After just three hours of sleep, we were up getting ready for the big wedding.
할머니 Halmoni came to ride with us. She is 엄마 omma’s 엄마 omma!
While we were waiting for 현배 Hyun-bae, to bring up the caboose (like always), 성배 Seong-bae called and asked us to bring him gum to the wedding hall. (If you’ve ever had Xylitol (Korean gum) it is interesting but hard to describe. Tastes like green apple, loses its flavor in an instant, and is exceedingly chewy.) We ran ahead to pick some up, 할머니 Halmoni in tow. She was interrogating us the whole time, Whitney struggling to understand her “old” Korean: weren’t we too cold, did we have a bus card, how did we get enough time off from work? It was a very stressful ten minutes! Hahaha
Before the wedding, the bride sits in this room and everyone comes to greet her and take pictures together. It is not at all like American culture where she stays hidden until she walks down the aisle!
And everyone else greets the guests coming in. 성배 Seong-bae had 400 people come to his wedding!
Korean wedding culture is very different from what we are used to. It is a cookie cutter industry. Everyone rents a wedding hall and has the same wedding ceremony. The brides wear the same dress (a rental!) and the buffet is the same food. The wedding is mostly for the parents and you invite everyone you’ve ever met (even if the bride/groom don’t know them), hence the 400 people. Gifts are not common. You come to the wedding hall, pick up a cash envelope, insert your gift, and write your name on the outside of the envelope. Acquaintances should give at least $30, close friends and family better be ready to pay above and beyond $100. More on the cash part later.
We got to spend time with all the aunts/uncles/cousins in the time leading up to the ceremony.
Finally, it was time for the ceremony to start! This is also very scripted and pretty rigid. The hall is beautiful with a bejeweled walkway and lovely flower displays. There is an MC and lots of wedding coordinators poking and prodding and directing throughout the entire ceremony.
Lots of bowing…
Such a lovely couple!
Then it is party time! On to the buffet…
(above) about 1/3 of the guests. This room was ginormous to accommodate all of our guests, as well as another wedding’s! Yes, it’s all about efficiency, so the receptions are combined.
There was a lot of behind the scenes stuff that we didn’t see. About halfway through the reception, we asked 현배 Hyun-bae where 엄마 omma and 아빠 appa were. We hit a language barrier and ended up just dropping it, but from what we understood, the bride/groom and both sets of parents do a ceremony after the ceremony in which they throw fruit at each other and catch in their 한복 hanboks! It’s supposed to be good luck for the many babies to come.
The whole thing (ceremony + reception) lasted less than 2 hours and it was time to clear out. (We told you it is efficient!) We had to say goodbye to 현배 Hyun-bae, who headed to the station to catch his train 😦
We went home and took a long, much-needed nap. Then we got up and…ate!
To our surprise, the bride and groom showed up that evening during dinner!
We told you about the wedding cash, but we were shocked by the sheer amount. 성배 Seong-bae and wife came to sort the money. It was quite the thing to behold. They went through each envelope, announcing the person’s name (written on the outside) and amount. One sorted, the other wrote in a book how much each person gave! We are told this is because you are expected to pay it back when it is that’s person turn. So if he gave you 50,000 won at your wedding, you should return that favor.
After going through all the envelopes, the bride/groom took off to their new home to get ready for their flight to Hawaii the next morning! That left us with all the cash and 아빠 Appa wanted it all counted and divided. Lee was more than happy to help.
Lee wowed 엄마 omma and 아빠 appa with his bill counting skills and they cheered him on wildly. It was probably Lee’s favorite night!
After the long day full of new cultural experiences, we collapsed into bed for our early start the next morning.
Up next…we visit Holt 일산 Ilsan Town!
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