Monday, November 28, 2011

Babies & Wedding Bells

A few weekends ago was a special one in Korea for me. It was more typical of life back in Toronto than my usual weekend shananigans here. I got to hang out with a 2 week old baby boy and attend a Korean wedding.

Baby Anthony,  2 weeks old.

My friend Natalia just gave birth to a beautiful little baby boy, Anthony. I loved seeing her go through her 9 months of pregnancy just because it reminded me so much of all my missed girlfriends at home. Natalia and her husband Denis lived very close to me in Osan and I saw her all the time. Unfortunately with the move to Anyang I won't get to see Natalia and her family as much but Saturday was a great little dose of baby for me!

A Best Friends Korean Wedding

One of my coworkers invited us to her best friends wedding. It was such a nice opportunity and another part of Korean culture I was fascinated to be part of. Korean wedding are celebrated very differently than the way we do it at home. I am not sure how typical this wedding was but here is how it all went down.

We arrived with my Juwon just after 1:00 to the wedding hall in Seoul. Wedding halls in Korea go through a similar process to cattle being herded. There were 5 floors to this hall and each wedding lasted less than an hour so people were being shipped in and out constantly. There were 3 main parts of the whole ordeal. Part one was the food. Garry and I got meal tickets and before really seeing the bride and groom we were ushered to a room laid out with table after table of prepared food, all mixed and mingled with guests from weddings throughout the building. The hall was overlooking the Han River so we had a great view to look out on. The food was Korean banquet style. We had soup, rice, kimchi, sushi, seafood, salad, meat and fruits. Juwon was busy helping out the bride so Garry and I made our own way through the meal.

The wedding meal.

After a quick chowdown, we were back upstairs and seated by 2pm for the second part of the afternoon to commence. This was the main part of the wedding. It was done in front of all the family and friends. They walked down the isle, brides family on the right, grooms on the left. Someone sang to the bride and groom, they exchanged vows, said a few words. It was quite short and sweet. And to be honest, judging by the guests preoccupation with phones, kids, and cameras, it looked like no one was paying close attention to what was actually happening. Once the actual ceremony was finished and they walked back down the isle, as husband and wife it was picture time. Pictures with friends, pictures with family, there were lots of flashes going off. The closest family members, as you can see in the picture, are wearing hanbok, traditional Korean clothing. Although not a lot of people still wear it, it is quite common to see during festivals, ceremonies and celebrations.

Father & the Bride.

The venue.

Husband & wife.

The family. 

My coworker from Osan, Juwon and I.

Once all the cameras were put to rest, the majority of guests left. It is tradition that only the family stays for the last part (if it even occurs at all- not all couples choose to do this part). We were lucky enough to be invited to watch the traditional Korean wedding ceremony, by far the most fascinating bit. I had seen this performed at The Korean Folk Village and was impressed that the rituals were almost identical at a real ceremony.

The bride and groom changed out of their western wedding wear and donned the ornate and beautiful wedding hanbok, similar to that worn by royalty in the past . Because it is so detailed and requires so many different pieces, I was told people rarely buy their own wedding hanbok, it is usually just rented because it costs so much, and will obviously never be worn again. After seeing the outfits, I can see why. We were brought to a small room with a low table all set up for the proceedings. First the grooms parents sit down with the couple. A few words are exchanged and dates are thrown at the couple and caught in a table cloth. The more the dates are caught the more prosperous they are, something along those lines. The parents switch and it's the brides parents turn to take part. I was told this doesn't always happen because the grooms family is more important in the ceremony as the bride gets married off and sent to his side. The couple themselves then do a few rituals like drinking from the same cup and sharing some of the food. Lastly, and ever so slightly entertaining to the onlookers, the groom must piggy back the bride (in their lavish costumes, not an easy feat) and circle the table once. By the looks of things, from then, it was a done deal, introducing Mr. & Mrs.

All in all, it was a great afternoon. I really enjoyed the Korean wedding part. Here are a few snaps to check out how details the garbs are to set the scene. Thanks Juwon, for including Garry and I in the festivities!

The setting

The grooms parents taking part. 

                                             Parents throwing dates at the newly weds.

Piggybacking the bride.

Introducing the newlyweds!!!!

1 comment:

philly pam said...

oh my Gosh, what an experience
That piggy back ride is really interesting-must have been quite a spectacle! Thanks, Pamela