This blessed event

Yesterday was one of the strangest 24 hours yet of my time here in Korea. I’m still trying to process it all. Unfortunately, I can’t get into the more personal events in an open blog post, but a can share a chunk of that period of time — the wedding itself.

I’d love nothing more than to say the wedding was beautiful event, but to my very American eyes, ears, and heart, it wasn’t. It was… odd. I arrived at the hotel in my new suit and chatted with the groom to help calm his nerves. A little later I talked to the officiator. He’s a professor at my university, so I was asking him a bunch of questions about Korean weddings. At one point he said “Korea is a wedding factory,” and he wasn’t kidding. Weddings cycle through in one-hour shifts. One party files out while the other files in, elbowing past each other in the process. This goes on all day.

I found a spot in the fourth row and the ceremony began. The first odd thing I noticed was that the rows up front weren’t filled. Yet in the back, a swarm of people stood and watched. They didn’t merely watch though, they talked, loudly, throughout the whole thing. Nobody seemed to care. No one turned around. They kept on going, even though you could barely hear the officiator.

So the sonic ambience left something to be desired. What about the visuals? Koreans seem to hold to the concept that the memory outweighs the moment. The videographer went right up to the altar and stood shoulder to shoulder with the officiator, videotaping the couple. He kept moving around getting his perfect shots with zero shame, ignoring the fact that he’s completely ruined my shot, my view of the event. You’ve never heard of zooming? Or discretion? Then there are the people sitting in the rows who feel compelled to stand up and take pictures, blocking the view of everyone else behind them.

With the real-time audiovisual aesthetics ruined, it’s tough to feel the emotion of the corronation. But there were some nice touches: the low bowing to the parents, the three cheers as an expression of love, and the fact that the officiator of a ceremony is very often the bride’s professor. Cool, maybe I’ll get to do one some day.

We stayed around for pictures and then our time was up. Others had to come in for the next hitching. At this point, I’m used to the typical American ceremony where we now go to a reception to dine, toast, dance, stare at the happy couple, etc. There was dining. But it was at a buffet right next to where the wedding took place. It was jam-packed with people. But it wasn’t just the people at our wedding; they were from every wedding in the hotel. I sat with my friends from Serbia, but didn’t see anyone else I knew. Where’s the couple?

There were no toasts, there was no music… I finally had to fight my way through to the other end of the “restaurant” to find the bride and groom and congratulate them. My Serbian friends didn’t last long after that, and neither did I. So I said goodbyes and left. The couple did indeed seem very happy, so that was nice. But for me it lacked a certain personal connection that I usually experience at other weddings.

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2 Responses to “This blessed event”

  1. Reminds me a little of a wedding I went to at one of those chapels at Tahoe. Couple No. 1 went inside while others waited outside, said vows (no personal stuff because the clergyman didn’t know them). Then we all went next door and watched the video of the “ceremony” we just witnessed! No music, either. Strange.

  2. It did have a little of that feel, yeah. At least this one was personal in the sense that the officiator was close to the couple and he spoke about their lives together. So that was nice.

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