Sunday, June 28, 2009

Crashing a Korean wedding

So at some point in the coming week there will be a lot of confusion between a bride and groom. Because I went to a wedding this past weekend, carefully checking the invitation, but realizing it would be fairly awkward since i didn't know anyone there (other than the groom, and maybe one other person who never responded to my email!) About halfway through the wedding (awkwardly sitting at the table with a group of koreans I didn't know), I decided to look at the invite just ONE more time. The 28th...Wait, isn't that tomorrow? Who knew it was a Sunday wedding? Given that I had already given a small envelope of cash, I decided I needed to at least finish the meal (can you imagine me trying to go up and ask for my money back?) I decided it was worth the W30,000 I had paid for my story of sheer stupidity. I just wonder how the groom and bride will react. Who the hell is Angus Maclaurin!??!

So on Sunday I decided to go back, to the actual wedding. I stood near the corner to take things in (I did not feel overly comfortable sitting down after the previous day, and that whole "being the only white guy at a table filled with koreans who probably just want to hang out with each other and not make small talk with a foreigner." (as an FYI, i feel that more in korea than other asian countries, it is a little more insular here). What was super nice was the groom saw me standing there, and ended up guiding me over to a table of his friends, and the one person I knew, who is actually about to leave Samsung this week). So I had a great time meeting new folks, mainly Korean-Americans, and quite the peanut gallery ;)

The ceremony was almost a carbon copy of the previous day (exact same food btw), and it cracks me up to see how the scene unfolds. Apparently they delayed bringing out the food, which meant a more relaxed ceremony, and they played 3 whole songs (instead of the usual 1), so I joked that it was going to be a "long" Korean ceremony. Literally a full Korean ceremony seems to take 1 to 1.5 hours. I watched the couple come down from the ceiling on a platform, light a large candle, pour champagne on a tower of champagne glasses (that looked REALLY cool, especially with the gas or smoke-like effect when it was poured!) and cut the cake. All in a span of about 10 minutes!

We ended up staying longer than that and I learned from one of the friends visiting from the US about how a traditional Korean ceremony works. They changed dresses (this was the third dress she had worn, the wedding gown was so big that it could have been enough fabric for a small village, and was such a nightmare to move around in, you could tell walking down the aisle was not the easiest of all tasks!) So they both were in traditional Korean wedding attire, and there was a sort of "tea ceremony" with the different families. Of course in Korean style, they were drinking alcohol from the brass kettle ;) They had to catch dates that were thrown by the parents (signifying fertility and how many kids you would have), and he had to give his mother-in-law a piggyback ride (to show he was taking the burden off her in terms of caring for her daughter. I think James felt like he should have spent more time in the gym at this point, and the peanut gallery was likely not appreciated at this point ;) But at least they could blame things on having at least 2 full-fledged foreigners there. If this had been Koreans only, it might be been rude, instead of funny (although it was the Korean Americans that were making the most noise ;)

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