A Korean wedding
Trip Start Aug 28, 2009
48Trip End Sep 28, 2010
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Where I stayed
My studio apartment in Maetan-dong
Although Korea is a very Christian country, most weddings are held in wedding halls not in churches, and this is where we made our way late on the Saturday afternoon. This wedding hall was a grand seven story building with a huge gold and white foyer, and it appeared each floor had a simultaneous wedding. Not knowing what floor to go to, or even the name of the bride, I called Jin who directed us up to the seventh floor. She met us off the lift and before showing us into the wedding room introduced us to her parents. Surprisingly her father spoke a little English, and seemed quite happy to have us attend, even though we only had a very small link to the family.
The wedding room was an enormous room, with perhaps a hundred round tables and chairs around a 25m long platform extending out from the stage. We were shown to a table (unfortunately on the groom's side) and were later joined by a few more young Koreans. It was quite a strange situation for us, sharing a table with some people we'd never met, at the wedding of a couple we didn't know. However, I was informed this was the norm in Korea, as the bigger the wedding, the more prestigious, and of course more money is made for the newliweds.
Before long the groom and then the bride, with her father, made their way up the platform to the front. The bride was dressed in a traditional if somewhat overdone white dress (with some strange baggy white pants underneath, which we noticed as she climbed the stairs), and within ten minutes the ceremony was completed and they were married. Strangely, rather than observe the wedding like in western culture, everyone in attendance spoke quietly at their tables, as if the precedings on stage were simply part of the background. Furthermore, the caterers, decked out in horrible orange aprons were mingling around, preparing for the dinner, which no doubt was for them the most important event of their day.
While the bride and groom were still on stage we had our meals brought out to our tables. Not surprisingly there was very little for me to eat, but this didn't bother me as I had planned to attend my first 'Suwon vegetarian club' meeting at an Indian restaurant later on. So, I made the most of the rice and huge amount of kimchi and sweets.
Halfway through our dinner we were paid a visit by the bride's father who again thanked us for coming, and informed us that there were two types of wedding in Korea, a traditional and a western wedding, and we were currently at the latter. To be honest, apart from the bride's white dress there wasn't much that was western about it. Soon after Jin came over to ask us what we thought, and then the bride and groom themselves. I thought it was good that they did the rounds of the tables. Even though many of the people there didn't seem to be paying them much attention.
We left soon after, both agreeing that it was an interesting and enjoyable ceremony and better than we had expected. It was very different from any wedding either of us had been to, including one I went to when I was in Cambodia. Unfortunately, as with that wedding, I forgot my camera, so I had to burn the images into my memory instead. I was pretty confident with our growing number of Korean contacts we'd soon be invited to another though.