On Sunday I finally had the opportunity to attend my first Korean wedding! Leni, my first co-teacher and Korean mommy when I was on my death bed, got married and looked like such a princess in her humungous gown as it flowed and draped so perfectly while she posed for photos with guests. I got there a few minutes after the rest of my co-workers, and when they came out from taking photos with her, they told me she kept asking where I was. I quickly ran over to her and almost cried. Then we threw up some peace signs 🙂
As for the rest of the wedding I really didn’t know what to expect. All I’d heard was that Korean weddings are extremely different than weddings back home. That they’re really quick ceremonies, like 20 minutes max, some people wear jeans, and that as soon as one ends the next wedding is ushered in, and of course the buffet afterwards.
That’s pretty much how it went. After taking pictures with Leni we went downstairs and there were so many people there. Jin told me that this was one of the biggest weddings she had been to. I lost my group of people for a little bit, but ended up stumbling upon Leni’s twin sister and her parents, so I introduced myself. They instantly knew who I was and their faces lit up. I was so excited to meet them, especially her sister, and they were so adorable and sweet like her. I also met her hubby-to-be who was so smiley and cute when he said hello to me. Good thing about being the only foreigner there is that the important people instantly knew who I was!
Then I gave my white envelope of monies to Leni’s sister, after not really being sure who to give it to. Jin later told me that the people sitting at these tables collect the money and have you sign some book. They’re typically relatives of the family. But she told me that giving it to the sister was perfect. Life of a foreigner here, always being some kind of clueless! It’s also not customary to give gifts. Everyone gives money, and you generally give varying amounts depending on how well you know the people.
A few minutes later, the workers started ushering everyone to the sides to form a walkway. The musician started playing, they rolled out a fancy red carpet (which apparently is unusual!) and down the aisle she came with her dad. I almost started crying again.
And into the really long wedding hall. Jin really liked this one because she felt it was really simple and not gaudy with lots of candles and chandeliers like most of them. Very *her style*.
Here’s one of their engagement photos and the announcement for their wedding just outside the chapel. It says their names, Oh Won Taek and Kim Chan Young (Leni).
The ceremony was really different. In the states everyone pays attention to what is going on and it’s intimate no matter the size. But here as I looked around everyone was on their phone or talking to each other, and a huge group of us were just gathered at the back by the door which was open into the foyer area. The guests for the next wedding were all out in the foyer and it was super noisy. Obviously I can’t understand the ceremony, but it was so loud back there.
The next part I thought was really cute and funny. I wish I got it on video. I guess a lot of times the groom or someone sings at the end of the ceremony. So, the groom and his friend sang and rapped a song for Leni. It was like a noraebang on steroids and chiffon.
Before the ceremony even finished, per usual Korean standards, I was told we were going to go eat now, and off to the buffet we went! We handed our food cards to the hostess and then my stomach exploded with excitement. SO MUCH FOOD! Here’s a picture of my second plate filled with sushi and japchae.
While we were eating, Leni and her husband came around dressed in hanbok to pop their heads in and say hi to their guests. It was super informal and many of the people eating were attending different weddings. In the dining hall there was also a huge projection screen on the wall showing the wedding that was going on. So, essentially people can come to the wedding and just sit and eat and watch the wedding while stuffing their face. So bizarre, but tis a huge cultural difference!
In total the whole wedding from arrival to departure was about 2 hours. Totally different from the extravagant ceremony and reception that is typical of western culture.
I’m glad I finally got to attend a wedding in Korea, and I’m so happy it was for someone that I love so much!