A few years ago a good friend of mine told me that odd numbers are sexy, especially when it comes to your age.  

Sooooo, here's to turning 35!


 

 
So my super awesome friends Seo Yun and Jeyong surprised me with a beautiful cake from Paris Baguette and a waffle loaded with strawberries (Yay FRUIT!!!!).  This is actually very apropos and reminded me of when I was a little girl and I'd beg my grandma to make me a strawberry shortcake.  I'd sit in front of a 3-tiered masterpiece coated with a thick layer of fluffy white whipped cream frosting and loaded down with the freshest strawberries from Mr. Singletary's farm just down the road, with eyes wide open and mouth watering.  All I could think was... "It's mine - mine - all MINE!!!!", but half way through the first slice my stomach would be begging for someone to grab the fork out of my hand and stop the torture.  :)  Afterwards, we finished off the evening with a couple bottles of (not so scrumptious) wine and UNO.  I've decided I should teach my friends how to play SPOONS.  Aunt Raison, you may need to teach me again ^^.


 

 
The weekend was relaxing, and was actually an extended one, as I took Friday (my birthday) off from work.  Since I'm merely acting as a desk warmer, it's not as though anyone missed me.  Sunday, Jeyong loaded Jordan and me into his car and we headed to Andong to go to his friend's wedding.  I know I've posted pics of a Korean wedding before, but I'll give you a little insight into the experience, for those of you not familiar with the ritual.  Before I do this (since the explanation is quite lengthy) I'll show you pics of the Andong dam, which is where we went after the ceremony.  

This section is where they film historical dramas 
 
 
From the pagoda at the center of the bridge which connects both shorelines 
 
 
The dam can be seen far off in the distance 

NOW FOR THE WEDDING!!!!!

Korean weddings are held at event halls, where other weddings and anniversaries or birthdays can be taking place simultaneously.  In this case, the wedding we were attending was taking place on the 3rd floor and another wedding was occurring on the 1st floor.  Both were starting at the same time.  After paying 50,000 - 100,000 korean won at the door (gifts are not expected, but money is - $50 to $100), we milled around until the wedding ceremony began.  

The bride's preparation is often on display for the wedding attendees to enjoy.  So, you can watch the bride's makeup being applied and her veil being placed on her head along with any final touch-ups and adjustments.  The bride is then taken into a room specifically designed for photographing her.  It usually features a bench or chair for her to sit in and friends, family, and the wedding party can gather around her for pictures.  When the photos have been completed, it is usually time for the wedding to begin.  The first wedding ("western style") is set up much like a traditional western ceremony.  But, upon closer examination you can see a variety of differences.  A long elevated or catwalk style aisle stretches all the way from the front to the back of the room.  It ends at a stage, where there is another riser and a table behind which the officiator stands.  The parents of each sit on opposite sides of the room away from the attendees and closest to their children.  To the left there is always an A/V section where someone manages the slideshow, music, sound, and lighting.  


Now, American weddings traditionally take an hour to all day, but Korean style is 빨리빨리빨리 (bali bali bali)... or fast fast fast.  In other words: hurry up, I wanna eat and get out of here!  So, once the bride and groom appear it's expected that the ceremony will be over in no more than 30 minutes.  Talking during the ceremony is normal.  In fact, it's normal in any performance!  Initially it distracted me to no end, but I've acclimated and even begun to join in without feeling guilty.  

The ceremony involves the groom walking down the aisle first (no groomsmen or bridesmaids) and the bride following on her father's arm.  The officiator introduces them to the attendees and they make their bows to us and each other, which is followed by bows to their parents.  Afterwards, the officiator has them make their pledges.  Next, there's usually someone (a close friend or sister/brother) that sings a song for them.  Once this is done the newlyweds step to the side and their cake is rolled in.  They quickly cut a piece of the cake and eat it, after which they make their trip back up the aisle while streamers and poppers filled with confetti explode around them.  That's it!!!!!!!!!!!!

   
 
At this time the attendees can adjourn to the dining hall for their much anticipated lunch.  Or, they can choose to move to the traditional ceremony room to witness the second wedding.  If they choose the latter then they have to wait for the bride and groom to change into their Korean wedding hanbok (a type of clothing).  The previous wedding ceremony I attended we stayed to watch the traditional ceremony, but this time we headed upstairs for food.  The traditional ceremony takes even less time than the western style one, finishing in less than 15 minutes.  The newlyweds then proceed upstairs to the dining hall to greet and thank their guests.

The dining hall houses all those who are attending events at that time, so you can see brides and grooms circling around the huge cafeteria style room trying to locate their friends and family.  The food is buffet style and usually includes a bancheon (side dish) section, a seafood/raw bar section, a soup/salad/fruit/dessert section, and a main course section (which often has an array of meat and pasta dishes).  Koreans usually skip the bancheon, soup, and rice (as these dishes are consumed on an everyday basis) and head straight for the main courses, raw bar, fruits, etc.  For your beverage you can choose from soju, beer, and Chilsung (a soda that is closest in taste to Sprite).  

After eating and meeting the newlyweds for a final congratulations and farewell, it's time to go!  

This concludes a Korean wedding experience ^^.


Much love from the East Side!!!!!

(clockwise from left: Seo Yun, Jeyong, me, Nina, and Jordan)