Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Feeling the Love: A Tale of Two (Korean) Weddings

We were lucky this past spring to have been invited to not one, but two of our co-workers' weddings. Since Shane and I are currently in the midst of planning our own wedding, we thought it neat to be able to see some examples of Korean weddings. Not surprisingly, the weddings we went to were unlike any we've ever been to. We had a lot of fun visiting with everyone and playing our own version of cultural spot the differences. Here's what we saw:
When we arrived, the brides were perched prettily in their own bride rooms, greeting guests and posing for photos with invitees. There's no surprise unveiling of the bride and groom. While the brides took pictures, the grooms stood in the lobby greeting guests and receiving congratulations, about twenty feet away from the bride.                                                                                                   
Our cohort of foreign teachers posing with Jade Teacher.
These two weddings we went to weren't at churches or botanical gardens but inside halls specifically designed to churn out marriages. When the ceremonies were ready to start, guests jammed into the halls, carrying on their conversations. These conversations continued as the groom walked down the aisle, then as the bride walked down the aisle, and then throughout the entirety of the ceremony. 
Check out these sweet aisle runners:                 
The brown shag carpet aisle.
The silk flowers arranged into hearts bordered by mirrors aisle.
A lot happened during the ceremony that I didn't understand because I understand very little Korean. Even so, there were some cool moments:

The moms lighting candles wearing matching hanbok.
The full bows to the parents.

Carrying the bride over the threshold. Or, just holding her
in the air for a minute to the delight of the guests.
The cake wheeled out with candles to blow out, just like a birthday cake.
Though I'm not sure we got to eat any cake later....

Inclusion in the official wedding photography.
Boys by the groom, ladies by the bride. Can you find me? I think Shane's easy to spot.

Celebratory confetti!
At each of the two weddings, after the ceremony, we moved upstairs with our meal tickets for the buffet. The guests at any given wedding have a certain timeframe to eat. Depending on the wedding hall, there may or may not be guests from other weddings eating as well. After time is finished, it's time to make way for the next wedding group coming through. 

The buffets were well-stocked with fresh fruit, seafood, salads, soup, desserts,
                                                                                                 pastas, meat dishes, and even sushi and duck.                                                                                                           
While the guests get their fill, the bride and groom and close family are in another part of the wedding hall, conducting traditional ceremonies. At the first of the weddings, only two tables of us remained when Jade and her new husband emerged. The receptions just last long enough to have a nice meal, and then it's over. Just like that. If you do stick around a bit extra, the bride and groom will eventually emerge.

Jenny Teacher and her husband,  a firefighter.
He was happier than this picture makes him look, I swear.
There were no bridesmaids, no copious amounts of booze, no cheesy line dances.  But there were families coming together, beautiful gowns, excellent meals, and two new marriages that came of it. We had an excellent time and appreciated very much the chance to be invited to something as momentous as a wedding. Though we probably won't be adopting too much from what we saw, we got some great ideas for our own wedding next year. Wedding cake candles anyone....?


  1. I always love to hear about how other countries do weddings. When I was in Costa Rica, I went to one, but it wasn't the huge dancing fest that I thought it would be. Instead, it started in the morning and was done right after brunch/lunch. But, that could all depend on where the family is financially. Sounds like you're experiencing the culture to the fullest! :-)

  2. Sounds interesting! Thanks for sharing M! We're having a great time--