Last weekend, I was invited to a Korean wedding. The beautiful bride was a co-teacher from the last time I lived in Korea. She was a good friend and I really wanted to go to her wedding.
People in Ulsan thought I was crazy.
“But the wedding is in Seoul!! That is so far!!”
Perhaps, by Korean standards. To a Canadian, 2.5 hours on the train was a walk in the park.
My lovely friend Katie and I went to Seoul Friday after work, and spent a marvelous Saturday wandering, eating and shopping. The most exciting thing we discovered was at a curry restaurant. The curry wasn’t especially pleasing but the naan! Gorgonzola naan served with honey. YUM. In a country were good cheese is extremely hard to find, this naan made the entire trip to Seoul worthwhile. 😀
The wedding hall was on the 7th floor of a large shopping centre called Save Zone (or Say-buh Chone in Korean.) We took the escalator up past the ladies’ department, the men’s department, home goods, and the food court before finally emerging in a beautiful hall complete with gorgeous rainbow-making chandeliers, musicians
Koreans give money rather than presents at weddings but it was a bit of a challenge figuring out where and how exactly to give the money. There were several weddings happening at the same hall and all the name signs were in Korean. Luckily my friend’s sister arrived to help us out.
We had to put our “gift” in an envelope and write our names on the back. We passed the envelopes to a man behind the desk who opened them, recorded our names and the amount in a fancy book, and handed us a meal ticket. No present, no food I guess! 😀 I did also wonder if there was a minimum gift amount. Would you not qualify for a meal ticket if your gift was deemed inadequate?
We were then taken to see Eunsil (my friend) who was in a beautiful little room off of the main hall. She looked like a princess, in her gorgeous white wedding dress sitting on a red velvet throne. We sat beside her to have our picture taken and then were hustled out of the way to make room for the next guests. Everyone wanted their pictures taken with the bride!
We went into Zenith Hall for the wedding ceremony. There were surprisingly few chairs for the number of people present but we figured out why later. We also needn’t have worried about our clothes- I spotted people wearing everything from three-piece suits to ripped jeans and parkas.
There were some teachers from my old school among the guests.
“Carrie-teacher! You have become beautiful!”
I am choosing to believe they meant that I looked beautiful all dressed up for the wedding rather than that I was ugly while I worked at their school.
The lights dimmed, and the groom stepped into the spotlight carrying an enormous bouquet of helium balloons.
The bride and groom were then led down the aisle/catwalk by masked men holding swords and a guy playing the saxophone.
Bride and groom stood at the front while the man behind the “altar” gave a speech for about 10 minutes. I was extremely surprised to discover that the man giving the speech was my ex-Vice Principal. I never did figure out why though.
I tried to listen for a bit but I think I was the only person. Everyone else was chatting, and wandering in and out of the room. Most people left to get a head start on the buffet lunch.
Once the speech was over, the pictures began. Here are the bride and grooms’ immediate families.
When it came time for the friends pictures, I was placed one person away from the bride, in the very front row. While I appreciated the honour, let us not forget that I am six feet tall. The photographer was a little disgruntled about having to rearrange everyone so they could be seen around me.
Suddenly to my immense surprise, I had to catch the bouquet. I would like to say that I fought my way through hordes of women to reach it but in reality it was just me. Why me? I have no idea. Was I the only single woman? Was it trendy to have a white person catch your bouquet? Had nobody else wanted to do it? It was a complete mystery.
According to Korean tradition, catching the bouquet means that I will be married within the next 6 months. I thought I’d start my husband hunt right away. Here I am with the bouquet, looking for love. Any takers? 😀
The buffet was mayhem. People very clearly only came for the food. Since there was a time limit on the buffet, people often skipped the ceremony and went straight to the food. There were large screen TVs in the meal hall so people could watch and eat and the same time.