Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Korean wedding or two

There were huge flower displays in front of the church.
They were all unique and had writing on the ribbons;
I think they were gifts to the bride and groom.

Pretty standard-looking Christian church
and pretty typical "Western" wedding ceremony.
Just to the right of the bride and her father, note the
mother and grandmother in traditional Korean gowns.
Aaron and I sometimes marvel at the interesting situations we find ourselves in, not the least of which was sitting through two weddings in one day on our vacation in Seoul. It all began with Mr. Bahng, the Korean representative for Aaron's company. He's a very kind and conscientious man who I think felt some responsibility to make sure we were taken care of during our stay. When Aaron invited him to come to dinner with us one evening, he made a counter-offer inviting us to join his family for a wedding and lunch reception at their church. They're Presbyterian (he later informed me that there are about 10 million Protestant and 3 million Catholic Christians in Korea, and while most of the rest of the country claims Buddism as their religion, only about 10 million practice faithfully). Of course we worried about being "wedding crashers" but apparently it is very normal for people from the community to attend weddings even when they don't know the families. A large number of guests indicates an important event so the bride and groom are happy; and the guests are happy about a free lunch.
He picked us up at our hotel and we went directly to the wedding lunch, which we ate before the ceremony. Their church has outgrown their banquet hall space so the reception happens in two shifts. We stood out as the only white people in the room and felt a little uncomfortable not knowing the customs and traditions. More stainless steel chopsticks here- oh bother! There was an unbelievable amount and variety of dishes, including a fish as big as a table (I'm not exaggerating this) that they were cutting up and serving sushi style (raw) in the buffet line. Wow!
The ceremony seemed pretty standard- father walks the bride down the aisle to the groom; we pray; the pastor talks a lot; the bride and groom say their vows; there is some nice music; the pastor talks more and then there's the recessional- dah dah da dum dum dum dum...
I gotta say that it loses a little something when you can't understand a single word that's being said.
After that wedding, we took a break at Mr. Bahng's apartment nearby, watched some golf on TV (he even showed us how he practices his swing in the living room) and then took a short driving tour of downtown Seoul. Then we were back to pick up his wife and her friend at church and we drove for what felt like hours to get to another wedding across the city. By this point Aaron and I had had more than enough for the day but didn't really know how to get out of it. At the second wedding we didn't get to eat anything and we just stood in the back of the room during the ceremony. It felt a bit like being at prom, officially the action was inside the banquet room but everyone was hanging out and talking just outside. We didn't stay long; apparently it's enough to show your face and give them some money.
You'd think that the day would finally be over then but we still hadn't been to the tailor shop to order the custom-made suit that Aaron wasn't sure he quite wanted or met Mr. Bahng's son and wife (with their dog in tow) out for another traditional Korean dinner! More to come...

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Wedding crashers with stainless steel chopsticks! Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson eat your hearts out!