I've been a little slow in writing this up, not because I didn't want to but because I've been knackered with the lead up to it, the actual day and a genuine lack of sleep afterwards so I'll try to describe things as best as I can now.
Last Saturday I had a 'Wedding celebration lunch', which ended up being basically just a wedding but without any of the vows. To explain further, my wife and I married some seven months ago but didn't have an actual wedding. Things have been great since then but at times I think my wife felt a little incomplete, like we weren't properly married so we knew we had to sort something out. In the end we decided to have lunch with some family and friends to celebrate our marriage.
In the lead up to last weekend I started to get a little nervous, which was very irrational because we've been married for so long but in truth I am a little uncomfortable dealing with crowds of people I don't know or don't know very well. I was a bit anxious and didn't sleep much and spent too much time thinking what would happen. I needn't have worried because we had such a great day.
Preparation for this didn't take as long as many weddings do but there were things to sort out which we managed to do quite easily and my wife deserves credit for all the hard work she put in. The day started at the wedding shop (don't know the technical name). The make up and hair for my wife and her immediate family took over two hours. Myself, they did put some stuff on my hair and I got dressed up in a suit which was bought a few weeks prior and then we were off to the hotel where we were maving the lunch.
After looking at a few places which could hold the number of people we wanted we settled on the Burgundy room at the hotel Novotel in Daegu. This is very central in Daegu and very easy to get in and out of. The choice proved to be a good one for us. The room where we had lunch was very good, with a view of the city centre that overlooked a park rather than the less salubrious parts.
When we got there we had to prepare some things and then to wait for the people to arrive. I waited with my wife, my mother in-law and my wife's brother. My mother in-law were wearing traditional Korean clothes (a hanbok) whilst my wife rented a wedding dress for the occasion. We greeted everyone who came. Invites were restricted to coming from my wife, myself or from my mother in-law. We thought we had invited around fifty people, but it turned out that sixty seven came, so they room filled out quite well. If forty people had come I'd have been happy but nearly everyone invited came which helped make the day special for all of us.
Inviting people was a little difficult for me. Firstly none of my family could make the trip and we had already decided that we would have some kind of celebration when we made our way back to the UK to live. Also being here for over four years I have made many friends and acquaintances and in normal circumstances would have liked to have invited many more people than I did. Because of the transient nature of my job I have met many people who have subsequently left and it would be impossible for them to come.
Here I must mention that my wife and I have been to many weddings here in Korea. Some good, some bad, some terrible and almost nothing we'd seen together that we wanted incorporated into any celebration of ours. That meant no kids running around, trying to get people not to wear jeans and baseballs caps, no electric violins, no smoke or dry-ice machines, no confetti throwing bazookas and no cheesy wedding pictures. Of course, some things we talked about not doing we ended up doing (cheesy pictures of us) but that ended up being OK.
When everyone had arrived and sat down we made our way into the room. My wife's cousins husband (phew) introduced us with some words that I have been told were kind. I really appreciated him doing that. One of the unfortunate things about having a poor command of the Korean language means I am restricted in my communication with my wife's family. I wish I could have heard what he said.
After being introduced the spotlight really was on us. This is what I was having a bit of stress with. I don't like being the centre of attention but, that's kind of the idea when you have a wedding. I had decided to make a quick speech about how much I love my wife. I had to write it down. After I had finished I saw my wife holding back tears - was my speech that bad? Well I knew she was emotional and it turns out she loved what I said, even though it was very simple it came from the heart.
I asked my wife is she wanted to say something but she was unable to at the time due to the situation. My wife has subsequently told me that she was so emotional that if she had said something then she would have cried (happy tears!) so she tried to keep her composure. Then my mother in-law said some words. This day was really about my wife and her mother. It was great for them both to have a day where everyone was celebrating them. I know they both had a great time and they really deserved that.
We then had to cut the cake that we ordered the previous week. However it was rock hard. They even gave us what resembled a sword to help cut it but to no avail. Luckily it thawed out as the afternoon went on. After that the pressure was off and we went round the tables and thanked everyone for coming and encouraged them to eat. The feedback we got was that the food was good for the situation although I have to say I wasn't able to eat much because I was a little busy just enjoying the day.
I managed to talk with a lot of my friends and Ivan my co-worker took several photos that we will treasure. Bright sunshine filled the room throughout and I think things couldn't really have gone any better. At the end of the day we were tired both physically and emotionally, but with a sense of satisfaction that would be hard to replicate. The day exceeded our expectations and will remain in our memory for a long time hopefully. We now truly feel like a married couple.