Did it work?! Did I get ya?! If not…you’re no fun. But if you thought, even for a moment, that I actully got married this last weekend then that totally counts. And if you did fall for it, don’t feel bad. Just consider yourself included in the surprisingly large group of friends and family who I also tricked on Facebook (bwahaha!). Maybe you’re a hopeless romantic who actually believes in the possibility of moving to another country, falling in love with someone who doesn’t even speak the same language and marrying them all within the span of 5 months. Or, maybe you think I’m completely nuts for moving to Korea in the first place and you perceived this marriage to be the next logical step in my downward spiral of insanity. Whichever the case may be, thanks for making this the most successful prank I’ve ever pulled on people.
But, wait. Hold on. Before I let you go and lick your gullable wounds, here are 10 interesting/mind-blowing differences between Korean and American weddings that I picked up on this weekend:
- The entire event, from the ceremony to the reception, took place on the same floor of a convention hall downtown. I guess this is possible in America, too. But all the weddings I’ve ever been to have involved a church at least at some point.
- Before the ceremony, friends and family of the bride are invited to visit her and take a professional picture with her in her final moments as a single woman. So, being co-workers with the bride my co-teacher and I snapped a quick photo when we first got there (the bride is our school’s nutritionist).
- If you want to score a ticket to the buffet reception meal, though, you better show the bride and groom some cold, hard cash. Koreans don’t do the whole gift registry thing. Insead, everyone gives the happy couple $30+ with which to start their new lives. Slide the money in an envelope they provide, write a little note on the back, and make the swap. Or you can do what I did and put the cash in your own card that’s a completely different size from all the others beforehead and as a result, make yourself seem like even more of a clueless foreigner than you already are. That’s cool too. Try it.
- In the ceremony hall, the groom walks in right before the bride, so he can totally see her before she hits the aisle. Talk about a spoiler alert. But, the groom does get his own entry music. This guy’s choice? The theme from Pirates of the Caribbean. #badass
- Next, the bride enters right after the groom. No bridesmaids, no groomsmen, no cute little flower girls or ring bearers. At least all the bride’s friends get to avoid buying an expensive dress that they’ll never wear again, right?
- During the ceremony, the parents of the bride and groom each sit in these special chairs at the front of the room, closest to the “altar.” Kind of like little dueling parental thrones.
- After that, I can’t tell you what else happens at the ceremony because I wasn’t there. In keeping with Korean wedding etiquette (or lack thereof), the ceremony was more of a come-and-go-as-you-please ordeal; so I watched the beginning and then bounced when all the unintelligible Korean words started flowing. Some people don’t even bother peeking in at the ceremony, opting instead to show up, drop off their $30 and make a b-line for the food. No joke.
- For those who like multi-tasking, Korean weddings offer an ideal solution. While filling your plate in the buffet line, you can still watch the ceremony progress on a projector screen. How convenient, eh? However, as efficient as this might be, it mostly made me feel like I was at a romantic tailgate.
- Once you’ve had your fill of catered food, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave whenever you want. Even if the bride and groom have just walked in after saying “I do” …which is kinda what my co-teacher and I did.
- In just 2 and a half hours, I attended the shortest/fastest wedding of my life. I left my apartment at just after 11 AM, had my photo-op with the bride, watched her walk the aisle, ate some “free” food, and was back in my pajamas by 1:30 PM. Somebody call the Guiness Book of World Records.
All in all, it was a great, englightening experience, full of puzzling and astonishing cultural wedding norms. When I return from Korea, I hope to have plenty more interesting stories like this to tell. I’ll also be bringing home my fair share of souvenirs. However, a new Korean wife will not be one of them.