Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Wedding

The wedding day began like every other wedding day I've ever witnessed: early.

The location was across the city and since we were hauling ... everything with us, Jay called for a taxi and we rode through the early Sunday traffic (read: not much of it) from the relative comfort of a vehicle made for six passengers. Upon arrival, we were ushered through steam tunnels (the park wasn't actually open yet) to our prep room.

Mia Sorella got settled in right away and the guys left to find coffee instead of spending the entire morning bored out of their skulls. Mom and I stuck around to chat and kick back, reading or playing games while we waited.

In other words, it was an exceptionally unexceptional wedding morning.
The modern bride.

Eventually, we got ready ourselves. (Note: I'm wearing something very similar to my mom's dress. I quite literally have zero pictures of myself.)

Now, a few things by way of explanation.

  1. The ceremony is meant to mirror a traditional ceremony. Traditionally, these were arranged weddings where the bride and groom had not yet seen each other and it would be taking place in a village.
  2. This particular ceremony took place at a folk museum (which is part of Lotte World, an amusement park).
  3. As I was the only one in the family without an official role (thank you, Confucian sexism), I got to sit on the bride's side and take pictures.
  4. I haven't included photos of everything because 45 photos in one post seemed excessive. I'll do my best to explain what all happened anyway.
  5. I'm eating Pepero and drinking coffee as I write this. (This isn't important. I just wanted you to know.)

All right. Let's do this.

The guests start to appear and take their seats under this mini-temple-like building thing. This particular wedding had probably 80 guests (not a bad size, considering the fact that there were folks that traveled from the US and the Netherlands). The non-parental family take their places on the wings -- bride's family on one side, groom's on the other.

The entire event is very open. People come and go as they please and are welcome to talk to each other throughout. Shorty and I were relieved about this because it meant we could chat and try to figure things out as it went, and I spent a good chunk of the time watching as tourists wandered in and out on the opposite side.

The parents are led in and take their spots in their fancy chairs (the yellow ones above; Jay's mom had a similar seat on the opposite side), and then Mia Sorella was led through the room to the "bride's house" in the back, where she waits for the proper time to appear.

The mothers both approach the altar area to light a candle, then bow to the crowd. My mom is then taken to the bride's house, where she will get the chance to accept or reject Jay (sort of a version of, "Who gives this bride?" mixed with "Are there any objections?").

Shorty, in the meantime, waits as the "doorman." The groom and his entourage appear, including a pair of kids carrying lanterns and a goosefather, a man carrying a goose that Jay will present to my mother to signify that he will be faithful and always love his wife. (I may never get tired of joking that my mom traded my sister for a goose. A wooden one, even.)

Shorty lets them pass, Jay presents the goose, and then he goes to his side of the altar. Mia Sorella is then summoned and emerges, her arms raised to cover her face. (At this point, the groom would have traditionally not yet seen her face.) She takes her place opposite him and then they bow to each other as a formal introduction.

Next, they drink Korean sake from two halves of the same gourd (and then trade halves and drink again). After this they join each other in front of the altar and there's roughly the equivalent to a sermon.

The couple then steps forward to bow to their parents and the guests as a sign of gratitude.

There was then some music ... and then that part of the ceremony was over.

Mia Sorella was then carried out in a box (yes, she's actually in there) to another room, where she and Jay visit with their married relatives and receive marriage advice.

When they sit with his mother, they get to try to catch the dates and chestnuts she throws ... to predict how many kids they will have.

Dates are boys and chestnuts are girls and they caught three of each. Mia Sorella may have "dropped" a date about the time I took that picture.

They share a date (literally) and he carries her around the table ... and then the ceremony is over and my sister is married!

After this, there's a buffet reception and we spend a few hours eating and trying not to feel too socially awkward. (Actually, it was a lot of fun.)

...And I drink ALL the Pepsi...

Eventually, we pack up and head back to the apartment, where a pile of their friends will be appearing for the after-reception. Normally family wouldn't necessarily join in on this, but they're pretty much stuck with us.

It's possible that the weirdest part of the day was the fact that it ended in a game-filled bar where I chatted with a Dutch woman and an Italian man (and a guy from California).

And so that was my sister's wedding. Jay, welcome to the family! We're thrilled to have you.

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