Pre-Wedding Photo Shoots in South Korea

Pre-wedding photo shoots, which are also called “rehearsal(리허설)”s, are a big part of a Korean wedding. They are done 1-2 months before the actual wedding ceremony and are essential in making the mobile wedding invitations, and decorating the entrance of your wedding venue.

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Photo shoots are divided into two types.
A semi-촬영 and a normal 촬영 (촬영=chwal-yeong, photo shoot).

Those who are not willing to be under the command of a photographer posing and tilting your head a certain way for an extended amount of time, but still want some pretty photos with your significant other, should choose a semi-촬영.

1-2 dresses

1-2 hours

outfits from the photo studio, suit shop or dress shop


Those who are willing to sacrifice their comfort, thirst, and hunger, and want to experience the once-in-a-lifetime event of trying multiple wedding dresses and getting a picture in each one of them, should choose the normal 촬영.

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3-6 dresses and outfits

4-7 hours

outfits from the suit shop, dress shop, and hanbok shop

must bring a small meal like a kimpab for yourselves and the staff

Image result for 김밥 그림Before signing the contract for a pre-wedding photo shoot in Korea, you must be aware of how many hours you are willing to be uncomfortable, thirsty, and hungry.Image result for hungry animated gif


Who will be at the photo shoot?

In the photo studio, you will usually have the photographer, the assistant, and the dress helper. The dress helper will communicate with the photographer to choose which dress and hair piece to wear next, and continuously put you in and out of dresses and fix your hair and make-up.

If your wedding planner has time in her schedule she may also join the photo shoot, and you can also invite a few friends. They are allowed to take pictures with smartphones, but not with DSLR cameras. The photographer usually offers to take a group picture with your friends.

When your photo shoot is scheduled on a busy day, there might be another couple taking photos at another set in the same studio. You will have to take turns using the changing room. Ours was on a Sunday evening, so we had the whole place to ourselves.

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Here are some Korean words that the photographer may use.

갸우뚱~
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  • 미소 = smile with your lips closed
  • 이빨/치아 보이게 = smile with your lips open
  • 크게 웃으세요. = Give me a big smile.
  • 무표정 = Be expression-less./ Do a poker-face.
  • 손 보세요. = Look at your hands.
  • 어께 보세요. = Look at your shoulder.
  • 카메라 보세요. = Look at the camera.
  • 오른쪽/왼쪽 갸우뚱 = Tilt your head to the right/left.
  • 고개 오른쪽/윈쪽으로 돌리세요. = Rotate your head to the right/left.
  • 턱 당기세요. = Pull your chin in.
  • 턱 내미세요/턱 들어 올리세요. = Pull your chin out/up.
  • 어께 힘 빼주세요. = Relax your shoulders.
  • 뽀뽀~ = kiss
  • 코끼리 뽀뽀~ = nose kiss (elephant kiss)

Here was my experience of the pre-wedding photo shoot day.

Saturday evening– I washed my hair without conditioner because I was told to do so by the wedding planner.

Sunday 10:00 am– I washed my face and applied lotion and moisturizer but did not apply any make-up. I also made sure to wear underwear that wouldn’t show under the dress.

11:00 am– Ate brunch. (This was my last actual meal for the next 12 hours.)

12:30 pm– Arrived at the hair and make-up salon and got my make-up done professionally.

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1:40 pm– Got my hair curled.

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2:30 pm– Met the dress helper (헬퍼이모) and changed into the first wedding dress.

3:10 pm– Took a taxi (in a wedding dress) with the dress helper to go to the photo studio.

3:40 pm– Wore the first dress with my hair down. This was a big and fluffy dress that looked gorgeous when I sat down.

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5:00 pm– Changed into a kimono (this or the hanbok would ideally be last because you have to put your hair up, but I did not know any better). All the staff there commented that it was their first time seeing a kimono in real life.

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I was able to munch on some kimpab because the photographer went on a break, but I could not finish the whole roll because my stomach area felt too tight from the dresses.

6:00 pm– Changed into the second wedding dress with my hair in a pony tail. This was a slimmer dress with some lace patterns. By this time my friends arrived and helped me take pictures of the photo shoot. Before they left, we were able to take a group picture together.

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7:00 pm– Changed into the third silk wedding dress with my hair up in a bun. My hair was still at medium-length, so the helper added some fake hair to add some volume in my bun. I started to feel hungry so I munched on some chocolate while getting my hair fixed.

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8:30 pm– Changed into a fourth dress which was more casual and shorter.

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This allowed me to go to the bathroom for the first time in five hours.

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By this time, I had already lost my strength and energy because of the long hours, hunger, and thirst. The photographer was saying that my eyes were becoming soulless.

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9:00 pm– Changed into color-matching clothes that we brought with us. It felt so great to be in loose-fitting clothes that I can move freely in.

9:40 pm– Finally finished taking all the photos and couldn’t believe that it had been almost six hours since we started the photo shoot. We set up a date to meet again to choose the photos for the album and picture frame.

10:00 pm– We returned the rental suit and kimono.

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11:00 pm– We took a taxi home and devoured some McDonald’s for a late dinner because that seemed to be the quickest solution to my lack of energy. I had to rest my head on the table while munching on the first few fries.

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Overall, I am happy with the photo shoot but it drained out a lot of energy… it felt like it took me a few days to fully recover. My ribs are still itching from the tight-fitting outfits, but I am looking forward to choosing the photos in two weeks!

Here’s what my photo studio looked like 🙂
Click for more pictures 😉

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