Who knew doing a wedding registry as an international couple living in South Korea would be so complicated? Our wedding is in France with guests from all over the world, so we had to review all the options to see what would best suit our destination wedding.

Check out my Wedding Planning Journey

Expat weddings are not easy. Since there’s so much to get through, I divided my wedding planning post into different parts. Once each post is ready, I’ll update the links here with the journey. Stay tuned!

Wedding Registry as an Expat Couple

Questions that you should ask yourself before deciding on a wedding registry are:

  • Where is your wedding?
  • Where are you traveling from?
  • Where are your guests traveling from?
  • Can your guests ship your gifts directly from the retailer?
  • Are there any additional customs/taxes?
  • Is the shipping cost reasonable?
  • Are wedding registries available in your country?
  • Do they accept international currencies?
  • Where is your bank account located and where can you withdraw money?

Physical Gifts

Since we live in South Korea, a physical gift registry didn’t make sense for us due to the complexities of international banking, limited luggage space, shipping fees, and import taxes.

Wedding Registry in Korea

We had to rule out a gift registry in South Korea right away for our overseas guests due to the nightmare that is the Korean banking system. First of all, the language barrier would be challenging for most guests. Second of all, buying gifts directly in Korea with a non-Korean card is nearly impossible, as I’ve mentioned before in “Gifts that You Can Buy Your Friends and Family in South Korea.”

Wedding Registry in France

Since we are flying to France with limited luggage, bringing anything back to Korea from France also seemed like a headache. We would have to worry about our luggage weight, potential breakage, and depending on the item(s), we would have to pay for extra baggage if we don’t have enough space. Plus, do we really want to go crazy trying to carry plates or a coffee machine internationally that we don’t want or need?

There are French gift registry options like Printemps Listes, ZankYou, or Mille et Une Listes which can be spent at any Galeries Lafayette store or transferred to a European bank account with a 5% commission.

Wedding Registry Overseas

You could ship things from overseas to South Korea, but we would face expensive shipping fees and additional taxes/duties upon arrival. Generally, it wouldn’t be worth it.

When I looked at the most popular English-language options for gift registries online, most of them were based in the U.K. or U.S. which could only be deposited or shipped within the United States or the U.K.

An Amazon Wedding Registry is a solid option for those that can receive items from Amazon.com and the United States easily. In our case, any electronics wouldn’t have the same voltage, products would have a steep shipping cost, and incur extra duties/customs fees upon arrival in South Korea. We also simply don’t need many housewares due to already being quite settled in our home.

Cash Gifts and Online Honeymoon Funds

Expect Fees

Many cash wedding registries or honeymoon funds online often charge an extra fee for foreign currencies and take their own cut — usually labeled as a handling fee — to withdraw money. There are virtually no universal wedding registries that accept cash that does not charge a fee because they work with payment processors like PayPal (2.5% payment processing fee, plus an additional fee for international currency conversion), Stripe (1.4% + $0.30 – 2.9% + $0.30 depending on location), and Venmo (no fee but only available in the U.S.)

If we were accepting cash domestically — for example, receiving cash in USD and transferring to a US bank account — it would simplify things significantly. However, then I would alienate my non-American guests and have to deal with transferring money from the US bank account to my overseas bank account. The same would be true if we accepted money in euros into my fiancé’s French bank account.


I thought about cutting out the middleman and using PayPal directly as a one-stop shop but quickly realized that PayPal charges 5% for international transactions on top of their regular fee. I asked my fiancé if the French use PayPal, and he said, “No, not really.”

International Personal Transaction Fees for PayPal

If you have a Korean PayPal account as an expat living in South Korea, you also can’t withdraw money. That’s the kicker. I’ve discussed this before in “How to Transfer Money to or from South Korea.”

Depositing Money through an International FinTech Company

The financial tech company Wise offers a cheap way to send money abroad, but onboarding guests individually didn’t make sense either. Do people really want to download another app? Still, in terms of currency conversions, Wise has always been reliable and fair from my experience, and I wouldn’t completely rule out this option.

Depositing Any Checks into Family Accounts

If you trust a family member wholeheartedly, you could potentially accept any checks written by guests into a family member’s account based in the country that your guests are visiting from, and then transfer the money to your international account via wire transfer or a third-party like Wise.

Old School Cash Envelopes

Sometimes, the simplest option is often the best. Guests can take out physical cash, and hand it to us at our wedding. Though there are some safety concerns, we wouldn’t have to deal with the complicated third-parties to transfer money to international bank accounts.


We eventually agreed that if we did accept gifts from guests, they should be primarily cash envelopes for our honeymoon. “But isn’t it a bit tacky?” my fiancé asked.

“It is somewhat, but we don’t have a more elegant solution,” I replied. “We could do things like at [D]’s wedding!” My best friend, [D], who is half Cambodian and half Vietnamese, did the traditional money dance at her wedding. “I don’t think it’ll be that elaborate, but I guess we could go Asian-style. It just seems more practical.” Cash is king, after all.

In South Korea, guests are expected to bring money in lieu of physical gifts. The money helps offset the cost of the wedding and the plates of food. Though, the Korea Times article, “For Koreans, cash wedding gifts are stressful but inescapable”, reminded me of how much I hate being invited to weddings in South Korea. It’s typical to get invited to a wedding of people you barely know — even family of coworkers — just so they can get a decent return on the wedding. It also tends to be a much less formal affair.

I didn’t want it to feel like a cash transaction, but the logistics of accepting physical items didn’t make sense. We’ll be keeping this cash box at the wedding venue for guests and letting guests know beforehand.

I took a quick look at money boxes on Etsy to keep any envelopes or cash gifts, and there are plenty. If we’re feeling particularly paranoid about the chance of theft, we’ll probably ask a trusted person to empty the box into a safe periodically and/or keep guard.

Wedding Add-ons

BridalPoetry Wedding Card Box

Personalize your wedding with a unique card and gift box. Choose from umber wood or black, and add your family name to be engraved on birch plywood and acrylic glass. Available in 2 designs and measures 28/27/16 cm.

Wedding Add-ons

OCCASIONSofLOVE Wedding Post Mailbox

This Wedding Post Mailbox is a beautiful metal box with a distressed cream finish and floral print. It measures 12″ x 5″ x 9″ and features a flap with the word “Post” and optional “Cards” in gold. It has a bronze heart lock, 2 hooks on the back for hanging, and can be used as a decorative piece or outgoing mail box after the wedding.

Wedding Add-ons

GraverstudioShop Wedding Card Post Box

The charming envelope holder exudes warmth and coziness for a new family, holding 80-100 envelopes. Made of white laminated chipboard, it boasts high-quality printing and permanent personalization. Dimensions: 17 cm x 29 cm x 26 cm.

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