I’m not sure what I “expected” Don told us he’d arranged for us to attend the wedding of one of his Korean teacher colleagues at the International School, but whatever I thought it would be like was wrong!
First off, it wasn’t held in a temple, shrine, church or other venue. It took place in “Wedding Square,” which was a dedicated wing of a huge mega mall. Miriam and I were transported by one of the other teachers, and we had to go down five levels in the parking garage to find a space!
Several weddings took place at the same time, and then there several mirror-image buffets set up where all simultaneous parties could theoretically co-mingle! The place was ginormous, yet everything seemed “in control.” Obviously, the chaotic hustle and bustle of multiple weddings here takes place every weekend all year!
In Korea, couples marry “late,” often in their early 30s. The groom’s family must be able to provide the couple a house or apartment. The brides’ family is responsible for furnishing it. I have no idea who pays for the rest of the wedding, but I’m certain it wasn’t cheap! It cost us $25 per person to attend the buffet portion of the ceremony, which was a required contribution.
Apparently, the couple had had a “traditional” ceremony the week before, so for this happy occasion, they wore “western” wedding attire, although the mothers of both bride and groom were in native Korean finery.
During the ceremony, there was much clapping of approval after several vows were recited back and forth by the couple. Later we learned that the groom’s vows included taking out the garbage and recycling, eating whatever she cooked, and living forever just to make sure her life was filled with happiness.
Her responses were funny, and meant to be light banter between them. A few songs were sung to the couple by relatives. Then the groom did what I would call a flash mob dance for the bride. Six or eight members of a K-Pop dance club, the one where they first met, joined him on the altar for a choreographed dance, and it was lively and entertaining.
I could not have imagined a greater variety of Korean specialty and other foods at the buffet, including tempura shrimp, my favorite! An unending array of sushi, sashimi, pork loin, salads, pickled and tempura vegetables, and, believe it or not, on the dessert bar there was a delicious sweet potato cheesecake! I could go on and on and on about this, but it would take too long to list it all!
Then the bride and groom changed to “traditional” clothing and came around to thank us all for coming. Naturally, I wished them many years of happiness, and thanked them profusely for allowing us to participate in this joyous occasion.
And I could truthfully say, I’d never seen anything like it!