot, reminded me that I would have to pay 150,000 KRW to the staff that will help me out on the day of the photo shoot, and asked for my shoe size and height.

Stage 4: REHEARSAL (리허설, the photo shoot)

On the day of the photo shoot, the 헬퍼이모님 which translates to “helper aunt” came to the hair and make-up shop with the dresses that I chose. I met her for the first time at the make-up shop and we headed to the photo studio together after she put me in a dress.

The helper aunt’s job was to put me in the dresses, and to continuously fix my hair and sometimes my make-up. She was also the one throwing the wedding veils in the air or holding the reflector to help take a romantic picture. She communicated with the photographer to decide on which dress, hair piece, and earrings to wear. After the 5.5 hour photo shoot, we paid her in cash.

Stage 5: FITTING (가봉)

On the day of the final fitting for the wedding day dress, I had to choose one dress out of three. This was all done within an hour, and I was already used to the whole process of getting in and out of wedding dresses.

Stage 6: THE CEREMONY (본식)

On the wedding day, the “helper aunt” met up with us at the make-up shop put me in the wedding dress, and took a taxi together to the wedding venue. If you do not have a friend or relative that is driving the car, I recommend using Kakao Black, which can call taxi drivers in a nice suit and car.

We arrived at the wedding venue 90 minutes before the beginning of the ceremony, and after the groom and I took some pictures at the venue, I had to wait in the bridal room where guests can take pictures with the bride. During the time, the “helper aunt” helped me look presentable and occasionally helped with taking photos as well. She also quickly taught me how to walk with the dress right before I had to walk in for the ceremony, and assisted in rearranging the wedding dress whenever I moved during the ceremony.

After the ceremony, she was able to help me change into the Korean dress, hanbok, and left after I handed her the envelope with the 150,000 KRW fee. If I had another traditional Korean wedding ceremony in the hanbok, I would have had to hire another “helper aunt” just for the hanbok.

I am glad I used this Korean dress shop system because I got to enjoy many different types of dresses just for one wedding. 🙂

If you’re curious, here’s the wedding dress shop that I went to:
Mariée de Oneul 
*website in Korean

Mariée de Oneul Instagram


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