At a Korean Wedding

Trip Start Aug 25, 2012
Trip End Feb 25, 2013

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Flag of Korea Rep.  , South Chungcheong,
Saturday, September 22, 2012

One of the teachers at my school was getting married so my co-teacher, Mrs. Lee, invited me to come along to the wedding. This sounds like a cool thing to do. A Korean wedding has got to be pretty interesting. I wasn't sure what to wear so I consulted Mrs. Lee and decided that the red cocktail dress that I had brought would be appropriate.
Mrs. Lee came to pick me up a half hour early so I scrambled to finish getting ready while she waited in the car. I have to say that this put me just a little on edge, making me feel not as prepared for an important social gathering as I might otherwise have been. We drove from Shin Pyeong, where I live, to Dangjin, where the wedding was taking place. Mrs. Lee introduced me to her husband, a small, soft spoken man who knows a dozen and a half words of English. We had strained conversation in the car, but it didn't take too long to get to the location of the wedding.
Korean weddings don't happen in a church (even though the majority of Koreans are Christian) they happen in a large building that is meant specifically for weddings. Many weddings happen at the same time in various places in this building so the whole place is full noisily bustling with people in fancy dress. 
We we arrived we were met by a number of people from the school and we went to the area where our wedding was taking place. People were generally milling around and chatting in Korean so I tried to paste a pleasant smile on my face as I stood about. I was beckoned to another room off of the main room that said "Waiting Room" near the door. The small room was equipped with a small raised platform and a chaise lounge where the bride sat perfectly still, beaming quietly and clutching her bouquet. She wore a strapless white wedding dress with a sweetheart neckline and a full skirt covered with ruched white flowers. Both her chest, shoulders, and the entire dress were covered in glitter and her head was topped with a tiny tiara and a white veil. A small cluster of people stood in front of the platform, looking at her and her bridely display. A photographer pointed for us to go up and Mrs. Lee positioned me slightly behind the bride so we could have an awkward picture taken. (In the future I need to choose to live in countries with taller people... because man I am super tall compared to Koreans)
Now that we have seen the bride, Mrs. Lee said that it was time to go down to eat lunch. She paid some money to get lunch vouchers and we went down to the basement. In the basement there was a huge banquet hall turned cafeteria. A buffet was set up and rows of tables and chairs filled the rest of the room. The guests from all of the different weddings taking place today were all crammed together, feasting on their food. I have to say that the food was pretty good. They had everything from Chinese food, Korean food, sushi, fruit, and dessert. Not bad. We loaded our plates and found a table, sitting with strangers from someone else's party. I ate my food in silence while Mrs. Lee and her husband chatted with people. Many people stopped by our table to chat and I nodded politely as they spoke Korean around me. At one point I had just popped half a dumpling in my mouth as the principle of my school came up to say hello. I swear, this man has never seen me without food crammed in my mouth. 
After lunch we went back upstairs for the wedding. Mrs. Lee looked around a bit and noticed that everyone was already in the ceremony room. We walked into the back of the room just as the ceremony ended. What? We missed it?! Yep, just as we walked in the door the room broke into cheers, signaling the couple had just become man and wife. We hung around a bit, watching pictures get taken and people posing. I took a moment to absorb the decorations in the room and I was a little surprised. The walls were matte black and the room was surprisingly dark. There was a stage at the front of the room with a white, glowing runway that went down the center of it. The backdrop for the stage was black and silver tinsel. On either side of the runway were silver chairs with while bows and a few tables with glass vases will of white plastic orchids. Through out the room there were light fixtures in the ceiling that had silver ball chains dropping down from them in draped, glittering swoops. The side walls were lined with white stalks that had glowing LED lights at the tips that alternated through colors. The overall effect was neat, but looked more like a night club than a wedding. Hmm... unexpected.
We only hung around for a while, watching the photos getting taken before we called it a day. Mrs. Lee left me with Gin (another English teacher from my school) and went off with her husband. Just before we left Gin pointed me towards another, smaller hall where a very traditional Korean wedding was happening. We peeked in on it for just a moment before moving on. Gin kindly drove me back to Shin Pyeong and my apartment.  
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Mom on

Another unique experience you can add to your collection of Korean memories. Thanks for sharing. It's surprising how different weddings are there. Too bad you missed seeing most of the entire wedding ceremony.

Benny on

I think having a big building just for weddings is a really good idea. It would minimize all of the angst over wedding locations anyway!

Christine on

I have to give you so much credit. I don't know how you do it. When I read this all I can picture is you sitting there, not understanding anything that's being said and being lonely even though you're surrounded with people. I just want to hug you. That's all I want to do. And though I am glad that you are out and doing things, I still wish I could do more for you than simply comment on your blogs :( Anyway, I'm glad that you got to add this event to your collection of new things and new adventures! Love you!

Aunt Teri Kinney on

Hi Becky,
I enjoyed reading about the Korean Wedding of your co-worker. In all cultures weddings are important times for celebrating!!! I was interested in reading your description and in realizing how much we all have in common. And also in realizing that there is more than one way to celebrate. Thanks for sharing your travel experiences so we can all learn something new.

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