Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Weddings in Korea

How does one properly and politely blog another's wedding? With caution and difficulty, I suspect.

The majority of weddings in Korea are quite different in style and tempo to those in Australia. In my view, any voluntary matrimony is, in itself, a fantastic thing. The wedding is the accompanying ritual to which different people place differing degrees of importance. The sheer number of people in Korea tying the knot each weekend, and the lack of wide open spaces in which to do so, has fueled a booming wedding package industry.
For most people, there are two packages to choose from: hotel ceremonies and wedding hall ceremonies. Hotel ceremonies are usually longer, more lavish and have an extended guest list, while wedding halls are purpose-built facilities for more high-throughput events. Whatever the size of your budget and patience, Korea has a package that's right for you.

Thus far, in my experience of life as a human, I've noticed that the number of wedding invitations received is proportional to how many high school friends you still keep in touch with. Heather keeps up with a lot of her old friends, so we get quite a few.

She was quite popular in high school, she tells me.

Although I'm unfamiliar with some of the characters involved at the weddings we go to, I enjoy them a fair bit. There's nearly always good food and alcohol involved, and it's a momentous occasion for the wedding couple, whether you see them much on the day or not. Sharing in other people's joy is one of the distinctly pleasant aspects of being alive.

One of the more curious parts of weddings here is that due to limited seating you'll often end up sitting at a dining table with complete strangers.

Prior to consumption of the universal social lubricant Alcohol,  it can be a laughably awkward affair.

Hypothetical table conversation.

Lee: "Ahem. Pass the salt please."
Lee: "By the way, I'm Lee and this is my wife Heather."
Unknown guest: "... "
Lee: "... My, isn't this awkward?
Unknown guest: "It was not awkward until you mentioned it. Now it is extremely awkward."
Lee: "Oh... I apologise."
Unknown Guest: "Please continue consumption of your cream of mushroom soup and refrain from further pleasantries."

The foyer area becomes a nucleus of activity, second only to the bride's sitting room. Strange behaviour takes place here, which I can only describe as a cacophonous session of intense bowing.

Wedding hall ceremonies can be quite intriguing for newcomers to Korea. Weddings around the world all have distinct ritualistic elements, and modern Korean weddings include a lot of the more recognisable ones. Rings are exchanged, songs are sung, advice is heard and applause is given. Sometimes cakes are cut.

But kisses are not given at Korean weddings. Evidently, the bride and groom kiss in their own time, without camera flash or the gleaming eyes of onlookers.

For those tying the knot in the Land of Morning Calm, I suggest first and foremost doing what you feel most comfortable with. Getting married is a big thing, and most couples will have the additional strain of family expectations and financial stress. Comparing your own event to other people's is also unnecessary.

The day belongs to you, and the quality of the food, size of the dress and price of the ring are all of little overall importance to anyone with an opinion worth hearing. What you want to focus on is having an enjoyable day marrying the one you love, in the company of those closest to you.

After a complimentary shuttle bus and two subway transfers home, it's back to our life without suit and tie. Going to other people's weddings is a nice reminder of our wedding in Busan about a year ago. We were lucky enough to have an extremely good day, and things all came together nicely. The next big thing we're looking forward to is when our big baengy is born. Heather's protruding belly is a source of constant fascination for me.

Another thing I've been noticing around the house recently are fruit peelings in strange places. They're a combination of Heather's propensity to eat fruit while sitting on the heated floor and the fact that she's getting heavier these days.

I call them 'maternity droppings.'


3gyupsal said...

I like somethings and dislike others.

I normally don't enjoy sitting through wedding hall marriages. If I had gotten married in a wedding hall, I would have been pretty disappointed. If you are going to spend a lot of money on a special day, then stuff shouldn't look cheap in my opinion.

I do like how no one seems to care if you show up for a wedding, say hi to everybody, drop off some money, and leave. I've gone to co-workers weddings where I've done that, and have seen other co-workers doing what I did.

During the times when i have stayed for the wedding, the after parties have been pretty great. I nice time to get drunk.

Verna Luga said...

I followed your blog.. that's why I get updated by your posts.. really, i mean no church weddings for them? I often saw weddings of this sort in thier dramas... so this is the real reflection of it...

thanks for the info..

Roboseyo said...

"How does one properly and politely blog another's wedding? With caution and difficulty, I suspect."

it depends on how you felt about the wedding, and how likely your friend is to read it.

Lee Farrand said...

I've never been to a church wedding here, Vernz.

Agreed, Rob. Although whether they read it or not, weddings are possibly a rare topic of exception when applying rules of honesty.

Mikino said...

Hi Dear BB!
Marry Christmas!
Nice post, thanks for sharing.
I think, for marriage the most important is love! For me personally - finally stand material things. I wouldn't be glad of an expensive ring, if the person for whom will married not love me.
Most importantly, be able to feel fully loved one - life partner should receive the most beautiful and most true feelings. Marriage is something formal, which show the relatives and the people around you that you will connect live with one person.
I wish you Happy New Year!

Sơn Nguyễn said...

Hello Mr Lee!
My name is Quang Sơn.I'm from Vietnam.I knew your nation cultural by the films i saw.I want to know more information and your page is really helpful.
Now i'm looking for the site of Jung So Min.She is Korean actress.But i can't find out because i don't know any Korean.Can you help me?
I expect your help and i'll come back to see your answer.
Thank you very much!