07 October 2007

Sulyun's Wedding

수련 언니, 축하합니다!

Yes, we attended another wedding. This time it was for our friend (and Cyndi's co-worker) Dr. Sulyun Sung!

Unlike the previous two weddings, this ceremony took place in a church. I don't have much to say about the wedding ceremony because it all happened so quickly! We arrived to the chapel and found Sulyun, radiant in her bridal finery, seated near the chapel entrance. After a quick hello, she was suddenly whisked away by a commanding wedding planner. Cyndi, Hyeyoung, and I briefly stepped outside of the chapel to check out the sign-in table. We were only gone for a few minutes, but when we returned to the chapel, Sulyun was already at the altar with her groom! We were all rather surprised, since we didn't even hear the wedding march. That wedding planner probably instructed Sulyun to run down the aisle.

After the church choir launched into a Korean version of "Ode to Joy", some of Cyndi's co-workers, who shall remain nameless, suggested that we head to the dining room because church weddings are known to be rather long. I felt a little bad, but I have a weakness for buffets, regardless of the quality.

On the way to the dining hall, I noticed these huge floral arrangements in honor of the bride and groom. Koreans seem to enjoy expressing their best wishes through flowers. The bigger the better.

I also spotted a fixture commonly seen at weddings around the globe -- an ice sculpture. What is the universal appeal of ice sculptures?

I didn't get a chance to take many photos of the buffet line because there was an impatient queue of people behind me, who definitely would not understand the importance of food photos for this blog. Here's a sampling of the Korean buffet.

We were barely seated with our plates when we heard that the ceremony was over and that they were starting to take the group photos. The ceremony could not have been more than twenty minutes! Oops. We quickly dashed back to the chapel to join in on the group photos.

Back at home, such behavior would probably be considered a bit rude, but thankfully not in Korea. In America, the guests would never start eating without the bridge and groom. In Korea, however, it is commonly understood that most people only attend weddings to drop off the money envelope and enjoy the buffet, AND the wedding party is completely okay with this. Though this custom is still a little strange to me, I like the fact that people aren't trying to pretend that they're really into the ceremony when all they want to do is eat, congratulate the newlyweds, and go home.

Here's a full lengthy view of Sulyun's wedding gown. Isn't is glamorous?

Here's a pic of the groom. As Sulyun's co-workers all pointed out, he kind of looks like hallyu star actor/singer, Ahn Jae Wook.

For your comparison, here's a photo of Ahn Jae Wook and some actress, not as pretty of a bride as Sulyun.

언니, 아름다운 신부 입니다!

After the photos and the overeating, we crashed the 폐백 (pyebaek), a traditional ceremony in which the bride formally greets her in-laws. Guests usually don't observe this ceremony. It's really just a family thing, but Sulyun and Mr. Sulyun were very gracious and let us observe.
They didn't even complain when I started snapping away with my camera!

Be honest, do you think it's a little crass for me to take photos during an intimate wedding ceremony intended for family? Sometimes I'm such an annoying tourist that I even embarass myself. It is an incurable disease.

When we arrived, Sulyun was in the midst of showing respect to her new in-laws. I'm not sure what exactly went on, but I'm going to guess that some respectful bowing and drinking went down before we got there. (The commanding lady in the black suit is the wedding planner who directs everyone through the ceremony. She kept intruding on my photos. Didn't she know that I have a blog to update?).

Traditionally, in Korean weddings, the focus is on the entrance of the bride into her husband's family. That's why the groom's parents start the ceremony, and get to throw dates and chestnuts...

That's right. I said dates and chestnuts. After saying a few heartfelt words of welcome, the groom's parents throw a handful of chestnuts and dates at the couple. It is believed that the number of dates and chestnuts caught by the bride and groom foretell the number of daughters and sons the couple will have. The dates represent daughters, while the chestnuts symbolize male offspring. Or, maybe it's the other way around? I'm not sure. Naver it.

I don't remember the exact results, but I think they caught three dates and one chestnut. Better start saving for all that hagwon tuition!

The bride was smiling, so I interpreted that as further encouragement to snap away during the ceremony.

The bride's parents, as indicated by the pink hanbok (the male's mother wears blue), then take their turn to show some love to the newlyweds.

The couples bow a couple of times.

Then, the bride's parents feed each other a little snack.

Photo time: Everyone say "kimchi."

Lastly, the bride serves her new brother and sister-in-law, further sealing her role in the groom's family.

I've noticed that a number of people have come across this blog while searching for tips on what to wear to a Korean wedding. People must be pretty disappointed when all they find are photos of buffet food and some guy in shorts and sandals. I was hoping to capture the latest trends in wedding fashion this time around, but I didn't have enough time. I may not have any photos, but here's what I suggest:

Men: You can't go wrong with a suit or a collared-shirt and slacks.
Women: A semi-formal dress, skirt and blouse combo, or nice blouse and slacks should be fine. You can even wear all black or all white.

I've noticed a number of people wearing jeans and a t-shirt or women wearing some trendy mini-dress with leggings, and no one seemed bothered by their casual dress. I am no authority, but I think that casual dress is more appropriate for an outdoor wedding or a reception at a wedding hall. I would dress a little more nicely for a church wedding, because... it's church. Hotel weddings seem to be a lot more fancier, so I would definitely recommend more formal attire if you're invited to the nuptials of some chaebol heir. All rules may be thrown out the window if you are a Korean celebrity. In which case, you apparently have license to wear whatever you feel like -- hot pants, mini skirts, your favorite mall outfit...

1 comment:

xoladiihoneyxo said...

thanks for this! I'm attending my friend's wedding and she's korean sometime in June. She said her religion doesn't wear jewelries so I wasn't sure what to wear and what to expect since it will be my first korean wedding. thanks for the information! =]