A few weeks ago, I was invited to the wedding of a co-worker. In the usual way of things, a message circulated on the internal school messenger stating the date, time and location of the wedding. Anyone wanting to attend was welcome.
The bride was a student in my teachers’ class, and had always gone out of her way to make me feel comfortable at the school. She even gave me an actual paper invitation to her wedding. As paper invitations are the norm for Western weddings, I thought nothing of it until another co-worker told me how lucky I was. Apparently paper invitations are normally only for family and close friends.
The day of the wedding came and Rachel (the other foreign teacher at my school) and I met outside the Wedding Hall. Sadly in spite of the great honour, neither of us had thought to bring our invitations. We soon regretted the oversight.
At the entrance to the Wedding Hall was a large board, much like the old-fashioned clicking timetables you used to see at train stations. The Wedding Hall had multiple floors with numerous “Wedding Rooms” on each floor. Each wedding filled a 2-hour block. ALL of the that day’s weddings were displayed on the wall along with their corresponding location.
Too bad neither Rachel or I knew the names of either the bride or the groom. Neither of us had met the groom, and the bride we knew as sun seng nim, (Teacher in Korean. All Korean teachers are simply called Teacher. In some ways, it made life easier – less names to remember. Today, it wasn’t so helpful.)
We wandered for a bit, hoping to see someone we recognized.
Finally we realized that in front of each wedding was a photo of the bride and groom. We just kept popping into weddings until we found our bride and groom’s photo. 😀
We handed over our cash present to the gentlemen behind the desk. They seemed a bit startled by my envelope. I wasn’t sure of wedding envelope protocol. In Japan, wedding envelopes had been decorated but I didn’t know what they did here. So I stuck some heart and happy face stickers on a plain white envelope and hoped for the best.
After exchanging our cash gift for a buffet ticket, we joined the line to have our pictures taken with the beautiful bride.
We went to find a spot in the Wedding Room where it was standing room only.
We found ourselves a spot near the back just as a drum rolled. The bride, the groom and the father of the bride assembled under the white draperies. The groom processed alone along the catwalk/aisle to Pomp and Circumstance.
The bride and her father went next while everyone clapped and cheered.
The wedding started with someone giving a speech. I’m not sure why he bothered, it didn’t look like anyone was listening. Next the man at the front (I assumed it was a minister but I have no idea) began to sing Ode to Joy. At my startled look, a co-worker leaned over and said: “They are Christian!”
Nobody paid the wedding any attention. In the video you can see people chatting, wandering in and out, talking on their phones… It was all very bizarre.
The only time when people were somewhat quiet was when the groom plugged in his guitar and serenaded the bride.
I asked if this was part of the traditional Korean service or if this was something these two had added.
“They are Christian.”
It seemed to be the answer of the day.
Before the ceremony had ended, the co-workers Rachel and I were with decided to go find the buffet. Why waste time gawking when there was food to be eaten? 😀