- Rachel Kwon, from New Orleans, married her longtime partner Jaehwan Kwon in June.
- Rachel said they followed South Korean wedding traditions, except she kept her dress as a surprise.
- Rachel made a device out of an umbrella and fabric so the groom wouldn’t see her dress.
An American woman who recently got married in South Korea said she made a makeshift device to hide her wedding dress from the groom before the ceremony.
Rachel Kwon told Insider that she moved from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Gyeonggi-do, just outside of Seoul, South Korea, nine years ago. She met her now-husband, Jaehwan Kwon, there in 2014. Rachel and Jaehwan, who is from South Korea, got married in Ansan (a city in Gyeonggi Province southwest of Seoul) on June 18.
The couple’s wedding largely followed South Korean wedding traditions, Rachel said. For example, they had a photo shoot in wedding attire months before the ceremony and used the photos for their invitations and to decorate a photo table at the venue. Rachel said she wore a number of different dresses in the shoot – none of which she wore during the ceremony as she didn’t want the groom to see her wedding dress beforehand.
Although in recent years it has become more common for couples in the US to have a “first look” with their partner ahead of the ceremony, Rachel said she wanted to stick to the American tradition of keeping the dress a secret before walking down the aisle .
And she found a unique way to hide her dress before walking down the aisle – with an umbrella and lots of fabric.
Rachel hid her dress from the groom with a homemade contraption
Rachel said that in her experience with South Korean weddings, it is customary for the bride and groom to greet guests and take pictures with them in their wedding attire before the ceremony. But because Rachel wanted her wedding dress to be a surprise, Jaehwan greeted their guests while Rachel changed into her dress.
After that, the plan was for Rachel to go to the private bridal waiting area to spend time with some close family and friends before the ceremony – but there was a bit of an obstacle.
“The private dressing room that was available for me to change into my dress was on a completely different floor than our wedding hall,” Rachel said.
“That means I had to find a way to ensure that my husband – who was greeting guests right at the front of our wedding hall – wouldn’t see me in my dress as I walked through a crowd of our guests from the elevator to the bride’s waiting room right next door him,” she added.
Rachel said she originally planned to cover her dress with a sheet before one of her friends came up with the idea of using an umbrella and white fabric. Rachel sewed it together the day before the wedding, and her twin sister and sister-in-law escorted her to the bridal waiting room ahead of the ceremony.
This way, she could surprise Jaehwan at the altar with her wedding dress: a floor-length silk gown that she paired with matching elbow-length gloves, a veil tucked into an elegant updo, and dazzling earrings.
On June 23, Rachel shared a video of Jaehwan’s reaction to her walking down the aisle in her dress on her Instagram page, @rachelheheh, where she has 94,000 followers as of Friday.
Rachel found her vintage wedding dress for $200 in New Orleans
Rachel said she bought the wedding dress for $200 while visiting family in New Orleans. On Tuesday, she shared an Instagram post about her experience.
She went for a decidedly more discreet look than the dress she wore in the pre-wedding photos. “I had already worn a big princess dress during the pre-wedding shoot and didn’t feel like myself at all,” she said.
Looking back on the big day, Rachel said she has “no regrets” about hiding her dress from Jaehwan until the moment she walked down the aisle.
“I just wanted to […] having my ’90s movie moment with my husband, walking down the aisle to Sixpence None the Richers’ ‘Kiss Me’,” she said.
All it took to make it happen was a little creativity.