First and foremost, please note that I am referring to a Korean version of a western wedding and not a traditional Korean wedding. The traditional Korean wedding was done in private.
When my friend Andrew invited me to this wedding, I was pleased since I’d never been to one. One of my New Years resolutions for last year (and I’ve kept it) was to do at least one new thing every month. In the run up to the wedding, I got introduced to Kate and she was lovely. We hung out a few times and just before the wedding, her then hubby to be had returned from Australia and we had dinner together.
Fast forward to the wedding day. Andrew and I got our glad rags on and made our way to the hotel lobby. As we entered, there were some beautiful floral displays greeting us. People were elegantly dressed in traditional Korean Hanbok clothing, but most were in western attire. We signed a guestbook and then made a contribution. It’s customary to give money.
There was a small room in which Kate sat and guests filed in and out for photo opps. She looked absolutely gorgeous. After that was the ceremony. As the music began to play and their family and friends made their way down the aisle. Then came the part that stood out most to me. I was straining to hear everything going on at the alter, albeit in Korean, because there were pockets of conversations dotted all around. As my attention shifted from the alter to my surrounding area, I noted that lots of people weren’t even paying attention! Many weren’t looking at the couple, others were talking with each other and lots were on their phone. Even one of her best friends who sat with us was tapping away on her phone and giggling to herself.
It was all too much for me. I looked at Andrew with surprise and annoyance. He smiled knowingly. This was his third Korean wedding and the previous two had also been like this, he explained. He filled me in on his first experience and how shocked he was, but he quickly adjusted. After his recounting, I tried to follow suit. Reluctantly.
The lack of sincere gazes and misty eyes. The photographer constantly darting in and out of their faces. Some lady who’s job was to make sure Kate looked perfect at every moment, from every angle… who at the alter in the middle of it all would run in to shift a stray hair, then move the train of her dress this way, then come back and move it that way… who I must share, was wearing a bright pink top, jeans and trainers….yes, that bothered me greatly. All those, along with the constant murmur of voices meant there was a severe lack of the vibration of love in the room for me.
That took away a lot from the experience. Some of it was redeemed by the heartfelt performance of a song by some of her childhood friends. Her sister also did a little dance routine with her school friends. I’m still not sure it was appropriate for a wedding, but it was really sweet nonetheless.
Then came a lengthy photography session, which we were invited to be part of. After that came the reception. The food was buffet style and it was fantastic. Korean, Japanese and western dishes graced our plates. During this time the private Korean ceremony took place. Following that, the couple came out to the dining room to individually thank guests for attending. Kate looked stunning in her Hanbok. Seeing the couple dressed in their Hanbok was one of my highlights. We got a few pictures with the newlyweds and said our goodbyes.
We decided to walk home due to our overindulgence. Then, we had a proper chance to talk and I reflected on the whole experience. It really felt like the part of the wedding we experienced was done just because the western style wedding is the thing to do. It’s like the shell of the idea has been adopted, but the yolk got left behind. That’s not meant to cause offense and of course this is just one experience. Perhaps if people would put down their phones, stop talking to each other and turn their attention to the stars of the day, sincerity and happiness for the couple would resonate more in the atmosphere.