Monday, 10 October 2011

A Guy's Perspective ... Getting Married the Korean Way!


It's been absolutely ages since I wrote about Jon and Soh-ee's Korean and South African wedding but it's finally here and I am so excited to share the Korean wedding day with you ...

Wedding One: Korea 

The Korean wedding turned out to be a big, formal event. I didn’t know two thirds of the 150 guests in attendance, but having my mother and sister there, who flew out especially for the wedding, was really special. Other guests included friends and colleagues, people from church, my old boss, new boss, my dentist and her husband and the same on my wife’s side. But her share of the guests also included her father’s old and current colleagues; the peoples’ weddings he’d attended over the years and made financial contributions towards. These people were now almost expected to attend his daughter’s wedding to help out financially. This is one thing I really like about the Korean culture; this sense of community where everyone in your network is always willing to share the load. 

The day started out calmly enough. We woke up fairly late and Soh-ee (my wife) cooked French toast for my mother, sister and I. At around noon one of Soh-ee’s friends came and picked us up and took us to the photo studio. This is where we’d be getting dressed, and if I got my way Soh-ee would have her makeup done, and I wouldn’t! I’ve heard a lot of horror stories (and even witnessed a few) about brides being incredibly stressed on their big day. Tiny things are perceived to be massive problems and everything seems to be a conspiracy to derail the wedding. I was tentatively waiting for Soh-ee to kick into this mode but it never came. She was calm and relaxed all the way through. Nothing upset her or made her angry, not even when I told her that I’d forgotten the wedding bands at home. I can imagine a lot of brides not taking that news too well, but she calmly asked her friend to drive me back home so that I could grab them. When I got back about an hour later she was still relaxed, joking and having her makeup done with her two sisters. 

After a few hours we were all dressed. I was in a traditional black tux, Soh-ee in a splendid, silk wedding dress and our families in traditional Korean clothes called 한복 (hanbok). The lot of us, as well as an entourage from the studio, which included a photographer, someone to record the wedding, someone to take care of the dresses and someone who’s sole job was to rearrange Soh-ee’s dress every time she moved, drove in convoy to the wedding hall. 

By the time we arrived most of the guests were there. Soh-ee was led to an “antechamber” where her friends and family could come and congratulate her and have their picture taken together. I just had to mingle, thank people for coming and meet extended family that I hadn’t met yet. 

At Korean weddings there are no rehearsals, or even meetings with the ministers to discuss the order of the ceremony. At one point, 30 or 40 minutes before the ceremony was to start, two young women came up to me with the intention of explaining what was going to happen and what I was supposed to do. The only thing preventing them from passing on this valuable information was that they couldn’t speak English. Resorting to body language, a little English from them and some bad Korean from me, I eventually knew, just about, what was going to be taking place very shortly. 

I was led up onto the aisle (which was raised about half a meter off the ground). Soh-ee and her father, standing directly behind me, were also waiting their turn. My cue would be when Soh-ee’s sister, playing the piano, started playing the song I’d march down the aisle to. Months before, at a colleague’s wedding, I saw him march down the aisle to the theme song from Star Wars. Later, as a joke, I suggested to Soh-ee that I walk down the aisle to the theme song from Indiana Jones. She was delighted, and so was I. Never could I get away with something like that at a western wedding. And so, as the music played I walked down the aisle. It was funny to see my friends’ reactions. They weren’t sure if they were hearing correctly, or if there was some sort of mistake. Eventually they realized and started laughing. Korean weddings are not as serious as western weddings and often involve dry ice machines and machines blowing bubbles onto the bride and groom.

I would kill to watch Jon walking down the isle to Indiana Jones! How awesome.
Can't wait to share the rest of the wedding with you next month with more gorgeous photo's!

Until next time ... 

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