Matt and I were excited to be invited to the wedding of one of his co-workers, the lovely librarian at this school. We had heard differing accounts about weddings and so we were interested to see for ourselves what a Korean wedding was like.
There were a few differences between weddings in the U.S.
Photos: First, brides and grooms get their photos taken before the wedding, The bride usually rents multiple wedding dresses and gets her hair and makeup done. The couple goes to a photography studio where there are professional stylists making sure they have the perfect look. Since these photos are taken before the wedding, there were some on display as soon as we walked into the hall.
The bride and groom greet the guests: The groom was standing greeting guests when we came into the wedding hall. The bride was sitting in a small room, and anyone could line up to have their photo taken with her.
The “gift,” or paying for your lunch: Rather than gifts, everyone gives money. There are white envelopes at the entrance. You put your money in — cash is the best preferably in an odd amount because of superstitions — you write your name on the outside, and hand it to the person sitting at the entrance on your respective (bride or groom) side. In exchange for your envelope, you are given a voucher to be traded in at the lunch buffet.
Ceremony, lunch and done: There is a Western-style ceremony, a lunch for guests, and then a traditional Korean ceremony that is only for really close family members. (I would guess fewer than 8 people based on the size of the room.) There is no reception, party or dancing. Most weddings are in the afternoon and only last a couple of hours.
Are we here for love, or meat? Many Koreans skip the ceremony! Geez. Apparently weddings are only a meal for many people, and they will skip the ceremony entirely to spend more time in the lunch area — which did have a pretty great buffet. We almost fell for this trap by agreeing to eat with one of Matt’s co-teachers. I asked about the ceremony and he was a little vague in his answer. … Then I rushed Matt through the meal as I had heard rumors of Koreans skipping the ceremony, and sure enough that’s what our dining companion had in mind. So we rushed back only to walk in slightly late to the ceremony. … But unlike in the U.S. it did not seem to be a big deal to come in late at all, as many people did. I think some people even spoke on their cell phones quietly in the back.