We were ready to go around 10:00am, and our friend June arrived to go with us.
Maybe I should give you some background as to how all of this came about. Esther and Steve have been reading our blog for a few years, and this past summer they were making a trip in their motorhome from Calgary to Ottawa, and the route came right by the park we were running. They asked if they could stop in and say hello, and of course we welcomed them to stay for a few days.
We got along well, and their last night at dinner, they said they had a surprise. From reading this blog, they knew that we had already booked a trip to South Korea. And it turned out they were going to be in South Korea at the same time as us! How strange is that? Anyhow, it turns out that their son Brady was marrying a Korean girl, Jiwon, and the wedding was October 4th and that we were invited to attend!
Because of the distance, very few people from the groom's side of the family were able to attend. So we were happy to be able to take up a few seats! But because we had come to Korea to visit our friend June, we didn't want to take our time away from her. So they said that she was invited as well!
This was a photo from the electronic invitation that we received.
The wedding was outdoors, which to begin with is very non-traditional. The venue was Yangjae Citizen's Forest , a park that had been built for the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
The wedding venue at Yangjae Citizen's Forest.
But this part was very traditional. The parents of the bride and groom are wearing traditional Korean formal wear. More about that later!
June and Ruth
Ruth and Kevin
First stop, the bar!
Some live music.
Then, we got started. It was a very short ceremony and with no officiant other than a master of ceremonies who led things and explained things in both English and Korean as they went along. The "official" part of the marriage only takes place when they go to city hall and fill out the forms! In the photo above, you can see the mother of the groom (Esther, on the left), bowing to the mother of the bride. There is lots of bowing going on in Korea!
The groom, Brady...walking down the aisle.
The bride, Jiwon, and her father.
Then, they had each written their vows. This part was all done in Korean! Brady of course had to read his from a cheat sheet. Korean is not an easy language to learn, and he stumbled a little bit at times but we thought he did really well! June said that she understood everything he said. Essentially, he was saying that he would tell her he loved her at least once per day for the rest of their lives. Nice.
Then, the fathers of the groom and bride had to give a speech. Here's the father of the bride doing his bit.
And here's Steve, the father of the groom.
That was it...and they were husband and wife!
Brady and Jiwon, the happy couple!
They did a little cake cutting ceremony.
And then they did some family photos. This is with the bride's mother, father, and brother.
And then it was time to eat! They did a huge buffet of typical Korean food. June was there to ask the servers about what items might contain gluten, and it turned out that there was a lot that we were able to eat.
Time to eat!
June, showing us how to open this funny fruit. Can't remember what it's called!
Very sweet and with a very different flavor. Nice, but messy to eat!
Us, with the groom's parents. Steve, Esther, Ruth, Kevin.
Now, you will have noticed that the parents of the bride and the parents of the groom are wearing Korean traditional formal wear.
Here's Esther's description of these interesting outfits...
"It's traditional Korean formal wear, called Hanbok. What's amazing is the number of layers in the woman's outfit. It's a very old style of dressing which involves pantaloons, crinoline, under dress, under blouse, over dress and jacket-all tied and belted in a very specific way. I needed help getting into it all! "
After lunch, we had a break of about four hours where we could head off and do whatever we wanted until the "After-party" that didn't start until 6:00pm. We decided to hop on the subway and go downtown to pick up our wireless internet device from Wi-Fi Korea. This device works all over Korea and enables us to have internet where ever we go so that we can give you these regular updates!
The Seoul subway system is amazing. And relatively cheap. Depending on the length of your journey, you pay between $0.90 cents and $2.50. It's very efficient, modern, and spotlessly clean. I'll get into it in a little more detail in another post.
After we picked up our cell device, we just wandered around the Insadong area. It's a popular pedestrian street that also attracts a lot of tourists. On the weekends, it's closed to traffic and it's a good thing. There would be no room for cars!
Lots of English, especially in the tourist areas.
Standing in line for our free tea! It was really good!
A shopping area that winds it's way up three levels. Notice that everyone is walking in the same direction. Korea is a very organized country.
June, buying a bag of chestnuts for a yummy snack. They were a little pricey at 5,000 won. ($5.75 CAN), but they were good!
Then we hopped back on the subway and went to the party. We were among the first to arrive. A large group of them were late because traffic was really bad due to a big fireworks show that was starting later on. They were stuck in traffic for over an hour! So in the meantime, we kept ourselves occupied...
Ha! I love this picture.
Our western tradition of having a party to celebrate the big wedding event is in fact a western tradition. This is something that is definitely not done here in Korea, and it was actually a bit confusing for some of the Korean guests. It's just simply not something that's done. So this was where it was really only for the grooms side of the family. Just a small gathering, of about 40 people. But we had a blast!
The party venue was the basement of an old warehouse that is transformed to an event place.
One of the guys is a Ukranian Folk dancer. He was showing the other guys how to do it. Can you tell which one has the best form?
Lots of fun!
But by 10:00pm, we were zonked. It hit us all at once. We went from partiers to party poopers in a time frame of about 10 minutes!
June's boyfriend came and picked us up, and we went back to the apartment to sleep! The original plans was to write this up when we got home so that you would have your morning edition of the blog, but there was no way.
Huge thanks to Esther and Steve for inviting us. We had a fantastic time and it was fun sharing Brady and Jiwon's special day with you!