South Korea,  travel

our big fat Korean wedding – part 3

This is probably the only post which I write with no pictures on the subject. The answer’s simple. That was my second day in South Korea and apart from taking pictures with my friends, I didn’t take any others. And I do not really want to post pictures of other people. They are not even on Facebook!!!

the wedding

Anyway, I’m not sure if my friends’ wedding was typical or not. I did some research and it seems that it was not that different from what other couples would do, so I’m going to combine all my knowledge about the topic. Because why not? I hope you would enjoy it. Other than Poland, I attended weddings and receptions in the US, Israel, Italy and the UK. I’d say the Korean wedding was one of the kind for sure.

The wedding ceremony took place in a hotel. Apparently, unless you’re Christian, that’s a thing in Korea, there were more wedding halls in this building. And most of the Koreans opt for a Western-style wedding which was not necessarily what I wished for. When we came down to the wedding area, literally down from the 14th floor to the 3rd of the same hotel, we were greeted by the groom. We hugged him, why wouldn’t we? We’ve seen his sister whom we’ve already known, so we hugged her too. Again, why wouldn’t we? We are friends. There was some commotion and an older lady approached us laughing asking to be introduced. And we lost it, we hugged her too – an older Korean woman, someone’s grandmother. Such a faux pas! Under any circumstances you are not to touch an older person when greeting, you bow instead! Thankfully, all she did was that she started to laugh even harder. Uff!

We chatted a bit with the groom and he asked us if we’d like to see the bride. Obviously we did, but is checking on the bride right before the wedding ceremony a good idea? Isn’t she busy enough? And that’s one of the differences, she actually sits in a separate room, waiting for the guests to arrive and take pictures with her. I have to admit, she looked stunning in a gorgeous wedding dress, like a queen on a throne. So, we had some pictures taken, meanwhile the groom was still outside greeting other guests. Soon the ceremony was about to begin.

That was the most hi-tech event, I’ve ever been to. It looked almost like a k-pop star show: lights and lasers, fog and music. First, the newlyweds’ moms dressed in hanboks walked down the aisle, or I should rather say the catwalk, then the bride floated on a remote-controlled skateboard (well, I’ve no idea what she was standing on because as soon as she arrived, it magically disappeared, the pedestal, among other things, was also remote-controlled). The ceremony was very quick with some bowing involving the newlyweds getting down on their knees and placing their heads on the floor in front of their parents. There was some shouting involved, traditionally the friends are supposed to dare the groom to do something “stupid” during the ceremony. Bride’s and groom’s friends sang for them, which also is part of the tradition, and then it was time for a photo session. First, the closest family, then friends. That was also the time when most of the guests were already one floor down for an open buffet. When everyone was eating wedding smorgasbord, there was another ceremony, for the couple and their parents. It was the ancestral blessing and this time the bride was wearing hanbok too. And the wedding was basically over.

A word of advice in case you’d ever plan to attend the Korean wedding. In Korea the guests do not really bring gifts, they should bring money in a special white envelope and the amount depends on the status, the higher it is, the higher are expectations. Oh, and the money goes back to the parents, not the bride and groom. That was the reason we didn’t bring anything, we are waiting for our friends to suggest to us what would they need to have at home when they are finally here in the UK. Mixing cultures works for me, this way I can choose which tradition I like to follow. And it really is important for me to have friends looking at something in a few years’ time knowing it was a gift they have received from me. The same way I do when I look at the gifts, I got from them in 2014 on my wedding day.

P.S. What’s this duck doing at the top of this post? Mandarin ducks, unlike other, are believed to mate for life. For Koreans, they are a symbol of marital fidelity and fertility. Red represents the bride and blue is for the groom. After the wedding, they are supposed to be displayed prominently in the couple’s home.

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