I’ll never forget the first wedding I went to here. It was about 3 weeks after I arrived in Korea. One of the teachers at our school was getting married so we all went along. I put on a nice dress, makeup and generally made an effort to look good. We show up and there were people in jeans, we ate lunch 3 times and only saw the couple walk up the aisle before leaving. Since then I’ve been invited to a tonne of weddings and they all generally go along the same lines.
In Ireland, people generally get married in churches. In Korea, while they get married in churches, more often they married in wedding halls. These halls can have several weddings going on simultaneously and really are like factory production line of weddings. The most recent wedding I went to was in one of these wedding halls and here’s how it went.
I arrived with my co teacher and we found the area that our couple were in (there was another 2 couples there also). The bride and groom were having their pictures taken so we stood watching before eventually being allowed jump in for a picture with the bride.
Then it was lunch time. A buffet lunch, we made our way around eating whatever we fancied. All around the room were projector screens where you could see the rooms where the couple would walk up the aisle. As we sat down for dessert, we could see our friends exchanging vows.
After lunch, my co teacher and I left. That was it. I didn’t actually attend the ceremony and it seemed like I wasn’t expected to either. This was possibly the most heartless wedding I’ve been to.
About 2 years ago, another co teacher got married in a more upmarket wedding where she rented a wedding house, invited only a certain number of people and after the ceremony was a seven course meal that everyone ate together. So every wedding is different.
We also don’t buy gifts in the same way. Most people give money on the day. The amount depending on how well you know them. In the case of my co teacher, we all threw in 30,000won and my boss gave it to the money collectors on the day.
All in all, I go away from every wedding here thinking how strange and somewhat unimportant it feels. Different countries, different ways I suppose.