Zoe and I were thrilled that Mrs. Lee invited us to attend her brother’s wedding with her yesterday. It was an amazing event combing Western and Korean traditions. The whole thing was held at a large wedding hall; I’ve been so curious to see inside one since we’ve been here. Zoe and I were treated as part of the family and got to see all the behind-the-scenes prep before the ceremony! Both bride and groom get ready in a really nice room with a huge curtained, mirrored changing pedistal, a salon area, seating area, and closets full of brides gowns. Brides here just rent the dress instead of buying it; I suppose they must all be about the same size then. The western ceremony was held in a very ornate church-like room with great lighting and sound effects. The Mothers were first to enter, and each lit a candle then bowed to each other…this commanded hoardes of applause. After them came the groom and then bride who stood facing the altar for a 5-minute speech by the officiant. They then made big ceremony out of bowing to the bride’s mother, groom’s mother, and then the audience. Cutting the cake followed, as part of the actual wedding ceremony. I believe the bottom 2 layers were just plastic cake, as much dry ice smoke was wafting from it! They lit two candles on the top from their mothers’ candles, then cut the cake, and blew out the candles to much applause! Finally, they walked back down the aisle with much lighting, music, fanfare, and streamers shooting from trumpets!
After that ceremony the family took pictures, so Myongsu took Zoe and I upstairs to get lunch. There isn’t a reception so much as just an ongoing buffet in a fancy cafeteria; people came and went as they pleased. Other weddings that were occuring that day also had guests partaking in the same facility. When the Korean Traditional Ceremony started, we headed upstairs to a different room with a raised floor, small table full of fruit and treats, and a beautiful mural on the wall. So, in this ceremony the bride and groom are in traditional Korean attire; it was mostly for family members to attend as there wasn’t any extra seating to just watch. Each part of the family took turns sitting behind the goody table, the couple bowed to them, poured them a small shot of Korean liquor, and presented it to them. Each family member then drank their shot, took something to eat from the table of treats, dropped an envelope of cash on the table, and proceded to dole out advice. This was repeated over and over with different family. In the end the couple poured each other a shot and drank it arm in arm. They then tried to pull apart a fig with their teeth, and the groom took the bride for a piggyback ride around the room. It was great!!
The whole afternoon was just so fun. Many people wore beautiful hanbok, so Zoe did as well. We also had a lot of folks thank us for coming and we were included in formal pictures with the bride, the mothers, and the family! It was, overall, a quick event; most guests likely stayed about an hour for the western ceremony and some lunch. We stayed late with the fam, got more food in the cafeteria, and got a ride home with Mr. Kim and Minji. Fun!!!