Marriage. It’s such a simple concept. You meet someone, you fall in love, you marry and have children. Usually in that order, although sometimes not. Either way, for me, and for my entire life, I imagined this marriage and I imagined just how it would play out. It was to be in a small country church, in England, with roses in my hair and I would be surrounded by family whilst wearing a long white veil.
I had even practiced it, the veil, that is. I would put my lace curtain over my head and parade across my bedroom until the veil would inevitably fall to the floor. I was seven and naive, for sure, but it never even occurred to me that this may not come to pass and that I may not even have a white veil.
Marrying a foreigner is a tricky business. Mainly because its less hearts and flowers and more bureaucracy. Its less white gowns and more signing out forms at the embassy and getting affidavits and documents translated. Then there is the rigmarole of applying for a marriage visa, but don’t even get me started on that. Falling in love was the easy part for me, it was everything after that wasn’t.
I remember our ‘wedding day’ last year, and I use the term loosely as it was less of a ceremony and more of an ordeal than I would have liked. We had to drive to Seoul on the single day out of the month when it was pouring with rain, and the traffic on the highway was so bad that my soon-to-be husband had to drive down the ambulance lane at high speed to make it to the embassy on time before it closed, (at the rather unreasonable hour of 11am I might add.)
Thankfully we made it in time, but barely, and whilst the woman behind the decidedly un-romantic counter rewrote our information down onto a form it was a moment I will never forget. Partly because of the catalogue of errors that led us up to that point, but mostly because it was a moment, irregardless of whatever obstacles had been placed before us, that would shape my life forever.
Marriage in Korea even for locals is a decidedly less ceremonial affair than in England. There are ceremonies, yes, but they are over sharpish and then another couple is brought in on a conveyor belt of weddings one after another in a building known as a ‘Wedding Hall’ that I have seen placed above department stores and shops. It’s hardly the quaint English church that I’d dreamed of as a child.
But then life is never what you dream it to be as a child, and why should it be? We’re taught to follow a set of rules, to do things the way our parents did and to not veer off course from the expected norms. Or, at least, that was the way for me anyway.
I am glad that my marriage wasn’t easy to undertake, that I didn’t just elope in Vegas or get married quickly in a church somewhere. It caused me to think, to make sure that I was making the right decision, to actually be 100% certain that this was the path I wanted to take. And of course I was, and still am, entirely certain that I made the right decision.
However, there is one thing I can get behind with the whole Korea wedding thing, and that is the photographs. You have them taken a little bit before your wedding at a studio by a professional photographer and they photoshop the hell out of you to make sure that you’re looking your best. I mean, who wouldn’t want that?
So okay, it may have rained a bit and I may have had to fill out 100 forms and spent more than enough time at the embassy and immigration, but in the end its what you put into something that shows just how much you want to get out of it. And over a year on I would still do it all over again, even if we were faced with a snowstorm and hail.
And I did get to wear a veil, briefly! So it was all completely worth it in the end~