19 October 2004

Wedding - Part 1 of 2

Event : Wedding
Date : Last weekend
Venue : Seoul
Purpose : A glimpse of a typical modern Korean wedding.

Typical "wedding hall" building (tallest building in the photo). First impressions for some of you may be "hmmm ... a pretty bland building, looks just like any ordinary office building". Second impression would be "yes, absolutely right".

Entrance to the Wedding Hall. As the sign says, we're at the White House Wedding Hall. I wonder if Ms. Lewinsky's working here?

The building houses 9 floors of the same as the one we'll be exploring today. That means 9 weddings simultaneously every hour, 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, 10 years a decade, 10 decades a century ... I digress.

This is the floor where our action is for the day. Don't ask me who those guys loitering upstairs are. They belong to a different faction.

This is the main entrance to the wedding hall. Lots of guests milling outside, reluctant to go inside. Face reality, folks, it's too late to back out now.

To the left of the main entrance is the extortion donation gift collection desk - one for Team A (bridegroom) and the other for Team B (bride). This is where guests line up to part with their gifts, commonly cash, though I've seen credit cards accepted and even a live cow once. Speaking of in-laws, they're somewhere in the hall. It is also at these desks that they hand out the meal vouchers. More on that later. For now, that means no gift no meal voucher.

Typically, expect to pay contribute anywhere between KRW20,000 to KRW100,000, depending on your status, wallet size and face value. If the couple is employed in an organisation, someone in the office will come round to collect $ from you days before the wedding and present it as a labour union group. You can thus expect the cash drawers to be well guarded and in the hands of only the most trusted of family members.

This is the dressing room and powder room, just outside the main hall if you need any last minute touch-ups. I asked, but there was no botox shots or liposuctions on offer.

The lady in blue is wearing "hanbok" (한복), the traditional Korean costume.

To the right of the main entrance is the snapshot booth, where the bride sits for like 15 minutes to allow well-wishers to come up and say hi and/or have their photo taken with the bride for eternal cherishment. Obviously, bridegrooms are just a waste of film in Korea (or for those living in the digital age, a waste of memory card space). And no, the white bits wasn't the work of the make-up artist.

The ceremony kicks off with the ladies in red ushering the parents of the couple to their seats at the front. This is followed by the couple's "dum dum dum dum" march down the aisle.

Here's the bit I find a little off. It appears that the common practice at these sort of do is to hang out, stand and chat away at the back of the hall ......

..... even though there's lots of empty seats upfront. Guess everyone is just poised for a quick getaway.

I do, you do, let's do.

Bow to the parents, get their blessing, and try not to stare at the cameraman too long to be this obvious that you're not paying attention.

Note wedding cake and lone pianist in the background.

I now pronounce you hubbie and wifey.

The ceremony ends with a family photo session. The couple and parents adjourned to the customary tea-serving ceremony in their traditional Korean costumes, which this papparazzi was not privy to. While they're busy at it, the guests are off to stuff their face. .... Part 2.

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