I didn’t even know the bride’s name, but when one of the Korean teachers invited the whole school to her wedding this past weekend, we couldn’t refuse a chance to see how the East does it. The venue for this particular ceremony was a wedding hall, which I would describe as a department store approach to the whole marriage business. It was jammed with suits. One of the guests said he knew of at least three other weddings taking place there that day. Entering the lobby, we proceeded to the “Waiting Room”, a place for friends and family to sit and take pictures with the beautiful bride posed on a velvet sofa. They insisted we participate. Twenty minutes of fixing my hair later, the first wedding ended, and we took our seats in the main hall. Literally, as one bride entered the other was hustled out by the maître d’. The ceremony itself was in Korean (naturally) so I’m not really sure what the 15 minutes of very formal sounding eyos and haamneedas were all about. Throughout the speech however, there was a surprising amount of background noise. Many guests happily carried on side conversations as another wedding party began to amass itself along the edge of the main hall entrance. There was no exchange of vows and no kissing of the bride; just a brief round of applause. Right before picture time, a Korean pop song came on over the loud speaker, and the groom took his shoe off to run around the room collecting money with it. Insert witty remark here. After more pictures, we headed out towards the buffet. Just as before another bride was being ushered in.
As the two brides momentarily crossed paths, I was struck by their contrasting faces. One unshielded with a desire to get things over with, while the other jubilantly wiped tears from her eyes. I asked one of the locals if Koreans ever get married outside or in a more private setting. “Yes,” she responded. “If you are rich”.
The food was a rather large buffet in a dinner room that was reminiscent of last year’s company Christmas party — and there was even free beer! For the most part, it was delicious, but there was this one pasta dish that had me reeling for kimchi — or anything else with enough burn to scorch away the flavor old shoes. No doubt it was some sort of freak nasty bottom feeder, a hagfish maybe. Sitting and discussing my disdain for this particular dish with some fellow teachers, an usher approached and asked if we were finished eating. Nodding that we were indeed, he motioned for us to leave. Another party would be arriving soon.